“I have drawn ‘spring’.”

According to this article in the Economist, the average peak-bloom date for cherry blossoms in Kyoto is getting earlier, probably because of climate change.

Here are some ukiyo-e featuring cherry blossoms with explanations in English. This is of a hanami party from the mid-19th century:

Discussion/Writing/Research questions:

  • Did you enjoy a hanami this year? Where do you think are the best places for different types of hanami (walking around type, sitting and eating/drinking type)?
  • How would you explain the word “hanami” to someone who does not speak Japanese, has never been here, and doesn’t know much about Japan?
  • Do you associate cherry blossoms more with entrance ceremonies or graduation ceremonies? If this trend continues and cherry blossoms continue to bloom earlier, what do you think will happen to this tradition?
  • In this excerpt from The Tale of Genji, it says that they celebrated the cherry blossoms in “the second month”. But they followed a different calendar in the Heian Period, didn’t they? What would that be today? Have you read Genji? What do you remember about it?

“Global weirding”

Instead of “global warming” we should say “global weirding” say some people. The term became a buzzword back in 2010; it’s a way to preempt climate change skeptics from saying, “But how can it be global *warming* if it’s snowing outside?”

I was listening to a new podcast called “Pod Save America” the other day. It’s a venture by former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau (not the same guy as the movie director — see yesterday’s topic) and his Crooked Media colleagues. They had Katharine Hayhoe, “sensible Canadian” and climate scientist on the show, and her hopeful, easy-to-understand explanation of where we are and what we can do was inspiring. The interview with Hayhoe begins at about the 37’40” mark of the April 3 episode.

Here’s her Global Weirding YouTube channel, and here’s one of the most recent uploads:

Discussion & writing topics:

  • Do you typically use the term “global warming” or “climate change” in English? What do you say in Japanese? What do you know about the phenomenon? What do you know about the “climate change deniers” and their point of view?
  • Do you think your carbon footprint is small or large?
  • Besides the cliched “eco bag” and “my bottle” answers to the “What can we as individuals do to protect the environment and prevent climate change?” what other answers are there? (You can try summarizing the video above and also add your ideas.)
  • What podcasts do you listen to in Japanese? In English? If you were to create your own, what would the theme be?

For more research, try Skeptical Science.

Here’s one carbon footprint calculator to try (it’s from the UK, so when you answer questions about travel, pretend you’re living in the UK — “domestic travel” — to get a more accurate result), and these are some tips about what you can do to decrease your footprint.

Making a “perfect” country

my-perfect-country

“My Perfect Country” is a radio program by the BBC (13 episodes as of today, and there will be a total of 14) which imagines how we could build a perfect country, based on the best policies of countries around the world. We could use Japan’s gun control policies, Costa Ricas’ green energy techniques, Peru’s methods of reducing poverty, and more.

The episodes are 27 minutes in length, but there are also shorter clips:

clips

Another idea to add to the list:

“Iceland knows how to stop teenage substance but the rest of the world isn’t listening” (from Mosaic)

Can you think of others?

Although I don’t think perfection is possible in most things in life, a willingness to try to change things for the better is a more beneficial way to spend our time than complaining.

Bicycle powered house?

This video explains how many people you’d need to power your house by bicycle:

A few things:

  • American houses use a lot of energy! My apartment only uses about 300 kw/h per month. But we don’t have a clothes dryer or central heating, and it’s obviously a much smaller space. Still…
  • That local dish called the “Garbage Plate” looks and sounds, frankly, disgusting. Sorry, Rochester. And students, please don’t judge all “American food” by this example.

Read more here: “Could You Power Your Home With A Bike?” (from NPR)