The Ecology Minister

Marino Takami
Okayama Sozan Middle School

gMarino, why donft you become the ecology minister of our household?h This is how it all began, back in April. Since the earthquake on March 11, the energy crisis has often come up in conversation and we have all been forced to think about how much electricity we use. In my family too, we have had many discussions about it, and we came to the conclusion that we have to do something to save electricity. Thatfs when my mother appointed me ecology minister. At first, I was reluctant to do it because it sounded a little silly. But in the end I accepted her offer because my father promised to pay me 500 yen if I took on the responsibility. He ended up saving much more and I learned a lot as well.

As the ecology minister of the family, my job is to check to see if we are wasting electricity, and to improve our energy use around the house. As soon as I started, I found that my family wastes a lot of energy, so I suggested several ways to reduce our electricity use. First, we spent more time together in the same room to save on air-conditioning. Second, we used fewer lights at night. After just a few weeks, we were able to save a lot of electricity and we also saved a bit of money. I was surprised to see the quick difference we made. The most surprising thing was that I found myself enjoying my job as ecology minister. Even when I was not at home, I began to notice ways everyone else could be saving energy, too. I was pleased to see many hybrid cars on the road, but angry at the shops that had their air conditioning on too high. I hadnft thought about it much before, but I now realize that individual awareness is the first step towards saving energy.

As my interest in energy saving grew, I studied more about it and I found an interesting statistic in a report. According to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Japanfs energy self-sufficiency rate is only 4 percent. This is the worst rate among developed countries. In spite of this, our energy consumption has more than doubled in the past 40 years. Electricity has made our lives very convenient and comfortable and we cannot imagine a life without electricity. However, we depend on electricity too much and our lives will be a lot less comfortable if we donft do something now.

This summer, a lot of people tried to save energy. As a result, national electricity consumption has decreased. This shows that together we can make a difference, and every little bit helps. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Appoint yourself as ecology minister for your home, your school or your office, and then look closely at ways in which you can reduce your energy use. You will notice a lot of little gsomethingsh that you can do. For example, we can change our lifestyle by using fans instead of air-conditioners or by replacing old light-bulbs and fluorescent lights with LEDs. Of course the government needs to take drastic measures for our future, but individual actions are also important. John F. Kennedy said, gAsk not what your country can do for youch I say, gAsk what you can do for your planet.h Start now, by becoming an ecology minister.

(3-25 Speech in 63rd Contest, 2011)


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