Saturday, March 26, 2011

排便 Happens

Help wanted--Immediate Opening: Nuclear Heroes.

Maintenance and repair workers needed for nuclear power plant at seaside location in beautiful Pacific archipelago. Record earthquake and Tusnami have created need for emergency workers to prevent catastrophic meltdown. Preference given older workers, who will probably die of something else before the cancer risks from radiation exposure.

Japan consists of 6,852 islands located in a volcanic zone of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Earthquakes pulled Japan away from the mainland of Asia about 15 million years ago.

The word Tsunami is Japanese for “harbor wave“ or “wave train.” Japan has experienced 195 Tsunami in its recorded history. Before Westerners learned about Tsunami, the same event was called a Tidal Wave. Television taught us the word Tsunami when one killed a quarter of a million people in Asia just a few years ago. During WWII, New Zealand attempted and failed to create with explosives a Tsunami for use as a weapon.

In addition to earthquakes and Tsunami, Japan has a vivid nuclear history and involuntary experience with radiation poisoning from Ground Zero at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So why did Japan build a nuclear reactor in an earthquake zone with an ocean view? Somebody forgot the famous maxim from the Shinto shrine: "排便 Happens." It does indeed. Serious 排便.

One good thing to result from the current disaster in Japan is the sudden appearance on television of people who actually know their isotopes from a hole in the ground, intelligent gray haired people who went to math and science classes in their youth.

Here’s a lesson from one of those classes:

About 70,000 years ago, a volcano erupted at Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia, one of the earth’s largest known eruptions. It deposited a layer of ash throughout Asia. The climate effects of the Toba eruption triggered a global ecological disaster, including worldwide vegetation destruction, and severe drought. Famine and a 6-to-10-year volcanic winter reduced the world's human population to 10,000 survivors or perhaps a mere 1,000 breeding pairs.

The Lake Toba super volcano eruption was two orders of magnitude greater than the largest volcanic eruption in recorded historic times, at Mount Tambora, Indonesia, which caused 1816 to be the "Year Without a Summer" in the northern hemisphere


pascal said...

Japan might be wondering why it didn't spend the same amount on solar power development as they did on nuculear. Also, as I understand it, nuculear power is not directly converted to electricity but its fires boil the water to make the steam turbines turn to generate electricty ala Rube Goldberg!

Paw Paw Bill said...

I think that is pretty much why nuclear power may be your grandfather's Oldsmobile. It would be really interesting to know the dollar cost of a Watt of electricity produced by nuclear vs solar.

Tina said...

Sometimes one wonders if long term planning is beyond human capacity...

Tommy said...

Actually, as I understand it, those engineers did a good job of designing the reactors to withstand a massive earthquake. The trouble came from the tsunami. Just like Katrina, no amount of prep could prepare for the scale of damage. What comes to light is that the bi-product and waste of nuclear power, billed as "clean energy" because of its lack of toxic emissions, is one of the most toxic substances on the face of the Earth, and 30+ years into the technology, we still haven;t figured how to deal with the waste.

annette cotter said...

Snip from Wall Street Journal:

"Tepco's last safety test of nuclear power plant Number 1--one that is currently in danger of meltdown--was done at a seismic magnitude the company considered the highest possible, but in fact turned out to be lower than Friday's quake. The information comes from the company's "Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 Updated Safety Measures" documents written in Japanese in 2010 and 2009. The documents were reviewed by Dow Jones. The company said in the documents that 7.9 was the highest magnitude for which they tested the safety for their No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear power plants in Fukushima."

Planners underestimated what was possible as the quake measured 9 on the ricter scale. Also, scientists say that a tsunami was predictable, given the magnitude of the quake and the location of the plant.

As long as stupidity and greed and wishful thinking persist as part of the human condition (and i see no evidence of their disappearance) I vote NO on nuclear power. Mistakes and miscalculations are waaaaay costly. Backup plans, and evacuation plans are largely figments. The planet is building up huge quantities of radioactive waste and nobody knows what to do with this stuff.

Let's try sun and wind.


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