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POTW 11 March 2013: Targata Fertility Festival & Nuclear Spring

I know today is significant (the second anniversary of the 11th March 2011, earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster), and so today is a double dose of Photo of the Week (POTW). One photo is a cultural event that is something to now especially look forward to and enjoy, and the other is commemorative.

The Tagata Fertility Festival photo below was taken just days after the actual disaster, and it shows people determined to try and enjoy life, despite the horror witnessed days before. Also on the day the photo was taken one of the nuclear reactors exploded. I didn’t know at the time, so I hoped that the wind was blowing away, and I really did have the feeling that being outside, photographing this event, might have been dangerous. I think I only learnt about the reactor explosion when I got home. I now have Reuters and other news outlets in my Twitter feed.


The Tagata Fertility Festival (or ‘Tagata Penis Festival’) attracts a small gathering of about 100,000 people (the old and the young alike), most of whom hope for good fertile fortunes (they are indeed hoping for children or grandchildren for themselves or on the behalf of friends). I have written a fairly detailed summary of the event including cultural comparison, see the Tagata blog tags for the 15th March 2011 blog post, video, and more. More photos are available at my PhotoShelter portfolio, Tagata Fertility Festival Gallery, and at my agents website, Asian Photo Connection.


For information about the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear crisis, nuclear disaster (15th Mar), Fukushima, contaminated food, and nuclear disaster, click on each of those words for a review of blog posts beginning on the 11th March 2011.

Below is a photo from the Nuclear Spring Collection I made just weeks after the actual disaster, see the Nuclear Spring blog search for previous posts. The title “Nuclear Spring” is significant, in that it amalgamates the concepts of Nuclear Winter, Silent Spring, and the time of year the Fukushima disaster occurred. Nuclear Winter is the supposed effect on the weather systems of the world after a nuclear war. Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson in 1962 that describes the effect on the environment after farmers sprayed and killed all the insects. This book is regarded as the birth of the modern environmental movement. Still today, thousands of people are protesting against the continuance of nuclear power in Japan (Japan TodayReuters), and there is a wonderful blog that aims to provide information that the media does not, the Fukushima Diary.


nuclear disaster at no.1 reactor

I’m not too clear on the details, but it was reported on NHK (now known for not being reliable and independent) that the nuclear material in the number 1 reactor at Fukushima had in fact gone through melt down within the first 16 hours of the disaster beginning on 11th March, and had indeed breached the floor of the reactor. It would seem that this may explain why there was an inexplicable amount of radioactive material released into the atmosphere, and why adding water for cooling to the reactor failed to see water levels rise sufficiently, and why there is highly radioactive water in the basement. It seems that TEPCO is unable to locate the precise location of the molten (or melted) nuclear material. If this is indeed the case, we’ve experienced a China Syndrome and didn’t even know it until today: sixty-six days after the start of the nuclear disaster. Of course, my understanding of NHK’s report could be wrong, so if there is a correction, or an update, I’ll do my best to publish it here as soon as possible. For the time being, this is the most up-to-date report published on the English section of NHK’s website: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/15_04.html.

UPDATE (16th May): No melt through, just a blob of molten mess, apparently: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/16_17.html


Nuclear Spring. A play on the words ‘Nuclear Winter‘ and ‘Silent Spring‘.

Tree Nation, us, and you!

We’re so, so excited to announce this. We hope you can get as excited as we are. Now, we at ablyth-shop.com we have a tree added to our forest, and we hope that you can join us in becoming carbon neutral. On our scale of economy for now, we will invest €10/month for a monthly commitment. In the future, we hope to offset carbon on a monthly basis at a greater scale, so that as a community we are all contributing. Details of the project so far: https://tree-nation.com/profile/ablyth.

