Awareness: a changing climate

Awareness: a quick look into Japan’s changing climate

I have been thinking about the best way to go into detail about Japan’s changing climate. I do realize that this is a global issue, but sometimes an abstract idea like a global environment is a bit too hard to understand. So instead, please look at the picture below: it says more than I ever could.

The headline simply reads “there’s no snow”.
From the Asahi-Shinbun dated 22/01/2020

Japan is an extremely long country starting north of the equator and leading up to the Arctic- it has a vast and varied climate and each prefecture can almost be seen to be its own sub-climate. Hyogo Prefecture is known for snow sports- or should that read was known for snow sports? The long lonely strip of snow is not a ‘freak of nature’, it is an import.

Imported snow- in an effort to keep afloat an economy based on winter sports. Did you also see the ski lift? There’s not much use in that now is there. Imported snow not only moves resources from one place to another, but there are high economical and carbon costs associated with this as well.

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The lack of cold temperatures has also been felt in Hokkaido especially in the run up to the Snow festival or Yuki-matsuri. Snow has been imported as well due to the warmer than usual winter. According to the JMA (Japanese metrological agency), Hokkaido has only received 48% of the expected snow fall a fall of 52% from the previous year.

Climate change is indeed happening and it is happening extremely quickly. This change has been reflected in the forthcoming Olympics as well. Due to exceptionally high temperatures in summer 2019, the marathon has been moved to Sapporo City, Hokkaido. On a more anadoctial front, I recorded temperatures as high as 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 38 degree Celsius) in the shade this summer in Iga- and I was not alone with seeing such temperatures.

Across Japan and even the world, record numbers of people were hospitalized due to heat related problems. Currently, one just needs to look at Australia- where they have at times run out of colours to use on heat charts due to the heat. If you need a bit more, conditions have been perfect for the wildfires which have caused complete devastation in places and the true costs of these fires (socially, environmentally, economically, ecologically etc) will possibly never truly be known.

There is a lot one can do but if business do not reflect personal effort i.e. a person becomes incredibly green but the business they work for either doesn’t change or becomes more environmentally damaging, nothing much will change. According to the wolves of Wall Street “Greed is good”, but what will greed do once the planet is uninhabitable?

Last quick note on this, there is an increasing difference on the amount of rice needing to be produced and the amount of rice being eaten. We are already seeing signs of troubles to come. Please do you part- even if it just a small action, it can and it does add up.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

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Consumption tax: environmental consequence

The 2% increase has a knock-on effect

A set meal (with added plastic…)

 On midnight on October 1st, consumption tax in Japan increased by 2% for some products. This has mostly affected ‘luxuries’ including alcohol, tobacco and sit in meals.

The last one has had strange effects, Japan Today reports that supermarkets have removed benches as they don’t want to be seen as a sit-in eatery and thus people are required to pay an extra 2% (how this would work after checking out I don’t know).

While watching a daytime talk show at the gym (strange I know), they were reporting that many people are now getting food to go rather than sit in. Personally, this seems a bit petty. For example, if you order 牛丼 (ぎゅうどん-gyuudon) or a beef bowl with rice, it may cost 380 JPY to go or 387 JPY to sit in. That saving of seven yen has resulted in more and more people getting their food to go instead of sitting in. This has resulted in further use of single use plastics as bowls, wrappings for chopsticks, wrappings for serviettes etc.

Or simply put, a saving of seven yen may help your wallet, but it may further destroy the environment.

What can be done? There would need to be a change of customer service culture in Japan and an attitude change towards sustainability i.e. allowing the use of reusable containers. Such changes are coming extremely slowly- so don’t expect miracles.

For the moment, plastic is king in Japan- the environment is second.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring

Global views on being eco-friendly

A quick summary of some countries positions on being green

At a macro level, what importance do different countries and cultures put on being eco-friendly and what does the media in those countries report on this topic?

As there are visible changes to global weather patterns, increased plastic waste (or at least increased visibility) and a visible consequence of human actions on the wider environment, the question as to how much do different countries care about the environment must be asked.

I know the introduction sounds very report like and official; but the main focus of this article is to get you to ask the question which is simply: does my country care? What is my country doing? and perhaps mostly importantly, do I care?

Let’s start with the powerhouse of Energiewende- Germany. Germany is one of the more advanced countries in trying to be eco-friendly. They are getting rid of nuclear power and placing more emphasis on being green. They have signed the 2015 climate pack and are committed to reduce their CO2 emissions. So very forward facing.

However, one third ofbtheir power is still reliant on coal and there is still a preference for fast cars (they do have the Autobahns). But the umweltwelle is affecting this as well, with promises by 2030 that there’ll be over 10 million electric cars on the roads (Spiegel Online).

Now for a culture and country change- the USA. In recent times, the USA has had image of not caring for the environment and being almost environmentally callous. One reason for this could be cultural. In the USA, bigger is always better- bigger cars, homes, availability of technology etc, but each process does generate CO2– and when so many Americans also follow this policy, it creates problems.

But we must also consider the actions of the government as to a culture’s stance on the environment. For America, under the current administration, the environment is no longer a priority. The EPA has been scaled back and there is more emphasis on economic growth, while not a bad thing, it comes at the cost of the environment- which will cost a lot more to alleviate later. Also, every international policy that the USA was a part of, is now seen to be a burden to industry and is to be scrapped.

It seems as if the dollar, not the environment is king in America and as the saying goes “In God we trust, all others must pay”, but what will be the final price?

While there are more countries, and more cultures to explore, it is important to highlight the two extremes in the western world- the country riding the wave and the country trying to ignore the problem. Finally, the country where I reside: Japan.

There is a certain meticulous way of soring rubbish/trash in Japan which differs from city to city and is always complex and mistakes are commonly made. According to the council for PET bottle recycling (I wonder is there is any bias here???), in 2014, about 94% of PET bottles were recycled. But the Japanese relationship with plastic is slight ridiculous.

When buying a bento (弁当), there is usually a small piece of plastic grass contained within for decoration in addition to the plastic box, the plastic seal, and the plastic bag that it comes with. Multiply this across many other items in Japan and you can understand why it  was highlighted at the G20, various international media sources and on daytime TV in Japan. Even with this attention, it has been (mostly) ignored by the Japanese.

Looking at the 3 countries, Germany is winning the eco race, Japan is half way, and the US comes last. Looking at all of this, if scientists are wrong and we do nothing, all we have done is reduce go global pollution and help many endangered species survive. But if scientists are correct and things continue the way they have been going, at the very least many people will die either due to extreme weather patterns, low lying countries being flooded, and food becoming a scarce resource. So perhaps doing you part (even just a little bit) will make a difference.

I will write more on being ecologically friendly in other countries in the future- it is vital to explore this as the effects will affect everyone.

Thank you for reading and please consider what I have written. As always, happy exploring.

Want to do something? Don’t know where to start?  please check out the link below to sign a petition

http://chng.it/HCyMWMvQ7X