November 2013 – Global Meltdown?

Radiation Effects - Click for detailsIn March 2011 I wrote a post asking for thoughts and prayers for Japan in the wake of the huge earthquake. Today I am asking for you to offer prayers for the team of experts who will, at the beginning of November, attempt the clean-up of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

In a horrific ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ scenario, there is a pressing need to remove the spent fuel rods from the cooling pond of reactor no. 4 before another earthquake occurs. The task is unbelievably complex and dangerous and involves moving 400 tonnes of highly irradiated and damaged fuel rods.

The rods, of which there are over 1300, are 4.5 metres long, weigh about 300kg and contain Plutonium, amongst other highly radioactive components. Ordinarily, the process would be monitored by a sophisticated computer controlled safety system, but since the disaster destroyed this, it will have to be done using machines controlled by hand.

When you consider that the total radiation of the rods is equivalent to around 14,000 times that released by the Hiroshima atomic device used in WWII, the scale of the problem becomes clear. Coupled with the fact that there is no form of containment vessel to stop radiation escaping into the atmosphere, this becomes a truly global issue.

Whilst not trying to create any form of panic, I urge you to read an article describing the situation, and maybe share the information contained within it with your friends and families. It is important that the facts about the gravity of this challenging task are widely known. Our thoughts and prayers should be with all those concerned, for all our sakes.

Desire Or Disaster?

Global IssuesOn the recommendation of my mother, I watched a program about modern engineering solutions, Supersized Earth – The Way We Move, which took us through a number of amazing engineering solutions. The world’s highest bridge, a ship that can carry oil rigs, they are projects that defy description.

As I watched, I was torn between amazement at the audacity at the engineering and a feeling that this was slowly turning into a list of everything that is wrong with the modern world. When we can boast that the world now has enough cars to fill the Grand Canyon, I wonder where it will all end.

We now appear to have the knowledge and ability to overcome almost any obstacle that nature may present, which on face value may be desirable. But being able to shape our world, to extract fuels and minerals from ever more difficult deposits just means that we will use those resources all the sooner.

My only wish, is that our common sense in employing this knowledge increases at least as fast as our ability to use the knowledge. My fear is, that as with most things in the modern world, the lure of the commercial opportunities will outweigh the focus on environmental issues.

Gardener’s World

Ten WorldsAll this gardening, and tending the soil, has got me thinking about how the Earth, and the earth, and us, the people who walk on the earth are all connected.

A sense of being part of the great all-inclusive community prompts us to reflect on our place in it and on how we ought to live. Protecting other’s lives, the ecology and the Earth is the same as protecting our own life.

By similar token, wounding them is the same thing as wounding ourselves. Consequently, it is the duty of each of us to participate as members of the living community in the evolution of the Universe.

We must do this by protecting and cherishing Earth’s ecological systems. Not to do so would be the most extreme of follies.

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