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Greenhouse gas education program developed by Aichi professor proves popular both at home and abroad

Chunichi Shimbun

An environmental education program developed in Aichi Prefecture, designed to help children deepen their understanding of climate change through measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide in places around them, has been introduced at a number of schools in the Tokai region and also in Taiwan.

The program, which is the brainchild of Masakazu Ito, 59, professor at Nagoya Sangyo University in Owariasahi, Aichi Prefecture, is also expected to be offered to audiences in China, the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter by volume.

Ito developed the program in 2003 for elementary to high school students. In elementary schools, students walk through the school grounds and surrounding areas with instruments that measure the presence of carbon dioxide and create a concentration map using different colors to show the varying levels of density of the gas.

By seeing that carbon dioxide density is higher in crowded places or near streets where there are exhaust fumes from a lot of vehicles — and that it drops near plants, which absorb the gas — students can learn about one of the factors that contribute to climate change and the role played by green plants in mitigating its effects.

In junior and senior high schools, students will be offered carbon dioxide density data that the university regularly collects from 28 locations it monitors at home and abroad. Based on concentrations of the greenhouse gas and climate information at each location, students analyze how accumulation of the gas changes according to wind directions and other conditions. The university staff visit schools to adjust the program in order to meet each institution’s needs.

So far, 37 schools in Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefectures have adopted the program. In Taiwan 28 schools have started using the program after a Taiwanese student attending the university through an exchange program introduced it in their home country. Educational material for adults was also published at the end of last year. Jiangsu University in China, known for its top-class environmental research, is also preparing educational materials in order to introduce the program to Chinese citizens. It plans to distribute the materials next year.

Zheng Minxue, 50, an associate professor at the university, says it is very meaningful to introduce such a program in China and hopes that it will help curb carbon dioxide emissions in the country. “I hope the program will provide an opportunity (for people) to think of environmental problems from a global perspective, using data close to them,” Ito said.

This section features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published July 4.