God's Creation

This Summer was the hottest Summer on record in Japan. It is September now as I write and the temperatures are not going down!

This Summer was the hottest Summer on record in Japan. It is September now as I write and the temperatures are not going down! Kyoto, where I live, is one of the hottest (and most humid) places in Japan because it is in a basin surrounded by hills. Kyoto is also where the UN had the conference 10 years ago and most countries agreed on a protocol to work on reducing greenhouse emissions. Living through this kind of heat this summer, it seems like a daily reminder that we have a long way to go on curbing global warming.

It is not only Japan that is experiencing the effects of climate change. The recent floods in Pakistan, the heat wave in Russia, the torrential rains, and landslides in China are all effects of global warming. There is fear that the resulting detrimental effects on food production, water, and land use may lead to disputes and perhaps even war in various regions. When you think about it this way, environmental issues are very much interrelated with peace in our world. And so, the question is – what part do we play in all of this? What changes can we make in our lifestyles so that we don’t consume so much fuel and pollute the environment?

Another indication of the adverse effects of global warming seen in Kyoto is that the trees are dying. A type of oak, common in the hills surrounding Kyoto, are being attacked by a type of insect that did not use to exist in this habitat. This insect was only found in areas south of Kyoto, but now that the temperatures are warming, they are gradually moving to northern habitats that once were cooler. It is really heart wrenching to see the hills of Kyoto this summer because there are considerable patches of brown – the oak trees that are dying out. Some of my friends are involved in the effort to save the trees – a labor-intensive process of hammering small picks into the holes that the male insects make, and where the females then come to lay eggs. This environmental group is also doing their best to raise consciousness about the issue and about our lifestyles that cause climate change.

Today, September 10, is another hot day. Our Fall Semester at the University does not start for another week, so it is still officially “summer break.” Usually, by this time though we start feeling like the season is changing. This year, the summer seems endless – at least the weather, that is. Regardless of the weather of course, the Fall semester will soon be upon us!

This Fall I will teach a full load of classes, including my lecture course called “Social Problems,” a required course for all Freshmen in our department. I am thinking I will need to include environmental concerns this year – a subject I have not necessarily covered in the past.

With prayers that our world community will be better stewards of God’s creation,

Martha Mensendiek

Martha serves at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan through the Council on Cooperative Mission.  Martha is a Teacher of social welfare.