Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making Meaning of the Japanese Triple Disaster

  • "Japan's tsunami was one of the most recorded disasters ever to be captured on film, lending a visual power to story-telling unmatched since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago," writes David Bauder — Images of disaster in Japan lend visual power. "What, though, do these images do? Do they change how we perceive the event? Do more higher-quality images of catastrophe make it seem more real or more movielike? Will we remember the 2011 Japan tsunami differently than its calamitous predecessors because we saw so much of it so quickly?"

  • "The unbelievable sight of rich Japan — famous for trains running like clockwork, state-of-the-art gadgets, concern for safety and order — laid low by a freak force of nature beyond human control has been a terrifying wake-up call," says Joji Sakurai, calling the recent disaster "one of the most significant calamities of our time — one that shapes policies, economies, even philosophies for decades to come in an increasingly interconnected world" — Japan tragedy seared into the world's imagination.

  • "The Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster has become a textbook example of what not to do in an emergency," says Alistair Nicholas — People have to come before profits, even in a crisis. "Possibly for the first time in Japanese history, people started seriously questioning those in positions of authority. They felt they had a right to get accurate and truthful updates in a timely manner and that it was not forthcoming."

  • "The temblor and tidal wave can be blamed on a deliberately cruel God or a murderously impersonal Mother Nature," writes Jim Goad, but "[t]he reactors’ possible meltdown is the result of human diddling with natural laws that mankind has obviously yet to master" — Nuclear Holocaust Denial.
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    Blogger Francis Xavier said...

    I think one ought really be careful here.

    That problems arise when you take an American nuclear plant not designed to withstand massive earthquakes and tsunamis, do NOT perform the required routine safety tests, routinely falsify meter readings and ignore the scientists and politicians who try to tell you that this is an accident waiting to happen is not a condemnation of nuclear power.

    When a professor on the supervisory board overseeing safety at nuclear plants resigns in protest, and a politicians trying to alert the public that the regulation of nuclear plants is not up to scratch is not debated on the issues, but shut up, the issue is not that nuclear power is inherently unsafe, but that the people managing it must be.

    I can't for the life of me imagine workers at a German nuclear plant routinely refusing to perform safety checks (one of the generators at Fukushima reportedly ran out of diesel because the tanks which were supposed to be full to the brim had not been filled for ages,) faking meter readings that prove that something is wrong, or putting reactors not designed to withstand tsunamis along an earthquake- and tsunami prone coast.

    That an American nuclear plant withstood stresses that far exceed those which it was designed to withstand speaks for nuclear power.

    Perhaps the more appropriate discussion to have is whether Japanese society has the maturity for the world community to allow it to manage its own nuclear plants. The egregious foolhardiness at Fukushima suggests not.

    8:04 PM  
    Blogger The Western Confucian said...

    You may be right... and I find myself downwind from China!

    7:51 PM  

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