Monday, November 26, 2007

Autumn leaves and climate change.

Autumn... trees are starting to change color, like a rendering of warm colors on a canvas. Temperatures have gone down, and I notice it's almost the end of November. Time flies.

Last Monday, I paid a visit to Kita-no-maru Park near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Spent maybe about an hour or two sitting on the bench, gazing at the picturesque scenery adorned with beautifully colored trees, while some little nursery children played with parents and other people sat on the lawn reading books or just taking a nap. Calm, quiet, and peaceful. Birds flew from a tree to another from time to time.

An oasis in bustling central Tokyo.

When you talk of autumn leaves in Japan, Kyoto is the first place that comes to mind. The former capital of Japan is just purely beautiful during this season. The scenery of numerous history-rich artistic temples with a balanced mix of red, orange, yellow, green, and sometimes pink and purple leaves is just simply magnificent.

However, peculiar things are starting to happen in Kyoto. The autumn period is becoming shorter and shorter year after year. Compared to half a century ago, leaves now start to change color two weeks late, and leaves fall off the trees a week late, shortening the "autumn leaves season". Why? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess... the temperatures at Kyoto have risen, widely thought to be the result of global warming. According to records, the average temperature of Kyoto is three to four degrees (Celsius) higher today than in the Meiji period, about a century ago.

Kyoto is where the international community agreed on a protocol to reduce greenhouse gases, and the host country promised to cut 6% by 2012 from the 1990 level. However, the reality is emission has increased by more than 8%. Experts note that the Japanese industries had already gone through a series of rigorous cost cutting measures in the 1980s through developing new technologies, thus cutting carbon emissions, so much of the current plans focus on taking advantage of the Kyoto Mechanism, such as emissions trading (ET) and joint implementation (JI), and also promoting and persuading offices and homes to save more energy.

We, as individuals, need to act now. For our future, not only to help our environment but also in order not to lose trust from the rest of the world. There are lots we can get done if we all do it. :-)

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