(Article changed on March 23, 2014 at 15:46)
Fukushima and Crimea -- Crisis Mis-Management 101
By William Boardman -- Reader Supported News
Governments find it hard to do the right thing for their people -- why?
There are those who say that the idiots running western and allied governments (the "civilized" countries) are pitching the world towards a pair disasters, the full realization of either of which, in its most extreme form, would likely change life on earth for the worse for most folks, whether it's the continuing, unabated nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima or the continuing, unabated political meltdown over Ukraine that risks nuclear war. There are also those who don't say that these leaders are idiots. We'll see how things turn out.
As mid-March 2014 unfolds, neither Fukushima nor Crimea is yet at the brink of global catastrophe, apparently, but neither seems subject to safe and sane response from people in authority, either. That's not to predict an end-of-the-world scenario for either disaster, just to remind people that, at the extreme end of these uncontrolled events, there are horrendous logical risks that our leaders are amiably accepting (or urging) on behalf of the rest of us. And they seem to expect our gratitude, for their efforts in Ukraine or their lack of efforts in Fukushima, more or less equally.
Even though it's Japan's third largest prefecture, Fukushima is a relatively small place, as those things go: 5,321 square miles, a little smaller than the state of Connecticut. With a population of about two million, Fukushima is comparable to New Mexico (Connecticut has 3.6 million people). Fukushima is unique in the world in having suffered the March 11, 2011, earthquake/tsunami/triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. This three-part event has so far killed some 20,000 people, with 2,600 more still missing, and it's turned another 300,000 people into internal refugees with little or no hope of returning home (terrible numbers that pale in comparison to Syria, whose disaster started about the same time). The world's response to Fukushima has, in all respects, been spotty and ineffective. Japan's response to the needs of its own people has been spotty and ineffective, except for the robust insistence on re-starting all its nuclear reactors.
U.S. considered using radiation as a weapon in World War II
And of course the release of radioactive isotopes into the air and water around Fukushima continues, unevenly but without let up in its fourth year. In the run-up to the atomic bomb, physicist Robert Oppenheimer weighed the comparable effectiveness of just irradiating enemy populations, rather than obliterating them and their cities. There was little doubt that spreading plutonium on people would kill or injure them in effective numbers, but the dying might be too slow militarily and the ground would be poisoned against future occupation.