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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why We Are Ignoring the Earthquake & Obsessing On the Nuke Problem

The death toll in the Japan earthquake disaster will probably exceed 60,000 by the time this is all done. Mayors of towns north of Sendai have reported entire populations of 9,000 or more are missing. Japan is a country that has at this moment in time been brought to its knees by a natural disaster.

But the general media is consumed with the nuclear situation. No one has died from the problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor site, yet. I don't mean to minimize this disaster as the final death toll from radiation cannot yet be calculated, but the scope of human suffering is eclipsed, and will likely continue to be eclipsed, by the damage brought on by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

So why is it that all we seem to care about is the nuke problem?

Certainly politics plays a role. Dopey politicians have come running to the nearest microphone to be the first to announce their opposition to nuclear power. It makes their Coexist constituency feel fuzzy and warm. However, this is like having a fight with your wife over whether dirty clothes should go on the floor or on the chair next to the hamper and calling a divorce attorney while you're still angry. Maybe you should wait until you convince her that the hamper is too hard to use before you give up all the good stuff that comes along with the marriage.

There's also a darker force at play here too. Human beings are really not all that smart. Have you ever spoken to anyone about anything? See my point? Not a lot of smart out there. I like to call it the Dark Ages Effect. Most knowledge of nuclear power people in this country have comes from two movies, The China Syndrome and Godzilla. People in Michigan are ordering more iodide pills than people in Oregon for crying out loud. Michael Moore is from Michigan.

People are also small-minded. The size and scope of the natural disaster in Japan is just too great to get our collective heads around. So it's easier to focus on something we feel we are responsible for. Anyone born prior to 1965 has a deep-seated fear of nuclear annihilation ingrained in their psyches, so just the words "nuclear disaster" brings us back to a dark place we'd all rather pretend we never lived. Luckily we've passed this irrational fear on to our children, so now they're mindlessly afraid without the experience.

And let's not forget God. He took a big hit in the days immediately following the earthquake before we all knew we were going to die from radiation in our cheese. I witnessed multiple people claiming that God was angry so He waved His Hand and practically wiped out a country. Some thought it was Divine Retribution for Pearl Harbor, and some really didn't want to venture a guess why God was so pissed. Frankly, leave God out of this.

So here it is kids. Bad things happen and they happen on a regular basis. As intelligent grown humans we are tasked with processing the bad and learning from it. In Obama's America today nothing bad is supposed to happen, and when it does our knee-jerk mindset is to eliminate the bad. Oil well disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? Ban drilling. People are fat? Ban bad food. Nuclear disaster caused by a 10,000 year earthquake and tsunami in Japan? Ban nukes. Don't learn, just ban. Don't strive to improve. Just ban. Bullies picking on little Jeremy in school? Why, they're oughta be a law.

The problem is, banning bad things doesn't make them go away, it just makes us less prepared for the other bad things that are waiting around the corner to bite us in the ass. Sorry kids, the world is an ugly place.

So let's get through this disaster and then use what little intellect we have left to improve our chances against the next bad thing. That's what got us this far.

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