March 17, 2011

I don’t usually bother myself with current affairs, but this time – how can I not?

The earthquake and the tsunami were devastating enough; but the nuclear horror is unspeakable. I couldn’t keep quiet about it, but I couldn’t assimilate a coherent post either. Some jumbled thoughts:

It is ironic that this peaceful use of nuclear power should be threatening people with this disaster. And it’s tragic that the same country that lost tens (or hundreds) of thousands of civilians in the first ever use of atomic bombs, just 66 years ago, should now be fighting to keep tens (or hundreds) of thousands safe from this new nuclear threat, which originates from a peaceful use of nuclear power – and from implacable forces of nature.

It’s snowing there. This is especially ironic, considering that the nuclear reactor is overheating, catching fire, and heading towards a meltdown.

There’s no power. I mean, in Bangalore we’re used to power-cuts, especially in summer. But in those cities, in those countries, they’re just not equipped to handle it.

Food, water, and fuel are in short supply (according to some reports). People are standing patiently in never-ending queues. Even little children.

They pumped seawater in to cool the reactor. They tried to dump water from a helicopter. They want to use a water cannon. It seems incongruous that they managed to put up and run for decades something as sophisticated as a nuclear power plant, but when things went out of whack, the best they could come up with was these incredibly prehistoric solutions. Is there no fancy chemical wizardry that can be done to cool the whole thing down or stop the radiation from either occurring or escaping? While using and attempting to control such potent forces, is the whole of mankind reduced to nothing more hi-tech than concrete (which we use to build ordinary apartment buildings, for chrissakes) and water?

What must it be like to be living in Tokyo today and looking around you wondering what the radiation level is now, wondering whether your government (and TEPCO) are being honest with you or doing a cover-up job, wondering what is going to happen tomorrow and what the long-term effects of radiation will be like?

What must it be like to be one of the 50 workers in the power plant now, still struggling to make things right, wondering how much the safe suit is doing to protect you, wondering if your insides are being fried every minute you stay there, wondering if you can get the power supply back, get the water pumps to work, and save the world; or whether you will achieve nothing and die young in the process and what is to become of your family if you do?

What happened to the four trains that disappeared in the tsunami? What happened to the two workmen who disappeared in the power plant?

How long will it take for the global warning alarmists to pin this catastrophe on global warming?

If a nuclear power plant were to come up 20 km outside of Bangalore, would I continue to live here? (What are the supplies of boric powder and iodine like in India?)

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