Things are pretty quiet here in Tokyo today. There have been three (four?) reactor explosions as well as several fires at the nuclear power plant and it’s got everyone pretty spooked. I’m not evacuating Tokyo as the French and German embassies advised but I’m sure not keeping my windows open. The Japanese aren’t generally the sort to panic but even some of them are leaving Tokyo. I really can’t- there’s no good way out of here. I have a motorcycle, but there won’t be any gasoline left along the evacuation route since everyone will go in the same predicable direction. Then when I ran out of gas, I’d be stranded in the open. Not good.
The Japanese news and the foreign news must be reporting on two different events, because no two stories are the same. The Japanese media keep insisting nothing really significant is going on, and the foreign media is making it sound like we’re about to get nuclear death rained down on us at any moment. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in between. Even the Japanese are getting really angry at the dodgy reporting and lack of information. I feel sorry for anyone here who can’t access or understand foreign media. I mean, it’s a touch hysterical, to put it mildly, but the Japanese “Don’t worry, everything is fine” is actually making everyone even more nervous.
I’ve actually been reading up on nuclear power and it’s more interesting (and unfortunately relevant) than I thought. In the end, it’s all about making steam. I had never really thought about how the process worked, but us humans are mining uranium, enriching and processing it, handling radioactive substances, and having highly toxic waste to dispose of…all in the name of making steam. That’s super-simplified, but it’s basically true. Atoms are split, it generates heat, which heats water to make steam, which spins a turbine, which makes electricity. Sort of amazing and horrifying in its simplicity at the same time. I’m not anti-nuke and I’m still not, even after everything that’s happened. There is simply no alternative to nuclear power for Japan. When nuclear plants go wrong, they go really wrong. But I’m not buying the nuclear hysteria- coal and petroleum are nasty too (thanks, BP). Nothing is without risk. Heck, a refinery in Chiba (near Tokyo) caught on fire after the earthquake, but that kind of faded into the background after the triple explosions at the nuclear power plant.
So I’m wary but A-OK. I will leave if the US Embassy orders evacuation. So far, only a few European embassies have advised it, no one has ordered it. I doubt they will unless things take a dramatic turn for the worse, which looks unlikely. In the case of evacuation, we’re not supposed to take any personal items, only passports and ID and necessary medicine, but I’d sneak one bottle of nail polish out with me. Maybe China Glaze “Drinking My Blues Away.” But I think evacuation is really highly unlikely at this point. ::rustles stash for China Glaze anyway::
Great. That’s my idea of disaster preparedness: picking a bottle of polish to take with me. I told you I was hardcore!