Job hunting seminar exclusively for foreigners in Japan

To all of you who might be interested in finding a job or an internship in Japan, this seminar, held next week on March 4th and 5th, may be a good opportunity for you to get in touch with some Japanese companies willing to recruit foreign students. By the this “Top Career” brand is an organization helping foreigners for their job hunting in Japan, apparently including support for CV or cover letters etc., and it seems to be for free.

Click Here to read more information and register for the seminar.

5 new GPES student entered in september 2016

After Kylie’s arrival two years ago, Nicolas’ 6 months later, this september was marked by the entrance of 5 new master students.

We are therefore currently 8 master students and 4 PhDs, including Kylie and Kim who are already leaving us next month ūüė•

I am looking forwards to cooperate further with all our new incumbents.

Amelia and Yue Chin are now alumni + Andi is PhD + Kim and Kylie are graduating

Already 3 students¬†graduated from the GPES master’s and 2 are on the edge of graduation.

Amelia, Yue Chin and Andi¬†all obtained¬†their master’s degree in september 2015, respectively writing about flows of¬†radioactive contaminants in Japanese rivers, corals’ nutrients intake, and transcription factors involved in chloroplast differentiation. Andi however extended for a PhD program.

Only last month, both Kim (PhD) and Kylie (master) submitted their thesis, and both greatly performed during their oral defence.

Kim first resumed¬†and interlinked¬†the contents of his three published articles, namely “Comparative analysis of environmental impact assessment (EIA)¬†procedures of Japan and New Zealand”, “Large scale renewable energy project barriers: EIA streamlining efforts in Japan and the EU”, and finally “the determinants of wind energy shares in the United States: Drivers and Barriers”. Kim’s work provided us an in-depth understanding of legal, political and administrative burdens that might hamper renewable energy adoption in various countries, as well as how to overcome these obstacles.

Finally, Kylie elaborated an analysis of biodiversity range shifts, based on an exhaustive data set detailing the species registered at all hydraulic dams around Japan in the past 20 years. She concluded that the shifting patterns are highly variable depending on each taxon, and that the hypothesis of northwards migration due to climate change may not quite be warranted.

Congratulations guys! We thank all of you for your great contributions to GPES and hope you all the best for your professional careers!kylie-thesis

GO Global Study Abroad Event – IARU Global Summer Program (Komaba, Thursday, December 11, 2014)

Hello GPES and fellow PEAK/GPEAK/Todai students,

Please have a look at the following event that will take place on Komaba campus (Bldg. 13, Room 1313) on Thursday, December 11, 2014 in the evening from 18:15 to 19:40.

If you are interested in spending a summer at some of the best universities in the world, then you should definitely consider applying to the IARU Global Summer Program.

For details on IARU and and the event please see:

http://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/ja/administration/go-global/event/info_session2014_2.html

http://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/ja/administration/go-global/event/pdf/poster_E_000.pdf

http://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/ja/administration/go-global/program/iaru_gsp-en.html

http://www.iaruni.org/

Best regards,

The GPES Student Group

(picture/poster courtesy of Todai Go Global administration)

The Illusion of Self-Determination – November 2014 U.S. Midterm Election Results Commentary

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 Picture retrieved from politico.com and courtesy of AP Photo

Hello everyone,

The most recent “midterm” elections in the United States turned pretty disastrous for United States President Obama and his Democratic Party).

For more background information please see:

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/politics/2014-midterm-elections/index.html

Apart from Republicans even widening their already comfortable gap in the lower chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, they scored a much a larger victory in the upper chamber, the Senate.

With Republicans regaining a majority in the Senate, starting January 2014, it will be almost impossible for President Obama or the Democratic to influence American policies through the ordinary legislative procedure in Congress (he can still further some of his agenda through executive orders albeit this tool is limited in scope for many policy areas).

Republicans will most likely continue their general strategy of absolute obstruction and avoid compromises on any controversial topics e.g. immigration, health care extension, student loans, financial regulation or electoral reform.

