Saturday, March 12, 2011
Japan is the Worst Case Scenario
Japan is now the global example of the worst case scenario in which everything that can go wrong has gone wrong.
When a nuclear plant servicing an equivalent area of a U.S. state blows up and moves toward meltdown, even Russia’s Chernobyl begins to shrink by comparison. For the nuclear energy sector, it’s a meltdown of another kind as few people will want to see another one built any time soon.
One astonishing side note to the disaster is the way Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada forced the shut-down of a multi-billion dollar Yucca Mountain repository for U.S. nuclear waste.
In the age when television cameras are everywhere, the people of the world got a firsthand look at what it looks like when a tsunami hits. As it plowed down buildings and everything else in its way, the devastation is so vast that the mind struggles to comprehend it.
You can rebuild buildings, roads, bridges, railroads and such, but restoring confidence in the future will take a generation or two for Japan. Meanwhile, the economic losses defy calculation.
What Japan tells us is that all the early warning systems are no match for the sheer power of natural forces. If the Yellowstone Park caldera, the largest potential volcano in the U.S. should explode, it would have a comparable affect and there isn’t a damn thing that can be done about it.
At the heart of the Japanese disaster is the loss of man-made power, the electricity that allows a modern nation to function, to keep its lights on and everything else that requires electricity. Not all the solar farms and wind turbines in the world could ever begin to provide the vast amounts of power generated by coal, natural gas, or—yes—nuclear facilities. And don’t forget the hydroelectric power that literally transformed the West.
There is a stark contrast between President Obama’s pledge to assist Japan in every way and his failure to assist the Libyan forces battling one of the worst dictators in northern Africa, a man with a forty-year history of oppression and even terrorism that was directed against America.
Largely unnoted is the way the Pacific Rim is demonstrating the primacy of geological events. From Christchurch in New Zealand to northern Japan, the Earth is literally moving under the feet of millions. The prospect of volcanic eruptions increases. The likelihood of more earthquakes increases. Tsunamis threaten.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. an economic earthquake looms. A $14 trillion deficit threatens to sink the nation and probably take a few others with it. Why does it always take a death or two at a dangerous intersection before the town installs a stop signal?
If you want a worst case scenario in America, you need only wait and watch as neither the White House, nor the Congress does anything serious to address this fate.
© Alan Caruba, 2011