Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blondie: Earth Day Special

From King Features Earth Day 2008, where they have a lot more goodies.

BTW, Blondie was always my dad's favourite comic. I think he still reads it every day. Absolutely ;)

Green Week

My friends at greenz.jp are involved in a number of projects, including Green Week. It is a campaign to coincide with Golden Week, the long holiday starting this week.

They got the support from former environment minister Yuriko Koike, as well as other celebrities. Some of the events to be held from May 2 include (of course) a green party, rice-planting with Tanemaki (billed as eco tourism, but - hint, hint - planting rice is hard work!) and a city gardening project to create a "green curtain" before summer (to reduce the heat wave).

Tanemaki also has an ambitious project this summer to gather 1000 people as part of their Soybean Revolution, to increase domestic soy production in Japan, in the hope that society will change if people sow seeds. It is a long train ride from Tokyo to their fertile fields in eastern Chiba. Everyone is welcome: bring your best rubber boots, or enjoy feeling the warm, living soil under your bare feet.

Update: I found their Picasa photoalbum from 2007.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Gas price and obesity

With gasoline prices reaching new heights, then suddenly declining due to the political situation, drivers have had a few weeks of respite. Now, it seems the taxes will be reintroduced, and Japan's gasoline will be expensive again (just in time for the Golden Week vacation).

What caught my eye recently was a possible link between low gasoline cost and higher levels of obesity. What do you think? What kind of world do we want children - and grandchildren - to grow up in? More bicycle lanes, and fewer SUVs, perhaps?

A causal relationship between gasoline prices and obesity is possible through mechanisms of increased exercise and decreased eating in restaurants. I use a fixed effects model to explore whether this theory has empirical support, finding that an additional $1 in real gasoline prices would reduce obesity in the U.S. by 15% after five years, and that 13% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to falling real gas prices during this period.

Suggested by Professor Greg Mankiw.

BBC: Economists tackle US obesity

Illustration from an interesting article about a study that links intake of soft drinks and sodas with obesity, in addition to other factors such as genetics and exercise.

The Age: Scientists tag sodas as cigarettes of obesity

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tabloid Green

Oh, I just love it. The Sun, a UK gossip newspaper, also known as a tabloid, has an entire Go Green section. Move over, Page 3 girls! So? When will Japanese girlie mags start to do the same? And when will Japanese rock stars start to care about climate change?

'All you need is veg' says Beatle

SIR Paul McCartney is urging the world to go veggie to help in the fight against global warming. The former Beatle has said he is surprised more green groups do not syndicate the idea. In an interview with the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Macca said the meat industry world-wide was a major contributor to global warming.

"The biggest change anyone could make in their own lifestyle would be to become vegetarian," he said. "I would urge everyone to think about taking this simple step to help our precious environment and save it for the children of the future," he added. Sir Paul said the amount of land and water used to maintain the meat industry makes it a major contributor to climate change. And he complained that most environmental groups do not list vegetarianism as one of their top priorities.

"It’s very surprising that most major environmental organisations are leaving the option of going vegetarian off their lists of top ways to curtail global warming," he said. A 2006 United Nations report found that cattle-rearing generated more greenhouse gases than transportation.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nagano: Not Much to Blog About

The weird Olympics-Torch-Relay-Slash- Anti-China-Slash-Free-Tibet-Slash-Pro-China event is over in Nagano, with few arrests and not much to blog about. Except that the old guy caught on photo while being arrested by police hardly looks like the usual kind of pro-democracy campaigner here in Japan. My guess is that he is belongs to some of the fringe groups on the far right, who ride around in black trucks and blare out war-time marches. The flame's next stop is Seoul.

NHK World says representatives of Tibetans living in Japan held a news conference in Nagano, calling on China to immediately stop human rights abuses in Tibet:

The leader of the group Students for a Free Tibet Japan, Tsering Dorjee, said that when the Chinese government bid for the Olympics, it promised to improve its human rights record. But he said that since then, the situation for Tibetans has only continued to deteriorate. The Paris-based non-governmental organization, Reporters Without Borders, says it will stage a peaceful protest during the torch relay in Nagano. The advocacy group's secretary-general, Robert Menard, arrived in Japan on Friday, and said at a news conference in Tokyo that he will wear a badge bearing the Japanese word for freedom.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Consumers, by definition, include us all."

