Hinokishin School Sponsors Symposium on Global Warming

Implementing policies and measures to tackle global warming has become an important task on a worldwide scale. On February 25, Hinokishin School sponsored a symposium entitled “Living in the Bosom of God the Parent–What Is Happening around Us” at the Home of the Parent to discuss global warming and the teachings. Ms. Mikako Kokitsu, who conducts research on the development of renewable energy sources for Osaka Gas, delivered a keynote lecture entitled “Global Warming and Energy.” Using the latest scientific data, she spoke about the serious impact that global warming is having on the Earth’s environment. She said, “If global warming continues, then between now and 2100, the global average surface temperature is projected to increase by a maximum of 6.2ºC (11.2ºF), and the average surface temperature in Japan will increase by 4.2ºC (7.6ºF). She then presented data concerning the projected climate change in Osaka and explained, “By 2100, there will be an additional 70 extremely hot days with temperatures exceeding 30ºC (86ºF), which translates into a total of five months of intense summer.” She went on to speak about the consequences of global climate change: “Global warming will create more problems in areas such as health, housing, and food. We are observing more frequency in heavy rainstorms and greater severity in drought conditions, which will reduce water resources and clean water supplies. Especially in Asia, some researchers estimate that more than a billion people will suffer from water shortage by 2050.” She added that the Earth’s environment is at a critical stage now, “Some researchers,” she said, “are warning that the sea level will rise 40 cm (15.7 in.) by 2080, flooding coastal areas and displacing between 75 million to 200 million coastal residents.” One of the countermeasures against global warming is the reduction of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, one of the chief global warming pollutants. “Besides conducting research on the development of renewable energy sources,” she said, “the key to cutting global warming emissions is to increase awareness of environmental issues at the individual level.” She suggested that many simple steps can be taken as a part of our daily routine in fighting global warming, such as efficient use of air-conditioners through appropriate thermostat settings and taking one’s own bags when shopping instead of accepting bags provided by stores. A panel discussion was held following her keynote lecture. The panelists were Ms. Kokitsu; Dr. Takanori Sato, professor at Tenri University Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion; and Rev. Yoshiaki Uno, head of the Tenrikyo Environment Advisory Committee. Steering Committee Member Yoshitaka Hasegawa, from Hinokishin School, served as moderator for the panel discussion. During the panel discussion, Dr. Sato, who is also a representative for an environmental awareness group called “Kankyo Shimin Network Tenri,” described the group’s past activities. He then said that just by observing a river running through an area, one can tell the level of environmental awareness of the residents. After quoting a verse from the Ofudesaki, “This universe is the body of God. Ponder this in all matters” (Ofudesaki III: 40 &135), he said: “God the Parent has given us warning signs in the form of environmental concerns and disasters. We who live in the bosom of the Parent must ponder over these warning signs and try to understand the Parent’s intention contained in them.” After sharing the teaching “Do not waste even a single vegetable leaf” (Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo), Rev. Uno said, “As exemplified in this teaching, the manner of following this path itself is already a part of the attitude of protecting the environment.” He also spoke about the Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps’ afforestation campaign, billed this campaign as one of the activities the Tenrikyo community takes pride in, and called for increased participation in it. Ms. Kokitsu concluded the panel discussion by saying: “In the course of our daily lives, there are many instances when we unintentionally squander the Earth’s resources. Although there are many people who consider environmental issues to be irrelevant because of the sheer scale of environmental problems, it is important to be aware and understand that every small step we take toward protecting the Earth’s environment counts.”

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