TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Chernobyl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chernobyl. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

In Millennial Eyes 4: Nuclear Times and Chernobyl Urbex


Japan warns citizens they might have only 10 minutes to prepare for a North Korean missile (25 April 2017). Image Source: AFP/Getty via Washington Post.

The blog returns on 1 May 2017 after a break, with a series of posts which will explain fake news, cyber-memes, techno-cultural disinformation, virtual politics, and the perception of truth. Today's post is a prologue. The nuclear issue triggers all of these uncertainties. When it comes to nuclear matters, you never really know what is happening, and the stakes are high. On Sunday, 23 April 2017, a truck carrying Iridium-192 was stolen in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state, Mexico. This radioactive material can be used to make a dirty bomb, and it has not yet been recovered.


Meanwhile, the world nervously eyes the Korean peninsula. It is curious that there have been a recent changes in and around leadership in both Koreas. These might indicate (or lead to) an incredibly delicate and dangerous effort to reconcile the two countries. In South Korea, Park Geun-hye was impeached in December 2016, charged in April 2017 with corruption, and publicly condemned for witchcraft. Liberal human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in is projected to win a May 2017 South Korean election, and he may soften the tone on North Korea.

Image Source: Reuters/The Economist.

British tabloids and the American media are openly speculating on whether Trump's administration should assassinate Kim Jong-un to stop a nuclear war. But Jong-un has been careful to eliminate successors, with few remaining close family members. The fact that he may have had his half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, assassinated on 13 February 2017 raised eyebrows. The use of the rare VX poison in the killing was even more disturbing. Developed by the British in the mid-1950s, it is the world's most toxic nerve agent and classed as a weapon of mass destruction. To use it in a public place on a direct descendant of North Korea's Baekdu Bloodline was a sign of extreme ruthlessness. Even more than all the other atrocities and executions, the murder of Jong-nam really scared people; it merited research and reconsideration of what is happening in Pyongyang.


I have previously blogged about the Kim family and possible successors here. A favourite possibility among western leaders is Kim Jong-un's nephew and Jong-nam's son, Kim Han-sol, who is now 21 years old. Han-sol turned down an offer to study at Oxford University in February 2017, due to fears that he would be assassinated there.

Doan Thi Huong, who helped assassinate Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, told authorities she thought she was participating in a Reality TV prank. (February 2017) Image Source: Taiwan News.

North Korea is planning another nuclear test and rapidly developing its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missiles. It is hard to tell whether the tensions on the peninsula are a deadly game of bluff, or if Trump's unpredictable administration is planning preemptive action to contain North Korea's capabilities, or if this is a game of 4-D chess, marked by psychological warfare and sabre-rattling.

"A jet with blocked details landed at Wellington Airport[, New Zealand] on Monday evening [24 April 2017]." Image Source: Flight Radar 24 via stuff.co.nz.

There are reports on rehearsals for ex-pat civilian evacuations from South Korea. Officials from the Five Eyes intelligence network (USA, UK, NZ, Australia and Canada) met in Queenstown, New Zealand over the weekend of the 21-23 April. On 26 April, Kim Jong-un watched a giant live-fire drill (see it here) to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean People's Army. The US Senate has been summoned for a White House briefing regarding North Korea, also on 26 April 2017.







At the same time, there are drills in New York City to prepare for a simulated direct nuclear bomb strike over Manhattan on 24-26 April 2017, which may have already involved power outages in San Francisco; New York; Frankfort, Kentucky; and Los Angeles. Operation Gotham Shield uses a 10 kiloton yield, or a bomb a bit larger than a 'suitcase nuke,' as its hypothetical weapon. The FEMA overview manual for Gotham Shield is here. A November 2016 simulated nuclear attack (the Northern Lights Nuclear Power Plants Exercise) checked the readiness of the electrical grid at the Monticello plant and Camp Ripley, Minnesota on the US-Canadian border.

Gotham Shield internal document. Image Source: FEMA via Intellihub.