In 1962, U.S. president John F. Kennedy had the foresight to deliver a Special Message to the Congress on Protecting the Consumer Interest. His speech was in many way visionary, discussing "consumers rights" and noting that "the march of technology - affecting, for example, the foods we eat, the medicines we take, and the many appliances we use in our homes - has increased the difficulties of the consumer along with his opportunities; and it has outmoded many of the old laws and regulations and made new legislation necessary."

Today, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced the creation of a Consumers Agency to unify administrative functions in charge of consumer affairs in Japan:

"I would like the panel to work to create an organization...that can exercise powerful leadership from the position of consumers," Fukuda said. He told the panel that the proposed agency, which he described as "the control tower of the administration for consumer affairs," would be in charge of a broad range of issues related to consumer safety such as the safety of merchandise, financial deals and food, and appropriate product labeling.

Minister for consumer administration Fumio Kishida told reporters after the meeting that he would start drawing up a basic plan, including legislative measures, after the council's proposals are made public, according to NHK.

Not quite the visionary rethoric of JFK, but ok, a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan has been preparing its own bill, arguing that the government's plan will not fully ensure the agency's independence. Asahi notes that DPJ aims to create the post of a "consumer affairs ombudsman," who will be appointed by the Diet and have the power to instruct the Cabinet, ministries and companies to take measures to protect consumers.

Asahi: Consumer affairs agency to take off next year

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

1,000 CDM projects

Some 1,000 projects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in developing countries have prevented 135 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering our atmosphere so far, according to Det Norske Veritas.

The projects, known as Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) are defined in the Kyoto Protocol. They allow industrialised countries and companies to finance projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases in developing countries such as Japan. In return the investors are credited with emission rights.

AFP notes that CDM projects, which have primarily benefitted China and India so far, are not free from controversy:

Critics argue that some dam projects in China have been officially certified as CDMs even though they were partially constructed before being given the certification -- suggesting they would actually be used outside the CDM framework.

AFP/Google: Climate projects prevented 135 million tonnes of CO2

Map from Treehugger: 135 Million Tons of CO2 Saved - And Counting

(Red dots denote large-scaled CDM projects, orange are medium-sized projects, yellow small projects)

This is an interesting historical graph showing annual CO2 emissions from major regions around the world (Source: CDIAC).

I briefly considered "Your lifestyle, to be reconsidered?" as a title of this entry. Oh well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oil ? Forget about it.

Only six weeks ago, The New York Times tried to minimize its "relentless rise in recent years", noting that "oil prices rose to an all-time record during the day... then pulled back to close below the record." That is how they tell the bad news to the American public: Make it sound pretty bad, but then get that warm, cozy feeling that soon all will be all right.

Except, this time it will not.

Six weeks ago! What a difference a month and a half makes. Now oil is at $117 a barrel. Who would have guessed.

Note the "...Then Recede" in the New York Times headline, six weeks ago. Sorry, editors. It did not really recede, you just made that up. You lied.

NYT: Oil Prices Pass Record Set in ’80s, but Then Recede

The day’s highest trade, of $103.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, broke the record set in April 1980 during the second oil shock. That price, $39.50 a barrel, equals $103.76 in today’s money when adjusted for inflation. Oil closed Monday afternoon at $102.45.

Today here in Tokyo, Middle East crude oil futures set a new record high, going above 70,000 yen, or about 670 dollars, per kiloliter. Oil at its highest price, ever. Kyodo notes that on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, Middle East crude futures closed Monday's trading at a record 70,490 yen, or 678 dollars, per kiloliter.

That's up 1,950 yen, or about 19 dollars, from last Friday. This came after the benchmark WTI crude futures index in New York hit a new high of 117.05 dollars per barrel at one time during before-hour trading on Sunday.

Oil? Bad idea. Let's forget about it. Seriously. A four-year old child could have seen disappointment looming... And here, people do care: The Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that 78% of Japanese people care about global warming (compared to the US, where less than half thinks it matters: Do you?)

