About a year ago, and much to the bemusement of the majority of our housing market readers, I spent much time speaking to the aftermath of 3/11. By the summer this series was pretty much exhausted, as you can see from this feeble Aug ’11 effort. But if the story went underground the danger has continued, as perhaps best summarized in this short YouTube (which because of Mr. Matsumura’s pronounced accent requires close attention before you realize the dire implications):
This narrative has been passed around the blogosphere at second and third hand and up as far as HuffyPo with even some mainstream sources referring to the problem. Those posts tend to over-argue, however, implying that America, e.g., is under imminent threat of annihilation. That isn’t quite right, and it was only today’s effort at ZeroHedge that inspired me to get off the couch and do something (twist had noted the video was embeddable and had suggested sharing it with Doom nearly a week ago). While “The End” will likely not occur in the lifetime of most of the folks reading this the risk factors are serous enough:
- High probability of #4’s temporary storage pool collapsing suddenly within the next couple of years requiring the immediate evacuation of tens of millions of Japanese (largely from around Tokyo).
- The certainty, without massive leaps in the technology for processing nuclear waste, that human civilization will end within a few decades under the stress of the world’s inventory of spent fuel rods releasing their payload followed within a century or two by the extinguishing of humanity and then most of the higher mammals by the dawn of the fourth millennium CE.
Recalling how often we referred to CDS and such as toxic / nuclear waste, Doomers might appreciate that the state of denial represented by the ambiguity around the implicit guarantee for several trillion dollars of Agency Debt (much of it the MBS “fallout” from the housing collapse) makes a fine proxy for the world’s horrifyingly large tonnage of real nuclear waste.1 A meaningless but amusing coincidence that somehow symbolizes this connection is that the amortization on the GSEs’ conventional mortgage is almost exactly the half life of cesium 137.
Anyway, I’m an amateur working furiously in one of what will likely turn out to be the key areas underpinning those “massive leaps” we’ll require to survive, although I’m presently not terribly optimistic. But on the other hand Japan’s becoming nuclear free yesterday gives me some faint hope that we may soon stop digging this hole deeper than it already is and give researchers one last chance to save the day. Meanwhile I’ll be following Renton’s advice: Fold or Die
 UPDATE: serendipity can be truly amazing sometimes. Right after finishing the above I encountered the following apropos little gem from Roland Barthes: The Semiotic Challenge (1988 – tr. Richard Howard):
… [Saussure] sings the strength, the virtue, the wisdom of analogy; he raises it to the rank of a creative demiurgic principle, and thus remodels the linguistic hierarchy of his time … (page 151)
And there I’d just been reflecting on how closely analogous to TEPCO’s efforts pouring endless tonnes of fresh water over the three reactors and four temporary pools at Fukushima Daichi ##1-4 was Geithner’s “pouring” of hundreds of billions of dollars of support (in the form of Treasury buying preferred stock) over the burnt-out hulks of Fannie & Freddie.