Focus on a single commonality. What will emerge is at once instructive and useful.
Japan made world news last year. On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude undersea megathrust earthquake occurred at 2:46 pm. Lasting approximately six minutes, and at a relatively shallow depth of just under 20 miles, the epicenter was about 45 miles east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku, Japan.
The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves up to 133 feet high that reached inland up to six miles, causing a number of nuclear accidents including three reactor meltdowns in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex.
Casualties totaled 15,867 deaths, 6,1009 injured and 2909 missing. Damage to infrastructure and buildings was equally catastrophic. A World Bank estimate of economic cost is US $235 billion, the most expensive natural disaster in world history.
Imagine an equivalent disaster for the United States, if you can. Don’t try too hard. You might not sleep well tonight.
The United States, except for Alaska and Hawaii, is a contiguous land mass of 3,536,278 square miles. The population is near 300 million, leaving huge areas virtually uninhabited. We have incredible natural resources.
The State of Japan is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, in East Asia. But Japan is not an island, but an archipelago of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands comprise about 97 percent of Japan’s land area.
But 73 percent of this land area is forested, mountainous and unfit for agriculture, industrial or residential use. Greater Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world. Japan’s population of almost 28 million people live close together.
Most habitable zones are coastal. Very close to the water. We know what that means here when the Gulf misbehaves.
Last night I watched a 47-minute podcast called The Corbett Report, about the herculean efforts Japan is making for recovery. Their biggest problem is, and will be for a long time, cleaning up three melted down nuclear reactors. Inspirational. However ...
Japan’s Prime Minister told his people their only viable future lay in atomic power. He appears to have been less than truthful, “cooking” data regarding power needs. The podcast revealed both the evil when government and industry become bedfellows, and the possible reform resulting from the response of an awakened citizenry.
We can learn two important things from Japan, first by seeing exposed the collusion between a corrupt government and the nuclear power industry. Second, we can watch a Tea-Party-like movement never before seen in this usually peaceful nation. Japan’s citizens want alternative energy, including wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and wave energy, and a proven, safer nuclear alternative to uranium and plutonium called Thorium, both inexpensive and plentiful.
Odds are they will get what they want. So can we.