Saturday, Japan experienced an earthquake again that shook the skyscrapers and halted the train service. The earthquake came at 8:44 p.m. in the Chiba region, which is near Tokyo. Tremors from the 5.5 magnitude earthquake were felt around the city but no tsunami warnings were issued.
Public announcements followed the quake assuring the airport and nuclear facilities were not affected. No reports mentioned casualties or destruction to infrastructure.
Earthquakes are not uncommon in the Pacific and especially not in Japan. Just one week ago there was a 5.5 earthquake in Tokyo, which followed a 7.3 quake three weeks prior. The 7.3 magnitude earthquake created a tsunami that struck the northeast coastal area and caused an evacuation at the already detonated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
As the skyscrapers shook again in Japan, the world just avoided another earthquake catastrophe. Around 18,000 people died in the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that spawned the 2011 Fukushima disaster, disrupting the world food distribution. The FDA recently stated they monitor for radionuclides in the U.S. food supply.
The global community actively monitors Japan as the Fukushima disaster continues to threaten the environment and planet as a whole. Japanese energy policy is currently being debated and scientists from around the world are weighing in.
The Japanese and Canadian scientist, David Suzuki, just last week warned another earthquake in the area with a magnitude of 7 or higher may prompt a nuclear cataclysm which may decimate Japan and reach all the way to the west coast of the U.S.
Suzuki added, “If that isn’t terrifying, I don’t know what is.”
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Fukushima operator, has already begun cleaning up the hazardous waste from the plant. In the meantime, Japan remains one of the world’s top polluting countries. Pressure increases for the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The government would like to turn some idle nuclear plants on and says that emissions will increase if nuclear power cannot be used. The world community is still not comfortable with the frequent earthquakes in the country, which could prompt another Fukushima disaster from nuclear power plants.
Japan has a large population and massive energy requirements to fill. If the country does not reduce its emissions, it could lead to dramatic increases in global warming. The disruptions to the climate could be another disaster as experienced in Japan from the earthquake and tsunami or sadly, the tragedy suffered in the Philippines from the typhoon. The sources of energy Japan chooses to use in the future are still up for debate.
In an attempt to counter greenhouse effects in the world, Japan did offer to pay $16 billion to help developing countries to decrease their greenhouse emissions. Also, Japan started its own initiatives for renewable power by diversifying its energy sources. In one year, the renewable power generated was equal to that of four nuclear reactors.
The dense populations in the Pacific region are living in the ring of fire, a high-risk area plagued by tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons and volcanic eruptions. After Fukushima, the world knows it shares in the trauma and risk spawning from the area. What Japan does to offset climate change and minimize nuclear risk will continue to be scrutinized. Currently, hazard remains high as the world shutters at every skyscraper shaken from an earthquake.
By Cayce Manesiotis