I will rarely use my blog to encourage donations even to good causes, but today I am making an exception. The horrifying combination of a monumental earthquake followed by a huge tsunami producing damage to the Fukushima reactor complex at the Daiichi plant makes me feel that we all have a historic stake in expressing solidarity with the Japanese people. Friends in Japan have shared with me their experiences of coping with the disaster/tragedy in an atmosphere where the full effects are not yet known or knowable and where the government and private sector actor (Tokyo Electric Power Co TEPCO) are not trustworthy, and have a past record of downplaying past nuclear mishaps. The magnitude of the catastrophe is for older Japanese comparable to the situation in Japan after the end of World War II when the country was devastated by bombardment, including the two atomic attacks, and was without food or needed consumer goods. The remarkable recovery that included the development of an extraordinary ‘economic miracle’ is reminder of the strength of the Japanese will and spirit as well as their capacity to overcome adversity.
One further overarching thought: the world cannot consider an incident of this sort as befalling only the country where the locus of the harm is being now experienced. There is every possibility, especially if the worst scenarios about the release of radioactivity and other toxic substances happen, that societies other than Japan will be negatively affected. Even here in the United States there are conjectures about sushi no longer being safe, along with other anxieties, which are real even if exaggerated. A similar issue is present in the climate change context. Global warming is widely thought to be responsible for higher temperatures and resulting droughts in SubSaharan Africa, while the main emitters of greenhouse gasses producing this added heat arises from outside of Africa ever since the industrial revolution. What is being suggested is that matters as diverse as nuclear safety and climate change, as well as recourse to war, can no longer be entrusted to the governments of sovereign states. We no longer live in a state-centric world, and yet this is the way global policy is formed and implemented. Unless the human species finds ways to overcome political fragmentation, reinforced by anachronistic nationalist ideologies, there is almost no prospect that we will find ways to live well together on this lonely, lovely, endangered planet.
So take a small step in the direction of global solidarity by donating today to: