We gave the first in a series of presentations in our Japanese speaking / listening class toady. The theme, Global warming, was a nice gentle one to warm us up before we move onto euthanasia in a couple of weeks. I’ve yet to seriously consider my feelings on that topic and look forward to having the opportunity to explore.

Anyhow, I really enjoyed today’s global warming presentation. My partner (Jen) and I decided to demonstrate to our audience the horrendous consequences of flying – one return flight to Japan will account for almost half of the annual CO2 output of an average person (or about 20% of the annual output of a Japanese person).

We were extremely successfully in conveying our message. I wasn’t so interested in getting good marks as I was in making people forget that this was a classroom situation, and leading them to consider the consequences of their actions. All Japanese pairs who participated as audience members expressed a good deal of surprise, and in one case absolute horror at the effect that they had had upon the environment. They simply had never thought that flying could have such an impact.

Awareness of an individual’s contribution to CO2 emissions seems to be pretty scarce in Japan. No-one had any idea what their annual output amounted too, and trying to find Japanese language CO2 calculators was difficult. Considering the seriousness of the problem awareness levels in this country are also pretty poor, but at least the government and to a certain degree the media is making an effort to educate people.

To calculate your CO2 emissions in the UK, you could use the extremely sexy site created by the UK Gov, actonco2.direct.gov.uk In Japan, you have www.myco2.net, which is not exactly the most user-friendly of CO2 calculators. I mean, without going to find some old gas bill, do you actually know how many cubic metres of gas you used (not emitted) last year?

ho hum

[Edit: see also: Switching Lifestyles to save carbon emissions]