As things unfold, there will be more to say about the terrible situation in Japan and its effects in the both the present and the future, but for now, Nicole Foss (aka Stoneleigh in her super financial analyst extraordinaire identity, and nuclear safety expert…is there anything she can’t do?) of The Automatic Earth has done a superb review of what we know, what we don’t know and the consequences we can anticipate. Very, very important! The comments at The Oil Drum are also often quite valuable. I think particularly useful is her evidence that this was not an unpredictable “black swan” event, but a predictable failure of infrastructure not designed to deal with the real extremes of nature – like so much of our infrastructure.
We need to evaluate the potential for a nuclear future in light of the disaster in Japan. This was not unpredictable, and should have been accounted for in any realistic assessment of nuclear potential. It cannot realistically be described as a black swan event.
Japan has few energy alternatives, as it lacks indigenous energy reserves and must import 80% of its energy requirements. It was therefore prepared to make Faustian bargains despite what should have been obvious risks. The impact of the loss of so much capacity, much of it probably permanently, on available electric power following the accident is very likely to impede Japan’s ability to recover from this disaster, potentially strengthening the parallels with America’s Hurricane Katrina.
Do read the whole thing. Also at TOD, a superb review of news and media coverage of the event to help get a wide perspective.