While world leaders and environmentalists gather in Denmark for the 11-day Copenhagen Climate Conference (COP15 Summit), the Japanese Embassy here has been giving its own discussions and lectures about the environment.
It was a journey of piecing together information about the Earth and understanding environmental issues with the touch of hands. How high has the temperature of the Earth risen? What causes global warming? Where does the rain come from? How does the forest absorb Carbon Dioxide (CO2)?
The Japanese embassy has been hosting several lectures about the environment using the first interactive digital globe Tangible Earth, invented by Professor Shin-ichi Takemura, a professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design in Japan, with groups of students in some elementary schools in the country.
They are learning that environmental issues are everybody’s concern, and not limited to just one country. “We have been hosting these lectures because we need to stress that environmental issues are not only one nation’s responsibility, but all nations worldwide… We must cooperate and work together,” said Japanese Ambassador Yukio Kitazume.
Yesterday, 21 students from the Al Bayan Educational Complex (Primary 2) were given a teleconference-lecture on the functions of the Tangible Earth globe, global warming and climate change, and earthquakes that struck some countries in the last 20 years, among others, by Takemura positioned at Osaka Gas in Japan, one of the Japanese companies buying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar. The teleconference-lecture was held at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence.
With the size of 1/10 millionth scale of the planet (1.28m circumference) and a projector fitted inside, fish-eye lens to show animated images on a hemispherical transparent surface, and pressure sensors also built-in to detect hand movement so one can spin the globe freely using one’s hands, the Tangible Earth globe shows a variety of information which can be gleaned by spinning it freely with one’s hands or using a magnifying glass pointer to observe any region of the planet to search through local information.
Takemura demonstrated how to use the Tangible Earth and learn more about global warming and climate change: the melting of the ice on the North and South Poles and the Himalayan glaciers, the increasing number of large-scale typhoons, and the rising sea levels, among others. Takemura showed the Tangible Earth globe can present data on global warming generated by the Earth Simulator supercomputer visualized in combination with information from near real-time data feeds. The combined result sheds light on the mechanisms behind the climatic changes. Only a few countries can boast of having this digital globe, which is the same one exhibited during the Toyako G8 summit in 2008 to demonstrate and visualise the present condition of the Earth, such as climate change and population explosion, as only 10 Tangible Earth globes were produced.
One is now in Denmark for the Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009, which is also being used to educate students about the changing world, Kitazume said.
Hiroko Kitazume, Kitazume’s wife, also asked the children how they can help conserve energy.
“One of the things we stressed was energy conservation. If they are not using lights in a certain room in their house, they should switch it off… that is a very small thing, but it can help a lot in conserving energy,” Hiroko said.
Last month, around 34 students from the Japan School of Doha and Al Yarmook Independent Preparatory School for Boys attended the same lecture. Another lecture is being delivered to students from the Al Israa Independent Primary School for Girls today. Al Israa School is the first school here that incorporated Japanese education systems of Mathematics and environment in its extracurricular curriculum.
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