Forget Trump – What About Fukushima?


(Originally posted 7/27/17 on Read With The Gringa.)

While the world has been distracted with all things Trump, everyone seems to have forgotten that the world’s worst industrial disaster is still unfolding. Yeah, remember Fukushima? That nuclear reactor that had 3 cores melt down after a 9.0 earthquake triggered a 15-meter tsunami that devastated Japan? Would you, dear reader, like the gringa, like to know what the heck is still going on? Well, Ima gonna tell ya. First, the basics on the history:


March 11, 2011: After said earthquake and tsunami, 3 of the 4 cores of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors melted down over the course of three days. 


The World Nuclear Organization (WNO) rated the disaster a 7 on the INES scale. What the heck is that, the dear reader asks? And what the heck does it mean? 


The INES is an international standard used to measure the significance of a nuclear event primarily determined by the amount of radiation ionization exposure. There is no higher rating than a 7. That being said, the gringa would like to know is Fukushima a true 7 or is it listed as a 7 simply because there is no higher rating to assign? I mean, would an INES rating of 9 or 15 or 28 be a  more honest reflection of what happened? But I digress. Back to what a 7 actually means as we know it.


Fukushima was given a 7 because during days #4 through #6 a total of 940 PBq (1-131 eq) was released of radioactive material.  But what does that mean? 


PBq does not stand for “Please Be Quiet” with regard to Fukushima. It refers to the metric measurement of radioactivity. It is shorthand for Petabecquerel. It’s root word, becquerel, is defined as:

“… the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second.”


When the prefix “peta” is attached it becomes a measurement equal to 10 to the fifteenth power becquerels. In other words, one-thousand-billion. Crazy number, huh? So Fukushima released 940 thousand billion radioactive nuclei into the sea and atmosphere. Sounds pretty awful, right? So why is the world’s media and national leaders seemingly unconcerned? Are they correct in their “no big deal” assessment? Should we just move on and continue letting the Trump circus and side-show dominate our attention?


Fukushima’s atmospheric radioactive releases had 2 primary contaminants: volatile iodine-131 and caesium-137. The iodine has a half-life of 8 days. No big deal there. The caesium, on the other hand, is a really big deal. It is easily carried throughout the atmosphere, has a 30-year half-life, so wherever it finally lands it’s going to be there for a very long time, a silent and invisible invader. But is it deadly?


Caesium is soluble. That means the human body can absorb it. The good news is that it does not concentrate within internal organs. After about 70 days the body is rid of the substance. 


The most highly concentrated atmospheric releases were detected around the end of March 2011. The good news is that in mid-March Japan had already anticipated this problem and taken preventative measures. 


A dust-suppressing polymer resin had been applied around the nuclear plant to suppress fallout, preventing the iodine and caesium from becoming mobile through wind and rain. By 2012, effective permanent covers were in place to contain fallout from atmospheric releases. Nearby crops of rice have been tested and reveal that caesium levels are one-quarter of the allowable limit. That means there is Fukushima rice for sale. Yum.


The worst news from Fukushima is that run-off of contaminated water into the sea was profuse and well above allowable levels of radionuclides. Although storage tanks for contaminated water were eventually erected, they began leaking in 2013. In addition to this is the more than 10,000 cubic meters of “slightly” contaminated water purposely released into the sea by Japan. This was a deal with the devil. They had to release less-contaminated water in order to make room for storing highly-contaminated water.


All sorts of new technology has been quickly developed by innovators eager to help Japan clean-up radioactive water quicker and more effectively. The gringa finds it sad how catastrophe inspires innovation. But I won’t knock it. Better to be desperate and have options than to be desperate and hopeless.


Concrete panels were constructed to prevent further leakage of contaminated water into the harbor surrounding Fukushima. These were later reinforced with steel shielding that extends one kilometer through rock strata. Testing of harbor waters in 2013 indicate that contamination levels are below acceptable standards. But is this good news? Who decides what is safe when it comes to contamination?


When it comes to interpreting contamination results for the harbor, Japan refers to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard for drinking water. The harbor surrounding Fukushima tests consistently lower for caesium contamination that the WHO requires for safe drinking water. Sounds pretty safe to me. But what about the fish and stuff? Can you eat what you catch?