I have previously argued on this blog that the US had already nuked itself through numerous bomb tests over the past 70 years and lives in denial of this fact. In February 2017, there was an explosion at a French nuclear plant, Flamanville, but there was "no nuclear risk." Even more incredible denial is evident in Japan, where three China Syndromes have likely occurred at Fukushima. Yet on the sixth anniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, the government has invited families to reinhabit the exclusion zone. Fish are declared safe to eatDeeper denial: the summer 2020 Olympic games are partly set there!

Worse, workers were told they no longer needed protective suits at 95 per cent of the site. The rumour ran that this was because the huge quantity of hazmat suits became too expensive; the workers were considered likely to die anyway from exposure; therefore, the suits could be dispensed with to cut costs. There are unconfirmed stories and muted reports (often ending in dead links) of a TEPCO cover-up of thousands of dead Fukushima workers, whose employment is run by the Japanese mob, the Yakuza.

Image Source: Reuters via The Mirror.

This is an insane 'war without a war,' a nightmare in which Japanese aquifers are irretrievably poisoned. In February 2017, there was unconfirmed talk that underground explosions occurred, likely due to the molten coria hitting the water table. These explosions were heard and felt miles away from the plant. Also in February, a robot measured a staggering 530 sieverts per hour inside Reactor #2 - far higher than any reading ever recorded at Chernobyl. That reading could be ten times higher close to the elusive core. Due to the unwillingness to face the devastation of atomic realities, it is worth remembering the aftermath in an uninhabited nuclear wasteland.


The date 26 April 2017 shifts attention to another nuclear theatre. Today's post commemorates the 31st anniversary of the second-worst nuclear disaster in history at the Chernobyl plant and Pripyat, Ukraine. The blog follows American Millennial urbex Youtuber Josh, who said Pripyat was "legit" during his visit in March 2016. Actually, that is true. To understand the magnitudes of radiation which Josh's MKS-05 Terra-P dosimeter displayed (in microsieverts (uSv) per hour), go here and here. One sievert (1,000,000 microsieverts) if absorbed all at once is enough to make you ill; 6 to 10 sieverts will cause death.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nuclear Leaks 36: Chernobyl, the 30th Anniversary


Video Source: VICE via Youtube.

On 26 April 2016, VICE commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster by sending reporter Simon Ostrovsky to visit the area outside the sarcophagus and nearby Pripyat. His report revealed how little his fellow tourists understand radiation. The video explains that those exposed to fallout changed at the genetic level, and those changes were passed on to their children. VICE deemed Chernobyl still to be the world's worst nuclear accident, although since Fukushima that is disputed. One thing in the report was clear, in advice from Dr. Larysa Yanovych at the National Research Center for Radiation Medicine in Kiev, Ukraine: Don't go off the path. For some current photos of Pripyat, go here, here and here.




"Amateur British photographer Michael Day, 29, an air traffic controller from London who works in Aberdeen, Scotland, visited the disaster scene with a Ukrainian government escort to photograph the ghost town." Images Source: Michael Day / Barcroft USA via Telegraph.

Image Source: NBC.


See all my posts related to Chernobyl.
See all my posts on Nuclear topics.
Click here for all my posts on Urban Exploration.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nuclear Leaks 35: Fukushima Five Years On


Fukushima Reactor #3 (10 February 2016). Image Source: Reuters.

11 March 2016 is the fifth anniversary of the Tōhoku 9.0 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent level 7 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi power plant. I have discussed these events here, here, and here. Over 220,0000 people have been displaced; officially, almost 16,000 people died, with over 2,500 missing. It is a catastrophe which tests political and moral attitudes, values and perceptions. It depends how you interpret the information, because Fukushima sits right where the line of confident science and powerful technology breaks down, because everyone agrees that cleaning up the mess is beyond our current knowledge and capabilities. Unfortunately in Japan, there is also a conflation between showing a correct patriotic attitude and acknowledging a technological and environmental breakdown that affects us all.

RT (23 September 2015): The Fukushima disaster was preventable, and came about due to poor planning and engineering failures. Video Source: Youtube.

