Japanese Sunami

Japanese earthquake and the tsunami (outline)
Some natural disasters change history. Japan’s tsunami could be one
THAT “tsunami” is one of the few Japanese words in global use points to the country’s familiarity with natural disaster. But even measured against Japan’s painful history, its plight today is miserable. This magnitude-9 earthquake is the largest ever in the country’s history.
In the face of calamity, decent people have proved extremely resilient: no looting; very little complaining among the tsunami survivors. Everywhere there was a calm determination to conjure a little order out of chaos. Volunteers have rushed to help.
The immediate tragedy may be Japan’s; but it also throws up longer-term questions that will eventually affect people all the way round the globe. Stock markets stumbled on fears about the impact on the world’s third-biggest economy. Disruption to electricity supplies will damage growth, and some Asian supply chains are already facing problems; but new infrastructure spending will offset some of the earthquake’s drag on growth.
Those calculations could change dramatically if the nuclear crisis worsens. The country’s nuclear industry has a long history of cover-ups and incompetence.
Even if the nuclear accident is brought under control swiftly, and the release of radiation turns out not to be large enough to damage public health, this accident will have a huge impact on the nuclear industry, both inside and outside Japan.
It’s a great nuclear dilemma. For the best nuclear safety you need not just good planning and good engineering. You need the sort of society that can produce accountability and transparency, one that can build institutions that receive and deserve trust. No nuclear nation has done this as well as one might wish, and Japan’s failings may well become more evident.
It still has the advantages of offering reliable power, a degree of energy security, and no carbon dioxide emissions beyond those incurred in building...