A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
April 1st, 2011
By Dan Miller
We must stop using them lest intelligent life on Earth be further endangered!
The extraordinarily powerful magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan were truly terrible — many lives were lost and there was great destruction.
President Obama’s heart went out to the people of Japan and he did his presidential best: “during this enormous tragedy, please know that America will always stand by one of its greatest allies during their time of need.” We know that’s true because he wrote it and because he told us, compassionately, to assist the Japanese while filling out brackets for the NCAA basketball tournaments:
One of the things I wanted to do on the show was, as people are filling out their brackets — this is obviously a national pastime; we all have a great time, it’s a great diversion. But I know a lot of people are thinking how can they help the Japanese people during this time of need. If you go to usaid.gov — usaid.gov — that will list all the nonprofits, the charities that are helping out there. It would be wonderful for people to maybe offer a little help to the Japanese people at this time — as they’re filling out their brackets. It’s not going to take a lot of time. That’s usaid.gov. It could be really helpful.
As White House press secretary Jay Carney stated, it was
“entirely appropriate for the president to be addressing a crisis of this gravity as he’s standing before a whiteboard talking about the basketball tournament [.] There are crises all the time,” he said, “for every president.”
“And again, this one is happening halfway around the world, and it is severe, and it is important, and it is the focus of a great deal of the president’s attention, as are the events in the Middle East, as are the agenda items that he is pursuing to grow the economy,” Carney said.
“It’s a hard job, it requires a lot,” Carney said. He also noted that Obama took a moment on ESPN to urge Americans, while they are doing their brackets, to go to usaid.gov and make a donation for earthquake victims.
Having done so much, President Obama and his delightful family were off to Rio, where they substantially improved the image of the United States while giving other great world leaders amusement. They needed it and were appropriately grateful. Some have been critical of the timing of the visit, but these criticisms are unjustified. As President Obama’s communications director said, “You can’t allow what’s happening in the world to consume the presidency. You have to be able to walk, chew gum and juggle at the same time.” President Obama excels at all three, albeit not necessarily at the same time.
We can do little more than to help Japan, as best we can, to mitigate the damage as best they can. We also have our own serious problems with which to deal; flying into fits of self-recrimination and searching for scapegoats will do neither the Japanese nor us any good. Recognizing, however, that it is certain to happen, here are some modest proposals.
1. Unfortunately, we do not yet know with certainty how massively, or even which, human activities cause earthquakes or, therefore, how to prevent them. Well-funded academic research must now begin so that answers to these perplexing questions can soon be found. In the meantime, to whatever extent earthquakes are not caused by man-made climate change, former Governor Palin, former President Bush, or other Republicans, little can be done to prevent them. Trying harder to appease Gaia might help; it is possible that sacrificing virgins or goats would as well. Unfortunately, reputable scientific experts in the relevant fields of study have been unable to reach a consensus, probably due to lack of critically needed federal funding.
2. Far less immediately destructive than the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the nuclear power plant problems seem to be on their way to resolution, one way or another. Nevertheless, they have caused much “rethinking” in Germany, where
Judging by the near-panic with which Europe’s largest nation is responding to the Fukushima incident, one might assume that a toxic cloud had already arrived.
The whole world is anxiously watching the video footage showing plumes of smoke rising from the stricken plant, and questions are being asked in most countries about the safety of nuclear power.
But the reaction has been strikingly angst-ridden in Germany, which is over 5,500 miles away from Japan. The Japanese, one could be forgiven for thinking, are facing their plight with a lot more stoicism than the Germans.
There is less panic in Israel, but Prime Minister Netanyahu said on March 17:
We had some research plans but not anything on a significant scale, and I don’t think we’re going to pursue civil nuclear energy in the coming years.
He added that since Israel found a significant amount of natural gas offshore, “I think we’ll go for the gas and skip the nuclear.”
El Presidente Chávez of Venezuela, a great visionary, has
announced a freeze in plans to develop nuclear power in Venezuela due to the growing emergency at a nuke plant in earthquake-stricken Japan.
“It’s very sad what has been seen, a tragedy, a catastrophe. What’s happening in the last few hours is absolutely risky and dangerous for the entire world,” said Chavez with regard to the ongoing events in Japan.
President Obama has already ordered a safety review of all one hundred and four operational nuclear power plants in the United States, a good start, but no more.
Anti-nuclear activists-and-crawlers have been crawling actively, showing us the way, the truth, and the light. A Chernobyl-on-the-Hudson has been said to be possible even with a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. There are “very long odds, but as the lottery ads say, hey, you never know.” It may be that
a Chernobyl-on-the-Hudson would pose a dire threat to people as far as 500 miles away and necessitate the evacuation of 93 million Americans and Canadians for as long as a year.
Specific and highly reliable information of this sort is obviously good and far more is needed; action must be taken in due course, in the fullness of time, and following ample studies, deliberations, bipartisan compromises, and meetings of the mind.
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