While the world was obsessing over the problems with cooling the cores at severely damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, there are a few things that seem to have gone all but unreported.
This is a terrible situation that goes far beyond the nuclear plant issues.
- As of this posting, at least 2,800 Japanese are confirmed dead. The actual number of dead is unknown. Many thousands more are missing and feared dead. Estimates of the actual dead range from ten thousand to more than twenty thousand. In some areas, half the population is missing and feared dead.
- The number of seriously injured is unknown, but believed to be enormous. Japanese hospitals are flooded and many hospitals have sustained serious damage and are left with limited or no water or electricity.
- Infrastructure has been destroyed. Numerous sewer and water systems in Northern Japan are so damaged that major sections will need to be completely rebuilt. Telecommunications links are severed. The electrical grid has been severely damaged with transformers, power stations and transmission lines destroyed. Trains are unable to run because of destroyed track and highways are damaged, making it difficult to transport victims to safety and get supplies to the damaged areas. Even outside the area directly effected by the quake, power shortages may cause rolling blackouts and energy rationing.
- The number of Japanese left homeless has been reported in he millions. Some of those displaced will likely be able to return to homes that are severely damaged, but recoverable. However, the total number who have completely lost their homes and all their property is unknown and may be hundreds of thousands or more.
- Hundreds of thousands of Japanese businesses have been destroyed. Even large businesses like auto makers have seen extensive damage. Millions of workers may be out of a job.
- Reconstruction estimates are now up to 180 billion US dollars and may increase. The scope of this event is so large that it is almost impossible to fix a single cost to it, as it is so large it exceeded the limits of conventional market economics and could undermine the monetary system of Japan. Insurance companies and financial institutions are in danger of being wiped out along with retirement funds and other savings.
- Though it has hardly been reported in the media, dam failures have destroyed thousands of structures.
- The crisis has exceeded the ability of japan to provide temporary housing, food and other supplies. Many are without food or water.
- Refineries are severely damaged, some resulted in huge fires and discharges of oil.
- With sewer and water systems destroyed, thousands of bodies washing in from the sea and huge areas flooded, Japan faces a sanitary and ecological disaster that may dwarf Hurricane Katrina. The tsunami that followed the quake inundated sewage treatment plants, chemical storage facilities, gas stations and industrial areas. The level of chemical and biological contamination remains unknown. Meanwhile, fires are dumping huge plumes of smoke into the atmosphere.
Meanwhile the media is having a field day with the nuclear reactors. Though the plant was damaged heavily, this is the least of Japan’s problems.
I fear that the continued obsession with the nuclear reactor situation may lead to precious resources and attention being diverted from those who need it most.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011 at 4:42 pm and is filed under Announcements, Bad Science, Enviornment, Good Science, History, media, Misc. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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