Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, & Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Anniversary


"A combination photo made of still images from video footage March 14, 2011, shows the explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex.

Tomorrow, March 11, is my birthday, which makes the date of one of the worst disasters the world has ever seen quite easy to remember. On March 11, 2011, a tremendous earthquake and series of aftershocks struck the country of Japan. For days to follow, but especially that entire birthday, I was feverishly following and covering the disaster in Japan. Of course, what was just a massive earthquake and tsunami turned into one of the largest nuclear energy disasters the world has seen on Day 2 of the disaster, March 12, when the first Fukushima nuclear reactor exploded.

The UK’s Guardian published a summary, retrospective video of the events of March 11 and the days to follow. Here’s that:

If you happen to have trouble watching it (it happens with these Guardian videos sometimes), you can view it on the Guardian‘s website.

Unfortunately, the disaster of one year ago is far from over. There are still many reports of high radiation levels in Japan and across the world. Additionally, Japan suffered tremendous economic hardship from these disasters and is still recovering from that.

On the plus side, for those of us who don’t assume that we will find a way to safely store nuclear waste for longer than the human species has existed for (that’s how long some of it lasts), many countries have shut down their nuclear power plants or cut their plans to build nuclear power plants as a result of the public backlash from the disaster in Japan.

Germany led the way with a decision less than a month later to abandon nuclear power completely, and followed through by finalizing a 100% nuclear phaseout by 2022 in May, 2011. Many other countries have jumped on the bandwagon fully or partially since then.

It’s a true tragedy what happened in Japan a year ago, but hopefully it will help to lead the world into a cleaner energy future that will be better for people in the long run.

Image: Fukushima explosion courtesy Oldmaison (CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

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