Japan: Let this be a call to act now

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Damage from the tsunami in Minimisanrikucho, Japan.

I am sure we all shared similar reactions to last week’s earthquake-tsunami tragedy in Japan.

First, we blinked at reports of a big earthquake. Perhaps for a moment our response was dulled —worn down by the string of recent disasters: the Christchurch earthquake, the Queensland floods and cyclones.

Anyway, this was Japan, a rich country and probably the most earthquake-prepared nation in the world.

Then came the images of the tsunami that followed; too much like the work of a special effects wiz from Hollywood. The water seemed too powerful and entire towns and villages seemed to wash away too easily. But this time it was real, as was the mounting death toll.

Then there was more horror as a nuclear disaster unfolded. Japan is the third largest nuclear power user in the world with 53 nuclear reactors that provide 34.5% of its power needs.

Surely it would be prepared to deal with a nuclear disaster?

Scenes of survivors picking helplessly at the rubble have no doubt shocked many around the world.

Our hearts should be with those survivors struggling to find loved ones, to clear the mess and to somehow begin rebuilding.

But just as they have had to overcome a sinking into inertia that can come with shock, we must draw our lessons and start to act:

1. Show our solidarity and respond generously through the aid appeals.

2. Play our part to end the nuclear madness by ending Australian mining and export of uranium. Some of the exploding nuclear plants in Japan are fuelled by uranium exported from Australia — more blood-stained corporate profit.

3. The Japan disaster was not a result of climate change but if we don’t address the climate change crisis terrible catastrophes on this scale (or greater) will become more common in the future.

Time is running out — we need to shift quickly to renewable energy sources not dangerous nuclear power.

Green Left Weekly is committed to this course of action.

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From GLW issue 873