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Saturday, March 12, 2011

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?




In Japan, an explosion at a nuclear power station tore down the walls of one building. Japanese officials said they feared the reactor could melt down following the failure of its cooling system in the earthquake and tsunami.

It was not clear if the damaged building housed the reactor. Tokyo Power Electric Co., the utility that runs the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, said four workers were injured but details were not immediately available.

It could always get worse, and has:


31 comments:

  1. Scattered thoughts:

    Events like this remind us that life hangs on a string. We never know when the end may come.

    Watching video from Japan, I noticed many people, especially women, wearing face masks. That reminds me of the plague and pestilence that often follows disasters. ie. Cholera in Haiti.
    ____________________________________
    For the thousandth time:
    Civilization is a thin veneer on the whirled.
    ____________________________________
    We're so dependent on our complex systems. "Just in time" delivery systems are going to kill us someday.

    Too dependent already, but becoming more globalized by the year. Think Panamax freighters.

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  2. We better get back to "local" for our most basic needs. And the more local the better.
    ___________________________________

    Grains are in shorter supply and will demand higher prices.

    US grain farmers are in for some banner earning years.

    Nebraska has some big opportunities. Seems the young people are leaving the farms for Nebraska's two major cities. Meanwhile their multimillionaire farmer parents continue 'growing' the wealth.
    ________________________________
    I heard some interesting trivia: It takes 15 tons of water to produce one ton of grain.

    China has a water supply problem and will increasingly resort to importation of grain.

    Arid areas which produce grain will likely fall out of production.

    Desert areas such as Phoenix and Las Vegas...who knows?

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  3. Desert cities like those in the Los Angeles basin, whit, are all dependent upon massive infrastructure systems to deliver potable water.

    Just like NYCity.

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  4. The Guardian - ‎3 hours ago‎
    Friday was Saudi Arabia's "day of rage", planned for and anticipated for weeks. But, in the event, there wasn't even a grumble - unless you count the ongoing protests in the eastern province which had been going on for a week.


    The eastern province, where the Shiite are in the majority and the oil is under the ground.

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  5. Where did that text come from?

    The concrete building housed the reactor, the building blew up, but the reactor and it's steel containment structure did not.

    The explosion was caused by a buildup of hydrogen inside the concrete building.

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  6. .

    Along the same line, Whit.

    I heard a guy on CNBC over the last couple days indicate that the land used to produce ethanol feedstocks this year if applied to producing food could feed an additional 350 million people (not sure if that was at subsistance level or American 'fat' levels.)

    This while millions starve in Africa and other poor countries. Let's face it, the fact that food prices have risen 30-40% in some of these countries is one prime mover for the current unrest in the ME.

    However, it's unlikely to change. Farmers like all other capitalists tend to try to maximize profits. You go where the money is.

    Ainsi va le monde.

    .

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  7. Buddy's Fox Source disagrees:

    31. buddy larsen
    3:45 a.m. CST, fox tv live is reporting Japanese gov’t has just confirmed there is radiation leaking. The explosion a few hours ago was apparently not the prayed-for outbuilding, but the containment building itself.

    well, this could hardly be much worse, unless i’m mistaken in my crude understanding. Poor Japan!

    ---

    http://www.foxnews.com/

    Has a picture of the ruined plant on the front page.
    Containment structure did not blow up, but it looks like it's been damaged to me.

    We shall see.

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  8. Capitalist farmers are chasing SOCIALIST money (ours) via ethanol subsidies promoted by Pols from Corn States.

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  9. While the US has millions of arable acres still fallow and corn is far from the best ethanol feedstock.

    The truth being that switchgrass does not need corn growing soil conditions to thrive. While out producing corn, as an ethanol feedstock, by a factor of four if I recall correctly.

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  10. Could be more than a factor of four.

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  11. I posted this 3 threads back in what now appears to be abandoned wasteland:

    ---

    Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

    Daryl Hannah 1993

    Longer Clips


    Original 1958 Movie


    Unforeseen Effects of Radiation:

    The New Atomic Miracle Should have been Mankind's Greatest Boon.

    Instead Man is Confronted with his Most Shocking Blunder

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  12. The owner of a German shorthair pointer, originally purchased for $200, has filed a claim with the city of Seattle for $60000 after the dog was electrocuted on Thanksgiving when it stepped on a Queen Anne streetlight metal ground-cover plate.

