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What is interesting is the Touhoku earthquake and tsunami and the resulting Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Which one is the best known? In the west, I'd say Fukushima. And yet, the nuclear disaster caused zero direct fatalities. The consequences, the evacuation in particular, killed maybe a few hundreds. That's definitely not insignificant, but to think that it overshadowed an earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15000...

It is also who dies. Five American dying in Iraq is a tragedy worth reporting, a few hundred dying in American bombing is not so much.

Media is controlled (either directly or due to false sense of patriotism) or biased. Probably both.

In most countries media are licensed so they can't publish anything too harsh against the government.

Perhaps that's another variable dictating their biases.

This annoys me so much. They are all Humans.

Japan is basically an honorary European nation as far as the West cares. They kind of earned it. Ever since they realized they were behind in the 1800s they've done everything the western nations have done (good and bad) and done them as well or better.

They started with invading German islands in the Pacific Ocean in WW1 - this got them into the League of Nations. This was just 20 years after they invaded Korea and the Liaodong peninsula, and just 50 years after the Meiji revolution ended Samurai culture. The turnabout in culture is very remarkable.

They started well before then, with the Russo-Japanese war in 1904. 36 years after the Meiji restoration, they took on Russia and won.

Not that military prowess should necessarily be the metric of civilisation, but Japan was/is a damned impressive culture by that metric, as well as many others.

Russia was hoping to get a warm-water port in the bay between Liaodong and Korea. Too bad Japan was already there, having invaded 8 years prior.

In one sense, this comment...

is holding Japan in a great light

but also looking down on it

as though Europe is in a position to confer honor

a Western point of view

This comment would be less silly if the above hadn't made it clear that the "honour" is entirely from a western point of view.

It is then up to any japanese / non-western readers whether they give a shit about the honour conferred by some westerners.

Honour (like most things) is subjective and varies from culture to culture. Perhaps the day a universal register of honour is established you can post your comment again when some westerner applies to give honour to the japanese again.

Everyone is in a position to confer honor. You just happen to be on a western website witnessing it.

>Japan is basically an honorary European nation as far as the West cares.

>[that is] a Western point of view


whether you like it or not the world still revolves around the west. even if it is less so than in the past, militarily and economically the world is led by the west.

>whether you like it or not the world still revolves around the west

People in the west like to think that.

After one has lived for a while in an Asian, African, Latin American etc country, they get to see that billions of people, the 80% of the global population, could and don't give a fuck about the going's on in the west -- except when they're forced to deal with it (e.g. militarily).

E.g. the Chinese might care for selling to US/Europe -- but that doesn't mean they also care for our beliefs, history, philosophy, moral outrages, outlook on life, charts, stars, concerns, or any other such thing that we take as some kind of "physical law".

No way.. I have spent the last 6 years living in Mexico, Colombia, and Japan. Our culture dominates, absolutely. They strive, especially in Mexico and Colombia, to be like us in the West.

If you mean in trying to make money as well, have luxuries like in the West and things like that, that has been a global concern since before West and East were met.

Even so, Mexico is next to the states and has some millions of US immigrants and wannabe immigrants, and still -- they have their own culture, morals, etc, and the typical western concerns are not their thing.

So, I was talking more about the cultural and societal aspects. They'll still watch some popular Hollywood movie or have teenagers listening to Cardie B, but they live in their own, different, world, as oblivious to the West as a Oklahoman farmer or a NY gallery owner is oblivious to them and their world.

You should do some traveling to major cities in Latin America.

Please explain how Columbia or Mexico is not west, goegraphically or culturally.

West is not a geography, it's a state of mind (and a history).

Geopolitically it just refers to US/Canada and Europe (and perhaps Japan).

Mexico and Columbia belong to the Latin American world -- which has diversity within it, of course, but Europe for one, also has.

It's a quite old distinction that's used all the time.

See how Wikipedia maps the "Western world":

"(...) what is known today as described by the term "The West": United States of America and Canada, European Union and European Free Trade Association member states, Israel, Australia and New Zealand"


"The term "Western world" is sometimes interchangeably used with the term First World or developed countries, stressing the difference between First World and the Third World or developing countries." (which also doesn't include Mexico and Columbia)



> West is not a geography, it's a state of mind (and a history).

All I can collect from your comment is that what defines West is capitalist economy (which is not a bad thing per se) and a vague self referential form of identity that blends money and religion.

UK voted to leave EU et al, and even though they wont really be leaving in a literal sense of the word, does their having preferred to leave not make them also leave the "state of mind" you mention? Is the UK thus less "Western" now?

>All I can collect from your comment is that what defines West is capitalist economy (which is not a bad thing per se) and a vague self referential form of identity that blends money and religion.

Well, we've mentioned Economy, religion, culture -- what else do you think should have been included and is missing?

It's like saying all that defines a chair is shape, size and its use (for sitting).

Especially running concentration camps and ethnic cleansing some western nations are known for.

I wonder if its because a natural disaster sort of evokes a 'oh thats a shame' reaction, while something man-made is more of a 'how could they do this to us' 'theres something we can do to fix this' type response

Both have good eyeball grabbing potential but for different reasons. They both fit into a storyline that captures our survivalistic imagination owing to our evolutionary roots. In the former it's "I'd better watch out for disasters like that one" and in the latter its "I'd better watch out for people like that." I don't think most people 'click the link' because they are in problem solving mode, that happens after they've read the shocking headline.