Despite Fukushima, there is an increased global commitment to nuclear electric power, due to increasing demands for electricity to run the Internet and to drive global development. In researching one related post for this blog, I found that several contracts were concluded in 2012 to build new nuclear plants around the world. The money is made now in short term business deals. When things go wrong with this technology, we pay the price for thousands of years. One could argue that the plant personnel were blameless, because the accident was caused by the horrific earthquake and tsunami. But the Japanese government showed distinct lack of foresight 45 years ago, when its officials decided to build rows of nuclear reactors, on unstable ground, by the sea, right on a giant earthquake fault. After Fukushima, only Germany instituted an Energiewende and stepped back from nuclear power, and their Chancellor is a physicist.

On 18 April 2015, Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) sent a robot into Reactor #1 to investigate, but the machine broke down due to radiation. Image Source: TEPCO via Fukushima Diary.

20 March 2015: Reactor #1 muon photography of the Reactor Pressure Vessel, with corium missing. Image Source: TEPCO via Extreme Tech.

The Japanese government is actually considering burying exposed coriums in the seabed, about eight miles off the coast of Japan; this is a bad idea, aside from the fact that it is impossible to do, because it is in an active seismic zone. In 2015, several reports surfaced that China Syndromes occurred at Fukushima, with three coriums from the first three Daiichi units melting through containment into the soil. TEPCO published muon photography at Reactor #1 in 2015 which confirmed that the corium 'had disappeared.' The corium at Reactor #2 is also 'missing,' confirmed by muon photography in 2015. On 28 October 2015, TEPCO found radiation levels at 9.4 sieverts per hour outside Reactor #2's containment vessel; a person directly exposed to that level of radiation will die in 45 minutes. Several other reports since 2011 have speculated where the molten coriums of Reactors #1, #2, and #3 are. At a 2012 IAEA meeting, Harri Tuomisto of Finland's Fortum Power commented that pools of molten coriums beneath the reactors are up to 2 storeys (20-23 feet) high each, although that should have made them easier to locate.

14 March 2011: The famous explosion at Reactor #3. Image Source: Japan's NTV network via Fox News.

Reactor #3 is the most worrisome, because it used plutonium-based MOX fuel. Reactor #3 exploded on 14 March 2011, and a plume appeared above it, inspiring further questions. More steam clouds were emitted from the ruins of Reactor #3 in July and December 2013. On 6 August 2014, TEPCO changed its November 2011 estimations about Reactor #3, admitting that the molten fuel had escaped containment and reached the concrete floor of the reactor:
"According to the new estimate, all the melted fuel penetrated the pressure vessel, fell onto the bottom of the containment vessel and melted about 68 cm into the concrete."
On 20 October 2015, TEPCO sent a robot into Reactor #3 to find out what had happened to the Primary Containment Vessel. The robot - a 3D-printed one with a smartphone attached, no less - gave limited results, here; its photos are below. On 17 December 2015, TEPCO finally admitted that from 14 to 16 March 2011, radioactive steam from Reactor #3 and MOX fuel leaked into the environment after a melt-through of the Primary Containment Vessel. They also confirmed that they observed "black smoke" rising from Reactor #3 from 21 to 23 March 2011.

Helicopter footage from  March 2011, supposedly of exposed molten corium flowing from Reactor #2, circulated widely on anti-nuclear Websites. The explosion at Reactor #2 took place on 15 March 2011. Video Source: Youtube.

Full helicopter footage from which the above clip was taken, uploaded to Youtube on 17 March 2011. Video Source: Youtube.

Still from the above video. Image Source: Ah, Mephistophelis.

Move past the purposefully muddled and delayed information on the crippled power plants and beyond the human interest stories, and there is no clear estimation of how many people have died, or will die, due to radioactive fallout, contaminated agriculture and fisheries, pollution of soil and groundwater, and continuous radioactive leaks into the Pacific. It is impossible to determine the meaning of weird reports, such as the 8 February 2016 explosion near Iwaki city in the Onahama area, 60 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which shook buildings and windows. The impact on pregnant women and unborn children is unknown. Unlike Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, where (despite many problems) post-Chernobyl foetuses were carried to full term and deformed infants subsequently raised by heroic nurses and surrogate care-givers in special hospice facilities, there are rumours - unconfirmed, and often denied or dismissed - that post-Fukushima foetuses have been aborted. The government struggles to decontaminate large areas and make them habitable again, with workers and volunteers scrubbing houses and removing layers of topsoil in the exclusion zone.

