I was a child during the early years of 2000. I lived in a green valley in the northern part of Kyoto City with rice fields as far as the eye could see.
I can remember the deep green colors of summer, the fresh air the clear running water. Eggplants and tomatoes grew on small plots of land around the district.
Forty years have passed since then. It’s hard to imagine that there was ever such a fertile green valley.
In those early days, I often heard the word “climate change” but I didn’t think deeply about its meaning. 2005 was the hottest year ever recorded and still we managed to live our lives ignoring it. In the following year, I visited my grandmother who lived near the famous Suma beach in Hyogo prefecture. The beach was often closed that summer due to the large amounts of red plankton in the water which appeared as a result it of global warming still we rarely thought about dangers to the environment in our daily lives. Today young people have never heard of Suma beach. It has long since disappeared.
Our country was beginning to feel the seriousness of climate change even then. However, we all lived our lives thinking of trivial things and nothing was done.
The first major viruses that spread across the world came from birds and pigs. That was never 2010. They were contained in the early stage so we were able to ignore that too．The first wave of deadly disease came in 2020. The virus was a result of mosquitoes migrating to higher and higher altitudes as the weather got warmer. The mosquitoes spread a disease that killed millions of people around the world. It was not a daily part of their life we all continued with our daily lives.
At the turn of the century, it was common knowledge that the ice was melting at the north and south poles. There was a lot of debate about whether it was a result of normal changes in weather patterns. The world did not take it seriously.
They were TV programs about the rising water levels around the world and how low-lying countries and islands would soon disappear. This was often made fun of in the media. My own father made fun of it.
Now we know how much land is under seawater and how there are no more islands to visit for summer holidays. Many people died and many food crops were destroyed when the salt water entered farming areas.
I have not seen vegetables growing in fields for 20 years. Today vegetables grow in factories. The fertile valley of my childhood is dry and unusable. The flowers that covered the valley in springs have long gone. I still buy flowers in the shop but I don’t know where they grow them.
My children and grand children have lost so much. I cannot forgive myself because I never once made any serious attempt to halt the warming of this planet. An environmental catastrophe took place. I could only watch it and fear it.