The most crucial point is that this major political shift in the United States basically eradicates the hopes of creating a comprehensive climate change agreement at the end of next year in Paris. Republicans have generally a far more conservative stance to issues relating to energy or global warming. They actively support energy generation from fossil fuel combustion and want to limit the development of renewables (although there a regional variances between individual States’ politicians).

The most pressing question however that the results of these midterm elections bring to mind is why Americans would choose politics that are either largely dominated by radical Tea Party wing, that defends views on the far right of the political spectrum; or by large corporations that have been transforming these midterm elections in the costliest midterm elections in U.S. history by pouring billions of largely undocumented money into advertisement or campaigns that were set up in most cases to discredit Democratic candidates (it also affected Republicans, but in significantly fewer cases). The recent Supreme Court of the U.S. landmark decision Citizens United of 2010 created the foundation for this theoretically unlimited spending destined to influence election races in one way or another.

Republicans forced a government shutdown in 2013 and basically held the whole country hostage over some short-term political game. People now seem to hold the President accountable for every blunder and legislative stagnation in Congress despite the fact that Republicans practised a strategy of almost complete obstruction, far away from the former members of the GOP that were always willing to make compromises instead of just ruling out categorically every compromise out of an overreliance on a very questionable ideology. In almost every political matter, even the ones that they did support at earlier stages like trade agreements, they started to block every Democratic initiative, either in the House, where the held the majority, or in the Senate, by using the “Filibuster” tool in record numbers, unprecedented in history.

This basically made a comprehensive strategy regarding climate change, carbon emissions, energy efficiency or renewable energy development on a national level almost impossible and forced Obama to use executive orders to achieve at least some progress. I am not saying President Obama did everything right, but with regards to the uncompromising stance he faced from across the aisle at Congress made any constructive law-and policymaking nearly impossible.

The topic that dominated these midterm elections most was the general dissatisfaction of how Obama was handling this country. People want to pay fewer taxes and have less government intrusion, yet they feel unsafe because of ISIS or the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, since they criticize that the government is not doing enough to protect them. They completely eclipse that efficient government services need funds to run and those come from taxes. People hate the political and legislative stalemate in Congress, yet they seem to have forgotten that the Republicans categorically opposed most legislative initiatives not because they felt they were ill conceived, but their only agenda was complete and utter obstruction.

The United States under President Obama recovered from one the worst economic recessions in history, most large companies are more profitable than ever before, more that 9 million jobs have been added since Obama took office the deficit was reduced by half, and more than 7 million formerly uninsured people now have more affordable coverage. Yet people say the “fed up” with Obama’s way of handling things.

People say they want to decide themselves what is best for them, without government interference, without having to contribute in any way to the advancement of the nation as a whole, only viewing their lives from a narrow individualistic and opportunistic point of view in which sharing any of your wealth is denounced as “Socialism” or “Communism”. Solidarity, empathy and tolerance took a hard hit on November 4, 2014.

What is even more frustrating is that people do not realize that they are from free since large companies already dictate most of their lives. Banks dictate who gets a loan or not, food companies make their products greasier and add more sugar to basically create a notion of addicts that find it hard to quit. Large oil & gas companies exploit public land with little to no accountability (see http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-koch-brothers-toxic-empire-20140924). Insurance companies deny claims on daily bases and pharmaceutical companies charge horrendous amounts for essential drugs.

The government bailouts of the largest financial institutions in 2008 and 2009 basically rendered the concept of “privatizing profits and socializing losses” into a mantra for large companies, regardless of the sector. Unlimited private enrichment and greed, without interference, accountability or social responsibility has become the philosophy for most businesses, and recently as well for a large part of the American population (white, old or¬†without any college education) who voted mostly for the Republicans. Notwithstanding this egoistic view, many of them ignore that they get social security, Medicare or Medicaid and do not realize that the government needs adequate resources in order to continue funding these programs without which they would find themselves in extreme poverty rather sooner than later.

Therefore there needs to be a strong government to oversee, regulate and fine these companies in case of non-compliance, since although people can go to court in theory, the cost of legal action often dissuades many victims. Protection of consumers is one of the only ways to guarantee competition, the backbone of free markets. This also applies for things that do not necessarily have any monetary value at first sight such as clean air or a mitigated global warming. There needs to be oversight over and protection of natural resources that belong to the public and thus should not be exploited by private entities for personal gain, such as air, water or a functioning eco system.

