Fukushima: 5 Years Later
On September 11, 2011, northeastern Japan was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. It is considered one of the costliest natural disasters on record, destroying nearly a million homes and killed nearly 20,000 people. One of the biggest lingering concerns facing the community is the destruction to Fukushima Daiichi, a nuclear power plant. Three reactors experienced “meltdown” when power to its cooling system was knocked out and back-up generators failed. (The making of nuclear power requires heat; too much heat, however, can release harmful radiation.)
Japan is currently the world’s third-largest producer of nuclear power, once getting around 30 percent of its energy from nuclear power plants. Despite the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment to rebuilding the industry, recovery has been challenging and slow. There is currently a team of around 7,000 people (dressed in full-body protective gear) working on removing contaminated rubble, including the extraction of melted uranium fuel from damaged reactor cores. Full clean up is expected to take up to 40 years to complete.
Dig Deeper Find out how Fukushima Daiichi compares with other nuclear disasters, such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. What lessons (if any) were learned in the aftermath of those incidents in moving forward in Japan?
Breakfast: To Eat or Not to Eat
It’s a topic that never seems to go out of style or lack of opinions: Should people eat breakfast, or is it okay to skip? A recent letter to The New York Times “Well” section posed the question if skipping the first meal of the day could lead to weight gain. A recent study conducted by the University of Bath found almost no evidence to suggest that breakfast had any effect whatsoever on a person’s metabolism. However, it did show a significant effect on overall health, especially when it came to energy and the willingness to be physically active.
The experts answering the question at The New York Times said the issue can be a complicated one. While studies suggest that those who eat something shortly after they wake up in the morning tend to be healthier that those who don’t, other factors may at play. For example, those likely to eat breakfast also tend to consume less sugar, eat more fiber, drink less alcohol, and exercise more—all of these factors contribute to weighing less.
What Do You Think? Do you have breakfast every morning? If so, what do you have and do you think it makes a difference in your day? If not, why not? What, if anything, would change your mind?
There’s a new type of grocer in Denmark. This one that focuses on food that is, “perfectly fine,” but considered “unfit for sale” by many other retailers due to package damage, mislabeled goods and items nearing an expiration date. Unlike Social Supermarkets, which offer discounted items exclusively to those living in poverty, WeFoods is aimed at anyone interested in reducing waste and saving money. It is run by volunteers and uses its profits to support anti-poverty causes around the world.
This venture supports a growing awareness in Denmark to eliminate food waste. In five years, the Danish population has reduced the amount of food it throws away by 25 percent. That amount works out to be about 104 pounds per person (compared to 273 pounds per person in the United States). Similarly, France is committed to less waste, having recently passed an initiative that makes it against the law for supermarkets to destroy food that it doesn’t sell.
What Do You Think? Would you go to a store or support an organization like WeFood? Why or why not? Do some research on “social supermarkets” or similar ventures and the impact it is having on the population. See what other organizations are having success (or facing challenges) in similar pursuits.
World’s Largest Cruise Ship
Royal Caribbean International the cruise ship company that operates more than 20 ships, has set sail on its latest venture—the largest cruise ship ever. Named Harmony of the Seas, the ship is nearly 1,200 feet long, 230 feet high, weighs nearly 228,000 tons, and has been under construction for more than a year in France. It can accommodate nearly 6,000 passengers and will require nearly 2,000 additional crew members. After initial “sea trial” runs through the Mediterranean Sea, the boat will be dock in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and travel to the Caribbean.
The construction of the sea vessel requires many tests to determine its sea-worthiness. These include propulsion, navigational and steering. With the upgrade in size comes an upgrade in accommodations and features. These include larger cabins, a multi-deck water slide and a “bionic bar,” where drinks are served by robot bartenders. The Harmony of the Seas was launched from the Port of Saint-Nazaire in France earlier this month. It required six tug boats to get it out into the sea.