Tag: tsunami

Multiple meltdowns?

Most of the members of the Duck are at the ISA conference in Montreal this week.

Meanwhile, Japan is trying to deal with a horrific series of nuclear accidents, triggered by natural disaster — the 9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on nuclear engineering or physics. However, I can recommend some writing by specialists who are closely following the situation and describing the events in understandable terms.

First, I always turn to the Arms Control Wonk for nuclear-related issues. Jeffrey Lewis was in Japan when the earthquake hit and he’s been following the situation closely. Likewise, All Things Nuclear, a blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists, is a very valuable read. Finally, Robert Alvarez of the Institute for Policy Studies and former deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment (1993 to 1999) has been writing useful pieces for the Huffington Post.

As for the politics — I think it is safe to say that nuclear power is taking a serious hit as a potential future energy source, which many have been touting lately because it does not produce greenhouse gases. Germany, which was considering the life extension of 17 nuclear plants, has delayed that decision and turned off 7 nuclear plants while safety issues are reconsidered.

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Tsunami Kills Dozens on Small Pacific Island

The tsunami was triggered by an earthquake today and hit the islands of Samoa. The death toll is 17 so far, but likely to rise. Though this doesn’t sound that high, consider that the population of Samoa is barely over 200,000 (approximately 280,000 if you include American Samoa). So by the most generous estimates this is the equivalent of an event killing approximately 18,000 Americans.

This kind of vulnerability faced by low-lying island nations brings to mind the speech given recently at the United Nations by Mohammed Nasheed, President of the Maldives, articulating climate change as a human rights issue – one particularly threatening the environmental and human security of such countries. Many of these nations are literally at risk of being wiped off the map if more fortunate world governments fail to come to consensus at Copenhagen this year over strategies for stemming climate change.

UPDATE: I first posted this last night; as of this morning, AP reports the death toll is “at least” 99: proportional to the population of the islands, that’s the equivalent of approximately 137,000 Americans.

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