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Page added on April 25, 2012

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Cubashima

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Without electricity filling stations cannot pump. Cars pile up, first in long lines, as they did in Russia and Cuba, then simply abandoned on the street. Four months after Fukushima, streets still held cars without gasoline. When there is no gasoline for cars, there is also no gasoline for trucks. This would include the trucks that deliver groceries from farms and processing plants to stores. In Japan, the shelves soon emptied of perishables, then staples such as rice, grains and noodles.

Empty shelves in grocery stores in Japan
   History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes, said Mark Twain, and one of the verses we’ve been hearing is the sound of Japan tinkling from nuclear fallout, in the chord of Chernobyl. In February of 2012, an official Japanese inquiry revealed that evacuation of Tokyo was considered by the government even before the hydrogen explosions at Fukushima Daichi but was forestalled by ordering human cannon fodder into the blazing radioactive reactors.
   Last week it was reported that a Tokyo evacuation would have required the Kuril Islands to receive refugees, news that raised ire in Russia, which captured the 56-island chain 810 miles off Japan’s northeastern shore at the end of World War II and has no intention of returning it to Japan, even in such dire circumstances.
   Japanese diplomats assuaged their Russian counterparts by revealing they were also “seriously considering” an offer by China to relocate tens of millions of their citizens to the Chinese mainland to inhabit what are called the “ghost cities,” built by the Chinese government in recent years for reasons still unknown. In a 2010 article, London’s Daily Mail revealed, “Some estimates put the number of empty homes at as many as 64 million, with up to 20 new cities being built every year in the country’s vast swathes of free land.”
   The Fukushima reactor complex is not out of the frying pan, the Japanese government is still attempting to make an omelet from its broken eggs, while occasionally acknowledging it hasn’t a clue how to do that. Arnie Gunderson of Fairewinds Associates told Alex Smith on Radio Ecoshock earlier this month that the nuclear fuel pools left tottering in blown up buildings would be toppled by another earthquake, putting Tokyo at risk. And, he said, the likelihood of another large earthquake there, soon, is very high.
Toru Sakawa
Gundersen said it is unlikely there would be an explosion as the Fuke #4 swimming pool collapses, but dangerous “hot” particles would still be propelled around the world, because within two days of the collapse, the Zircalloy and radioactive metals (Technicium, Strontium, Cesium and Plutonium, for instance) would burn at a very high temperature, sending particles eight miles high. The result would be an everlasting disaster for Japan that could create a permanent no-man’s strip 50 miles wide across the country, dividing it in half and, by the way, lethally contaminating Tokyo, 238 km (148 mi) to the South. Gunderson said that anyone living in or near Tokyo should evacuate at the first news of another earthquake and fire at the plant.
Meeting at Toru Sakawa’s farm
   One of the best talks at the 11th Australasian Permaculture Convergence in Turangi, New Zealand last week was by Toru Sakawa, a permaculture farmer and teacher in Northern Japan. Toru began his permaculture career 20 years ago in New Zealand, as a WWoOFer at Rainbow Valley Farm, where he received his permaculture design certificate.
The Biodiesel Adventure tour distills its own fuel as it goes
Shoe delivery in Fukushima Prefecture
   When the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster befell his country on March 11, 2011, Toru’s farm was being visited by an expeditionary film crew called Biodiesel Adventure, which had been driving around the world on waste vegetable oil. Leaving Tokyo in December, 2007, they had driven from Vancouver to Washington DC, including a stop at Los Angeles Eco Village, then Europe, Africa, Kazakhstan, Russia, China, and back to Japan.
    In the months that followed the disaster, they could continue to drive around Fukushima Prefecture when no-one else could, because they made their own fuel onboard the vehicle. Heroically, they abandoned their view tour and morphed into Biodiesel Relief, using Toru’s farm as their base camp.
   In 2006 Michael Gorbachev wrote:
   The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl 20 years ago this month, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later… The price of the Chernobyl catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus… The twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe reminds us that we should not forget the horrible lesson taught to the world in 1986. We should do everything in our power to make all nuclear facilities safe and secure. We should also start seriously working on the production of the alternative sources of energy.
Breadline in Russia after Chernobyl