The gringa thinks so. You see, prior to 2012 the Japanese national standard was for food sources not to exceed 500 Bq/kg of caesium contamination. After the disaster, this standard was dropped to 100 Bq/kg. What this means is that although they dropped the measurement standard they raised the standard for expectations. In order for fish caught off of Japan’s shores to be eligible for sale and dining pleasure, they have to test for less caesium now than before the disaster. And what do the fish say?


Within the months immediately after the disaster, more than 50% were too contaminated to eat. By the summer of 2014 things had changed dramatically. In about 3 years 99.4% of fish caught in the harbor surrounding Fukushima were safe to eat. Not bad, Japan, not bad.


But what about the doom and gloom reports about a wave of sea-borne Fukushima radiation that is finally reaching the shores of other nations? Well, first keep in mind that there are pre-existing levels of caesium radiation in the earth’s oceans. That would be the caesium-137 isotope contamination caused by nuclear weapons testing decades ago. Thanks, United States. 


But there is another caesium isotope, #134, floating around the Pacific. It can only have originated from Fukushima. The good news is that instead of having a half-life of 30 years, like #137, it only sticks around for about 2 years. But here it is 2017, 5 years after the disaster. Why is it still floating around in the Pacific? Well, to understand that you have to understand what half-life means. 


Having a 2-year half-life doesn’t mean that #134 will disappear or become non-radioactive in 2 years. It means that it takes 2 years for it to lose half of its radioactive value. So, let’s do the math:

  • 5 years ago # 134 is full strength
  • 3 years ago #134 is half strength
  • 1 year ago up to present #134 is one-quarter strength

But is the Pacific Ocean deadly? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regularly tested and monitored west coast waters, fully aware of the potential for deadly radioactivity due to Fukushima. The results of Fukushima radiation off the coast of California average to about 2 Becquerels per cubic meter. 

Since 7400 becquerels per cubic meter are the standard for safe drinking water, it seems California beach bums are safe. Even if a beach bum stays in the water non-stop for an entire year, their radiation exposure would be about the same as sitting for an x-ray at the dentist. So surf at your pleasure, beach bums.

So what does all of this mean? The worst man-made/natural combo disaster a human could imagine occurred 5 years ago. Amazingly enough, human ingenuity was up to the task. Fukushima is not going to kill the planet. And according to the latest findings recovered by robotic explorers, Fukushima will most likely be officially de-commissioned. Now who is inspired to become a scientist?

Sources: 

World Nuclear Organization


International Atomic Energy Agency


IFL Science


Image Credit: Suffolk University Blogs


Video Credit: New Scientist

Forget Trump – What About Fukushima?


(Originally posted on Read With The Gringa 7/27/2017)

While the world has been distracted with all things Trump, everyone seems to have forgotten that the world’s worst industrial disaster is still unfolding. Yeah, remember Fukushima? That nuclear reactor that had 3 cores melt down after a 9.0 earthquake triggered a 15-meter tsunami that devastated Japan? Would you, dear reader, like the gringa, like to know what the heck is still going on? Well, Ima gonna tell ya. First, the basics on the history:


March 11, 2011: After said earthquake and tsunami, 3 of the 4 cores of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors melted down over the course of three days. 


The World Nuclear Organization (WNO) rated the disaster a 7 on the INES scale. What the heck is that, the dear reader asks? And what the heck does it mean? 


The INES is an international standard used to measure the significance of a nuclear event primarily determined by the amount of radiation ionization exposure. There is no higher rating than a 7. That being said, the gringa would like to know is Fukushima a true 7 or is it listed as a 7 simply because there is no higher rating to assign? I mean, would an INES rating of 9 or 15 or 28 be a  more honest reflection of what happened? But I digress. Back to what a 7 actually means as we know it.


Fukushima was given a 7 because during days #4 through #6 a total of 940 PBq (1-131 eq) was released of radioactive material.  But what does that mean? 


PBq does not stand for “Please Be Quiet” with regard to Fukushima. It refers to the metric measurement of radioactivity. It is shorthand for Petabecquerel. It’s root word, becquerel, is defined as:

“… the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second.”


When the prefix “peta” is attached it becomes a measurement equal to 10 to the fifteenth power becquerels. In other words, one-thousand-billion. Crazy number, huh? So Fukushima released 940 thousand billion radioactive nuclei into the sea and atmosphere. Sounds pretty awful, right? So why is the world’s media and national leaders seemingly unconcerned? Are they correct in their “no big deal” assessment? Should we just move on and continue letting the Trump circus and side-show dominate our attention?


