Graduate studies

Recently, I have been thinking about doing some graduate studies in something environmental. through distance learning. There are 3 reasons why I would choose distance learning. The first is that Japanese universities seem to be quite poorly respected around the world. Even here in Japan they have a repuation for being very easy. Students have no trouble holding down jobs while studying even difficult subjects. Something that would be difficult to say in other countries. The second reason is that one has to pass a really difficult entrance examination. High School students spend much of their last years just studying for these tests in order to get into the “better” of the universities, which is mostly in the name anyway. The third and probably most important reason is that I don’t really want to learn in Japanese. Even though I could probably make it through the course material I feel that my learning would be comprimised as I wind up looking all sorts of words up in the dictionary.

I am also not decided in what specific part of enviornmentalism I would like to study and how it could possibly tie in with the computer engineering that I already have. One possibility that does sound cool would be to study climate patterns (or the like) and ultimately tie that into doing some sort of climate modeling. That does sound cool, but sustainable development also sounds very interesting for me.

I am fairly sure that i will at least start taking courses but I am not yet decided if I want to try and make that trun into a MSc or something.

There is still a fair more to be decided.

Sheffield Hallam University and University of Exetor?and here

Keirin – Bicycle Racing in Japan

For the first time I went to see Keirin, Japanese bicycle racing, for the first time since I got to Japan. There is stadium just near my house (15 minutes by train).

It works just like horse racing in terms of betting. I didn’t win anything, but on of my friends, Taka, won 850 on 100 yen. But unfortunately that didn’t even cover the other tickets and beer that he bought!

The photo is not very clear as it was night and pouring with rain. Next time I will bring the good camera.


Solar Radiation not a factor in Global Warming

In a scientific study published recently, it has been concluded that solar radiation is not responsible for the drastic warming on the Earth in recent years.

From BBC

Global Warming nay-sayers have often cited solar radiation as the main factor in global warming and say that the human influence is negligible. This evidence was used in the “The Great Global Warming Swindle” video aired on the Channel 4. However, they only used data up until 1980 where the temperature on earth corresponded with the solar radiation coming from the sun. However, as the solar radiation is cyclical, the data diverged after 1980 and now it is quite conclusive that varying solar radiation has little, if any, impact on the temperature here on Earth. The above graph shows plainly that there is no connection.

Article from BBC

China passes America to be #1… Pollutor

Well, last week it became official. The news that we all knew was going to come sooner or later has arrived. The Chinese have supraseed the USA to become the #1 polluter on Earth. As for last week, the 2006 Chinese CO2 emssions were estimated at 6.2bn tonnes while the USA at “only” 5.8bn tonnes.

Up until now, the Chinese have been hiding behind the “we don’t pollute as much as the USA” or “we don’t pollute so much per capita” arguments. But with this announcement, that all changes. The Chiinese are now the largest CO2 pollutor on earth and their per-capita pollution is rapidly approaching that of Europeans. With new coal-fired power plants opening on a near-daily basis, they show no signs of slowing up any time soon. The Chinese economy grew over 10% in 2006, but the enviornmental investment only grew 0.14%. Seems like a rather huge disparity to me.

Its not just global pollution that China is suffering from, but extreme local pollution is having devastating effects as well. North China’s Shanxi Province (which has strong coal and other heavy industries) 3 cities among the top 20 most polluted cities in the world. Rivers are quoted as “running black”. In fact, 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in China and nearly 40% of all Chinese cities are rated as either “moderatly” or “very” polluted.

As China has been facing new criticism over the increased pollution that it is emitting, other countries have been somewhat reducing their emissions. From 2005 to 2006, for example, the United States reduced its CO2 output by about 1%. However China, quite validly, points out that the main reason for these decreases is that a lot of the manufacturing that used to be done in other countries is now being done in China. China has become the manufacturing center of the world, and the increidble increase in its GDP, imports and pollution reflect that.

So that leaves everybody in a quandry. As many countries have simply exported their pollution to China, how can they fairly complain that China is polluting too much?

What can we, as people, do to help the situation? There doesn’t seem to be much as so many of the daily things that we buy are made there. It would be great if companies would start putting this kind of information into their reports.

China Daily

10 Worst Cities

Most polluted city in the world

Article in The Guardian

Sony Least-Green : Greenpeace

Greenpeace released its quarterly ranking of the leading mobile and PC manfacturers based on their global policies, their taking repsonsibility for their products (recycling) and how much they are working to remove harmful chemicals from their products.

Sony used to place quite well (5th), but with each passing ranking has consistently dropped and is currently sitting in last place.

The reasonsing being :

Sony has been free falling down the ranking and is now at the bottom. When the Guide was first launched the company was in 5th place. This is due in part to the penalty point for corporate double standards on Individual Producer Responsibility. Sony is a founding member of the European Recycling Platform which supports IPR; however, in the US, Sony is part of a Coalition that has been opposing Producer Responsibility and lobbying for U.S. consumers to pay an Advanced Recycling Fee (ARF). On chemicals, Sony has yet to provide timelines for eliminating PVC and BFRs from all their products. On the positive side, Sony scores well for having some models that are free of the worst chemicals on the market. Sony has yet to report on its recycling rate as a percentage of past sales. Sony loses a point on Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) due to its double standards. Sony is a founding member of the European Recycling Platform which supports IPR; however, in the US, Sony is part of a Coalition that has been opposing Producer Responsibility and lobbying for U.S. consumers to pay an Advanced Recycling Fee (ARF).

Greenpeace Ranking here