Fwd: Tokyo city tries to green
- Speaking of urban green - here's a city government that does try:
(though not specifically for providing food)
> Sweltering Tokyo tries to go green===8<===========End of original message text===========
> Justin McCurry in Tokyo
> Saturday July 24, 2004
> The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk>
> Cast your gaze in the right direction and you could be standing in the
> middle of a rice paddy or a rose garden. But glance upwards and the idyll
> is shattered. This is not a horticultural show, but a tiny oasis of
> verdant calm in central Tokyo.
> In a country where the cement never sets, high-rise building developments
> are turning Tokyo into a mass of overheating concrete. The buildings - and
> the hot air spewed out by the air conditioners used to cool them - are
> exposing Tokyo's millions of gasping citizens to ever higher temperatures.
> The city centre, according to meteorological data, has never been hotter.
> On Tuesday, the temperature soared to a record 39.5C (103F), sending 48
> people to hospital with heatstroke.
> Even the prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, admitted the weather had left
> him hot under the collar. "I am not a fan of air conditioners, but I'm
> finding it difficult to sleep without one at the moment," he said in his
> weekly email bulletin.
> The heatwave is expected to continue until the end of the month, with the
> temperature hovering around 31C, well above the July average of just over
> Demand for power has shot up to record levels as Tokyoites turn up the air
> conditioning. Next month, they will be asked to douse the streets with
> But that will bring only temporary respite. The Tokyo government believes
> the long-term solution is to cover the buildings with trees, plants and
> grass. Under regulations passed two years ago, greenery must cover at
> least 20% of every new, large private building and 30% of all public
> Trees and plants apparently stop some of the heat from penetrating the
> buildings below and absorb air pollutants.
> More than 39 hectares (97 acres) of new gardens have been added in the
> past two years, according to officials, but the fine for disobeying the
> regulations is just 200,000 yen (£992), much less than the cost of
> installing a garden worth showing off.
> "The greening of the 23 wards of Tokyo is not proceeding too well," Masami
> Tokyofuku, a metropolitan official, said. "There is very limited space for
> other types of greenery, particularly in Tokyo, which is why we are
> focusing on rooftops."
> Officials say the initiative needs time, and have set a target of 1,200
> hectares by 2015. They say the effects of filling rooftops with trees and
> shrubs are known, but have yet to be quantified.
> The greening of Tokyo's most fashionable corporate rooftops has brought
> dividends to their owners, some of whom charge the public for snatching a
> few minutes in the shade of a tree.
> One of the best examples is the 1,300 square metre garden at the trendy
> Roppongi Hills business and entertainment complex. As killifish swim in
> the pond and rice plants sway in the breeze, it is hard to believe the
> garden was built directly above a multiplex cinema - except that it is
> still very, very hot.