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Two of the speakers invited to the seminar, Wayne Elliot from England and Claire Martin from Canada, were interviewed about climate change and asked about their impressions of Japan.
This was my first time to visit Japan. Everyone has certainly been very warm and friendly. I've been extremely interested to see how well developed the means of transportation are. It also strikes me as an excellent sustainable system from the perspective of preventing global warming.
England is doing its best, too. For example, we are promoting recycling with a system for processing plastic and other waste material. The tax on vehicle fuels is another instance, of course, and people who live in homes with poor fuel efficiency are subject to a tax for that. We are creating laws that will leave us no alternative but to change our own behavior.
Companies are generally driven by their share prices and profits, so that the context behind their action is different from the context of governments. However, both share the common goal of preventing global warming. The majority of the British people understand the phenomenon of climate change and are trying to change their own lifestyles, for instance by using more efficient forms of energy.
For myself, it's gotten so that I'm always thinking about cutting down on the amounts of water and electricity I use, and when I buy something I think about what influence it might have on the world as a whole. I don't drive a car very much, either. I live in the countryside, where there isn't any public transportation, but I've joined a car pooling arrangement with my neighbors, so three or four people ride to work in one car.
Nobody knows exactly how the effects of global warming will make themselves known. Abnormal weather phenomena have been occurring increasingly often around the world in the last several years, and all over the world, the mass media rush to show images that incite a sense of crisis. People can't help but tend to look at those images. Even more dangerous than those phenomena, however, are certain less dramatic changes that are taking place. New records for high atmospheric temperatures are being set and reset in Japan, too, and there is a decrease in the number of days with freezing temperatures as well as in snow cover. Climate changes like these that are not prominently reported by the mass media can be more threatening.
As a weather forecaster, I am in a position to advise governments, companies, and the public in various ways. I want to continue broadcasting while maintaining a solid, distanced perspective. That way I can clearly perceive the influences of global warming without overlooking the earth's small signs of what lies ahead.
Different countries around the world are experiencing phenomena that represent the crisis of global warming. I think the situation is very serious. There are two main problems. The first problem is the changing temperature. We are seeing periods of high temperature persist for longer times, and even night-time temperatures are remaining high for long periods. Agriculture is suffering from serious droughts. The second serious problem is the rise in sea levels. This poses a considerable threat to the hundreds, thousands, millions of people who live near rivers and seacoasts around the world.
As for Canada, there is great concern among the people about problems with snow and ice. These can make it impossible to extract natural resources such as diamonds and oil. The emergence of a new northwest passage between Europe and Asia because of melting ice is expected to cause significant economic changes. There is also the disappearance of the tribal cultures of the aboriginal Inuits, which is a serious loss for Canada. The Inuits have their own distinctive languages and cultural traits, such as respect for the elderly, that are greatly valued by the Canadian people. I'm also making an effort to stop these phenomena by not using air conditioning, for example, by living close to my workplace so that I can walk there instead of driving, and I use public transportation. Actually, this is my first trip to Japan, as well, and I think the public transportation here is just wonderful. It is on time and it is fast. You can go anywhere without owning a car. Environmental education for children also seems to be widespread and advanced. There is just one thing that worries me, and that is the heat island effect in urban areas. I'm concerned that heat waves like those in Europe might occur.
Various climatic changes are taking place all over the world, including in Japan, but I think that we are capable of changing our current circumstances to adapt to those conditions. The very best and most effective thing to do would probably be for every individual and every household to start taking action. If we bring in simple and practical changes to our own lives, and put those into action on an individual basis, I believe that we could make great changes happen.