For each tree that is planted, two things happen. One, it converts harmful CO2 into oxygen for us to breathe. Two, it locks carbon in the body of the tree as well, thus removing it from the atmosphere. In fact, there are many other benefits to having trees. These act as a home for animals, cool the ambient temperature (especially important in summer), provide resources to support local and global economies, hold the structure of the soil together to prevent erosion and other major problems; and there are many, many more important functions trees perform.

ABlyth Social Responsibility Series: Make Trees. Products on sale now at ablyth-shop.com

ABlyth Social Responsibility Series: Make Trees. Products on sale now at ablyth-shop.com

What does carbon neutral mean? We need to offset about 9 tonnes of carbon a year, which on average means about two trees per month, per person. Until we build up enough members of our community, we suggest that you also create your own Tree Nation account, do help out directly.


Fall of Nature: Pulp. Available as high quality art prints
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Not many people know this about me, but I trained as a biologist in my undergrad years. I learnt so much about how our planet was on a course of doom, even back in the 1990’s. Protecting our natural world became an important thing for me, especially since it is where every human gets food and water from. Without food, water, and shelter, we have nothing, and will ourselves go like the dinosaur: extinct. There simply is no priority higher than taking care of our natural world. I’ve had some involvement with community ecological organisations, but have always wanted to step up my game. Some of my art projects have tried to focus on the loss of the natural environment, including Nuclear Spring and Fall of Nature. I simply cannot do it alone, so I need partners in this; that is you, me, and Tree Nation.


Fall of Nature: Collision. Available as high quality art prints
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My 11th March story

My story isn’t as harrowing as those up north, but it is my story. I’m in Nagoya, halfway between Tokyo and Osaka, well south of the Tohoku earthquake.

11th March 2011 was a very cold, but sunny day. At about 2.47pm I felt my building beginning to sway, and then it got violent.For the first ten minutes the NHK broadcast was only the automatic computer system announcing the basic facts in Japanese, English, Portuguese, Mandarin, and may a couple of other languages. Then later we saw confused, hurriedly arranged news anchors starting to pass on info to us, including the first images of the tsunami sweeping across low-lying homes and fields. The earthquake swayed and shook us at various intensities for the next five hours. During that time, I wondered if I should evacuate my building or not, but I stayed glued in front of my TV. I remained standing behind my couch with heavy winter jacket on ready to run, eyes on the TV updates, and all I had was my wallet, keys, and mobile phone in hand. Now, I have a backpack with emergency survival kit, and I’d ensure I have my camera. Looking outside, I saw that water in the nearby canals was slopping side to side, like coffee in my mug as I walk from the kitchen. I slept with my clothes next to my bed for a few days, and always a good pair of shoes ready at the door.

In the following days and weeks, I wondered if the nearby fault, the Nankai fault, might also be triggered. The Nankai fault was the one that was expected to be the next big quake, affecting mainly Nagoya and the central region, and the northernmost limit of affect is Tokyo. There apparently is over 80% chance of it slipping, creating a magnitude 8 earthquake, resulting in a tsunami expected to be over 10 meters in some areas, which will overwhelm many coastal storm surge barriers. It is expected that 10,000’s in my region would die from what is called the Great Nankai Earthquake. Consequently, it was because there seemed the very real possibility that the Nankai earthquake could be triggered, is why I remained in my region and didn’t head north to visually record the devastation. Apparently, experts feel that the Nankai trough is in very real danger or slipping, even more so now the shape of the earth has changed. I also learnt in the months afterwards that the whole earth had sped up, and the earth’s angle of lean changed ever so slightly, as a result of the Tohoku earthquake (Wikipedia).

The picture below is my commemorative art for the event. Please see the Nuclear Spring gallery for more, and the Nuclear Spring blog posts for details.

11th March Anniversary

In commemoration of the 11th March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, the homepage slide show gallery was changed to the Nuclear Spring gallery. The collection is so called because of reference to Nuclear Winter and the historic book called Silent Spring.

 
Nuclear Spring Collection – Images by Andrew Blyth