16 October 2015: "Investigation Results inside Unit 3 Spent Fuel Pool using a Waterproof Camera in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

20 October 2015: "Investigation Results of the Inside of Unit 3 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

22 October 2015: "Investigation Results of the Inside of Unit 3 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

Greenpeace via RT (10 February 2016): "Fukushima causes mutations & DNA damage with 'no end in sight.'" TEPCO workers outside Fukushima Reactors #3 and #4. Image Source: RT.

Mikhail Gorbachev, when discussing Chernobyl, described the possibility of a China Syndrome and contamination of the Black Sea as something that had to be prevented at all costs. At Chernobyl, it was prevented because the Soviet government brought in Siberian miners on a suicide mission to build a huge concrete barrier underneath the plant, to block the corium's path. At Fukushima, China Syndromes were not prevented. On 26 October 2015The Japan Times reported that 400 tonnes of radioactive water were being dumped into the Pacific Ocean every day.

The reports of mysterious wildlife die-offs in the Pacific go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Reputable sources deny that there is any connection between these mortality events and Fukushima; other reputable sources are not so sure. California air samples from 2014 detected plutonium 239 and 240, likely from Fukushima. The historic levels of marine animal deaths and marine organism population depletion on the Pacific west coast of North America may be related to Fukushima but are sometimes blamed on global warming. The warm water explanation may come from the anti-carbon lobby, and is more political than real when government tests show the presence of Fukushima-sourced radiocesium in marine life. Attempts to play down the severity of contamination in Japan may be motivated by more than pro-nuclear business interests or anti-global-warming environmental politics. The muted media treatment of Fukushima may reflect serious concerns to maintain global stability and prevent conflict in the entire surrounding region. On 6 March 2016, RT reported that Naoto Kan, Japan's former Prime Minister, admitted that Tokyo was almost evacuated in 2011, which would have displaced 50 million people and destabilized Asia.

Ōkuma in 2012. Image Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP via MIT Technology Review. 

4 March 2016: "Workers get changed into their protective clothing inside the anti-seismic building before working on the radiation decontamination process." Image Source: Gizmodo.

There are several films about the disaster, including Fukushima Never Again (2012); Fukushima: A Nuclear Story (2015); and Greetings from Fukushima (2016; Grüsse aus Fukushima). Meanwhile, there are currently serious ongoing incidents in America, with an "unusual event" fire at Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina; "uncontrollable radioactive flow" from Indian Point Energy Center in New York; and there was an "unusual event" fire at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Tennessee overnight on 8-9 March 2016. In September 2015, horrible reports came out of Kazakhstan near a nuclear testing site, where a mass die-off of local antelopes started in the spring and persisted all year; that incident was attributed to bacteria. In future posts, I will summarize the Japanese situation, its impact on Japan's neighbours, and its international implications. Today's post shows recent photos and images associated with the Fukushima disaster.

22 April 2013: "Dead Mice Found in the Outdoor Transformer Box for Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool Alternative Cooling System at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection November 2014 closing remarks. Posted on Youtube on 23 October 2015; at time stamp 36:15 hear comments from Keith Baverstock, former World Health Organization regional adviser for radiation and public health: "I am really appalled by how the international system has failed. ... Quite frankly, we don't get anything through the media. ... There is no general understanding of the situation ... here in Europe because the media are not putting this view forward. In fact, I think many people would be very surprised that it was still a matter for discussion. And they would be even more surprised to learn that it was still an ongoing accident and that it hasn't terminated yet. And they would be even more surprised that nobody has any good ideas on how to stop it." He argued that the IAEA faces a conflict of interest when investigating nuclear disasters and that Japan is breaking international laws by dumping radioactive material into the ocean. Video Source: Youtube.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beltane's Faustian Bargains


Beltane Fountain. Image Source: Osgrid Gallery.

