How old trees are preserved in Japan

These days I was in Kyushu Japan. As the place did not bear the brunt of typhoon Jebi, I could tour around a bit.

I was in Dazaifu where I came across this more than 1,500 years old tree. It was a stunning scene to spot. And if we think about the tree in terms of human life, it was awe-inspiring. If a man has an average life of 80 years, this tree then has been living almost 20 lives. If 30 years is a generation (when people give birth to their children), this tree has witnessed 50 generations of human evolution.

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But what amazed me most was not having a tree this old, but how it was conserved. If you looked carefully at the branches at the top, you could see they were all mounted with some sort of protection. I was uplifted by the efforts the Japanese government made in conserving old trees. By protecting valuable trees, natural, historic and cultural treasures can be conserved. Cities with oldest trees should aspire for better preservation.


日本的古樹保育

最近去了日本九州,該地並未受到颱風飛燕強烈影響,讓我可遊玩一番。

我在太宰府時遇到這棵逾一千五百年歷史的古樹,實在蔚為奇觀。假設一個人能活到八十歲,這棵古樹已活了差不多二十個人的一生了,若三十年是一代的話(假設人們大概在這年紀生下下一代),這棵古樹已見證了五十代人的進步了,想想實在讓人嘖嘖稱奇。

但最讓我留下深刻印象的,並非一棵樹木能活上這個年紀,而是它的保育工作。如果你仔細看,會發現古樹頂部的樹枝護着保護物料,日本政府的樹木保育工作實在值得學習。透過保育珍貴的樹木,我們同時保護了大自然、歷史和文化瑰寶。需要進行古樹保育工作的城市應當仿效。

Naomi Osaka won the 2018 US Open Tennis Championships

The last time I watched a tournament live was almost 2 years ago with my best friend Andrew. Time flew and the US Open Tennis champion of this year was born this past week when a 20-year old Naomi Osaka beat the the six-time US Open champion Serena Williams in a controversial final.

The game was controversial and dramatic throughout. First, the young and fairly unknown Osaka beat the veteran and legendary Williams in straight-sets 6-2, 6-4. Second Williams was penalised twice and heavily fined for a coaching violation, slamming the racket and verbally abusing the umpire, with Williams accusing the umpire of sexist double standards. The game ended up bitter with the audience booing the awards ceremony.

Controversy aside, Osaka is a promising young athlete. She is the first player from Japan to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. And remarkably, she won straight sets except for the fourth match throughout the tournament. She will soon be coming to Hong Kong. I’m looking forward to seeing her live.


大坂娜奧米贏得2018年美國網球公開賽冠軍


上一次現場看網球比賽已是兩年前的香港網球公開賽,當時和好友Andrew一同觀賽。時間飛逝,今年的美國網球公開賽亦於上星期結束,年僅二十歲的大坂娜奧米(Naomi Osaka)擊敗六次奪得美網冠軍的沙蓮娜·威廉絲(Serena Williams),贏得大滿貫。

決賽結果充滿戲劇性,由年輕新星大坂以6-2,6-4擊敗戰績彪炳的名將威廉絲。比賽過程亦備受爭議,裁判指威廉絲違規接受教練場外指導,首次警告威廉絲,其後威廉絲因摔擲球拍被罰分,與裁判發生衝突,因侮辱裁判而被罰輸一局,威廉絲指責裁判性別歧視。比賽以威廉絲敗局結束,頒獎禮在全場觀眾噓聲中進行。事後威廉絲因三項違規而被罰款。

暫且不提比賽的爭議性,大坂的實力不容少覷,她是首個贏得大滿貫的日本球手,這次美網除了第四局外大坂都未輸一局完勝,表現精彩。大坂其後將到香港作賽,十分期待能現場觀賽。

Life in face of unpredictable climate events

Merely two months ago in July a catastrophic rainstorm broke out in Western Japan, causing many casualties, and I reflected on a city’s resilience against such extreme climate events. Last week Japan was again struck by two devastating hazards, the supertyphoon Jebi and the deadly earthquake in Hokkaido.

Jebi has been the worst typhoon striking Japan in 25 years, leaving so far 11 dead and causing imponderable economic damage, particularly to tourism. Osaka and neighbouring cities bore the brunt of the storm and the Kansai airport was closed indefinitely because of the flood. Just the same week Hokkaido experienced a 6.7-magnitude earthquake, which killed 44 and cut energy access to 5.3 million residents on the island.