Things we can do about it? Sure! Lets:

* reduce our driving (take trains instead)
* turn off lights and AC in rooms we do not use
* do change from our old light bulbs to fluorescent lamps, compact fluorescent lamps, halogen, specialized semiconductor development lamps, luminaries and more...
* properly switch off our gadgets (such as TV, video) when not using
* we can stop flying long distance (seriously)
* we can eat less meat, or become vegetarian says Sir Paul McCartney ;)

Michael Pollan: Why Bother?

Shimanto River

About 500 carp streamers are flying over the Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture, ahead of Children's Day on May 5th. On Sunday, local residents fixed the streamers onto two wires that extend over the river, as they do every year. Japanese families observe the tradition of raising the streamers, known as koinobori, to pray that their children will grow up healthy and strong. The streamers can be seen across Japan from April until around early May.

Shimato River is Japan's last large river with no dams. It is often said that Japan is a country with no natural resources. That is not true when it comes to water - perhaps the most important of all resources for living. Japan's terrain is mountainous for the most part, and the proximity to the Pacific Ocean and its perilous weather means the entire country gets abundant rain as well.

Photos from Shimanto-City Association of Sightseeing
and blogger Rouge Lucifer

Heart Sutra

One for the record. And one for the more fancifully inclined. Some call it the Heart of Wisdom Sutra. If you live in Japan, you may also encounter it at funerals and other special occasions, when Life & Death suddenly start to matter. As they tend to do.

Maka Hannya Haramita Shingyo


Kanjizai Bosatsu Gyo Jin Hannya Haramita Ji
Sho Ken Go Un Kai Ku Do Issai Ku Yaku Sharishi
Shiki Fu I Ku
Ku Fu I Shiki
Shiki Soku Ze Ku
Ku Soku Ze Shiki
Ju So Gyo Shiki Yaku Bu Nyo Ze
Sharishi Ze Sho Ho Ku So Fu Sho Fu Metsu
Fu Ku Fu Jo Fu Zo Fu Gen Ze Ko Ku Chu
Mu Shiki Mu Ju So Gyo Shiki
Mu Gen Ni Bi Zets' Shin I
Mu Shiki Sho Ko Mi Soku Ho
Mu Gen Kai Nai Shi Mu I Shiki Kai Mu Mu Myo
Yaku Mu Mu Myo Jin Nai Shi Mu Ro Shi
Yaku Mu Ro Shi Jin Mu Ku Shu Metsu Do
Mu Chi Yaku Mu Toku I Mu Sho Tokko
Bodaisatta E Hannya Haramita
Ko Shin Mu Ke Ge
Mu Ke Ge Ko Mu U Ku Fu
On Ri Issai Tendo Mu So Ku Gyo Nehan
San Ze Sho Butsu E Hannya Haramita
Ko Toku A Noku Ta Ra Sanmyaku Sambodai
Ko Chi Hannya Haramita Ze Dai Jin Shu
Ze Dai Myo Shu
Ze Mu Jo Shu
Ze Mu To Do Shu
No Jo Issai Ku Shin Jitsu Fu Ko
Ko Setsu Hannya Haramita Shu
Soku Setsu Shu Watsu
Gyate Gyate Hara Gyate
Hara So Gyate Boji Sowa Ka
Hannya Shin Gyo


Heart of the Great Wisdom Sutra

When a sincere truth seeker attains the wisdom of enlightenment, he realizes that all the five senses are empty and he transcends every suffering.

Listen: All things are no different from emptiness; emptiness is not different from all things. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness are also like this.

Listen: The original nature of all things is neither born nor extinguished. There is no purity, no defilement; no gain, no loss.

In this world of emptiness there is no form, no feelings, perceptions, impulses, or consciousness. No eye, ear, tongue body, or mind. Therefore, no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, or thought. The world of form does not exist, nor the world of the mind or of ignorance; no old age and no death.

Yet there is continuous ignorance, old age, and death.

There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering; no wisdom and no attainment because there is nothing to be attained. The compassionate truth-seeker depends upon the wisdom of enlightenment.