Fukushima’s atmospheric radioactive releases had 2 primary contaminants: volatile iodine-131 and caesium-137. The iodine has a half-life of 8 days. No big deal there. The caesium, on the other hand, is a really big deal. It is easily carried throughout the atmosphere, has a 30-year half-life, so wherever it finally lands it’s going to be there for a very long time, a silent and invisible invader. But is it deadly?


Caesium is soluble. That means the human body can absorb it. The good news is that it does not concentrate within internal organs. After about 70 days the body is rid of the substance. 


The most highly concentrated atmospheric releases were detected around the end of March 2011. The good news is that in mid-March Japan had already anticipated this problem and taken preventative measures. 


A dust-suppressing polymer resin had been applied around the nuclear plant to suppress fallout, preventing the iodine and caesium from becoming mobile through wind and rain. By 2012, effective permanent covers were in place to contain fallout from atmospheric releases. Nearby crops of rice have been tested and reveal that caesium levels are one-quarter of the allowable limit. That means there is Fukushima rice for sale. Yum.


The worst news from Fukushima is that run-off of contaminated water into the sea was profuse and well above allowable levels of radionuclides. Although storage tanks for contaminated water were eventually erected, they began leaking in 2013. In addition to this is the more than 10,000 cubic meters of “slightly” contaminated water purposely released into the sea by Japan. This was a deal with the devil. They had to release less-contaminated water in order to make room for storing highly-contaminated water.


All sorts of new technology has been quickly developed by innovators eager to help Japan clean-up radioactive water quicker and more effectively. The gringa finds it sad how catastrophe inspires innovation. But I won’t knock it. Better to be desperate and have options than to be desperate and hopeless.


Concrete panels were constructed to prevent further leakage of contaminated water into the harbor surrounding Fukushima. These were later reinforced with steel shielding that extends one kilometer through rock strata. Testing of harbor waters in 2013 indicate that contamination levels are below acceptable standards. But is this good news? Who decides what is safe when it comes to contamination?


When it comes to interpreting contamination results for the harbor, Japan refers to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard for drinking water. The harbor surrounding Fukushima tests consistently lower for caesium contamination that the WHO requires for safe drinking water. Sounds pretty safe to me. But what about the fish and stuff? Can you eat what you catch?


The gringa thinks so. You see, prior to 2012 the Japanese national standard was for food sources not to exceed 500 Bq/kg of caesium contamination. After the disaster, this standard was dropped to 100 Bq/kg. What this means is that although they dropped the measurement standard they raised the standard for expectations. In order for fish caught off of Japan’s shores to be eligible for sale and dining pleasure, they have to test for less caesium now than before the disaster. And what do the fish say?


Within the months immediately after the disaster, more than 50% were too contaminated to eat. By the summer of 2014 things had changed dramatically. In about 3 years 99.4% of fish caught in the harbor surrounding Fukushima were safe to eat. Not bad, Japan, not bad.


But what about the doom and gloom reports about a wave of sea-borne Fukushima radiation that is finally reaching the shores of other nations? Well, first keep in mind that there are pre-existing levels of caesium radiation in the earth’s oceans. That would be the caesium-137 isotope contamination caused by nuclear weapons testing decades ago. Thanks, United States. 


But there is another caesium isotope, #134, floating around the Pacific. It can only have originated from Fukushima. The good news is that instead of having a half-life of 30 years, like #137, it only sticks around for about 2 years. But here it is 2017, 5 years after the disaster. Why is it still floating around in the Pacific? Well, to understand that you have to understand what half-life means. 


Having a 2-year half-life doesn’t mean that #134 will disappear or become non-radioactive in 2 years. It means that it takes 2 years for it to lose half of its radioactive value. So, let’s do the math:

  • 5 years ago # 134 is full strength
  • 3 years ago #134 is half strength
  • 1 year ago up to present #134 is one-quarter strength

But is the Pacific Ocean deadly? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regularly tested and monitored west coast waters, fully aware of the potential for deadly radioactivity due to Fukushima. The results of Fukushima radiation off the coast of California average to about 2 Becquerels per cubic meter. 

