Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crisis In Japan

Few words can capture the tragedy in Japan. The loss of life, the devastation of swaths of countryside... A great nation, once our enemy and now our dear friend, has taken a blow to the jaw from the hammer of Vulcan. It's in times like these that we're reminded why nature is referred to as a 'mother.'

But in the wake of the tragic tsunami, a handfull of idiots are actually surfing it. Not the least of these is Glenn Beck, who, learning nothing from Pat Robertson's hideous gaff over Hurricane Katrina years earlier, has declared this a possible message sent by God that maybe we ought to do things differently. The implication behind this is that the Shinto religion, practiced by the majority of Japanese people, is inadequate for them.

Fuck you too, Glenn.

Okay, there's Mommar Gadhafi, Charlie Sheen, and Glenn Beck. They're all mentally too far gone to sustain their careers. 'Nuff said. Unfortunately, it will be some time after Gadhafi's inevitable fall that Beck will finally topple. His followers will drink his Kool-Aid to its bitter dregs.

But I will say this: TEPCO, the company screwing up the relief efforts of the nuclear disasters in the wake of this devastation, is the new BP. Over and over now, they've said that the fires have been under control, only to have another explosion follow. It's track record was poor even before this point, and now it's even worse. Three Mile Island has been buried in this event's wake. Soon, it will overtake Cernobyl. And it's perfectly clear that the lies told by the corporate leaders of this company are partly responsible -- one does not deal with a crisis by being in denial about it, and trying to pass that myopia on to a public that's dying of radiation poisoning is just plain evil.

This does bring up a crisis about energy that I wish to say something about. It's not quite like the BP oil spill, where the same people who only two years earlier were crying, "Drill, baby, drill!" at McCain rallies turned around and tried blaming Obama for irresponsible deep-water drilling practices. But there are similarities. The BP spill made us look at our energy needs and ask if what we're doing to meet them is really the right course of action. Is it responsible to drill for oil so deep out in the ocean if we can turn to solar, wind, coal, natural gas, and nuclear fuel as alternatives?

Now the debate includes nuclear power.

I've been in favor of nuclear power in the past. I still remain so now. I'm not going to go so far as to say that this tragedy should cause us to abandon nuclear power plants altogether, but I think it's fair to say that we should now avoid putting nuclear plants near coastal areas prone to tsunamis, or near earthquake zones. We should also put in new safeguards in place, learning from what's happened in Japan, and avoid the same conditions.

But let's not go back to excessive or unsafe drilling for oil, or increase our dependency upon the oil of angry Arab despots who are finally beginning to fall from power, just because we've had another nuclear disaster in our lifetime. Let's not fail to lock up fissionable materials behind the heavily-bolted doors of power plants, thus keeping such weapons-grade material away from terrorists, just because one Japanese company has mishandled one disaster. The number of massive oil spills far outstrips the number of nuclear disasters, and the human cost of a nuclear meltdown pales in comparison to the loss of all human freedom if terrorists and extremists continue to get funded with Saudi oil money.

Go solar, go wind, go nuclear. And go, Japan! Let's everybody chip in to help our friends out over there!


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