The traditional news media is painting an alarming picture of the situation in Japan; if I just relied on what the TV was saying, you’d think the place was wiped off the map.
This excellent post gives some perspective. Some quotes:
… to an extent, anyway. See, the thing that people don’t realize is that Honshu is massive. It is larger than Great Britain. (A country which does not typically refer to itself as a “tiny island nation.”) At about 800 miles long, it stretches from roughly Chicago to New Orleans. Quite a lot of the reporting on Japan, including that which is scaring the heck out of my friends and family, is the equivalent of someone ringing up Mayor Daley during Katrina and saying “My God man, that’s terrible?—?how are you coping?”
The overwhelming response of Japanese engineering to the challenge posed by an earthquake larger than any in the last century was to function exactly as designed. Millions of people are alive right now because the system worked and the system worked and the system worked.
The tremendous public unease over nuclear power shouldn’t be allowed to overpower the conclusion: nuclear energy, in all the years leading to the crisis and continuing during it, is absurdly safe. Remember the talk about the trains and how they did exactly what they were supposed to do within seconds? Several hundred people still drowned on the trains. [snip] When you hear news reports of people exposed to radiation, keep in mind, at the moment we’re talking a level of severity somewhere between “ate a banana” and “carries a Delta Skymiles platinum membership card”.
Japan’s economy just got a serious monkey wrench thrown into it, but it will be back up to speed fairly quickly. (By comparison, it was probably more hurt by either the Leiman Shock or the decision to invent a safety crisis to help out the US auto industry. By the way, wondering what you can do for Japan? Take whatever you’re saying currently about “We’re all Japanese”, hold onto it for a few years, and copy it into a strongly worded letter to your local Congresscritter the next time nativism runs rampant.)
The amount of preparation the Japanese have done is amazing. It is a pity that in Europe and US you can’t really get people to take contingency planning seriously – but I guess Japan gets a lot of practice.
There’s also a couple of posts on the Nuclear thing in more detail:
- Bob Cringley, who worked as an investigator for the Presidential Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island on the thinks most of the 11 reactors will be a write off.
- Here’s a detailed post on why we shouldn’t worry about the Nuclear Reactors.
The comments on these articles are worth a read.
I do fear that one of the biggest casualties of this whole thing is going to be common sense in the Nuclear Power debate.