Monday, April 04, 2011

From Fukuyama to Fukushima

The great French sociologist Edgar Morin opens his new book, “La Voie” (The Way) which I’m reading this week with this quote from the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset: “We don’t know what’s happening, and that’s what’s happening”.

“There is always some distance between events and the awareness of their significance”, says Morin.

We don’t know what’s happening and this is what’s happening in Fukishima?

We were told at school that the XXth Century started in 1914, with the First World War. Now I’m wondering whether my grand children will be told that the XXIst Century started on 11 March, 2011 with the accident at fukushima, whose four damaged nuclear reactors continue to spill radioactive wastes in the atmosphere, the sea and the subsoil for the last three weeks. I hope that Fukushima is remembered as the beginning of the century, because this would mean that we’ll have learnt the lesson. That we’ll have truly begun to move into the green economy, that we’ve given up producing so much energy to waste it. That there is a green future, based on renewable energy.

There’s in some way a replica of the Japanese earthquake in France, the country with the greatest density of nuclear plants together with Japan. I’ve just spent a week in Paris where there’s a new air when you speak about the future of the nuclear industry, even with people with vested interests in the nuclear sector. Discussing the risks of nuclear power is no longer taboo. And everyone suspects that the urge of Nicolas Sarkozy to get his photo opportunity with Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan in Tokyo last week had little to do with the solidarity of the current Chair of the G20, and a lot with the anxiety of the President of the French Republic not to lose the largest foreign client of AREVA, the French nuclear giant (by the way, do you know where was manufactured the MOX fuel – mixture of uranium and plutonium – that Fukushima Reactor 3 has been vomiting for three weeks?)

Ten years ago Francis Fukuyama, a US thinker of Japanese origin made headlines with his theory on the end of History. Fukushima is a good opportunity to remember that Fukuyama got it wrong.

This blogpiece is also available in español, HERE (AQUÍ) on the website of the Spanish news agency EFE.