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.
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.
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.
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。
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.
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.
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。