The typhoon and earthquake struck Japan unpredictably, leaving residents suffering and tourists stranded in Osaka. Despite the innovative technologies we have at hand, we cannot predict all climate events and natural hazards. And when one breaks out, we are caught off guard, just like this time. And life is just as unpredictable. We never know what life has in store for us. So we should live in the moment, and enjoy.


天災難料 生命無常

今年七月,日本西部暴雨肆虐,造成大量傷亡,使我反思到城市建設在抵禦極端天氣上的重要性,不足兩個月,颱風「飛燕」襲日,北海道亦發生強烈地震,天災接二連三,帶來災難性傷亡。

「飛燕」是日本近二十五來最強勁的颱風,共造成十一人死亡。其中大阪和鄰近城市為重災區,關西機場亦因水浸不知何時重開,為日本經濟特別是旅遊業帶來難以估算的損失。同一星期,北海道經歷6.7級地震,共四十四人罹難,地震同時導致停電,受影響人數達五百三十萬。

颱風和地震毫無預警來襲,不僅使居民受苦,旅客亦滯留機場,受影響人不計其數。即使我們擁有多麼先進的科研和技術,亦不能準確預測自然災害,一旦災難性氣候事件爆發,我們又會像這次般被殺個措手不及,但後果可能更不堪想象。天災難料,生命無常,我們難以預計生命為我們準備了甚麼,因此此刻更應活在當下,享受生命。

How building a smart city means building a city’s climate resilience?

Recently a heavy rainstorm broke out in Western Japan, bringing serious landslides and flooding, resulting in one of the worst climate disasters in decades. While it is vital to carry out remedial measures, preventive ones are just as critical. This caused me to reflect on a city’s resilience to climate change and how a city can be smartened up against sudden climate catastrophes.

A smart city can be the key to boosting up a city’s resilience against natural hazards. A smart city is one that adopts information and communication technology (ICT) for a better management of urban resources to achieve a higher quality of life and work efficiency. If a city is smart enough, it should be resilient to sudden climate disasters and emergencies. For example, Internet of Things (IoTs) sensors and big data analysis can be adopted to establish monitoring and alarm systems against many types of climate hazards, like earthquakes, flooding, storms, etc. Such an alarm system can be adopted in the form of a mobile app, to be easily and widely accessible to the public. Emergency navigation can be provided on the same system to guide people to safe places as well.

While it is important to build a city’s climate resilience, it is essential to make the city eco-friendly to cut down carbon emissions to fight against climate change in the first place. Copenhagen for instance, set a role model in transiting to a zero carbon economy by implementing a climate plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. This shows that a smart city does not simply folster climate resilience but can even combat climate change!

Hopefully in the future technologies and innovations can be adopted to solve many more urban problems and make life happier.


建立智慧城市能如何加強城市面對氣候變化的適應力

近期日本西部暴雨成災,造成嚴重山泥傾瀉和水浸,是近幾十年來最嚴峻的暴雨。救災行動固然重要,但未雨綢繆的預防工作亦必不可少。是次水災讓我反思到城市適應氣候變化的能力的重要性,以及發展智慧城市(Smart City)能如何提升城市面對氣候變化的抵抗力,減輕天災禍害的影響。

智慧城市以資訊及通訊科技(Information and Communications Technology)來管理城市和城市資源,以提高生活質素和工作效率。建立智慧城市同時有助增強城市抵禦氣候變化的能力。一個有足夠「智慧」的智慧城市足以抵抗突發的氣候災禍和緊急狀況,例如,利用物聯網(Internet of Things)感測器和大數據(Big Data)分析技術針對各類氣候災害如地震、水浸、風災等建立監察和警報系統,以手機程式的形式供大眾使用。系統亦可包括緊急路線導航的功能來引導民眾疏散至安全地方。

雖然加強城市的氣候變化適應力相當重要,但卻只是治標的做法,讓城市變得低碳環保從而緩和氣候變化才是治本的措施。以哥本哈根為例,該城計劃在二零二五年前達到零碳排放,減輕全球暖化,可見智慧城市不但能抵禦氣候變化,更能夠緩和改善氣候變化。

期望未來創新科技能被應用解決更多城市問題,讓生活變得更好。