Feb 17, 2014

New Mexico site leaks radiation

U.S. investigators were taking samples Sunday at a New Mexico underground nuclear waste site where airborne radiation was detected, though authorities stressed they had found no contamination. Officials monitoring the possible radiation leak said there was no danger to people or the environment at ...

Culture and nature vie over ancient hinoki

Feb 15, 2014

Culture and nature vie over ancient hinoki

by Winifred Bird

If you’re looking for a fine piece of wood, you’d be hard put to improve on a slab of hinoki (Hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa) from the Kiso Valley straddling Nagano and Gifu prefectures. The sparsely populated district is home to the only natural hinoki ...

Weather in Japan: from balmy to barmy

| Feb 8, 2014

Weather in Japan: from balmy to barmy

by Mark Brazil

The division of Japan into distinct climatic zones means that anyone traveling around the country will normally encounter quite predictable demands in terms of clothing requirements; while for those in any one area the local weather forecast will be correct more often than not. ...

Bitterly cold U.S northeast digs out from snow

Jan 23, 2014

Bitterly cold U.S northeast digs out from snow

Residents of the U.S. Northeast dug themselves out Wednesday from a snowstorm that grounded flights, shuttered schools and left a bitter cold in its wake, while a blizzard swept across parts of Atlantic Canada. The atmosphere was particularly frosty in New York, where some ...

Jan 18, 2014

Will Japan prepared mean nature ruined?

by Winifred Bird

“Resilience” is a hot topic these days — not in self-help books, but among policymakers worldwide. As governments become convinced that climate change is a real threat, they are taking steps to ensure communities can bounce back from the increasing impact of floods, storms, ...

Jan 16, 2014

Big old trees found to store more CO2

Despite their greater age, big old trees do more than small young ones to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, said a study that explores how well forests slow global warming. The findings overturn the conventional view that old trees are relatively unproductive in ...

Seasons come and go — but when?

| Jan 11, 2014

Seasons come and go — but when?

by Mark Brazil

Another new year has arrived and a Hokkaido blizzard is tearing past my window, drifting snow onto every surface as if it means to drown out the world in whiteness. Thankfully it also brings a muffling silence into which thoughts pop and crackle. As ...

Protecting nature to protect ourselves

| Dec 21, 2013

Protecting nature to protect ourselves

by Stephen Hesse

This month’s column takes an intrepid look at efforts to expand protected areas in Japan and worldwide, areas that are essential to conserve biological diversity and mitigate natural disasters. “Intrepid” because ecosystems are the backbone of food and water security, and with national security ...

Dec 15, 2013

Could felling trees help cool the planet?

It is an article of faith that preserving trees is critical to cooling our warming planet. Millions of hectares of forest are wiped out every year, cut down to make room for agriculture and, increasingly, urban growth, mostly in developing nations. Such deforestation is ...