Biology and Art - September 2023

This month’s contribution comes from a graduate student, Kaito Takenaka, who is studying the pollination biology of invasive species in the Ogasawara Islands. Kaito is interested in tiny bug macrophotography.

7 September UNESCO – International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies

As Japan is where I have spent most of my life, I often take clean air and blue skies for granted. However, that is because the islands are blessed with natural resources that produce clean air from a series of complex interactions between the terrestrial and atmospheric environments. Forests, wetlands, and soil filter tremendous amounts of pollutants from the air, and these biomes are supported by biodiversity. However, if they do not function properly, air pollution not only affects our health directly, but in the long run, it might also make this planet unlivable by decreasing plant photosynthesis efficiency. Hence, we should not forget the cost of losing clean air, the invisible nutrient of our life, and start conserving natural resources.

私は日本で育ったので、しばしばきれいな空気と青い空をあたりまえのものと思ってしまう。しかし、 それができるのは日本列島が一連の複雑な大地と大気間の相互作用によってきれいな空気を生産できる自然資源に富んでいるからである。森林、湿地、土壌は多大なる量の汚染物質を空気から取り除く。そしてこれらのバイオームは生物多様性によって維持されている。しかし、これらの機能が正常に働かない時には、大気汚染が我々の健康に直接被害を及ぼすだけでなく、長期的には植物の光合成効率を減少させ、地球を住めない環境にしてしまうかもしれない。したがって、私たちは自然資源を守らないことは目に見えない栄養素であるきれいな空気を失うことだということを忘れてはいけない。

The rules are simple: 5-7-5, there is no seasonal reference word (a kigo), but your poem must relate to either biology or the topic of the month, and you are writing in English.
Therefore, Kaito’s haiku for this month is:

tasteless but vital
Earth’s invaluable product,
circles through nature


WORDS to learn this month are: to take something for granted: ~を当たり前と思う, to filter: ~を濾して取り除く, terrestrial: 陸生, pollutants: 汚染物質, wetlands: 湿地, function: 機能する, in the long run: ~長期的に, invisible: 目に見えない, efficiency: 効率