Most people I know I think knows that the Fukushima disaster happened because of a tsunami. They are connected and equally known

I think most people know about the tsunami if they think about it, but what sticks in the mind is Fukushima. The seismic event that killed 15,000 people in Japan, probably the country best prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis, was largely overshadowed, at least outside Japan, by the ensuing nuclear disaster.

My friend who's a Probabilistic Risk Assessment guy in the nuclear industry swears that the problem with nuclear is that there haven't been enough accidents. If there were more stories where something happened and no one died and no one got enough dose for a cancer, it'd lose its novelty and end up like natural gas plant explosions that kill a few dozen; 4th page news. I haven't fully agreed with him yet but I think there's at least some truth to this.

Antinuclear groups to this very day are blaming decreased fertility rates on Three Mile Island from 1979. The story has comical staying power as is.

That feels so wrong. I don't know much but probability of extreme event is a field of study already. Instead of waiting for more accident why he can't use those models?

The PRA methods that have been developed by the nuclear industry are now used to study low probability events in other fields. My friend uses these professionally to help guide decisions in nuclear reactor designs.

But what I'm saying is that one of the issues in public perception of nuclear energy is that events are extremely rare, so when they do happen, they are huge stories in the media that everyone cares about. Even if something small happens at a nuclear plant, there's a media frenzy about it because of the nature of people's understanding of radiation. He says, mostly jokingly, that if accidents at nuclear plants were as common as they are during other industrial activities, maybe people would get used to the incidents and not worry about them as much.

Very few people understand the nuance of background radiation, sensitivity of detectors, dose units, danger as a function of dose, linear no-threshold, etc.


Or Banqiao dam, with a death toll of 171,000.

Banqiao was suppressed by Chinese authorities. Though yess, it's the singgle wworst industrial or energy-related disaster ever.

It occurred in 1975, but information didn't start to emerge until the 1990s, and is still pretty spotty, though you'll see mention in compendia of power-related technologies and risk, such as the IPCC's assessment.

Wikipedia remains amongst the most accessible sources, though there are now published accounts. I only discovered the disaster myself a few years ago; it remains the single most fascinating disaster, with many lessons directly applicable to nuclear power risks from engineering, management, government, preparedness, risk forecasting, response, and lessons learnt (or not). All human factors, poorly amenable to technical solutions.

How does the collapse of a hydrodynamic dam for power generation factor in to nuclear power risks?

Hydro dams fall under renewable power, not under nuclear power.

This list still applies:

> engineering, management, government, preparedness, risk forecasting, response

Poor design, ignored warnings, mismanagement, missing disasters (Typhoon Nina intersecting acold fron and stalling over the dam, dumping 1060mm of rain in 24 hours), poor communications, inadequate disaster and response plan, no public emergency bulletin system, no emergecy transport, rescue, recovery, or supplies & infrastructure capabilities, and a 40-year cover-up. Read the Wikipedia article. It is good.

Only about 26,000 people died of the immediate flooding itself. Over 150,000, six times as many, died from disease or starvation. All of those deaths could have been avoided, even with total dam failure, given land-use planning, warnings, diversion dikes, and refuge shelters elevated only modestly from the floodplain, plus an immediate R&R andaid mission.

Virtually all the failures had nothing to do with the underlying power conversion process itself. All are intrinsic to any large, complex, institutional engineering project. None can simply be engineered away: they require continual human process management. All are equally intrinsic to nuclear power operations.

Most significantly, the risk book on Banqiao has been closed, and was within a few weeks or months, at most, from the isaster. There is no residual disaster risk. Unlike Hartford, or Chernobyl, or Fukushima, or other nuclear disaster sites, there is no multi-century exclusion zone with a glowing heap of deadly slag at its centre. None of these sites have final management plans in place, in cases decades on.

Banqiao is now home to tens of millions of inhabitants, and a few memories of what went wrong.


Proponents of nuclear power assume that we can assess risks with tails not of the decade or so of Banqiao, but of 100, 1,000, 1 million years. Utterly outside the scope of any human institutions, or of the human species itself.

Our models of risks and of costs fail us....

The problems with nuclear power are massive, long-tailed, systemic and potentially existential. The same cannot be said of a wind farm or solar array. There is no significant 10,000 year threat from wind power, or solar power. We're not risking 30 - 60 km exclusion zones, on an unplanned basis, of which we've created at least four in the half-decade of significant nuclear energy applications: Hanford, Washington, Three Mile Island, Pennsyvania, Chernobyl, Ukraine, and Fukushima, Japan. And this is with a global plant of some 450 operating nuclear power plants as of 2017....

If the total experience has been, say, 500 reactors, over 50 years, or 25,000 reactor-years of experience, and we've experienced at least four major disasters, then our failure rate is 0.016%.

The global share of nuclear power generation in 2012 was about 10%.[4] Which means that without allowing for increased electrical consumption within existing or extending to developing nations, the plant count would have to increase tenfold.

Holding the reactor-year failure rate constant would mean 80 core meltdowns per century. Reducing that to the present rate of four meltdowns/century would require reducing the failure rate to 0.0008%. That's five nines, if anyone's counting.

Five nines on a process involving weather, politics, business, social upheaval, terrorism, sabotage, individual psychology, group psychology, climate, communications, response, preparedness....




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