Some potential long term effects of any natural disaster is usually the pollution that is emitted in the clean up and the pollution that is found when man-made products are left astray. I remember after the 9/11 disaster the computer products left after the disaster caused trouble in the respiratory tract of the firefighters that came to the rescue in the area.
With large disasters like the Japan earthquake you have large sources of pollution in batteries, plastics, heavy metals, and do forth. Something I found interesting is how a lot of nuclear facilities shut down to prevent any more environmental disaster and as we are erecting more and more nuclear facilities, a natural disaster can cause a nuclear disaster really quick. One facility was evacuated upon discovery of a cooling system failure. A nuclear malfunction from a natural disaster occurring can cause a large amounts of long-term concern.
When earthquakes occur, a common effect is the outbreak of fires in buildings due to structural damage and gas leakage. Fire can cause all kinds of pollution (as cesmith110 implied). However, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Japan’s 8.9 earthquake, since Japan’s building codes are so strict (which undoubtedly saved lives). The seawalls that were a part of Japan’s building codes, however, may cause lasting environmental damage according to some experts. Although this is not an effect caused by this specific earthquake, the seawalls wouldn’t be necessary if Japan weren’t earthquake-prone. It’s unknown whether these seawalls actually helped save lives during the quake (or whether it was due to other precautions), but it might be a fair trade off if it did end up saving people.
If they are unable to continue powering the cooling towers in the Fukushima nuclear power plant, there is a very real possibility of a nuclear meltdown. As we saw with the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island and with the total meltdown at Chernobyl, the ramifications of such a disaster are catastrophic.
As of now, the plant is preparing to release radioactive vapour to help lower the temperatures in the facility. This alone can have serious environmental consequences. Normally, the nuclear power plant powers its own cooling towers with the power generated from nuclear fission. As the plant is not operating now, it is relying upon backup energy sources to power the towers. The tsunami, however, damaged the primary backup power sources (1- underground electrical grid, 2 – diesel-fueled generators). Their last line of defese are batteries that last for only two hours each. If they cannot keep the towers running on the batteries, it can take only 15 minutes for a nuclear meltdown to occur.
The tsunami also likely washed up and took with it a bunch of human made pollutants into the sea. Just watching the videos from the tsunami a few years back, I noticed that the water was filled with debris and probably a lot of other pollutants. Just think, any man-made chemical or object that was not bolted into the ground probably got swept back into the sea.
Yet another long-term effect of a tsunami is the salination (adding saltwater to freshwater) of the countryside’s rivers, underground aquifers, lakes, and wells, killing the animals within and contaminating water supplies. This goes for soil too, as soil quality is damaged due to salination or debris leaks, and yields for farmers can affected for years to come.
The radiation from this nuclear power plant will have the worst environmental impact. Trace amounts of radiation have already reached California. It can’t harm anybody but still the fact that it’s already here is crazy. And it is said to have an extremely detrimental effect to the fish population in the ocean. If I were you, I wouldn’t eat fish for quite some time.
The major long-term side effects of the EARTHQUAKE, not the tsunami, is the fact that it, along with 2-3 others lately, have shifted teh EArth’s crust and axial tilt.
THIS will effect long term weather for everybody. It appears from various sources that the tilt is Northward toward our most upright position, which will have the effect of moderating weather worldwide so there are no extreme climatic changes going north and south – and without the winter shading of the more southerly axial tilt it will make the world a bit warmer. (Sound familiar to anyone?)
The shift you mention is real, but it has no impact on weather. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/science/26qna.html?_r=1&ref=science
that’s the current scientific dogma, yes. But then we also have to bear in mind we were headed back into an over-due ice age worse than the little ice age we slipped into during the 1400s until they discovered how hot Venus is, and how cold Mars is and Global Warming was invented on the spot to explain it. Since then anything that affirms is reported, anything that opposes is discarded.
The simple fact is this tilt will alter the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface, the strength of this radiation and the length of time that radiation will fall.
This WILL affect climate (in fact you can see it affecting it today – we label it global warming and have the hubris to declare it is entirely due to our own influence, totally ignoring pre/historic records.)
Remember the others who were laughed at? The one who said rocks fall from the skies, the one who said the crust is fractured, the one who said the continents move, the one who said we have a continual rain of water from micrometeorites (and pointed to them on photographs, no less), The one who said there was once a time when large portions the world was covered in ice, the one who said the level of the ocean fluctuates?
History is full of those who cried against the current accepted dogma – ridiculed and run out of their profession – and in time were proved correct.
Oh yes, and that there were no humans in Panamerica earlier than 5,000 years ago.
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