When the mind does not become attached to anything, there are no obstacles and fear does not exist. This mind goes beyond all disruptive views and attains Nirvana. All the Buddhas of the past, present and future depend upon the wisdom of enlightenment--and so attain the supreme, wisdom of enlightenment as the great unexplainable true word, the great shining true word that is able to remove all suffering. It is true, not false. This true word of wisdom says:

Gyate Gyate Hara Gyate Hara So Gyate Bodhi Sowa Ka.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

NHK: Earth Day

NHK World has a brief video report on its Internet website from the Earth Day held in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park for 2 days from Saturday:

More than 300 NPO and NGO groups in Japan are participating in the event, addressing people to think about environmental issues and to act kindly toward the Earth. Many tents take up the theme of environmental issues, and some people are selling recycled goods.

A group advocating preservation of African gorillas called for a ban on cutting jungles there. The group is appealing for the reuse of rare metals by recovering worn-out cellular phones as part of the effort to hinder reckless mining in Africa.

Some groups are selling cloth and miscellaneous goods that are environmentally conscious. A demonstration referring to the G8 Summit scheduled in July in Hokkaido is also being presented. Environmental matters are high on the agenda of the summit.

NHK: Earth Day Tokyo 2008 demonstration

The five years from 2008 through 2012 represent the First Promise Period of the Kyoto Protocol, and Japan has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level 6% lower than the value in 1990. As things stand that target seems unattainable. Yet day by day pressure to take radical action is growing. And we are now beginning to understand how individual action to stem carbon dioxide emissions may help to slow down such potentially catastrophic phenomena as the loss of polar ice.

At Japan's Lake Toya summit in July 2008, climate change is set to dominate proceedings, with participants seeking clear commitments to the environmental cause.
The world is positioning climate change as the greatest challenge of the 21st century, and it was against this backdrop that the NHK Eco 2008 campaign was launched in January 2008.

In programs ranging from major documentary series to one-off specials, NHK is examining the facts in an attempt to reveal exactly where we stand and what actions we can take. The aim, clear and simple, is to engage your attention and share vital information.

To reach as many listeners and viewers as possible, NHK will exploit the full global reach of the network's unrivalled resources. Today's World (BS1), World Documentary (BS2), Eco-Relay (BS2) and Epic Journey (BShi) are just a few of the major presentations from NHK aiming to captivate your imagination and compel you to take action.

We urge you to tune in to NHK Eco 2008. Your future may depend on it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Earth Day Tokyo Food Focus

Nice focus on food mileage, organic restaurants and good food!

Earthday Kitchen.net

Powered by Greenz.jp

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Earth Day Tokyo 2008

Date: Sat 19th, Sun 20th, Tue 22nd 2008
Main site: Yoyogi Park
Aimed attendance: 120,000 people
Theme: Shift to green
Concept: The movement to make the world more greener.
Guidemap (pdf): Click here

This year, the mission for Earth Day Tokyo 2008 is to convey the knowledge and messages that have been learnt from past events and to develop positive impact to people's behaviour. Therefore Earth Day is going to focus on energy, food and agriculture which is essential to our every day lives.

Biodiesel, solar power and hydrogen are the main energy sources for Earth Day Tokyo 2008. Not only eco fuel like recycled tempura oil and bio diesel (which powers the main stage), but there will also be an Eco-Mobile - a green-energy powered car - in Yoyogi Park!

The talk show has guests who are the pioneers in their field, to discuss visions for a sustainable world and what we can to do make the world more green. Another highlight for this year is the hydrogen-powered generator, which is going to be shown to the public for the very first time. Live shows including a fair-trade talk show themed on peace and smile, will be delivered entirely by hydrogen power.

Restaurants that specialise in seasonal, locally produced food for local consumption (and therefore have low Food mileage) will gather in the Earth Day kitchen.

Aware of the fact that most of the rubbish at the event is from the disposable plates and cutlery, Earth Day Tokyo has started using Dish Reuse System to solve this problem and achieve zero garbage. Farmers and other food producers get together in Yoyogi Park! There will be a lot of natural, eco-friendly seasonal farm products available. This will be a perfect and rare opportunity for farm producers and consumers to talk face to face.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Green media in Japan

Enjoy this podcast about Japanese kimono fashion, including the fundoshi underwear in a podcast from J-Wave Planet Green (mp3). J-Wave is having a special week now with a lot of interesting radio content.

Green TV Japan is also online, with very powerful messages about Earth, our global environment, and great ideas for campaigns, both on a local level and internationally...

Meanwhile, NHK is increasing its Chikyuu Eco 2008 programming, which reaches 120 million people. Not bad.

