Nature and human crises in Japan

One can only watch with heartbreak as Naoto Kan, the prime minister of Japan, and his emergency response team struggle to address the potential for a nuclear meltdown at plants north of Tokyo. The government’s reported use of seawater to cool the nuclear reactors and distribution of iodine tablets to minimize the absorption of radioactivity by local residents illustrate just how desperate the crisis is.

Add to the potential nuclear catastrophe hundreds of large-scale aftershocks and yet another tsunami warning nearly three days into the crisis, and it is clear that Japan is still very much in the midst of a nightmare.

The media have focused on what the failure of the plant cooling systems and the explosion at the Fukushima plant mean for the immediate health and safety of the surrounding populations.

Many are also beginning to question how this situation may affect the world’s use of nuclear power in the future: In Japan alone, one-third of the population relies on nuclear energy. When the unimaginable becomes a reality in a country generally considered to be one of the more precautionary in the world, particularly as it relates to natural disasters, one can only wonder, "How safe is safe enough?"

Read the rest of the story: Nature, human crises combine in Japan.

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