April 30 is Walpurgis Night. It is the eve of the May Day honouring of St. Walburga, a West Saxon princess by birth, and an 8th century English abbess. In the mid-700s, she traveled to Francia (to what is now Bavaria, Germany) with other English missionaries, to convert the Germans - who were still pagans at the time - to Christianity. In that work, she supported her famous uncle, St. Boniface, and her two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald.  Dark Dorset describes how the celebration of Saint Walburga overlaps with the older pagan May 1 spring festival of Beltane:
[H]er feast day also coincided with a much older pagan festival of Beltane ... [which] marked the beginning of summer. The eve of Beltane 30th April - 1st May became ... known as Walpurgisnacht, perhaps originally in an attempt to Christianise the festival. Like Halloween, it was also the night in which spirits wandered and witches favoured, as it was an auspicious time for holding their midnight sabbats and for conjuring spells. The most famous of all sabbats held on Walpurgisnacht was supposed to take place on the summit of the Brocken in the Harz Mountains of Germany as mentioned in Goethe's Faust [which you can read in German and English here, and watch here].
In Europe, the night of April 30 became a spring Hallowe'en, when witches and sorcerers held fertility rites around bonfires in wild areas. In earlier times, it was the time when livestock were driven out to pasture after a long winter, and charms were uttered over the animals as they ventured out into the wilds to protect them from harm. In the New World, Walpurgis Night is associated with the dark occult, including the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 in San Francisco, California.

Thus, these two days, April 30 and May 1, centre on a moment of pagan-Christian ambiguity, a grey area between seasons and between evil and good, freedom and security, old and new. The sense is of turn-over, confronting the very last of winter's deaths and tests, and putting them behind to be open to spring growth. Dark Dorset summarizes these tensions:
On Walpurgisnacht it was customary for local folk to ring the bells of the church at night, cutting sprigs of blossom from the May bush (Hawthorn) and hung outside or inside the house as deterrent of witchcraft. The burning of Need-Fires and life size straw effigies of men or women which were made prior to burning and cursed with ill-health and ill-luck of the old year. Creating lots of noise by banging on drums, wood or firing of shotguns were all considered effective ways of ridding the area of witchcraft, evil spirits and dark forces. The very name St. Walburga (or Walpurgis, Waltpurde, Gauburge, Vaubourg, Falbourg, as known in other parts of Europe) and her image were also used as protective charms against witchcraft, plague, famine and storms.
In the first part of his great tragedy Faust, published in 1808, Goethe included a scene set on Walpurgis Night:
Now to the Brocken the witches ride;
The stubble is gold and the corn is green;
There is the carnival crew to be seen,
And Squire Urianus will come to preside.
So over the valleys our company floats,
With witches a-farting on stinking old goats.
Goethe's Faust explored the problems that symbolically arise around Walpurgis Night. His famous work principally concerned man's attempt to control the natural environment through scientific investigation and linear understanding, and the points at which faith and magic overtake that rational effort. Goethe's story describes Faust as a scholar, or alchemist, who makes a bargain with the devil to attain limitless knowledge. Faust's quest for infinite understanding automatically forces moral questions about how that knowledge might be exploited. Goethe insists: limitless knowledge can only be mitigated, and finally attained, by a leap of faith.

Image Source: Business Insider.

In the new Millennium, the moral dimension of limitless information, knowledge and technology is a huge problem. There are no St. Walburgas and St. Bonifaces standing now at the confluence of the environment and human knowledge of the environment. You may encounter many devils at the crossroads between environment and technology these days. For example, this week, Business Insider reported on a paper given last weekend at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, which concluded that one third of babies in the USA are using smart phones and tablets before they can walk and talk; and toddlers under the age of one use smart devices for at least one hour per day.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lost Cities: Kowloon Walled City, the Faux and the Real



