Monday, March 14, 2011

Nuclear Power in Perspective

How many people died because of Three Mile Island? None.

There is no question that the events in Japan are ongoing and serious. That said, I believe a lot of people are being misled by much of the news coverage.

Read the rest here...[Meteorological Musings]

I think people fear nuclear power so much because they don't understand it. Events such as this don't help, especially with sensationalized media. Saying stuff like "there is cause for concern, not for alarm" [NPR] doesn't get viewers, listeners, or readers like cries of Chernobyl II!* Politicians saying that we should temporarily halt the development of nuclear plants... ....The Fukushima reactors in question are almost 40 years old. I'm pretty sure that development has progressed since then to make them better and safer.

I'll take a nuclear power plant next door to me over a coal fired plant any day. And I'll wager that coal shortens more live than them too.

* Note - Chernobyl has around 60 confirmed casulties though they figure that eventually around 4,000 will pass from cancers caused by it. Automobiles BTW kill around 40,000 a year in the US.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunami, Before and After

Unbelievable before and after shots... Post-earthquake imagery of Japan - The Official Google Blog

Be sure to click through to view the hi-res versions. Sobering.

The top before and after photos of Yuriage looked familiar to me so I looked it up. Sure enough, it is the town in the following footage that you have probably seen quite a few times now. (click for video)



The following is a shot I took of my Google Earth of the same area.


This is the 'after' picture from Google Earth...


Holy crap. I un-precisely timed the wave in the above video and measured a known distance on GE and found that that tsunami was travelling at 15 mph. Doesn't sound like much until you see what it does. A picture is worth a million words.

The only good new I can give regarding this is that as far as I can tell, the poeple residing in this area had about an hour between the quake and the tsunami hitting. Hopefully they were well drilled and knew what to do.

Here is an even more devastating before and after set from the other side of the river...

Before


After


BTW, if you have Google Earth, the links to the KML files for the imagery that I used was located in the above Google blog. If you don't have Google Earth, get it.

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BTW

I'm back!

We'll see how long I can keep this up....

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More Quake Thoughts +Vid!

Did he really mention Global Warming™ with this disaster? (~1:00)



Honestly pal, I'm fairly confident that even if the ocean was two feet lower*, it won't make that much difference to a tsunami like this...

*The ocean has risen by a little more than a quarter of that in the last century. Fascinatingly, the oceans have risen by ~150ft in the last ten-thousand years.

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Thoughts on the Sendai Earthquake in Japan

First of all, my heart goes out to all impacted. As I saw someone said on twitter, I hope for every tragedy there are ten narrow escapes and twenty miracles.

Out of all the natural disasters, I find earthquakes the most horrific. Hurricanes do a huge amount of damage over a wide area, but you have a good warning to hunker down. It may not save your house, but it can save your life. Tornados horrify with their randomness and surprise. Like a scalpel across the landscape they can obliterate your house but leave the guys place two doors down untouched (relatively).

Earthquakes take the worst of those two, scale and surprise, and possibly throw in a tsunami on top of it. At least with tornados, you can look to the sky and know if there is a chance for one. An earthquake the best info you have is, we haven't had the 'Big One' in awhile (hundreds of years) and we think we are due...

The other reason that I find them the most horrific is that I live in an area that has earthquakes. I can recall feeling the ground move four times in my life. Luckily none anywhere close to the power of the Sendai quake. Having a building that you take for granted the fact that it built on solid ground churn back and forth is a surreal experience. I think the noise is what sticks with me the most is the noise. Like a freight train on bad tracks with things not tied down.

Something I noticed in some of the videos that I watched of the Sendai quake was how there wasn't much panic in the people. People not running for their lives, people not screaming. During the Nisqually quake, a paltry 6.8 compared to the Sendai 8.8, I was in a big box hardware store. I was proud of myself for being calm and in control. I remember looking up and stepping away from a shelf that I was by and saying to the stranger next to me, "Hey, I think this is an earthquake". Then I just watched stuff move in awe. Afterwards I had the same feeling that I would get doing a drop on the snowboard or mountain bike.

Hopefully when the 'Big One' hits Seattle (we're due...) I will be able to repeat that performance.

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