What We Are Reading Today: We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer

Updated 23 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer

  • Jonathan Safran Foer “provides many opportunities to see how we are facing disaster

We Are the Weather is an excellent book based upon scientific information, mostly ignored or not believed by the public.

The book “tackles the climate change issue with an interesting premise: Most of the things that you are doing to live a greener lifestyle will make no difference to the Earth,” said a review in goodreads.com.

Jonathan Safran Foer “provides many opportunities to see how we are facing disaster and collectively shrug our shoulders either because we don’t want to change or we don’t see how making a change as an individual makes a difference,” said the review.

The review said: “We have, Foer reveals, turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are catastrophic.

“Only collective action will save our home and way of life. And it all starts with what we eat — and don’t eat — for breakfast.”

Foer is the author of two bestselling, award-winning novels: Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and a bestselling work of nonfiction, Eating Animals.


A new era: Japan welcomes its 126th emperor and celebrates Reiwa 

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

A new era: Japan welcomes its 126th emperor and celebrates Reiwa 

DUBAI: Japan will welcome its 126th emperor in a fascinating, history-filled ceremony on Tuesday, but who is Naruhito and what will his “era” signify?

On April 1 this year, the Japanese public intently waited for the government to announce the name of the nation’s new imperial era following the abdication of Emperor Akihito, who led Japan for 30 years.

Historically, the implementation of the imperial era name (or gengo) dates back to Japan’s modernization days of the Meiji Era in the late 19th century. Simply put, each emperor represented a new era.

This unique system remains relevant in politics and several aspects of daily life, as it is used in official documents, local newspapers and the Japanese calendar.

But the name is of deeper significance than official use. “It’s supposed to convey a certain meaning and motto of what should come during the reign of the emperor,” Dr. Griseldis Kirsch, a senior lecturer on contemporary Japanese culture at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, told Arab News.

Reiwa, officially translated as beautiful harmony, has been selected as the name for the era of the incoming imperial couple Naruhito and Masako.

A two-character term that is derived from an ancient anthology of Japanese poems known as “Manyoshu,” Reiwa has drawn some controversy since the term is “not entirely clear,” said Kirsch.

Linguistically, the characters’ meanings have changed over time, and there was a lack of agreement on a proper English translation.

Although the term represents peace amid the current troubled times, Reiwa has a slightly passive tone compared to the former Heisei (achieving peace) era.

“It’s about Japan and its inner harmony… that’s pretty clear in the second character ‘wa’ because it can mean ‘Japanese’ or ‘Japan’,” said Kirsch.

The relatively young incoming royals have been described time and again as a “modern couple.”

Masako — a Harvard-educated former diplomat who speaks five languages — gave up a promising career to join the Imperial Court.

Then-Crown Prince Naruhito — an Oxford-educated environmentalist who is dedicated to water conservation — reportedly pursued his wife-to-be for years before she finally married him in 1993, after rejecting his proposals over fears her career would be jeopardized.

The imperial couple have been famously candid about their difficulties in starting a family, with Princess Masako suffering a miscarriage in 1999 while Naruhito slammed press’s harassment of his then-pregnant wife as “truly deplorable.”

The couple gave birth to a girl, Princess Aiko, in 2001.