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  13. It is inconceivable to this reader that a Japanese passenger train is still unaccounted for.
    ________________________________

    Rat pointed out that millions of acres of arable land are fallow.

    Exactly my thoughts.

    --------------------------------
    This business of corn diverted to ethanol production and resulting in food shortages doesn't pass the smell test.

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  14. .

    This business of corn diverted to ethanol production and resulting in food shortages doesn't pass the smell test.

    Time for an olfactory adjustment.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  15. .

    You read too much into what I posted, Whit.

    The comment the guy made was merely to reflect the quantity of grain going into ethanol.

    Neither he nor I said that ethanol was the only reason for the current food shortage.

    On the other hand, I find it amusing when one of the posters here indicates that the amount of corn going into a tortilla is only $.02. How could that little amount affect food prices? The comment reflects a fair knowledge of number crunching but very little appreciation for marketing and pricing.

    All things being equal, if a commodity's price rises, the resulting end item price (including all cost factors will rise accordingly). If prices are elastic, the producer will attempt to keep the profit margin (percentage not dollar amount) the same.

    But of course prices are not usually fully elastic. Depending on the economy, supply and demand, and the action of speculators, prices can vary widely especially on commodities.

    The current food shortages in the world are driven by a number of factors supply and demand being but one of them. In Africa, many of the countries supplemental food supplies have to be imported yet they lack the foreign exchange to buy them especially when competing with the big boys (China, Russia, et al). The current FED policy of quantitative easing is exacerbating the problem by driving up inflation in the emerging markets.

    In the ME, Egypt falls into the same category. I forget whether I saw their food prices had risen 30% or 40%. You can see why they might get a little testy especially when a good chunk of the country is unemployed.

    Food prices right now, similar to that of oil, are being driven to a certain extent by speculators. Supplies are tight. As poorer countries develop, they are now starting to demand luxuries like a decent meal. World populations continue to grow. It’s a sweet time for farmers.

    Some will argue that we have enough food (or that there is enough fallow land to provide it if we want to). A specious argument (and one the guy with no bread is unlikely to accept). A rational farmer is going to produce the type and quantity of crops that provide him with the most marginal profit. If all that land is fallow given current demand why isn’t someone producing crops on it? I would suggest the possibility that he figures he can make more profit leaving it fallow.

    Talking of alternative energy, I have always been a little skeptical about the push for battery power in vehicles. Not only the initial and replacement cost but also how much of them will be able to be recycled. If electric vehicles ever did take off, I fear all that fallow land everyone keeps talking about would eventually have to be turned into dump sites.

    I have similar concerns regarding ethanol. If the world reaches the point where it is dependent upon ethanol, what happens in that year of the cold winter or wet spring and summer when crops are poor? Over the last couple days we’ve seen Mother Nature can be a bitch. Do we give up eating or give up driving? Likewise the farming industry is moving more and more towards genetically engineered crops. We’ve see potato famines in Ireland, the Downy Mildew that practically destroyed France’s grape crop without the genetically engineered stuff. What happens if some of that genetically engineered stuff suddenly starts running amuck? Do we have to stockpile seeds from the non-engineered stuff in some bunker somewhere in case we ever need it?

    Just saying.

    .

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  16. The USA's ability to place huge amounts of food, fresh water and other supplies at "ground zero locations" anywhere in the world is awesome compared to any other country. The mark of a hyperpower.

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  17. The price of corn, and wheat is dropping like a rock. The year of weird weather is over.

    Wholesale ethanol (before blending subsidies are applied) is $2.40/gal at the CBOT.

    There is still less than a dime's worth of corn in a box of corn flakes or a Big Mac, and Mexican Tortillas are still made with Mexican WHITE SWEET Corn, and Not Gringo YELLOW FIELD Corn.

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  18. God loves farmers.

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  19. In short, nuclear energy is safe.
    What we witnessed here was a natural disaster the likes of which you see once in a lifetime, once in several lifetimes, and in spite of that this will not even come remotely close to being even in the same league as Chernobyl.

    Opposing Nuclear Power is short sighted, stupid, and based on the opinion of knee-jerk tree hugging reactionaries who have no real basis in reality. There are no other viable alternatives.

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  20. Anonymous said...
    God loves farmers.

    Sat Mar 12, 01:11:00 PM EST
    -----------
    Why would that be?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Google keeps eating my comment:

    adam smith said...
    I think we know this:

    One reactor which may, or may not, have had a meltdown and explosion, and four others which may or may not soon be in a similar situation.

