Monday, October 15, 2007

Living Environmentally in Tochigi

This is an unusual article for this blog. Today is Blog Action Day. This years topic is the environment. What can the audience of this blog do to improve the environment?

CO2 emissions.

Many people, including pretty much all the scientists in the field believe that our CO2 emissions are having a major impact on our weather now. And that even if we greatly reduce those emissions right now, its going to keep getting worse for a while before it gets better. Remember how exceptionally hot it was this summer?
You can calculate your impact right here. Carbon Footprint
Who are the worst polluters? Per capita carbon emissions
Want to know more? Environmental Forum has a fairly high noise ratio, but good info too


Its probably very likely that the people who read this blog have fairly high CO2 footprints. Thats because most of us probably travel a lot. Thats probably one of the most significant contributions to carbon emissions we can make. We probably also encourage our friends and family to travel to visit us too. Lots of long haul travel is definitely not good for the environment. So there is a big opportunity for us to save here.

There is a strong temptation to go home for the holidays. How about spend that time looking around Japan? Most of us will go home in the future and perhaps regret not really seeing Japan as well as we could have. Lets really explore it while we are here. Japan has a great rail network that we can use to visit even far flung parts of the country more cheaply than flying overseas and with much less environmental impact.

We can also cut our emissions by living close to work. We can walk or ride a bike instead of going by train and go by train or bus instead of driving. Because many of us are visitors we have a lot more choices about where we live and how we travel.


Next we can watch what we consume. First of all lets consume less. Actually buying a lot of stuff here probably doesn't make much sense anyway because we'll only have to pay (and pollute) to ship it back. Another thing that has a pretty big impact is all those imported things we like. How about explore local food instead of imported food and swapping books with your friends rather than buying them? Finally, buy efficient products. Get fluorescent bulbs and if you must buy a car get a nice small one with a small engine or a hybrid.


As you know in Japan daylight savings is not observed. So in summer we get all that extra daylight in the early morning. We changed our hours anyway. We switched our routine and got up at 5AM and went to bed at 9PM, as a result we had the lights on one hour less than we would otherwise have done.

Japan is pretty good about restricting heating and air conditioning (some say too good!). This is a very good thing. Remember, when you turn on your aircon you are only contributing to an even hotter year next year. Using your heater does the same thing. At the very least try to rug up when its cold and dress light when its hot. But I'd suggest resisting those devices whenever you can.

Local environment.

It was a big surprise to me how bad the local environment was here in Tochigi. There is rubbish on the road, rubbish at tourist destinations and rubbish on the walking tracks.(we don't normally highlight than in this blog) Here's a local story. Every night my wife and I walk around our block. There is quite a bit of rubbish along the way. So on one Saturday afternoon I took a bag and started picking things up. At first I was a little embarrassed doing it. I ran into one of our neighbours who decided to help us. The next day another neighbour was out picking things up. Our road is cleaner now and I met a neighbour I probably wouldn't have otherwise met. Now I do the same thing when I go walking in the mountains. My next project is to do the same on the road up into Shiobara. There are some very horrible parts there. It will only take 1/2 an hour and it will be a nicer place because I was here.

Lots of people are waiting for the government to take action or for somebody else to start cleaning up. The fact is probably everybody who reads this blog pollutes more than the world average. The thing we can do right now to make things better is to cut our own pollution. How about we start today?


owenandbenjamin said...

I like your idea of cleaning up around your neighborhood. It's little things like that that improve the quality of life which is important.

davidfromoz said...

I really didn't want to do it. I was embarrassed. But it was such a good experience, I'm definitely going to keep doing it.