From Yahoo and WSJ Live, a retrospective on Hong Kong's infamous Kowloon Walled City, which was demolished 20 years ago:
The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was once the densest place on earth, a virtually lawless labyrinth of crime, grime, commerce and hope. A Wall Street Journal documentary tracks its colorful legacy 20 years after its demolition.
For nearly a century, Kowloon Walled City was a gang-ruled place of low rents, no licences or taxes, drug trades, brothels and illegal dentists. Somehow, it gained further mystique because it sat across the street from an international airport, and landing jets notoriously scraped just over the slum's rooftops. The fascinating culture of this city-inside-a-city has been represented across eastern and western pop culture in video games, mangas and movies. Known as the City of Darkness in Cantonese, it particularly resonates with depictions of gritty urban landscapes in the 1980s and 1990s, and served as an inspiration for Ridley Scott's futuristic Los Angeles in Blade Runner. It recently inspired designers of Gotham sets for the British-American movie, Batman Begins (2005). City of Darkness Revisited notes only two films were actually shot inside the real Kowloon Walled City (see a clip of footage from the real city shown in Bloodsport below the jump):
only two films were actually shot within the confines of the Walled City, the Jean-Claude van Damme vehicle, Bloodsport [1988], and the far superior Johnny Mak film, Long Arm of the Law [1984]. In fact, the Walled City and one of its alleys only make a short appearance in Bloodsport, when the Jean-Claude character and his Chinese minder are making their way to an illegal fighting venue supposedly located there.
An interior facade reveals the city's staggering honeycombed character, built up without any architects. Image Source: La boite verte

 

 

Images Source: Greg Girard see more of his photos of the real Kowloon Walled City here. Other photos of the city are here and here.

Former inhabitants testify to Kowloon's tight-knit society:
"We all had very good relationships in very bad conditions. Even now, many people stay in touch with each other even though some old friends are overseas," Shum said. "People who lived there were always loyal to each other. In the Walled City, the sunshine always followed the rain."
Such is the nostalgia for this grim yet fascinating slum, that Japanese business interests have built a reproduction of Kowloon Walled City as an arcade and theme park south of Tokyo (see the theme park's main site here). The development blog, here, insists on historic faithfulness ("all materials produced from the scratch"; "real garbage from Hong Kong were sent by parcel"). HuffPo:
Kowloon Walled City, an infamous now-demolished Hong Kong slum, is enjoying new life as a three-storey Japanese arcade and theme park just south of Tokyo.
David Gilbert, a digital product manager, posted photos of the Kawasaki Warehouse on his blog, documenting stunning details of the resurrected Walled City – in all its dark and rusty glory – save for hints of modernity in its restrooms.

"The juxtaposition of a high-tech Japanese toilet in an authentically grimy bathroom had to be seen to be believed," described Gilbert.

Set designer Taishiro Hoshino, the mastermind behind the arcade theme park's time-bending alchemy, paid close attention to details from the actual slum city.

Hosino and his team examined photographs and video of the Walled City, retraced Chinese calligraphy on signage, tracked down Hong Kong mailboxes, balcony bird cages, and reproduced its neon signs.

Striving for full authenticity, he even persuaded a friend in Hong Kong to mail him her family's trash.
"I was later told that they were totally confused about my request," explained Hoshino in a detailed "Behind The Scenes" post on his website.
This development echoes other odd Millennial efforts to transform famous ruined (and not-ruined) locations of the 20th century into 21st century entertainment centres - a tourist-industry trend notably evident at Chernobyl and formerly-shuttered asylums and prisons in the United States. More images of the original city are below the jump.

The outside facade of the Japanese Kowloon Walled City theme park, which has been artificially aged and grimed up.  Image Source: HuffPo.

More images from Japan's faux Kowloon Walled City theme park, complete with faux brothels, fake open air meat markets, real Hong Kong mailboxes which were shipped to Japan as props - and grimed-up toilets, whose conveniences are actually clean and hyper-modern.  Images from HuffPo.


 





One of the meticulously-created Japanese faux-Kowloon mock-ups. Image Source: Hoshinogumi

"A slight departure from the theme park's authenticity, those wishing to leave must walk through a red-lit hexagon passageway, stepping over stones set over an illuminated pool toward a circular ying-yang door." Image Source: HuffPo.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Nuclear Leaks 34: Fukushima Meets America's Pro-Nuclear Lobby


Image Source: OpEd News.

It has been nearly three years since Japan's nuclear disaster. Just at the moment when ocean-bound pollution from Fukushima is reaching the Pacific coast of North America, with potential but unconfirmed impacts on fisheries and crops, the pro-nuclear lobby has mobilized in the United States. A new documentary is out, Pandora's Promise (2013), which extols the 'green' virtues of nuclear power. Anyone concerned about climate change, the film insists, should promote nuclear energy. Or, to put it another way, if you are anti-carbon, you have to be pro-nuclear. This campaign reveals the ugliness of political plays around the energy business, as it plays down any dangers from Fukushima's fallout.

