The joke is, we may see the poles reversing after all, because the “top” of the world is inevitably where the mapmakers live. So if the northern hemisphere were to descend into chaos, our children’s children would experience maps representing the rotation of the earth proceeding left-to-right and the globe as a ball spinning counter-clockwise. The simple truth is, we’re already at “8”, and “9” is possible any day. That’s when something collapses or something else eats into a nice pool of ground water and the campus has to be abandoned, after which some reincarnation of Lorne Greene gets to do a remake of Battlestar Galactica with container ships. “10” would be when there’s nobody left to inscribe “10”, and I’ll leave “11” to the imagination.
But as of today the damoclean sword is still hanging, and while this is partly due to dumb luck, a lot of it is thanks to 9-11. After the terror attacks, the US not only turned itself inside out to prevent a recurrence of the successful Boris & Natasha -style plot they’d just experienced, but turned to their imaginations to anticipate further unlikely scenarios. One of these was a hypothetical attack on one of America’s spent nuclear fuel pools, many of which lie dangerously close to major US cities. Thus almost immediately analysts and planners assessed the risks, found they were significant and took steps to harden the sites, as well as create a rapid response team ready to respond at a moment’s notice should such an attack occur.
Doomers will perhaps recall that only three weeks after 3-11 we’d posted a Canadian-style glosa about the spent pool at #4, and it turns out that over the New Year’s holiday a story got published on how that rapid response team was all over the same pool within days of the accident:
Japan Times (1/1 ’13): “U.S. nuke crisis team’s Fukushima findings wasted”
According to this source, AMS operations concerning Fukushima No. 1 confirmed there was no fire in reactor 4’s spent-fuel pool, which senior officials and scientists of the U.S. administration were seriously worried about in the first week of the crisis.
IIRC Sandia Labs had completed some tests only weeks before 3-11 with simulated spent assemblies that suggested they were even more problematical after losing water than previously thought, but I can’t trace down a link for this. However, in the wake of the nuclear accident these apparently knowledgeable folks started discussing the US preparedness and findings on pool security, including this quote (from the findings):
FINDING 3B: The committee finds that, under some conditions, a terrorist attack that partially or completely drained a spent fuel pool could lead to a propagating zirconium cladding fire and the release of large quantities of radioactive materials to the environment Details are provided in the committee’s classified report.
“FINDING 3C” which follows provides some context for the present situation at #4, including why they are so keen to move the #4 assemblies into the larger common pool.
So even though national sovereignty considerations have kept the management of the crisis a strictly Japanese-run show, the US’ response team played an important role. Not to mention that it was good to have these capabilities on hand in Oct ’12 when Superstorm Sandy came ashore near several key US nuclear facilities.