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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Climate Change In Japan - A Brief Look

I have basked in the warm December temperatures from my abode in Toronto, followed by some cold winds, and a minor snowfall of about 10 centimeters (four inches)... and today (I'm writing this on the 15th of January, 2016) when it's supposed to get as warm as 4C (39.2F) and then drop two days later to a high of -6C (21.2F) of -11C (12.2F) on the 19th... with not all that much snow on the ground… I wondered about climate change and specifically because this is a blog about Japan, about climate change in the Land of the Rising Sun.

First off… let's take a look at a speech given by Japan Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) back on December 13, 2015. I believe in Toronto (on the 14th), it was a high of 13C (55.4F). For those of you who assume that all of Canada is a freezing hellhole, just note that it isn't. At least not all the time.

The statement was made by Abe on the agreement reached at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"I highly value the adoption at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) of the “Paris Agreement,” which is a new international framework in place of the Kyoto Protocol for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other climate actions. I express my profound gratitude to the French COP Presidency for the effort and dedication with which it convened COP21 without submitting to terrorism and led it to success.

"Japan has consistently advocated that we must safely hand our sole planet down to the generations of our children and grandchildren and that every country must participate in the new framework to this end. Now we have reached a fair agreement applicable to all Parties, consisting of more than 190 countries, for the first time in history.

"The world will make a new start to tackle the challenging problem of global warming. Japan must take steps to achieve the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in a planned manner, aiming at the goal of a 26 per cent reduction. We will achieve the goal without sacrificing economic growth. Japan will promote the key to this theme, namely, the development of innovative technologies in the fields of the environment and energy. It will implement climate change-related assistance in developing countries as well by making use of its technology and experience. Negative impacts of climate change are also becoming visible within our boundaries. To prepare ourselves for future risks, the Government will take measures to minimize such climate effects. My Cabinet will take these actions as a task of its highest priority.

"Climate change is an issue to be addressed over the long term. Japan holds the tradition of living in harmony with nature and is equipped with world-class technology with which it overcame the previous oil crises. I would like to refine these strengths of our nation by maintaining the originality and inventive work promoted by both the public and private sectors so that Japan can continue to play a leading role in the international community in addressing climate change."


First… what is Greenhouse gas? It's a gas in our atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. Greenhouse Gases in our atmosphere are: H20 (in the form of water vapor), CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane), NO2 (nitrous oxide), O3 (ozone), and CFCs (chloroflurocarbons).

Combine Greenhouse Gases with non-greenhouse gases with direct radiative effect, and the strength of each gas is multiplied greatly.

The less scientific explanation is that greenhouse gases create a thicker protective layer around the planet (than what we require), preventing heat from escaping… basically cooking us Jiffy-pop popcorn.

As for Abe's speech…

A 26 percent reduction is a decent start. For all you negative people out there, it is unrealistic to expect 100 percent acquiesce at the outset of anything. This is a give-and-take solution, and hopefully planet-saving active goals will continue.

But what does climate change mean to Japan?

It is more than alcohol polluted cherry blossom viewing (hanami) in the Spring, driving in your greenhouse gas-emitting polluting car to go and see the leaves turn color (kayo) in the Autumn, or even the fact that one can kill some plant or animal at a certain time of the year in order to gorge oneself.

We're all guilty of such pleasures… with people's lives constantly linked with the weather.

Hot enough for you?

My son plays in an outdoor ice hockey league, and we've had three of the six games cancelled because it's been too damn warm to play. 

What happens, with evolution (or if you don't believe in evolution—with God's will), things happen, and one either adapts or one perishes.

In Japan, the way climate change is going on, cherry blossoms might start blooming earlier in the year; different species of fish will be consumed as migration patterns change due to water temperature or over-fishing occurs, crazy ass typhoons could hit mow often or with more ferocity, crops could fail, cost to feed farm critters could rise, food prices soar and we, the people, have less money available and will need to make even greater choices regarding how we live our collective daily lives.

Is it all mankind's fault? No… some of it is the planet itself… it has ebbs and flows, too, but certainly man, and its propensity for the emission of greenhouse gases is leading the way for its own unfunny pratfall.

Sea levels are rising, as is the global air and ocean temperatures. Considering that most of the planet is covered in water… we have a problem brewing.

Some predictions say that eventually the waters around Japan could rise by 40 centimeters (15.75-inches)… it's not a lot, laugh the people of Venice, Italy, but it's a lot. Even in Venice, if the water's were to rise by that much, travelling gondolas and other watercraft probably will not be able to navigate under the numerous pedestrian bridges around the city.


What else could Japan expect?

Heat waves, mow rain, stronger typhoons - all of which could effect Japan's chief staple crop - rice… causing a decrease up to 40 percent in central and southern Japan.

Hokkaido - Japan's great white north - it'll have less snowy weather in a manner to what we have here in Toronto.

If greenhouse gases continue to increase, we, or rather our mutant ancestors, can except the global temperature to increase by a minimum of 1C, but maybe even a high of 4.6C or more.

