Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Monster That Lives Under Japan's Bed

No, this is not an attempt to joke about Japan's situation. Despite the fact that I have kind of a generalized dislike for the Japanese people, my heart genuinely goes out to them and I wish their suffering to be kept to a minimum. (I honestly have no good explicable reasons for it, I just have the vague sense that they play at being a little too cute - trying to hide a long abiding savagery which certain unfortunates in the mid-20th century got to see firsthand). That sentiment may not sound like the most sympathetic or empathetic, but there you go. As a human being, operating under the default setting of benign indifference which I think holds for most human beings, I do wish them all well.

I know the Japs have a renown for low budget monster movies. But what we see as cheesy, the Japanese see, probably subconsciously, as a real and ongoing threat. For the longest time, we in the US assumed those monster movies were about us. Yeah, us, the, you know, the fat, beefy, overly loud people who actually pounded the crap out of them with monstrous weapons some fifty years ago. But no, sorry to pop your bubble, but we were just an afterthought.

The real monster under the bed is quite literally living under the bed of every man, woman, child in Japan. And this monster is real. Magnitude 9 real.

I have no doubt that, big picture, long clock wise, they are going to get through this. They have that "No surrender" spirit which made them so insanely arrogant and barbaric. They will make it.

What's my point here? Nukes, I suppose. People are freaking out about the Daichi meltdown(s). There can be no doubt that Tokyo Electric Power has screwed the pooch, that there was way, way too much corporate greed going on here, not to mention some serious casual assumption making on the part of their engineers. But despite the current panic, let's face it, nukes ain't going anywhere.

I understand the Germans are completely freaking about it. Completely natural for them to do so, given that they are health nuts. You would think France would be freaking a bit, but no, why should they?

A quick survey shows that France gets 75% of their power from fission, some 400 terawatt hours. Japan, generating a little more than 250 terrawatt hours gets about 29% of their energy from it. The big elephant in the room, with about 20% of their energy from nukes, is the US of A. Almost obscenely, at only 20%, we generate nearly 800 terrawatt hours from nuclear power. Twice what France does, and only a fifth of our total consumption! Piggy, pig, pigs! as my father used to say.

But back to Japan. Some experts (hah!) are now saying this is the death knell for nukes in Japan.

Oh, bullshit.

You got 128 million people crammed into a nation the size of California, of which most is mountainous, and so really they are jammed into a little crinkle cut little patchwork bits of flat land, of which most they need to keep as arable farm, with no oil, with dick for coal reserves, hydro completely in use and tapped out, no land for solar, and offshore windfarms susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis , so what they gonna do?

There's a reason they went nuclear. It wasn't just a whim. And unless somebody comes up with a science fiction gadget that either transmits power with near-zero loss, so that they can import energy, or build solar collecting satellites, or build a working fusion plant, the people of Nippon pretty much have to rely on nukes.

I honestly wish for some kind of science fiction gadget that gets pulled out of our collective ass, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Um... Don't really know how to end this one, so I'll just say... Hey Japan? Get well soon.

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