Four days ago our violent universe proved that we still live on “the restless earth.” Many thanks to my college professors and to science fiction writers for at least softening the ground on these topics, allowing us to grasp the scope of disasters.
The Great Japan Quake of 2011 – still in process – shocked our globe with nuclear meltdown, planning level meltdown, economic meltdown, and media-coverage meltdown.
At this writing, it is still possible to have an aftershock of 7.1 as measured on the logarithmic Richter Scale. Reportedly, this would even eclipse “the big one” that leveled Haiti in January 2010, let alone the impact of another tsunami, the real killer. Imagine, if the epicenter of a huge aftershock hit near Tokyo or any other very large population center, we may not have dodged the real bullet yet!
On the macro-level, this entire event reinforces the fact that we all live on a small living rock three planets away from our “Sun.” As CNN tells us, as large as the big quake just was, it is still the pimple on the rear-end of a monkey sitting on the back of an elephant in terms of comparison to a true “extinction-level event.”
On a media-critic sidebar note: CNN’s coverage by Wolf Blitzer lacked the passion that was due on this special story; it could have been a about a presidential vacation in Martha’s Vineyard for all of the drama he brought-in. Fox News easily trumped them, and got seismologists instead of weathermen to tell the tale before CNN found their legs. Mr. Blitzer and CNN have never peaked in performance since the first Gulf War.
The real story – yet untold – is of a meltdown that still may occur full-scale at one or more of the reactor vessels of multiple power plants about 130 miles from Tokyo. The media has not shown – or discussed – wind pattern maps to chart the direction of the current explosion clouds emanating from containment vessels. This may have been to avert panic, but is quite germane to the story.
It is impossible to overstate the poisonous wrath of a radioactive cloud from a molten uranium rod core; just review the Chernobyl disaster that preceded the fall of the Soviet Union. There were not enough surgeons in the world to perform the bone marrow transplants needed to save all of the affected lives back then.
The fact the seawater is being used as a last ditch cooling method is very telling. The media has not discussed that the reason fresh “clean water” is used as a coolant in nuclear power plants is that the sodium in seawater will react with any serious meltdown to create radio-isotopes that are hugely poisonous.
The Japanese ambassador to Washington got full airtime on CNN and never came clean on the real worst cases, or even the current status of reactors so far gone that even monitoring of radiation levels close-in (where needed) was impossible due to radiation levels. His story conflicted greatly with that of the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA).
The one explosion scene that destroyed a containment building which was caught on camera clearly showed the shock wave of a detonation, not a rapid steam release. This was probably from hydrogen and oxygen released from the water through electrolysis; a perfect bomb.
This phenomenon occurred at one of our own Three Mile Island reactors just south of Harrisburg, PA, on March 28, 1979. The media did not report it, as they were more worried about the “fallout” to the nuclear industry than to residents!
How do I know this?
Strangely, I was in a hotel in Harrisburg that night due to a storm while on a motorcycle trip. Several years afterwards I got first hand stories of three hydrogen bubble explosions at Three Mile Island that released serious radiation in blast clouds from one of the technicians who went in to shut the plant down at horrible risk. That crew was paid $50,000 bonuses for the experience.
Back to Japan, they have the same incentive to minimize information to the population for exactly the same reasons; their government is already famous for a cozy relationship with their electric-nuclear industry and their standards and practices.
We won’t draw comparisons with the current relatively small loss of life, as even losing a single individual is always horrible, but…
An extinction level event by contrast would entail wiping out over 90 percent of all living species at once; this has occurred several times in Earth’s past, if you believe current scientific and archeological science. Don’t forget that even universal truths among seas of scientists have a very short “half-life,” at least according to historians, who themselves are relatively short-lived in a cosmic sense.
Plausible examples would include an asteroid slamming into an ocean at 15,000 miles-per-hour, a volcano spewing billions of tons of a pyroclastic cloud with sulfuric gasses, or a massive solar discharge headed into our direction. Any of these events could be extinction level and eclipse even Japan’s current nightmare. Unthinkable.
But then, so was this 9.0 earth quake off the coast of Japan!
With a tsunami incursion of six miles inland, even Japan’s meticulous planning fell short; entire villages gone wiped out. They will be rewriting the textbooks on preparations and building codes everywhere based upon these newest “worst case scenarios.”
It seems to me that even Hollywood’s cheesiest disaster films now look silly in scope versus our new reality. Imagine the videos that will surface as the Japanese slowly recover detailing the true horrors of this event.
In your planning, don’t forget that Japanese businesses will have to sell some of their American investment holdings in order to finance a recovery/rebuilding on a massive scale. Some real estate will be dumped at fire-sale prices, diluting an already bad market.
Also, invest quickly in American agro-businesses and construction raw materials, surely to skyrocket in price due to demand created by this disaster.
Lastly, you can sign up for text/email tsunami warnings that get broadcast directly to your phone; just google it. And keep some extra food, water, and blankets in the house…