Since 7400 becquerels per cubic meter are the standard for safe drinking water, it seems California beach bums are safe. Even if a beach bum stays in the water non-stop for an entire year, their radiation exposure would be about the same as sitting for an x-ray at the dentist. So surf at your pleasure, beach bums.

So what does all of this mean? The worst man-made/natural combo disaster a human could imagine occurred 5 years ago. Amazingly enough, human ingenuity was up to the task. Fukushima is not going to kill the planet. And according to the latest findings recovered by robotic explorers, Fukushima will most likely be officially de-commissioned. Now who is inspired to become a scientist?

Sources: 

World Nuclear Organization


International Atomic Energy Agency


IFL Science


Image Credit: Suffolk University Blogs


Video Credit: New Scientist

Was Jesus A Buddhist Monk?


In a world where groups of people continue to wage war in the name of their religion, what would happen if a group suddenly realized they were practicing the wrong religion? Or, at least, using the wrong label? What kind of identity crisis might be created if Christians realized their messiah was actually Buddhist? Yeah, the gringa’s going there. What if Jesus was actually a Buddhist monk?


First of all, Jesus and his disciples never called themselves Christians. They called themselves things in Aramaic and Greek that has been translated into English words like “believer” and “church”. But what did those foreign words really mean in the context of their culture and historical era?


There are innumerable versions of the Christian Bible. However, the earliest and most widely used English version is the King James Version. The New Testament translation was based on the ancient Syrian language, Aramaic, and ancient Greek. The words these ancient authors used to refer to themselves with respect to religion are:

  • Greek ecclesia, the equivalent of the Hebrew term kahal, used by ancient Jews to refer to any assembly of people, translated into church.
  • Greek adelphos, translated into brethren, denoted a religious relationship between non-familial people that was equal to that of a biological sibling.
  • Greek electus, translated into elect, literally meant chosen for a specific public service.
  • Greek christos, translated into christ, the equivalent of Hebrew mashiach, which referred to an Israelite chosen by God to rule as a religious leader, like a priest, or as a political leader, such as in King David, and were anointed with oil by religious leaders to symbolize their special role.

When the words of Jesus are examined, the gringa discovers some very interesting and provoking conundrums that today’s Christianity would do well to resolve. First of all, Jesus most often refers to an enlightened being who has tasked him with the mission of correcting the false religious practices of the Jewish people. Although his mission was to the Jews, he admits that what he teaches can be believed by anyone. Jesus most often refers to this enlightened being as Father, or, Abba in Aramaic. But what does all of this mean?

Abba’s most simple translation is a slang term for Father, as in calling someone Daddy. So Father is a stretch. The gringa looks to other meanings in the Aramaic language for the choice of Abba by Jesus. It’s most literal use is to call someone teacher. 

Mankind, hoping to craft a religion that could be used politically to control a populace, would naturally choose the patriarchal. However, patriarchies and monarchies were the very things Jesus was resisting in his teachings. That’s why Jewish high religious society murdered him by exploiting Roman law. 

So why would Jesus use a patriarchal term? He wouldn’t. He didn’t. But today’s organized Christian religious leaders want you to believe that he did. But Jesus was referring to an enlightened being who was his mentor and responsible for his re-birth into enlightened spiritual life. He became transformed into an immortal being by following the teachings of this mentor.

The enlightened being who tasked Jesus with his mission is considered by Jesus to be the Creator of mankind. Creation is performed through the power of words. Jewish Kabbalistic mystics teach this as well. The power of syllablic resonance is practiced throughout Buddhism and many other ancient Eastern mystical belief systems. 

What was it Jesus said about the power of words? Perhaps it is best understood through John’s interpretation of what he learned about the power of words from his teacher, his Abba, his Father, his monk, Jesus: 

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1

What this means is that Jesus’ enlightened mentor did not create the physical world. Jesus was never interested in the physical world. He always taught detachment from the physical. The creation Jesus spoke of was the creation and the world that mattered, the non-physical creation, the non-physical world. And to reside there one must become enlightened or, in the preferred English, re-born.

The enormous gap of time from Jesus as a 12-year-old until he arrives on the religious scene in Israel as a 30-something-year-old man, organized Christianity ignores. But it was during this time that he was becoming the great teacher that he was and achieving immortality through re-birth. 

