3/11:The Fallout

3/11:The Fallout
Just what the heck is going on?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Frozen Out

Welcome to Japan 2013, back in the grip of the conservatives and under the helm of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a man committed to reviving the nuclear power program and seemingly intent on starting an armed conflict with China. The losing incumbent party, along with the minority anti-nuclear parties crushed in the election results, were left licking their wounds and wondering – along with the Japanese public – how could this have happened?
The election turnout was 59% of the Japanese population, and the results showed the basic, fatal flaw with the public’s voting habits. The Japanese are very good at registering negativity, and complaining about what they don’t like. When it comes to what they would prefer to put in the place of the old relics holding them back, that is where they lose interest and give up. Witness the reactions of minority parties such as the Tomorrow Party of Japan and the Japan Restoration Party – their press releases exposed their colossal lack of imagination, responding to their defeat with the usual platitudes, “We must try harder.”
So, it’s official, then. Japan is a conservative nation.
For those of us who are more progressive, and object to patriotic, revisionist bullshit … this means war. And in the words of Winston Churchill, “Very well, then; we’ll go it alone.”
The Tohoku area is going through a slow, painful recovery, often hampered by the officials who were voted in to lead and help them. On Jan 15th the Japan Times reported that the radiation clean-up work in northern Japan is badly organized, and performed by staff who lack the proper knowledge and experience.
Osaka prefecture is finalizing plans to begin incinerating 36,000 tons of tsunami debris from Iwate prefecture next month. The debris will be burned in the harbor district, and the ash deposited in a landfill in Osaka bay that was a proposed site for the city’s failed 2008 Summer Olympics bid. 
The name of the landfill is Yumeshima - ‘Dream Island’.
Farmers and food producers of the Tohoku region are struggling to survive, as sales of rice and seaweed continue to suffer from consumer fears over nuclear contamination from the destroyed nuclear plant. One group actually seeking to repair this damage is Tanbo no Partner, and I will post their website details as soon as I have it. 
The anti-nuclear power groups may well wring their hands and hang their heads, but one question will not go away.
Where is Japan going to get its electricity from?
Whatever your political inclinations might be, the fact is that the bureaucrats have refused to invest in renewable energy sources, and now - it might be too late. Perhaps Japan will have no choice but to rely on nuclear power in the future. We live in a post-industrial Peak Oil world where supplies of oil and gas are in permanent decline. The pro-oil lobbies talk glowingly of new technologies such as shale oil and oil sands, like the projects in Alaska and Philadelphia, but does that mean we’ve got nothing to worry about in terms of energy needs?
Excalibur’s financial consultant, Marcus Tremain, has been quick to point out the potential dangers, as he described in a email sent to the Excalibur office; 
I happened to be working in Los Angeles in the Nineties and I remember the dot-com boom. Fast-forward to 2013 and it's a case of deja vu ... company after company is haemorrhaging money as they produce gas far below the break-even cost of production all on the promise of future growth. According to analysis by ARC Financial Research, the 34 US top publicly traded shale gas producers are currently  carrying a combined $10 billion quarterly cash flow deficit. In short, the economics simply do not make sense. 
 We’ve just had eastern Japan blanketed with snow in the Jan 14th ‘bomb-cyclone’ blizzard, and there is more snow threatened in the USA, UK and Japan, with the attendant blackouts in power, transport and communication. It’s time to batten down the hatches; and finally, here are a couple of books to read by candlelight when you’re wondering about the future holds.

"The World Until Yesterday", by Jared Diamond.

"3/11: The Fallout", by Patrick Fox. 

Excalibur Endures. 

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