    We are now getting a lot of "expert comment" from experts and professors, many of which seem to contradict one another.

    We are also getting delayed releases of information from the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Japanese Government, and the Nuclear Safety Agency. It took them two hours to release the initial information about the explosion.

    Operations of a nuclear power station isn`t really my forte, but my guess is that the explosion we saw wasn`t the several feet of reinforced concrete of reactor containment, but I have no idea what did explode. it appeared to be a catastrophic release of steam.

    I haven`t seen any footage prior to the explosion, so I don`t know whether there was controlled venting of pressure prior to the explosion.

    As an engineer I can say this, with a quake this big, nothing is safe from damage. As engineers we design stuff to protect humans and the environment, but this amount of energy is massive. The Japanese are the best in the world at it, and it still has caused massive infrastructure damage. Nuclear energy is safe, a coal power plant or a hydro dam would be a disaster area too, possibly endangering an equal number of lives.
    Sat Mar 12, 01:26:59 PM EST

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  22. adam smith said...
    I think we know this:

    One reactor which may, or may not, have had a meltdown and explosion, and four others which may or may not soon be in a similar situation.

    We are now getting a lot of "expert comment" from experts and professors, many of which seem to contradict one another.

    We are also getting delayed releases of information from the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Japanese Government, and the Nuclear Safety Agency. It took them two hours to release the initial information about the explosion.

    Operations of a nuclear power station isn`t really my forte, but my guess is that the explosion we saw wasn`t the several feet of reinforced concrete of reactor containment, but I have no idea what did explode. it appeared to be a catastrophic release of steam.

    I haven`t seen any footage prior to the explosion, so I don`t know whether there was controlled venting of pressure prior to the explosion.

    As an engineer I can say this, with a quake this big, nothing is safe from damage. As engineers we design stuff to protect humans and the environment, but this amount of energy is massive. The Japanese are the best in the world at it, and it still has caused massive infrastructure damage. Nuclear energy is safe, a coal power plant or a hydro dam would be a disaster area too, possibly endangering an equal number of lives.
    Sat Mar 12, 01:26:59 PM EST

    ReplyDelete
  23. There are millions of acres of tillable ground in the MidWest under CRP that hasn't yielded one bushel of anything in many years. I have been hunting Kansas for 10 years (no welfare land there, Rat), and great tracts of land remain unused. The owners? Socialist farmers getting paid not to farm.

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  24. Does god love socialist farmers with equal fervor?

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  25. "Operations of a nuclear power station isn`t really my forte, but my guess is that the explosion we saw wasn`t the several feet of reinforced concrete of reactor containment, but I have no idea what did explode. it appeared to be a catastrophic release of steam."

    ---
    The concrete building disppeared following the Hydrogen/Oxygen explosion.

    Fox had a pic of the forlorn metal containment out in the open on front page, but that's no longer there.

    Our hopes that extension cords would be hooked up to nook subs and such was evidently just that.

    Hope, no Change.

    PBUH

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  26. "Now, get this. If you are one of the heroes who stood at your post, trying to save the plant but died trying, US Workman’s Compensation would be your surviving family’s reward.

    Last I checked, that’s $860 per month for 10 years to your wife and one child in California, just as if a box fell off a shelf and killed a stock clerk at Wal-Mart.

    I once wrote my senator, Barbara Boxer, suggesting upgrading this might be a contribution to nuclear safety she could support but I was ignored.
    "

    ---
    Doug said:

    BB figures Simpsons-level expertise is sufficient.
    BB, like BP, figures a crisis can be beneficial to her cause.
    (The Riff Raff begging and fighting over their govt allocated energy allotments)

    I kept up with a guy I went to HS with by reading of his exploits in the local paper.

    While employed as a policeman, he damaged his patrol car on his birthday.
    Circumstances were such that he decided to drive it home, park it, and claim it was hit and damaged while parked.

    Unfortunately for him, patrol car debris was found at the summit of a pass from SLO CA to the Salinas valley, causing him to lose his job.

    When I next heard about him, he was employed in security at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant near San Luis Obispo.

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  27. What's so difficult about envisioning an entire train on the bottom of the deep blue, Whit?

    (other than thoughts about the souls aboard)

    Soul Train

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  28. President Obama, First Lady Call for United Front Against Bullying

    (AFTER the Wisconsin debacle, mind)

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