Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thinking the unthinkable: nuclear catastrophe

"Fukushima is trying to tell us something. We must heed its warning."
Christian Parenti
How many disasters -- either of the ecological or economic varieties -- will it take before people actively seek to reclaim their lost power?
Randall Amster
The worsening nuclear crises in Japan confronts us with the unthinkable- nuclear catastrophe.

The response of the Japanese Government, the private companies that own and run Japan's nuclear plants, the mainstream media around the world and the governments and corporate elite who support and profit from the nuclear industry and nuclear energy have consistently tried to downplay the seriousness of the crises and lied about the risks involved.

But the Japanese people well know the seriousness of the crises they face. They are fleeing as radiation spreads over large parts of the country. They are fleeing Tokyo and the country. The demand for passports is overwhelming.

Listen to them talk and they are angry and terrified. They no longer believe their government or the corporate spokespersons and spin masters who try to downplay the seriousness of the crises at Japan's nuclear plants.

As nuclear radiation reaches the West Coast of the USA Americans are having to confront the implications of  a nuclear catastrophe in light of their long history of nuclear energy.

Randall Amster asks a profound question How many disasters -- either of the ecological or economic varieties -- will it take before people actively seek to reclaim their lost power?
And now, for our troubles, we have a potentially runaway disaster in the making (yet again), which threatens to spread its misery over the hemisphere, conjuring those “ominous clouds” of nuclear toxification in the process. The powers that be will assure us that all is well, but of course the same thing was said about the Gulf oil spill, just to take one recent example. On the question of nuclear dangers in particular, the government has a sordid history of knowingly exposing the populace to grave risks in the name of “national security” or some other oxymoronic invocation.. ....
Despite repeated official declarations that the levels of radiation expected to reach the U.S. are perfectly safe, Physicians for Social Responsibility cautions that “no threshold exists for a ‘safe’ level of exposure to radioactive particles.”

Clearly there is cause for concern about the possible effects of a large-scale nuclear disaster such as the one emerging in Japan, even when the brunt of it is borne thousands of miles away. Radiation can dissipate over time and distance, yet its effects can also linger and become embedded in food and water supplies as well.

Obviously the dangers ahead are real, and that’s true regardless of how the situation in Japan plays out. Those nascent “ominous clouds” wafting in from the west are merely the tangible blowback of lifestyles that have been increasingly out of balance with the life-sustaining capacities of the biosphere. We can only cheat this inherent logic of interconnectivity for so long before the net products of our consumptive ways return the burdens back to us. Someone, somewhere makes those gilded cages for us, and whatever they are exposed to will ultimately become part of our ecology as well. We simply cannot outsource misery and treat toxicity as an externality any longer. How many disasters -- either of the ecological or economic varieties -- will it take before people actively seek to reclaim their lost power?
Christian Parenti has also written about the implications of the catastrophe, particularly for the US.
At press time, the nuclear crisis in Japan is out of control: three reactors are in partial meltdown, two are leaking radiation, at least one pool full of eighty tons of “spent” uranium fuel rods may be burning, two other such pools are getting very hot. Three major explosions have destroyed much of the Fukushima plant’s basic infrastructure, like cranes, monitors and mechanical controls.

Japanese officials have prevaricated, fumbled and have now largely retreated; the distressed plant is just too hot. Their understanding of the crisis is fragmentary. What they tell the public is even more limited. In total desperation they bombed the site with water dropped from helicopters but aborted that plan when radiation exposure proved too dangerous. Radioactive fallout is already sickening people. And this is just the beginning. Fukushima is a grave warning.
.............The message is clear: systems fail; the unthinkable happens.

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