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2015年10月27日 (火)

温暖化適応計画 洪水や熱中症の対策が急務だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Climate change adaptation measures vital to counter flooding, heatstroke
温暖化適応計画 洪水や熱中症の対策が急務だ

The government has decided on a climate change adaptation plan that incorporates the potential effect of global warming by the end of this century and the measures it plans to take over the next 10 years.

Advance in global warming will have far-reaching consequences on our daily lives. To reduce the damage as much as possible, it is important to work out effective countermeasures and steadily carry them out.

The global average temperature has risen by about 1 C compared to the period prior to the Industrial Revolution, which began in the mid-18th century.

The international community has taken measures against global warming, mainly by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

Countries have set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even if these targets are met, however, global warming will not be curbed sufficiently, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says in a projection.

Adjusting our society to global warming will become more important.

In the adaptation plan, three ministries — the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and the Environment Ministry — assessed the seriousness of the environmental impact on various sectors and the urgency of measures, and proposed how to deal with it from this point onward.

In regard to natural disasters, measures deemed most urgent are those needed to deal with flooding. Torrential rain similar to one which caused the banks of the Kinugawa river to collapse in Ibaraki Prefecture last month is expected to occur more frequently.

The adaptation plan cites the reinforcement of river embankments to prolong the time before a bank is breached. This can be taken as a measure to mitigate damage.

It is vital for local governments to prepare evacuation plans on the basis of the projected extent of damage in their areas so that residents can evacuate safely while an embankment holds.

Health care steps needed

Health care measures are also important. The risk of heatstroke in the middle of this century will almost double compared to the end of the 20th century. As the adaptation plan stresses, such means as using robots to reduce human labor in sweltering heat will be needed.

As the habitats of mosquitoes and other organisms transmitting infectious diseases spread, it is also necessary to take countermeasures to eradicate the larvae of these species at their source.

Adverse effects of global warming have been seen in the farming sector with paddy field rice and fruit-bearing trees showing poor growth, and the taste of the food is less palatable. Developing more heat-tolerant varieties such as those the adaptation plan advocates should be accelerated.

With the rise in temperature, there will be areas where such new crops as oranges and mangoes can be grown. It may be necessary for the government to adopt unconventional ideas to deal with the impact of global warming and promote local economies.

It should be noted that proceeding with these measures must be carried out by making good use of a limited budget. They should be advanced by assessing their priority on the basis of scientific evidence.

The government will present its adaptation plan at the meeting of the 21st round of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework on Climate Change (COP21), to be held in Paris from the end of next month. Japan should proactively transmit information which can be helpful to developing countries that frequently suffer from extensive flood damage.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 26, 2015)


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