Excluding all you readers below the equator reading this in January of 2016, us northers might think that it being a twitch warmer wouldn't be a bad thing.

Okay… sure. Now think about what those extra degrees will feel like in the summertime. While it is livable or even comfortable for you buggers with air-conditioned homes (I don't practice what I preach… I don't have a home or car air-conditioner that works… but I admit I have certainly enjoyed the use of one when they did work)… it's the rest of the natural environment that gets screwed up.

Too hot… the crops wither and die. Not enough snow because it's too hot… the ground doesn't get replenished… crops wither and die.

Not enough green nature… animals, birds… die.

Waters too warm… algae blooms grow… covering more of the water's surface… meaning creatures below the rely on the sun and other foods not related to algae suffer… species shrink… die off… aliens come and transport the dolphins off the planet.

It's the butterfly effect and chaos theory.

I loves me some chaos theory.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is "the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state."

We need, as current member in good standing of Club Earth, to begin making small, but positive changes.

I am not going to preach at you that one thing is a better way than another… that's your decision.

But don't just get one opinion. Look around. Read up. Attend. Speak, if you can and must.

Be the Lorax.

By the way, on January 17, 2016, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, launched atop one of its Falcon 9 rockets a weather satellite - the Jason-3 - a mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and European weather satellite agency Eumetsat.

The plan is to bounce radar signals off the Earth's water below to accurately measure the sea surface height within a couple of inches.

The information gathered should help scientists track the rising sea levels as global temperatures continue to increase, as well as to track ocean current direction and speed as an aid to better forecast typhoons (hurricanes).

That Falcon 9 rocket, by the way, attempted to land back on Earth atop a platform, but as it touched down, a leg strut buckled causing the rocket to topple over and explode.

On January 19, 2016, the World Economic Forum says it expects to see more plastic (pound-for-pound) floating in the ocean than there are fish by the middle of the century.

According to the report, worldwide use of plastic has increased 20-fold in the past 50 years, and it is expected to double again in the next 20 years. By 2050, we’ll be making more than three times as much plastic stuff as we did in 2014.

To this, I'm going to pump the brakes on the semi before it plummets off a cliff.

Does the World Economic Forum really believe this to be so? I'm not going to slam the plastics industry, but I do believe that with the rising costs of oil—where plastics are derived—will make plastics production expensive enough that only the more costly items will be made with it—the smaller, less expensive items, ergo, will not be produced in such high volumes where waste in the oceans or elsewhere would be at such fear-mongering proportions.

Also... where is all this plastic waste in the waters coming from? Right now, about 1/3 of all plastics produced escapes our collection systems, and apparently winds up in the water—Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia said (in the Washington Post in February 2015): “Five bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.”

Really? Is it really that bad? Are they still talking about all the materials swept out to sea following the March 11, 2011 tsunami (caused by a 9.0 Magnitude earthquake that devastated the northeast part of Japan's main island)?

I have a hard time believing that  there is that much plastic blowing around and landing in the water. Stop telling me. Show me. Show us. Show us where we think it originates, and take steps to remove the culprit cause.

Is it just poor dumb third-world country natives careless tossing their plastic film potato chip bags after they've consumed the contents? I don't see that. What about them chucking out all those empty water bottles or Coke Zero bottles after burping out the alphabet? No... don't they re-use them for water collection? 

Look... I'm all for putting a tight lid on the human race's polluting and destructive ways regarding our planet.

But considering we humans have been bombarded with fear mongering for so many decades that we've gone blind to the constant chattering, new marketing techniques need to be unearthed to get REAL messages across.

Sabre rattling and fear mongering have run their course. Forget about how the planets going to die choking with a plastic ring around its neck.

Tell us what is going on now, tell us what we can do now. Initiate it (which I think we are doing). Effect real change at the urban level. Most of us in the big cities in Canada and the U.S. (not sure about elsewhere), have very good recycling programs—though I am sure we lag behind what Europe is doing.

Global warming does appear to be happening. Can it be corrected, or is it a planetary natural phenomenon?  

Oh well... for you people in Florida, over the next few decades or so, you might want to move or grow gills, as it will become over run by salty water. 

It's not easy being green,

Andrew 'Kermit' Joseph
PS: When I was a little pecker back in the late 1960s, before 'sustainability' became the key term, we used the word 'ecology', man, and it was, like, cool, man.
Ecology even had its own flag, man. And like even I was into doing stuff to say Mother Earth, man.
Every year I would do a science fair project that would show the effects of pollution on our Great Blue Marble of a planet. I was a lousy student from Grade 7 on, but I always managed to spend a few hours to create an ecology demonstration depicting how oil and water don't mix, or how Styrofoam containers like the ones my McDonald's Big Mac used to come in would not decompose for 500 years or more.. like maybe even never.
I never did anything Earth-shattering, so my science fair projects never won anything except assurance that I wouldn't have to go on to any future events to prove my theories that had long ago been proved by real scientists and ecologists.

By the way, did you know it might take 1-million years for a glass bottle to biodegrade? Sure… but that's why they can be recycled or reused - so make sure you put'em in the proper recycling place.

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