All of his teachings are indicators of where he learned his ideology, which was by no means Jewish or anything like today’s Christianity. It is, in fact, very Buddhist. The words of Jesus found in John chapters 3 & 5; Luke chapter 4, and Matthew chapters 5, 6, 7 are the most revealing:

  • Works prove what one believes 
  • Fame and concern for what other people think of you will prevent enlightenment and immortality
  • Enlightened religious leaders seek to teach those the enlightened being prefers: the impoverished, the sick, the addict, the depressed, the emotional needy, etc.
  • A truly enlightened teacher will be recognized by the rejection and criticism leveled at them by the most powerful and popular religious institutions who feel threatened 
  • The attributes of the enlightened faithful: lack of greed, emotionally sensitive, meek, integrity, kind, gentle, followers of peace, quiet when slandered and criticized 
  • Good works are required to demonstrate what you believe 
  • Anger is as destructive as murder 
  • Forgiveness and reconciliation with enemies required for enlightenment 
  • Physical isolation from physical/emotional temptation may be required to become enlightened until self-discipline is achieved 
  • Accept that you have no control over life 
  • Do good unto all, friends as well as strangers and enemies 
  • Prayer, meditation, charity and kindness is private 
  • Sacrifices for the sake of another’s service should be done privately and with no outward indication of discomfort, but, rather, a show of happiness
  • Wealth is not to be pursued and should be given away generously to those in need, keeping only what you need for the basic necessities of life
  • Mind your own business and don’t pass judgment on the lives of others being lived differently than your own
  • Don’t waste time with those uninterested in following the path of enlightenment
  • True believers in Jesus will live the lifestyle he taught
  • The most dangerous situation a person can find themselves in is to claim the label of Jesus’ “god” yet live a life contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Such people can never achieve enlightenment

Now for a history lesson to tie all of this together. During the time that Jesus would have been a young adult making his own way, discovering what he believed, Buddhism was alive and well. It was going strong throughout India. And there are indications in Jesus’ neck of the Middle Eastern woods that Buddhism was also reaching his home shores as well. And its influence may have inspired a young Jesus to seek the origins of this faith, seeing how his own people’s religion had become a mockery of what it taught.

Ancient documents in Tibet were revealed to a traveling Russian doctor who convalesced in a Buddhist monastery, Hemis, in 1887. It took seven years of painstaking translation and literary work but Dr. Nicolas Notovitch eventually published The Unknown Life of Christ. It chronicles the time of a young adult Jesus, Issa, who spent his lost gap years under the tutelage of Buddhist monks in Tibet. 

Regardless of whether or not a person believes this history, there are a few things that can definitively be said:

  • If you consider yourself a Christian yet are supportive of the depravities of war, any kind of war, particularly a war you consider to be a “war on terror” which is code for “war on Islam”, you are not living a life in accordance to the teachings of Jesus. 
  • If you call yourself a Christian, yet are not committed to replacing a capitalist economy of greed with a socialist economy of service to humanity, you are not living a life in accordance to the teachings of Jesus.
  • If you call yourself a Christian, yet pursue goals that deprive anyone of the right to live their own life different from yours, a life that causes no harm, you are not living your life in accordance to the teachings of Jesus.
  • If you call yourself a Christian, attending a huge “mega-church”, where staff roll in to the parking lot in gleaming, high-end cars, passing the homeless along the way, you are not living your life in accordance to the teachings of Jesus.
  • If you call yourself a Christian, believing in “prosperity theology” or “name it, claim it” theology, you are pursuing greed and not living your life in accordance to the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus’ ideology is one of non-judgment, austerity, kindness, no violence, no war, and becoming your brother’s keeper. It’s not rocket science. He also taught that mankind’s innate flaws of greed and pride are the two main reasons people will convince themselves they are following his teachings while actually following that which satisfies themselves. And they will be shocked at “judgment day” when they see him frolicking in “heaven” with prostitutes, non-heterosexuals, and other “sinners”. And these same people will get a second, much greater, shock when Jesus tells them to get lost. After all, the money, the luxuries, the glory of a grand reputation, etc. were their “heaven”. They have already enjoyed it. It’s just not a “heaven” that was meant to last forever. Too bad for them.

So, in essence, most Christians today are blowing it big time. And the ones who truly do follow the teachings of Jesus are actually Buddhists. They just haven’t realized it yet.

Sources: 

Image Credit: YouTube