Climate Change

Recently climate change has been wreaking major disasters around the world. Climate change, which can be expected to further escalate in the future, is the result of human behavior. Sweltering heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter have become the norm. Clearly the balance of nature is being totally destroyed.

I remember looking at a world map in my younger days and being surprised to see that the regions that gave birth to the four major civilizations of the world were now almost completely desert. When I investigated the matter, I discovered that the reason was energy sources?in other words, trees. The places where pyramids and sphinxes now stand in Egypt, which is a vast desert today, must once have been covered by verdant forests.

When a civilization formed, people flocked into urban areas. Fire was essential here, so people burned wood to create the energy needed for cooking and heating. They began by felling large trees and then after a while cut down the shrubbery as well. As a result, the topsoil that yields vegetation got blown away by the wind and rain, eventually leaving only a clayey substance and triggering the process of desertification. As urbanization has advanced, this same phenomenon has occurred around the world. And it is giving rise to climate change as well.

I love the summer. The Hakusan River, which has been designated as one of the 100 most scenic water spots in Japan, flows through my hometown. In my childhood I used to spend many happy hours swimming and fishing in this river. Rather than just sitting with a fishing rod waiting for the fish to come, I preferred to swim out to where they were to catch them. This gave me even more fantastic views of the beautiful river meandering into the distance, and even today these pictures are still etched firmly in my memory. When I came up for air, I could see the beautiful green mountains, high blue skies, and white clouds of summer and hear the soothing croaking sound of Kajika frogs. I will never forget those scenes.

I also loved the thunder and lightning of evening storms. My family operated a tobacco farm, so we had a hut for drying the leaves. I would keep guard over the fire in the hut for whole evenings, watching as the tobacco leaves changed color from fresh green to golden yellow and then sorting them into four grades and packaging them for shipment.

Like the river, I will never forget the lightning and driving rain that I saw during those sleepless evenings spent on duty in the drying hut. The rain was torrential, so from the drying hut, which was positioned on slightly higher ground, I could see the flash floods rushing down at awesome speed. Then there would be a clap of thunder followed by lightning. I gazed at those scenes with the eyes of a young boy, etching them in my memory.

In the countryside, rice planting takes place in June at the beginning of summer. Once my father sent a postcard to me in Tokyo saying that 典his year the typhoons haven稚 come yet, so we still can稚 plant the rice. The rice sprouts were about 15 cm high. We didn稚 have any rice-planting machines in those days, so the whole village would help out, with everyone standing in a row to plant the rice.

I was a bit of an eccentric, and in the evening, after the rice had been planted, I would sit on a paddy field ridge and spend quite a long and pleasant time gazing at the flickering moon reflected in the paddy where the rice had been planted and the occasional ripples of water created by a jumping frog. The air was refreshingly cool, the mountains were silhouetted in the moonlight, and the Milky Way stretched across the sky. Those really were moments of youthful luxury.

At a time when nature was as it should be, everything seemed different from what it is today. People were warmhearted and kind too. It deeply concerns me that not only the climate but people also are changing.