Sunday, March 13, 2011

Will we ever learn that we do not rule the earth?

Photo courtesy of

This morning I woke up with an idea for a lighthearted blog about Venetian culture, but after having scrolled through numerous international news reports on the nuclear reactor leaks in Japan and having viewed even more photos of the unimaginable devastation there, I felt a sincere need to turn my thoughts in another direction.
 As I sit here safe and warm in my home, my morning coffee within reach and I use my keyboard as a tool to share my thoughts with you, there are an incalculable number of people in Japan who through grave misfortune were fortunate to have survived the rage of the earth. Thousands have lost everything: homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, and worst of all their loved ones.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, they now face toxic waste spewing into their lives.  At a time when both of my governments—the U.S. and the Italian—intend to increase the number of nuclear energy plants instead of investing those funds in more clean renewable energy it makes me wonder if our captains really know where they’re taking our ship.
I don’t want to make a political post of this—for those of you who know me that would be my first thought—instead I want to keep it on a reflective, sensible level. I understand the need for energy; I understand the cost of dependence on other countries for petroleum based fuel. But I also understand that as intelligent and skilled as our engineers are in developing safer energy production, and as much as we have been told by the experts and our governments that other forms of energy won’t satisfy our over consumption—I am the first to admit that I take switching on a light, a stereo, or running an army of household appliances for granted—we remain vulnerable, and always will be, whenever nature decides to throw her weight around.
I, like anyone who has ever lived in a seismic area, knew the moment I read 8.9 on the Richter scale that that could only mean devastation; coupled with a tsunami it had become an apocalypse beyond my imagination. While glued to the shocking images of a tidal wave ripping a country apart, my thoughts raced back and forth across the globe between California and Italy. Both wear scars left by the rumbling of the earth and both will forever live with the threat of more to come. While California has taken advanced steps in renewable energy by increasing wind and solar production, she still houses active nuclear power plants in San Luis Obispo and San Onofre, and though after the Chernobyl accident in the mid 80’s a popular referendum caused Italy to close down her nuclear plants this government now plans on ignoring that popular vote and retrofitting a few of the old ones while building at least one within 100 kilometers of the highly populated and UNESCO  blessed city of Venice.
Though it is said that the Japanese were as prepared as any country could be for an extraordinary earthquake, the images show that we must demand that our leaders rethink how much they want to gamble with the odds of beefing up nuclear energy.  We’ve always been taught about checks and balances; well in my opinion the scale just tipped over!


  1. Agree 100 percent. Thanks for your article Marie.

  2. Thanks Marie, Your blog really hits home since I too am from Los Angeles. I’m sure as you, after hearing what had happened in Japan, I thought of Calif. and how it could have easily happened there. The nuke plants in Calif. were also built on or near fault lines. They need to be shut down. I remember protesting against these plants in the 70's along with Jackson Brown and Bonnie Rait.
    But for now, our energy must be to help, in any possible way,(giving money,time, food, prayer) to get Japan's feet back on the ground. Cheri.

  3. A post to make us think! It is hard to concentrate on much at the moment with all the terrible news coverage. Mother Nature seems to be in such terrible turmoil at the moment.

  4. You know, it was one of my first thoughts when I heard about the instability of the Japanese reactors after the tsunami; why, on earth did a country so geographically volatile choose nuclear power? Did they not imagine that one day something like this might threaten them, and thus their population?

    But we all do it, don't we? It's human nature. From the people living in the shadow of Vesuvio and Etna to the people of Auckland NZ, a city built on (if I remember correctly) nearly 50 'extinct' volcanoes, the youngest of which erupted a mere 400 - 500 years ago and sits looking very pretty just outside the Waitemata harbour.

    And you live in one of the most vulnerable cities when it comes to tsunami, do you not? Although the Mediterranean doesn't afford much opportunity to build up speed and power I suppose!

  5. Hello, Jay. Nice to see your comments on my blog page. Fortunately Venice and its surroundings are on softer soil, marsh and sand. So whatever earthquakes we feel usually come from the mountain areas of the north--in particular Friuli. As far as a tsunami, here on the Adriatic, that would be quite the catastrophe for Venice; but as you said I don't think there is a threat of that happening.

    The latest news is that Italy (along with many other European governments) is taking a more reflective stance toward installing nuclear energy plants; there's alot of pressure being put on them by the anti-nuclear groups, and those who normally keep their opinions to themselves are now speaking up.

    Thank you for visiting my page...I hope to hear from you again.