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Protecting the “Last Ocean” – October 21, 2014

Delegates from 24 countries and EU to debate massive marine preserve in the Antarctic

Earlier this fall, the Associated Press reported that a remarkable creature had been pulled from Antarctica’s Ross Sea. According to the article, the colossal squid was “as long as a minibus” with “tentacles like fire hoses and eyes like dinner plates,” and was still clinging to its dinner when fishermen on the San Aspiring toothfish boat, from New Zealand, hauled it from the water this January. The unfortunate cephalopod was then transferred to Wellington, New Zealand, some 2,000 miles north, and tucked into a freezer for later scientific examination.

PenguinsPhoto by John B. Weller Penguins walking in a line in Antarctica. This week… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Safety Clearance of Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Doesn’t Reassure Residents – July 30, 2014

Starting this fall, nuclear power could once again be part of Japan’s long-term energy mix

For most of the three-and-a-half years since the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant forced over 150,000 people from their homes and overturned the broader population’s faith in the “myth of nuclear safety,” the country’s 48 nuclear reactors have stood idle. This is not a sign that Japan has taken a fundamental turn away from nuclear power, as Germany has. Rather, the past several years have been a kind of probation period, during which both government and industry have scrambled to apply the “lessons of Fukushima” well enough to restart at least some reactors with renewed assurances of safety. Now, that is on the verge of happening.

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by: Winnie Bird

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We’re All in This Together – June 10, 2013

Communities with strong ethics of the commons most resilient to disasters

Following the hugely destructive earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, communities along Japan’s northeastern coast faced a major challenge of social organization: People who had lost everything needed to decide, often together, how to rebuild. They had to work through complex issues of property rights, urban planning and emotional connection to the land. Some communities quickly came to a consensus about what to do, but others – particularly those in urban areas – remain divided more than two years later.

pinyaphoto by MikiAnn, on Flickr

Why the gap? Hokkaido University sociologist Taisuke Miyauchi believes the answer has to do… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Japan’s Reconstruction Two Years On — Plain Old Disaster Capitalism? – March 11, 2013

In Miyagi Prefecture rebuilding efforts give corporations the upper hand

Whatever happened to Japan’s sustainable reconstruction?

farm in Sendai Photos by Winnie BirdAs a recovery strategy, Sendai’s local government has decided to ramp up existing policies of farm
expansion, corporatization, and integration with the processing and service industries.

I asked myself that question as I stood on a beach in Sendai in northeastern Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture two weeks ago.

I had arrived in Miyagi via Fukushima, the prefecture just to the south. In Fukushima I talked to people living through the most intensely-scrutinized environmental disaster in Japan’s history: the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that followed the tsunami and earthquake… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Yokohama Anti-Nuke Meet Draws Thousands of Activists, Experts – January 17, 2012

But 10 Months After the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster it’s Unclear if Japanese Citizens will be Able to Force their Government to Phase Out Nuclear Power

In the 10 months since an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Daiici nuclear power plant, people in Japan have engaged in some of the most dramatic activism in the country’s recent history. Mothers have stormed public meetings. Angry citizens have taken to the streets in numbers not seen in 50 years. Concession by painfully-won concession, they have forced the government to start taking radiation health concerns more seriously and rethink current energy policy.

Photo by John AshburneRegardless of political implications, the sheer energy at the "Global Conference for a Nuclear Free World" in
Yokohama was amazing.

One thing most people in Japan hadn’t had a chance… more

by: Winnie Bird

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