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Earthquake in Japan

A fearful event Friday that makes us all aware of our ultimate vulnerability to – and dependence on – the forces of nature.

Update: As of Saturday evening at least 1300 dead and a possible meltdown at a nuclear power station. Tens of thousands are missing.

Update: by Tuesday the full geographical and human extent of this catastrophe have become clear. In a perverse and ghoulish way the media seem to be looking for something even more ghoulish in terms of a nuclear catastrophe. The time for planning the world’s energy technology futures is not now. Wait. Learn. Several posts at Barry Brooks put the issue in perspective.

Update I have waited (and learned) and it is clear that the situation in northern Japan is extremely serious. Barry Brooks has decisively changed his earlier assessment also:

“In sum, this accident is now significantly more severe than Three Mile Island in 1979.  It resulted from a unique combination of failures to plant systems caused by the tsunami, and the broad destruction of infrastructure for water and electricity supply which would normally be reestablished within a day or two following a reactor accident. My initial estimates of the extent of the problem, on March 12, did not anticipate the cascading problems that arose from the extended loss of externally sourced AC power to the site, and my prediction that ‘there is no credible risk of a serious accident‘ has been proven quite wrong as a result. It remains to be seen whether my forecast on the possibility of containment breaches and the very low level of danger to the public as a result of this tragic chain of circumstances will be proven correct. For the sake of the people there, I sure hope it does stand the test of time.”

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