By Uwe Paschen.
It is spring now, Sakura season, wherever you go you will see cherry trees in full bloom. The Sakura tree is an important symbol here in Japan; it is not only one of the first trees to come to live in spring. Moreover, it is also one of the most beautiful and its flowers are some of the most fragile as well.
It has been symbolising life, its beauty and its fragility and maybe even our brief time here on earth.
Japan has certainly known its fair share of disasters over the course of its 1500-years of history as a nation.
However, this latest triple disaster may very well top them all. Not only have we been hit with the strongest earthquake in recorded seismological Japanese history, we also where struck by one of the mightiest Tsunamis this country as ever seen and as if all this was still not enough we ended up with what may become the world worth nuclear disaster so far as well.
I live about 160 Km South from that nuclear plant where the prefectures of Ibaraki and Chiba share a boarder. We are less then 30 Km from the coast of what once was a beautiful rural area with much history an some of the most beautiful shrines, rice fields, sweet potato fields and vegetable fields as well as dairy animals and several once striving fishery villages.
We where fortunate though, since the tsunami waves where only four to six metre high along our coast line. Where as further north those waves reached in one village up to 23 metres in hight. In addition, in many other areas along the coast in the prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Aomori, those waves reached on average over ten metres in hight, taking with them every thing, even steel reinforced buildings, which surprised most engineers here.
Our farmhouse is still standing. However, it is no longer structurally sound and has to be torn down as so many buildings will have to be in our area due to the damage that these last earthquakes have caused to them.
The demolition of our house has been estimated at one million Yen or more ($ 13,000.00). Building a new house will cost at least six million Yen ($78,000.00). Our house was not insured, since earthquake insurance insure only brand new houses and this for a premium that is not affordable anyhow.
Even if we had insurance it would take at least a year before the old building could be torn down due to the massive devastation that was caused through out Northern Japan and that left many homeless and took the lives of over 28000 people and maybe even more.
Even though those expenses may very well bankrupt us and force us to give up, since property values for farm land and houses as well as apartments went down to next to zero due to these disasters and the radioactivity that we received on top of it all, we are still fortunate. Many are far worth off, lost far more in machinery and buildings, and especially loved ones.
It is hard to focus even work and yet I keep my self busy at all times, cleaning up our mess and trying to help others far worth off as much as I can.
Whenever I stop to think about it all, I wonder why I am still alive and survived so many disasters through out my life wile so many good people have died.
I am some what furious at all the talk by stock holders and politicians as well as the nuclear industry, proclaiming that nuclear energy is still safe, and that radiation is some what still okay, when in fact it is not. None of those executives, stockholders or politician dare to put a foot into the contaminated area or volunteer their golf time with friends to help the countless refugees. Many people will end up dying due to this radiation and many more will get sick from it, all just so some few can make a profit at the expense of the masses and those masses end up paying for these accident on top of it.
They proclaim that we need nuclear energy to fight CO2, which is nonsense, since the CO2 generated to extract the uranium ship it, refine it and to build those nuclear power plants does by far exceed any other forms of energy production (Other then Coal and Oil of course) especially from renewable energies sources. The production of solar panels and wind mils and so forth, does generate CO2 as well but nothing compared to the construction of a Nuclear power plant, especially not if we compare those to their real operation life and their KiloWatt produced. Those renewable energies do also come with out a death threat attached to them since they just break down or stop working after a major earthquake or tsunami, they do not end up becoming a death trap them self such as nuclear power or other fossil fuel tend to do, See the Golf of Mexico’s oil disaster. It is grand time we start to wake up and face facts.
We could save a lot of energy by simply using energy efficient machines and appliances as well as by stoping to waste so much. The proof lays in Japans current disaster, people voluntarily save energy in order to avoid black outs and it works with out impacting too much on the comfort level of the city dwellers. We do not need all the streetlights to be on, nor all the billboards or five lights on in every room even though there is not one person around. We can do well with less heat in the winter since most places are way to hot anyhow and we can also do with much less air-conditioning in the summer, after all, most of us freeze when ever we enter an air-conditioned building in the summer. We can do with out nuclear power there for. It is simply not worth the risks it generates. The same would apply to all other fossil fuels.
The government keeps on promising that it will compensate the losses encountered due to this nuclear accident, wile this may sound noble at first glace, it is merely politics, permitting crowd control. It will be financially impossible for any government to compensated the magnitude of those loses in business and lives. Nor should the government have to do so, since it is the tax payer that will end up paying for all this wile the industry that caused it will get off with a bonus, making some few much richer in the process wile the masses lose their basics to survive.
Every year the Sakura trees give us much joy in the spring with their beauty. However, this year they remind us of the fragility of our lives as humans and that of our environment more so then ever before.