Their environmental reporting is getting better too. As for their programs, they have a calender (April) if you want to keep up with all their different programs about environmental issues.

TBS and other Japanese channels are also trying to get your attention, with their Green-Power channel on the Internet.

And, if that was not getting you to click, how about this Youtube video about the fundoshi?

Non-Religious? Atheist?

Mari and Kirainet.com, as well as other bloggers are ahead of me when it comes to the Pitzer College study, claiming that Sweden, Vietnam, Denmark, Norway and Japan are the least religious countries in the world. I respectfully disagree. This study only shows that people in certain countries are less inclined to believe in dogma-based religious movements, such as Christianity, Islam and you name it.

Ahem. Not believing in a particular version of the Bible or other scriptures does not mean people do not think deeply about spiritual matters...

There is a heated debate about this topic on Japan Probe, but what noone seems to notice is that the study (and the graph) does not appear to be available online. In other words, we have no idea what the researcher(s) actually asked, or how many people were involved in the study, the statistical significance, nor the uncertainty...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Herbal Tea at Alishan Cafe

Do you spend your days alternating cups of tea and coffee, wanting a bit more variety or to escape the constant flow of caffeine but not sure how to go about it? Here is your chance to learn! The Alishan Cafe (a great place for vegetarian food) is hosting a class on herbal tea run by Ando-san, owner of the herb shop Tendrement.

Ando-san will cover a wide range of topics including an understanding herbs, how to get the best flavour from them and how to make your own herbal blends. The cafe's friendly staff will also be taking this class so it will be a chance to meet them too!

Time: Tuesday April 15th, from 12.30 until 14.30.
Place: The Alishan Cafe, Saitama pref.
Cost: 1500 Yen (includes the cost of herbal tea and an Alishan Cafe sweet)

For more information or to reserve a place please call 0429-82-4823 or email info@alishan.jp.

Do visit Tendrement.jp for herbs, aroma therapy, holistic care and other inspiration.

World Peace Now Tokyo March 22, 2008

Host unlimited photos at slide.com for FREE!

Click on the photo for more images from the peace demonstration in Tokyo on March 22, 2008.

Join the Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War on May 4-6, 2008 at Makuhari Messe, Chiba:

The Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War aims to promote the sublime ideal of Article 9 as a world principle. This international gathering from May 4 to 6, 2008 in Tokyo will gather the voices of the world that support and share the spirit of Article 9 as the common wisdom of humanity, heritage of the world, and hope for world peace. The participants - Nobel Peace prize winners, world-renowned intellectuals, NGO activists, artists and civilians - will send the spirit of Article 9 soaring around the world.

The Article 9 Peace Walk is a pre-event of the conference. It is entirely planned and organized by citizens who seek to hand messages of support for Article 9 from the peoples of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the many towns along walk route to the participants of the Global Article 9 Conference and to the world’s peoples.

The Peace Walk marchers will set off on February 25 from the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. They will arrive May 3 at Tokyo’s Hibiya Park to join the Constitution Memorial Gathering. On May 4 they will arrive at the Global Article 9 Conference site in Makuhari Messe, Chiba Prefecture (next to Tokyo) just before it begins.

We all long for peace and know that life is precious. Let’s take action with our minds and spirits! Join the walk and express a strong appeal for peace. Let’s combine our voices in the Article 9 Peace Walk and help make one big voice of humankind in support of Article 9.

Download pdf file with poster and more details from Article 9 Peace Walk

Candles lit in Nagano, Tokyo for peace in Tibet

I don't expect any violent protests against the Olympic torch when it arrives to Japan April 26, but the silent manifestations this weekend send a clear message that people are paying close attention to the recent sad events in Tibet.

A local citizens group lit candles Sunday evening at Nagano's Zenkoji Buddhist temple, the starting point for an Olympic torch relay set for April 26, to pray for the victims of the violence in Tibet, while about 300 people held a candlelight march in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward.

People in Nagano and Tokyo show their support for Tibet at events held Sunday evening
People in Nagano (top) and Tokyo (above) show their support for Tibet at events held Sunday evening. A circle of candles was lit at Nagano's Zenkoji Buddhist temple, the starting point for the Olympic torch relay set for April 26, while a candlelight march was held in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward calling for peace in Tibet.

