The problems with nuclear power

As if the earthquake and the following tsunami were not enough, Japan got into another nightmare with its damaged and apparently out-of-control Fukushima nuclear power plant.

It can of course be argued over the logic in the reasoning to construct nuclear plants in a region that is on the absolute top of the list when it comes to earthquake risks. Japan have naturally not been unaware of the risks involved, but have apparently deemed that in order to provide the electrical energy needed to power the world’s second largest economy the risks were worth taking. It now seems that the safeguards even in such a hightech country have not been sufficient.

It is not the first time the safety of Japan’s nuclear programme has been questioned, or even the first time incidents have cast a shadow on the policies. But this is by far the worst such incident.

Horribly devastating Japanese earthquake

The earthquake with its epicentre outside the northeastern coast of the Japanese main island of Honshu seems to have been an unusually bad one even by Japanese standards. By being an 8 on the Richter scale it is one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded, and even if it struck the most earthquake-prepared country in the world, the devastation is massive.

Even if the actual earthquake itself most likely made for a not insignificant amount of damage, the really horrible part is without doubt the giant tsunami that it produced. With waves of up to ten metres, there simply cannot have been much in the way of disaster preparation that have withstood the destructive forces of the water.

One question that draws to mind is if this was the great earthquake that is expected to strike the Kanto region anytime now and to be compared to the destructive 1923 Kanto earthquake. According to the seismologists it maybe was not. Which provides for an equally horrible disaster scenario if that is the case. Because even if this current one struck further north than Tokyo it definitely to some degree affected the city as well, and we can only try to imagine if an earthquake of equal power would strike even closer to the Tokyo metropolitan region, considering the extreme destruction made by this current earthquake and tsunami on a less populated region than Kanto.

In either case, what is unfolding is a tragedy and unfortunately a very harsh reminder of how small we humans are compared to nature’s powers.

Huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan

There has been a very big earthquake in the sea outside the Japanese east coast. The earthquake apparently measured 8.8 on the Richter scale and has also produced a tsunami which hit part of the northeastern coast of Japan with waves up to ten metres in height. The city of Sendai and the Miyagi prefecture seem to be severely hit while large parts of eastern Honshu, including Tokyo, have been affected to different degrees.

Eyjafjallajökull and modern communications

The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano has in a very clear way showed both the weaknesses and strenghts in modern communications. The mass cancellations of flights in large parts of Europe and across the north Atlantic have undoubtedly meant great disturbances in the international transportation sectors both logistically and economically. But the interruptions have also shown the strenghts of other communication networks, both physical ones and telecommunications. Because with todays technology in reality the need for physical travel in order to conduct business is lower than it used to be. In many cases vide and voice conferences can replace the physical meeting, and in the cases it cannot, there are still in many cases alternatives in the form of high-speed trains. In the best case the temporary closure of the European airspace will put a renewed focus on the almost as fast and environmentally sounder ways of inter-European transportation that exist and should be expanded upon.