Robert Stone, producer and director of film, measured energy safety in terms of "deaths per terawatt," that is, how many people die per unit of energy produced. Within the first minute of the film, one narrator instructs the audience that the political outlook of the documentary is "liberal democrat." A liberal political concern for the environment is aligned with the interests of the nuclear industry. Whatever you do, the film enjoins, don't lose your head, don't panic about Fukushima. The director's statement insists that if you want to be a liberal, true and forward-thinking environmentalist, then you must be pro-nuclear:
I’ve considered myself a passionate environmentalist for about as long as I can remember. My mother read me Silent Spring when I was nine and the specter of a Cold War nuclear arms race was not an uncommon topic around the dinner table in my family. So my anti-nuclear and environmental roots run very deep. My first film was an anti-nuclear weapons documentary, Radio Bikini, that premiered at Sundance in 1988 and went on to receive an Oscar® nomination for Feature Documentary. My film Earth Days, which was Closing Night Film at Sundance in 2009, chronicles the rise of the environmental movement of my youth. In the course of making Earth Days I began for the first time to see the deep pessimism that has infused today’s environmental movement, and to recognize the depth of its failure to address climate change. It was initially through getting to know Stewart Brand that I was introduced to a new and more optimistic view of our environmental challenges that was pro-development and pro-technology. From there I began to seek out and discover a small but growing cadre of people around the world who were beginning to stand up and challenge what had become the rigid orthodoxy of modern environmentalism.

It’s no easy thing for me to have come to the conclusion that the rapid deployment of nuclear power is now the greatest hope we have for saving us from an environmental catastrophe. Yet this growing realization has led me to question many of the founding tenets of traditional environmentalism, from the belief that we can dramatically reduce our energy demand through energy efficiency to the belief that solar and wind power will one day power the planet. The almost theological adherence to a set of unquestionable beliefs by most liberals and environmentalists has likely contributed as much or more to prolonging our addiction to fossil fuels as the equally appalling state of denial among many conservatives when it comes to climate change. Both sides are locked into rigid, self-righteous ideological positions with potentially disastrous consequences for us all unless we begin to face the facts.

For the past three years I have devoted almost every waking moment to taking these ideas and shaping them into a documentary about what is perhaps the biggest and most unwieldy subjects imaginable: how do we continue to power human civilization without destroying the environmental conditions that has made modern civilization possible? I knew from the beginning that this film would have to be firmly grounded in personal narrative if it were to have any impact at all on a mass audience. Early on I determined that the film would be framed around a few key individuals who had undergone a dramatic intellectual metamorphosis on the issue of nuclear power, as I, myself had done. The evolution of their apostasy on this issue – their journey from being staunchly anti-nuclear to passionately pro-nuclear -forms the central dramatic arc of the film. My hope is to take the audience on a similar journey of discovery through the process of watching the film.

PANDORA’S PROMISE is without question the most personal and important film of my career. I’ve learned that just about everything I thought I knew about energy turned out to be wrong. And most of what I had been lead to believe about nuclear energy and its historical events turned out to be significantly different from what had really happened.

The making of this film has taken me to four continents on a grand tour of the hidden world of nuclear energy. I’ve been inside the doomed power plant at Chernobyl (the first cameraman to do so, I believe), deep into the Fukushima exclusion zone, and to a popular beach in Brazil that has a naturally occurring background radiation level that’s over 300 times what is considered “normal!” I’ve visited a little known research facility in Idaho where a new kind of reactor was developed 20 years ago that can’t meltdown and is fueled by nuclear waste.

If there was a single ah-ha moment it was when I was granted entry into a room in France (the size of a basketball court) where all the waste from powering 80% of the country for 30 years is stored: four cylindrical tubes 10 meters long and 1 meter wide are all that’s left from powering the city of Paris for 30 years with clean nuclear energy! I thought, “My God, what on Earth were we thinking?”

Robert Stone

April 22, 2013