Tohoku

A year ago a terrible earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power disaster in Japan gripped the world’s attention for weeks. The news is already full of stories about the anniversary of those frightening events, and lessons learned. Here’s one. The word ‘Fukushima’ means something to many of us. The word ‘Tohoku’ doesn’t. Nothing could more succinctly demonstrate that human risk perception is prone to drastic mistakes, misperceptions that can ultimately create huge risks all by themselves.

This interesting article asserts that news coverage and world concern in the aftermath of last year’s devastating tsunami in Japan was misdirected, and that when we worry about the wrong things, the peril increases. The damage at the nuclear plant at Fukushima was a terrible aftermath, but the article attempts to place it in a realistic perspective.  Is this because we depend on nuclear energy so much that creating even more paranoia about potential risks and damages may really hinder the energy production that our future depends on?

It will be interesting to see whether press coverage emphasizes the economic, the technological, the geographic, or the human side of the disaster.

Or are the American networks so caught up in election fever that there will be little coverage at all? If it becomes too frightening , too complicated, too intense, we can always turn the channel to Iron Chef or Storage Wars  …

Tsunami Facts in Wake of Japan Earthquake … more from the wonderful web site for National Geographic Magazine! You may want to bookmark this website: it is always fascinating!

Isn’t this image awesome!  And I don’t mean that in the slang sense.  It fills me with genuine awe… that it could have happened, that we have an image of it from space, and that I can see it and share it with you this way! Awesome! Beyond belief, but I believe it to be real and true! Like a radiant and malevolent flower… so beautiful, and terrifying at the same time!

 Of course it’s a “false colour” image–data points for wave heights are mapped onto a colour spectrum, and with a bit of tech-wizard magic we can now look down on a global catastrophe and see it in all its sinister grandeur.  But “false” or not, those colours teach us something, in a visceral way, that the numbers alone never could.

Our world, our civilization, our future–it’s all so very precious, and so very fragile.

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