Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Human Obsession with the Apocalypse

Monday, April 4th, 2011

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The nuclear mushroom cloud we now associate with the Apocalypse

24 Days after a 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunami struck Japan’s coastline in Tohoku, and after auxiliary cooling systems failed at Fukushima’s Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan’s nuclear crisis continues to unfold.  While the plant has been reconnected to the electric grid, cooling systems in the most damaged reactors have yet to be restarted.  Not to mention the crippled facility has been spewing radiation into the atmosphere, soil, and now the ocean for the past 24 days, with no end in sight.  There’s been a bottled-water buying frenzy in the markets, and only until recently have I begun seeing the return of bottled water to the shelves.

Yet, while the crisis has yet to be solved and still just as bad as it was even 5 days following the disaster (maybe worse), it appears foreign news has turned elsewhere.

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Nuclear Reactors Without Us

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

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While witnessing the escalating crisis in Japan’s already beleaguered, ravaged, coastline, I was reminded of a book I had read a while ago that puts the spiraling nuclear apocalypse into a bleak—and hopeful—perspective.

The non-fiction book is titled “The World Without Us,” by Alan Weisman and was released in 2007.  In it, Weisman explores the concept of, “If the human race vanished tomorrow, what would happen to our creations and the world at large?”  The one chapter I am reminded of is the one devoted to nuclear reactors.  Unmanned, what would happen to them?  I like Weisman’s explanation because he explains the scenario in layman’s terms, interspersed with vivid imagery.  It’s both morbidly realistic and at once hopeful—in the aftermath life still goes on. For those who are still struggling to understand what exactly is happening up at Fukushima Daiichi, I recommend reading this book (of course his other chapters are also quite good!)

I have provided an excerpt below on Chapter 15, the chapter devoted to nuclear reactors and warheads: how they work and what happens when the system fails.  The doomsday scenario involves Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Plant, but as American and Japanese reactors are essentially the same in design (or so I have heard), it can be used a roadmap for Fukushima Daiichi.  So far it’s been turning out exactly as Weisman has predicted.  He also touches on Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

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Ravaged Japan

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

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“I used the deadwood to make the fire rise
The blood of innocence burning in the sky
I fill my cup with the rising of the sea
Pour it out in an ocean of debris…”
— Linkin Park, “Burning in the Skies”

A morbid gray haze lingers in the still air. The colors have all vanished.  Even in sunny, sleepy Ehime the pallor of the sky can be seen, blanketing the city.  Voices have ceased, leaving only the low hum of the television screen. All eyes are upon that screen, as the scene of unimaginable horror unfolds in an area not so far removed.

March 11, 2011 — A magnitude 9.0 earthquake that originated off the coast of Sendai (near famous Matsushima Bay) generated a 7-meter tsunami that  ripped through the Tohoku region of Japan.

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Egypt Under Fire: 27 Days Ago, I Was There

Friday, February 4th, 2011

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After the slew of posts I wrote detailing the wonders of my travel through Egypt, I vowed to leave that surreal desert land behind me. However, the events currently transpiring there are hitting a little closer to home than I’d like to admit.

It’s all over the news stations, the newspapers, and the internet.  Even here in Japan I have teachers telling me about it constantly.  The current unrest in Cairo isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened in Egypt (history knows there have been far bloodier battles fought there, particularly those against Israel) but it’s most unnerving because ….

I was there.  27 days ago, I was there, in Cairo.

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