In Nagano, about 60 people formed a circle of 177 candles — the number of people they estimate have been killed in the violence in Tibet. A 48-year-old monk representing the group said, "Both the philosophy of the Olympics and of Buddhism is harmony among diversity. I hope that our wish for a peace in the world will come true."

The Japan Times: Candles lit in Nagano, Tokyo for peace in Tibet

NHK World also reports from the demonstration where Tibetan residents of Japan and their supporters marched in downtown Tokyo on Sunday, mourning the victims of the recent riots in Tibet and neighboring provinces:

The participants carried Tibetan flags and banners that read "Free Tibet." They held candles in their hands as they walked through the busy streets for about 30 minutes, singing songs of peace and chanting a Tibetan sutra.

NHK World: Tibetans rally in Tokyo to mourn riot victims

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Appetizing Beauty"

I have been planning to write about the global food crisis, with rice importing countries like the Philippines suddenly unable to procure enough rice from exporting countries, due to a number of factors.


But instead I have decided to post two photos from a recent trip to Kyoto. I had a wonderful meal at a restaurant at Kyoto Station, with traditional dishes served in an interpretation of Shojin Ryori. The tempura was excuisit and I loved the okara. There was also some sashimi and bamboo shoots, a seasonal dish in spring, as well as rape seed blossoms. For dessert I was served sakura icecream.

Traditional foods carry with them important lessons of food shortages in the past, when people learnt how to treasure what nature provides for us. And I do love simple dishes where each food is cooked carefully, and without much additional seasoning. What you see is what you get.

Read more in the book, Appetizing Beauty: Kenzan and Seasonal Dishes published by Miho Museum and Nissha Printing Co. Art of Vegetables on the Buddhist Channel is a good introduction to the more esoteric aspects of Japanese cooking.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Where is the butter?

My supermarket has run out of butter and when I asked, the clerk explained that suppliers just cannot keep up with orders. Japanese butter is mostly made in Hokkaido with domestic milk. The shortage is a reminder that food supplies depend on a number of factors, including higher feed costs for dairy cows - Japan imports most of its animal feed.

I should mention that I like Japanese butter, it is a very pure product and it tastes much better than other spreads. I avoid margarin, a highly processed product that can never replace butter.

Having said that, I wonder why peanuts in Japan are allowed to be called "Butter Pea" (バタピー or "batapii") even though most brands are not made with butter, but use hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats and oils, known to contain unhealthy transfats. Some Japanese potato chips makers also get away with similar fraudulent claims. Yuk.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Comments welcome (again)

We just really don't like spam over here at Kurashi.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Car Transportation Problems Solved!

Production has already begun on a car that will replace those of the internal combustion engine (ICE) variety. Using a zinc-air fuel cell, with fully recyclable zinc, the cars are being produced under joint agreement between GM, Toyota, Tata (of India), and SAIC (of China). The companies have been working together behind the scenes to address the issues of peak oil and climate change, both of which, they all now publicly admit, threaten the the very existence of their industry.

Toyota CEO Katsuaki Watanabe was surrounded by reporters after he spoke in Nagoya, Japan, detailing the plan.

Through an accelerated buy-back system and licensing of the new technology with other car makers, the companies say they will be able to replace half the existing fleet of ICE cars within just the next eight years. Other technologies, such as all electric and hybrid vehicles will also continue to be developed and freely compete with the fuel cell vehicles, the focus being to totally phase out ICE engined cars.

The zinc-air fuel cells produce a non-toxic byproduct, zinc oxide, a sort of viscous creamy white substance, which can be recycled into new zinc fuel pellets using electrolysis and walnut oil. Stanford University labs have developed a catalyst for use in the systems – theobroma cacau – basically cocoa solids. Sufficient quantities of zinc are readily available, and since it is recycled, there will be no on going need for ever increasing quantities. The amount of cocoa solids and walnut oil will require some expansion of these agricultural products, but are not expected to put a strain on food prices.

Remarkably, the zinc-air fuel cell cars produce no greenhouse gases. Instead, as they motor along, out the back, on a little tray, they leave a row of small, thick white pellets, surrounded by a chocolate whirl with a walnut on the top.

(April Fools)