Japan crisis

After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, now the shaken nation is facing nuclear emergency. Read all of our coverage on the situation in Japan with analysis of the lessons that this tragedy may hold for a world desperately in need of clean, safe energy in the face of climate change and peak oil.

As Obama hedges, Japan could go nuke-free by next spring

Saving Power Saving Nippon poster

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan was recently quoted as seeing the country as a nuclear-free nation. But unlike similar pronouncements from Germany, which pledges to be nuclear-free by 2022, Japan may become nuclear-free literally within a year. That would be quite a feat for a country that only five months ago relied on nuclear plants for about 30% of its electrical power. By some … [Read more...]

When disaster strikes: looting or love?

Lyttelton, NZ earthquake cleanup

"A powerful riposte to those who argue that in difficult times people become more selfish and turn on each other.  Beautiful," says Rob Hopkins about a video from a New Zealand town recently leveled by an earthquake with a plucky community spirit. It makes dramatic TV to see angry mobs brandishing Glocks, busting store windows and pushing shopping carts full of bottled water, toilet paper and … [Read more...]

Nukes are forever

Into Eternity

For all the tragic and mind-boggling downsides to the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, one silver lining emerges from that dark cloud: At least we're talking with some degree of seriousness about the substantial dangers in so-called "clean" nuclear energy. Waste not, want not A recent film out of Finland, Into Eternity by Danish director Michael Madsen (not to be confused with the … [Read more...]

Earthquake: A Reflection

Japan Prayer

Earthquakes are not unusual in Yokohama, Japan or in Tokyo. If fact, a big one has been predicted for years and people in the area have been living with the knowledge that a very big one could hit the area anytime. All Japanese are aware of that, including myself, but who would have thought that we’d experience it? Rocking my world It happened when I was visiting my mother in Yokohama on Friday … [Read more...]

Like Japan, let’s junk new nukes

No Nukes

Japan will build no new nuclear reactors. Their decision delivers a huge body blow to the global nuclear industry, and could mark a major turning point in the future of energy. As Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said about his country, We need to start from scratch… and do more to promote renewables. Wind power alone could---and now probably will---replace 40 nukes in Japan. The United States … [Read more...]

A different kind of supply-side economics

Japan Toyota Dealership

In the wake of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami, an instructive story is unfolding about the manifold vulnerabilities of the modern industrial world. Robin Young of the radio show "Here and Now" reported yesterday on the too-often overlooked phenomenon of industrial supply lines. Her guest, Jeffrey Karrenbauer, a supply-chain expert with Insight Inc., said that supply line … [Read more...]

Two antidotes to Obama’s energy trance

candle in a glass

President Obama's speech on energy last week was at best an empty ritual and at worst, a cowardly collection of lies, fairy tales and demagoguery designed to pander to the worst impulses of the American public. Yes, the president seemed to say, if gas prices stay too high, I know that you'll vote against whoever's in power. But don't vote against me, because I'm the guy who really wants to … [Read more...]

Japan remembrance through the senses


I have some strange eating preferences. When I was younger, I hated avocados. Absolutely loathed them. I hated the texture and thought they were bland, slimy, mushy green things. But I loved guacamole. I figured someone hated the avocado as much as me and had figured how to make the darn things edible. Go figure. I think I was in my late teens when I realized that avocados were actually … [Read more...]

Is Nature trying to tell us something?

Energy Death

Was it not just last summer that British Petroleum’s (BP) engineers were working desperately around the clock to find a way to plug a three month leak from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig that spilled 205 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico? Now, engineers and plant operators are braving potentially lethal radiation to avert a catastrophe in the crippled Fukushima … [Read more...]

We get the power but future generations get the waste

kids in Nepal

Fukushima now enters the lexicon of nuclear catastrophes alongside Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. No amount of official downplaying of the current levels of radiation leaking from Fukushima can gloss over the fact that the hinterland of Fukushima will be contaminated for many years to come.  A new wasteland in which human habitation and agricultural production becomes impossible is … [Read more...]