Saturday, May 26, 2007

Japan Scenarios towards Low-Carbon Society

The Japanese Ministry of the Environment sponsored this report (PDF) entitled Japan Scenarios towards Low-Carbon Society (LCS).

According to the report, a 70-percent reduction in emissions can be achieved by reducing energy demand by 40 to 45 percent and by introducing low-carbon energy supplies. The energy demand-side emission reduction can be accomplished by a decrease in demand due to a shrinking population scenario, smarter energy use, and improvements in energy efficiency, while allowing energy demand to grow in some sectors.

I found it a very interesting read, since it accurately captures the current state of Japanese society and the problems the country faces. A large percentage of my translation work is for companies that are heavily engaged in trying to eke out a living with more expensive energy costs and tightening emissions regimes.

The divide between the Fast Life (Scenario A) and Slow Life (Scenario B) can be seen developing rapidly in actual fact, as I expect it will in other countries. It appears that we're in the vanguard of Scenario B;

More people migrate from urban to rural areas due to increasing attractiveness of agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries. In addition to permanent farmers, increasing numbers of families enjoy secure food supply and healthy life-styles in rural areas while pursuing businesses in the pattern of Small Office Home Office (SOHO).
Scenario B seems to be the better one as it reduces CO2 emissions faster, uses less concrete of which Japan has already poured enough if appearances are anything to go by, and is obviously more fun.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Although we dug the pond some time before we moved house, it refused to fill up. I read that wallowing pigs do a sterling job of sealing the bottoms of ponds, but I don't have any pigs so I tried stomping about in the little puddle that formed in the bottom myself, poking with a stick to simulate busy little trotters. To no avail, alas. Although the trottered places held water longer than parts that didn't get the treatment, the essential ingredient 'pig wax' was obviously missing.

So at the suggestion of our dermatologist friend, we tried the trusty 'blue sheet' (if blue sheets were removed from Japan, the society would collapse within a week). We had a big ole blue sheet with some holes in it which the young master was very keen to tape up with trusty gum tape.

The effect is not lovely, and the blue sheet may need to be hidden by some means, but we should probably wait until the pond fills (or not) before we attempt cosmetic measures.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blueberries! June Berries!

This is the view from my office porthole. One of Chiba-san's crew is laboring away planting 10 blueberry bushes in three varieties, and one juneberry. What's a juneberry? Damned if I know, really. But it has very pretty foliage, and the makings of some juicy red berries. Chiba-san seems to be able get 2 m tall shrubs and plant them in bark compost for cheaper than you can buy 10 cm sticks in a plastic pot. This is good wizardry.

Net vendor of electricity

So our first chits from the evil electricity utility company Yonden (Shikoku Denryoku) came today, the top one for our sale of clean, renewable power to them, and the bottom one for our purchase of nuclear power from them (from our friendly neighbourhood nuclear plant, Ikata).

In terms of pricing, ours commands a higher price because most of the electricity we use is cheap night power. For April we used 442 kWh and generated 315 kWh. We realized a profit of 215 yen (a tinny of beer's worth - I'll drink this tonight to celebrate).

I'm fairly pleased with this result. Now we'll have to see if we can cut down our usage to the same level as our generation. Or get that windmill...

This is the data box for the solar (top unit).

Purple light: Good - selling juice
Orange light: Bad- buying juice

Perhaps at some stage I'll lose the habit of glancing nervously at the light and cursing inwardly when it's orange.