   Lest we forget, it was the collapse of the former Soviet Union that precipitated the “Special Period” in Cuba, wherein the Cuban export trade disintegrated, imports of subsidized commodities, especially petroleum, vanished overnight, and the population was left to a diet of one-third less daily calories and clunky Chinese bicycles to take them to and from work. Cuba became a nation of skinny farmers, growing 80% of the food consumed by Havana within city limits.
   We might not have expected to see that rhyme repeated in Japan, but it has begun being chanted. Some things happened right after the multiple meltdown that were not in anyone’s emergency planning documents, but this is what a nuclear meltdown feels like.
Waiting for gas in Japan
   Without electricity filling stations cannot pump. Cars pile up, first in long lines, as they did in Russia and Cuba, then simply abandoned on the street. Four months after Fukushima, streets still held cars without gasoline.
   When there is no gasoline for cars, there is also no gasoline for trucks. This would include the trucks that deliver groceries from farms and processing plants to stores. In Japan, the shelves soon emptied of perishables, then staples such as rice, grains and noodles. What was left? Candy. Soda. Beer and liquor. If you are thinking of what to stockpile for the financial collapse, the end of the dollar and the confiscation of gold, those cases of Grand Marnier and Beluga caviar may not be as good an idea as you thought.
Filling station out of gas
   Toru Sakawa and Biodiesel Relief spent the past year making fuel from waste oil and moving supplies from farms to evacuation centers. What did they need most? Well, first, food. Toru shared his winter supplies of rice and grains, dried meat and eggs. Then he went to a neighbor to learn how to make tofu in a traditional wood-fired kitchen.
   Next, shoes. People had run out of their homes in the night barefoot. Then, bicycles. Bicycles are still more popular today and more people ride them than before the earthquake.
In Russia food trucks stopped at the first apartment houses
   Another similarity between Cuba and Japan was the sheer scale of the crisis burning up telephone wires and Blackberries in capitols — surpassing any that had happened before then. In the Cuban missile crisis the White House and Kremlin were on hair triggers, the US talking about an air strike against missile silos that Pentagon generals were blissfully unaware were already armed and launch-ready, under the command of field officers, and aimed at major cities where their families lived.
   In Japan they were thinking of sending 20 to 60 million people to Russia and China. Bureaucrats were tasked to draw up contingency plans, post-haste, like, by next morning, if you please? The mind boggles.
   In Cuba the crisis was fueled by a combination of the Monroe Doctrine (the US retains its Manifest Destiny to be the sole colonial empire in the Western Hemisphere), a rabid Cold War political dialectic — better dead than red – and an inchoate fear that whatever philosophy Fidel Castro had contracted fighting against Generalisimo Batista might be contagious. All patently insane.
   In the latter case the crisis came from the technological insanity — borne of advertising hype; peaceful atoms, energy too cheap to meter — of untethered desire to power superspeed trains and svelt coffee pots by bubbling a brew of the deadliest poisons ever invented, at temperatures approaching the Sun’s.
Permaculture Plan for Refugee Ecovillages
   In both countries the insanity was driven by herd behavior, with each herd — generals, politicians, consumers, engineers — conditioned to be stampeded easily. Fortunately for us, John F. Kennedy was less easily cowed than were post-war Japanese industrialists, economists, politicians and antinuclear activists. Both Kennedy and Khrushchev understood the enormity of the risk, and the Cuban crisis was brought back from the brink by cool-headed negotiation. In Japan the juggernaut that bought us a crisis that no one has yet invented a way out of still grows larger by the day.
   At least the Chinese have pre-positioned some empty cities. This is a wise preparation for any nation considering following its nuclear Sirens’ wails.
The Great Change


3 Comments on "Cubashima"

  1. Rick on Wed, 25th Apr 2012 6:16 pm 

    Two words, Nukes Suck!

  2. BillT on Thu, 26th Apr 2012 2:29 pm 

    And what nuclear plants does the Us have on the Ring of Fire? Two active ones in California. One very near LA. A meltdwon there could radiate all of the southern Us.

    There is about 65,000 metric tons of spent uranium currently being stored at more than 100 sites around the United States. 130,000,000 lbs. The equivalent of 1,000 M60 Army tanks. And all deadly for many lifetimes to come.

    The nuclear age is over. The clean up will begin, and about time.

  3. Kenz300 on Thu, 26th Apr 2012 7:15 pm 

    Fukishima has taught us that the spent fuel rod ponds are as much a danger as the reactors themselves. The disaster at Fukishima continues today and is still not under control. The people of Japan will be paying for this clean up FOREVER.

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