Hence, from an environmental point of view, these elections were a major setback. It will be much harder now for any nationally significant environmental or renewable energy policies to pass Congress or for Obama to obtain approval for a comprehensive, legally binding climate change agreement next year in Paris that contains substantial greenhouse gas emission cuts. People need to realize that they cannot ask for change and more efficient government if they vote for a political blockade out of short-term emotional frustration.

In conclusion the American people made a short-term decision with long-term consequences far beyond their own national borders.

This commentary reflects solely the opinion of Kim and is not representative of the GPES Student Group’s opinions or views.

©2014 Kim

65th Komaba Festival on the University of Tokyo Komaba Campus (Nov. 22-24, 2014)

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Picture courtesy of the Komaba Festival Comittee

Hello everyone,

I would like to direct your attention on the upcoming 65th edition of the Komaba Festival at the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo. The festival is organized by the students who are based on Komaba campus and will offer a variety of activities and events that will span for three days from Saturday, November 22 to Monday, November 24, 2014, each day from 9:00(am) to 18:00(pm).

Please check the official website (soon available in English as well):

http://www.komabasai.net/65/visitor/

Directions: Please use the Keio Inokashira Line (Local train) from Shibuya station the Komabatodaimae station.

UC Berkeley and Stanford University Visits (October 16-22, 2014)

Hello everyone,

I recently I had the pleasure of being able to go California, or more precisely the San Francisco Bay Area for a conference at the University of California, Berkeley BERC Energy Summit (for more info please see the post “BERC Energy Summit 2014 Expo Poster Presentation (October 16, 2014)”, http://wp.me/p4zqTn-aU).

Since UC Berkeley is my alma mater (I studied there as a Masters student before joining the University of Tokyo), this was a particularly nice trip as I was not only able to meet some of old friends and faculty members but I also visited Stanford University in order to meet up with Mark Z. Jacobson (https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/), famous professor in environmental engineering and directing of the Atmosphere and Energy program.

Below is a selection of pictures giving you some impressions of what the Berkeley and Stanford campuses look like.

Best regards,

Kim

 

(Pictures ©2014 Kim)

Lewis says HI;-)

 

Hello everyone!

The GPES Student Group has the enormous pleasure welcoming a new member amongst our mids.

Lewis from England is a GPES Ph.D. student in chemistry and entered the University of Tokyo in October 2014.

To find out more about him and his hobbies, please have a look at his short introduction:

 https://gpesstudentsutokyo.wordpress.com/student-blogs/lewis/

 

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Best regards,

The GPES Student Group

(Pictures ©2014 Lewis & GPES Student Group)

GPES Soup Curry Meeting (October 2014)

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Hello everyone,

At the start of last October, the GPES Student Group members all gathered to go and enjoy some delicious “Soup Curry” in the Shimokitazawa in the western part of Tokyo (in the Setagaya-ward to be more precise). Soup curry is a dish that reputedly originates from Sapporo, Hokkaido, although that fact is hard to verify.

A restaurant called “Magic Spice” had built up quite a reputation for itself over time and we wanted to find out what all the talk was about. We went on a weekday, but to our surprise the place a packed and I doubt that we would’ve be able to get a seats for a 6-people party without prior reservation.

Please have a look: http://www.magicspice.net/

The decor and atmosphere are definitely unique and intriguing to say the least. This place seems to be literally “out of this world”. This theme does not halt at the menu either which surprises the irritated guest with strange spice combinations and denominations that only remotely relate to the actual ingredients contained in those spice mixes.

Anyway, thanks to the inspiring atmosphere and the fun conversations between the GPES students, this turned out to be truly great evening that was crowned with the birthday celebrations for Yue Chin and Amelia.

Best regards,

The GPES Student Group

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(Pictures ©2014 GPES Student Group)

Graduate Program on Environmental Sciences (GPES) – Student Blogs & General Information