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We are living at present where the old order has proved unsustainable. The recent disaster in Japan raises questions about depending on nuclear reactors to supply energy for our energy needs. Despite of fail-safe mechanisms only when disaster strikes we realize to our horror we have no answer for something unexpected that was let to happen.(see note) Fail-safe in technology is only safe in name but in effect a misnomer. Spent fuel rods ought not have been stored so close-by to the reacting chamber. Without power to pump the water it was not a fail-safe system. So how safe is nuclear energy whether in Japan or elsewhere? Here is the AP News
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Nuclear plant operators trying to avoid complete reactor meltdowns said Thursday that they were close to completing a new power line that might end Japan’s crisis, but several ominous signs have also emerged: a surge in radiation levels, unexplained white smoke and spent fuel rods that U.S. officials said could be on the verge of spewing radioactive material.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in Washington on Wednesday that all the water was gone from the spent fuel pools at Unit 4 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, but Japanese officials denied it. Hajime Motojuku, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the “condition is stable” at Unit 4.
If Jaczko is correct, it would mean there’s nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shells of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area.
Jaczko did not say how the information was obtained, but the NRC and U.S. Department of Energy both have experts at the complex of six reactors along Japan’s northeastern coast, which was ravaged by last week’s magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

The near disaster at Three Mile near Pennsylvania some years ago ought to have rung alarm bells that we are not fully in control over technology. We may treat scientific principles with greatest respect but how we develop technology from these is not open and shut or in a direct relationship of cause and effect. In history or cosmology no such simple link ‘from A to B as it were’, does exist. The West was quick to end the WWII war by nuclear bombs in Japan and then helped to build the war ravaged country according to the values the West. Patching up a wanton destruction be it in Dresden or Hiroshima is not as simple act of passing to the natives some Hershey bars or passing cigarette packs. Japan is also guilty of overlooking the future. Is it worthwhile to build skyscrapers in that part of the world in the process of Americanization of Japan? Nestled in the ring of fire Japan there is an unceasing seismic activity beneath. No wonder traditional houses were built to accommodate its erratic heartbeats and in most cases damages from earthquakes in Japan in comparison with elsewhere have been low. What were the compelling reasons for Japan to go nuclear but to keep up with progress in the west? Even here how a fault occurs or fail-safe turn unsafe in terms of technology shall not be identical. Pardon if I fall back on cluster principle that I had posted some time ago in this weblog. Earthquake brought in tsunami and tsunami brought in a whole array of damages in waterline, power etc., The present is imperfect since the strengths-our native wisdom for example had been sacrificed to keep up with ‘the Joneses.’ Unrealistic optimism in our destiny from our gains in science and technology has led us to this mess.
Present is imperfect since the old order for long kept women out of the male dominated public life and the governments, kings, presidents and Caesars ran the destinies of their nations as though they knew best. People were mere numbers. Now governments all across the world will have to sit up and listen to the people. They have to revise their ideas of coping with the depleted resources of the earth in ways that may cut at the very root of the concept of nations. Do the nations whittle away into small communities and learn self-reliance in terms of food,architecture that is organic and in tune with the environment? Gandhiji’s vision of Panchayat Raj was totally ignored by powers that be and now we see India despite a constitution stipulating it as a Republic is fragmented by parochial forces, and the spirit of the constitution is broken from what the political trends would indicate.
If our heavy demand on energy resources is unsustainable what is the alternative? All across the globe people shall demand answers. Is there any solution? Is it in small units or in mega-blocs future is secure? These small units shall be based on the region rather than tribes or nations as of the past.. Such clusters shall be sole decision makers of their own destiny. It shall be a paternalistic family but with a difference, each member will be called to play a role and it may not be strange if caste system comes back in terms of their utility. Here a rigid hierarchy is vital and every one will have a say. It is cohesive and utility based while the other option will cultivate a faceless Corporate image to the mega-bloc, where the Big Brother shall be elected and serve as its mouthpiece. This will be behemoth of a bloc that can think of its future as one, pooling science technology as though there is no control of it at piece meal. The Americas, the Europe, Asia and Far East/Pacific Rim as so many blocs running the world as a Big Corporation. There can be only two options so the future can be faced without national identities, religion, culture. Art and literature of the past shall give over to some techie barbarism.
In whichever case the world is turning its back to the way we lived and held as ideals.
Tailpiece: Look at the way the Middle East is roiling and creating upheaval beginning with Tunisia, Egypt and so on. Pressure indeed shall come to bear on Saudi Arabia sooner than one may think. Tribes, and dynasties that held power uncontested and could not come up with fresh ideas shall end up in the garbage pail. The communities in that part of the world want to breathe air of freedom and take destiny of their own lives. If old fogeys have failed them, out with them. Nations based on religion shall not be relevant any more. Naturally the fundamentalist-terrorist will not have a leg to stand on since people do not wish to cool their heels for causes that can only explode a few bombs and nothing else. These revolts that we see in Middle East have been the work of Facebook/twitter savvy youths and not some fundamentalist groups. Iran and Israel shall certainly prove insignificant in the decades to come.
Present is imperfect but future is for those who can completely rethink of the past.
Note:Tokyo Electric Power Co., the people running Japan’s now-hobbled nuclear power plant dismissed important scientific evidence and all but disregarded 3,000 years of geological history, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Their misplaced confidence was prompted by a series of overly optimistic assumptions that concluded the Earth couldn’t possibly release the level of fury it did two weeks ago, pushing the six-reactor Fukushima Dai-ichi complex to the brink of multiple meltdowns.This was added on 27th March
-b.
benny

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