Let me first say that my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan, and while they have my deepest sympathies, I feel it is important to point out a few things that we need to learn from Japan if we do not want the same scale of disaster to happen to us.
On March 11, 2011, Japan suffered devastation on a scale they have not experienced since World War II. An earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale struck off the coast of Japan resulting in widespread shaking and damage, but the quake also generated a tsunami that wiped out whole swaths of coastlines, cities, agricultural areas, airports, harbors, and fishing fleets. The combination of disasters has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths, and the death toll could still climb. But the disaster is threefold as nuclear reactors are threatening to meltdown with one reactor already emitting radiation. Japan is desperate for help and the United States has immediately stepped up to help.
There are several things we must learn from this catastrophe that Republicans would rather not deal with. The first thing Republicans need to learn is that nuclear facilities are very risky energy sources that are not invulnerable to disaster. Instead of focusing more on wind and solar, Republicans have been pushing nuclear energy as much as they have been pushing oil. The problem with nuclear facilities is that they are vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis and thus can become disasters themselves with even graver consequences. For instance, there are at least two dozen nuclear facilities along or near the east coast and a half dozen on the west coast. If a similar earthquake or tsunami hits either coast, the resulting destruction could be even more catastrophic than in Japan. If this kind of disaster were to occur along the entire east coast, there would be a possibility of perhaps two dozens meltdowns. If you want to know what that would cause, look no further than the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Because of this meltdown, the entire city of Pripyat, Ukraine had to be abandoned. It still stands empty today, and people cannot live in the 19 mile exclusion zone. Can you imagine two dozen of these disasters occurring at the same time? Perhaps more than two dozens cities and towns abandoned and hundreds of miles of property being off limits because of radiation.
We need to halt the building of new nuclear plants in the wake of this disaster, but Republicans have been quick to avoid the topic altogether. They want America to just forget about it so they can push through their plans to keep Democrats from being successful with solar and wind energy sources that would keep America safe from nuclear disaster and make us energy independent. If anything, we need to invest MORE into updating America’s current infrastructure, which includes nuclear facilities, so that we can put in place even more safety and preventive measures that would keep our own reactors from melting down in cases of natural disasters. At this time, however, Republicans are refusing to spend money on improving our infrastructure and are intent on tearing down safety regulations. This unfortunately makes us even more vulnerable to disaster.
Another potential problem is that Republicans, even in the wake of the destructive Japanese earthquake and tsunami, are poised to make budget cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Geological Survey, which monitors and studies earthquakes and tsunamis and provides warning systems for people across the country. These cuts would be dangerous to the American people. Cuts to tsunami warning centers would increase the danger to people along the coast because no one would be there to warn them about an incoming wave. If anything we should be increasing funding to these departments so that we can be well prepared to execute warnings to evacuate people. Our safety should be our first priority and Republicans aren’t taking that seriously at all.
Another aspect of this disaster that I would like to point out, is that if Republicans had their way, no foreign aid of any kind would come from the United States. Time and time again, Republicans have called for the elimination of foreign aid, even to our allies. They have also called for us to pull out of the United Nations and end our role in the international community. Let’s say we had done that a year ago. First, the United States would be looked upon negatively throughout the world. One of the many things we are respected for by other nations is our compassion and willingness to provide humanitarian aid to nations that suffer national disasters. Our willingness to do this not only brings us closer to these nations, but earns us respect within the international community. Because of our humanitarian efforts, many nations have positive views of the United States and in many instances, end up becoming great democracies because of our example. If we didn’t provide foreign aid, the suffering of the Japanese would be even greater and more painful as they would feel abandoned by their closest ally and friend. We would lose their respect and the respect of the world. When disasters such as 9/11 and Katrina struck the United States, Japan as well as many others nations sent aid.
Likewise, pulling out of the United Nations would be a terrible mistake as well. Republicans constantly accuse the U.N. of making decisions that harm the United States. That’s a lie and quite impossible. Let me explain. The United States has the most voting power in the United Nations and can singlehandedly veto any resolution that is offered by any nation. Even if all of the other nations in the United Nations voted for a measure, we could still vote it down. In other words, the only nation that could possibly pass measures against the United States is the United States. Republicans are simply full of crap and hate being part of the international community because they think the rest of the world is inferior to us. But let’s say we do pull out of the U.N., what happens then? Well, for one, nations like China and Russia would have more pull and measures could be passed against us. Plus the organization could very well fall apart without our involvement, which would be disastrous because what we need more than ever before, is international cooperation. Like it or not, we are part of this world, and if we forfeit our international influence, it makes us more vulnerable to terrorism and other threats like wars between other nations. Because if the United States abandoned the United Nations, nobody would be there to protect American interests, and if it falls apart without us, international cooperation would also fall apart and you can bet that wars between other nations will follow. Republicans would have you believe that our military can solve all of our problems, but it clearly cannot. We cannot spend every dime we have on defense and expect our country to survive. We need money for domestic spending that improves the United States. A strong military will not help us if we are starving or dying because of a natural disaster, and if we drop out of the international community, you can bet that other nations will not be so keen to come to our rescue. Because why would they want to help us when we do not help them?
Seeking out cleaner, safer forms of energy, improving our infrastructure and making it safer, and remaining a strong cooperative player within the international community are the lessons we must learn because of the disaster in Japan. Since we are standing by our friend in its time of need, they will always stand by us when we need them most. We also owe it to ourselves to prepare for the worst and do what we can to soften the blow if and when the hammer drops on us. Its the right thing to do for the American people and its the responsible thing to do. Republicans must do what is right and responsible, and stop trying to keep America from improving itself and sticking with its friends.
If you want to help the Japanese people, please text REDCROSS to 90999 or text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to donate to the Salvation Army. Your contribution could save countless lives. Thank you.