In 1999 in Venezuela we had a natural disaster that cost 30.000 human lives (an avalanche). Nothing in comparison with the recent losses in Japan due to the Tsunami. But for us, that was a great tragedy that marked some of us forever.
In Universidad Metropolitana (UNIMET), in Caracas we dedicated some courses trying to give an answer to dealing with disasters and we created a department of urban design that worked hard, by official order of the government, in solutions to the towns that were devastated by the enormous avalanche. Unfortunately, there was no political will to follow ahead.
Anyway, there is a book about the experience: Grauer, Oscar (ed); Redevelopment of el Litoral Central, Venezuela. Universidad Metropolitana with the collaboration of Harvard University. Caracas 2001.
In the other hand, some of us had had dedicated to reseach in this subject after that experience. Here is the link to my doctoral thesis in urbanisme at UPC (Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña) about recomposition of devasteted cities: http://tdx.cat/handle/10803/6963
"Recently a well-known disaster response organizer let me know that right now no one outside of Japan is interested in the earthquake, the tsunami, nor the nuclear disaster that hit the country last March. No matter that those items literally filled the news cycle of the whole planet for a week or two not so long ago. On reflection, it isn’t all that surprising. Such is the nature of the human attention span in the age of CNN, FOX and Al Jazeera. And hey, we all understand that the willy of Wiener is pretty compelling stuff ."
I have been a bit shocked by the general lack of interest in the Japan situation. From my perspective, the nuclear situation is without a doubt the biggest story of the year (if not decade and maybe even century). In a world of rising population and consumption, to see humanity possibly need to take a step backwards technologically is pretty stunning. I remember cringing a few years ago when the Concorde stopped flying and put an end to the supersonic age of jet travel but the idea of giving up on nuclear power also is quite stunning (and humbling). Germany is already waving the white flag and other countries will also be making difficult decisions regarding nuclear power.
Anyhow, one of the reasons that I have been poking around archinect with more frequency recently is because I suspected that it might be one of the better sources for digging up nuggets on the ongoing situation in Japan. And for whatever it's worth, I'll share a couple of off-the-beaten-path sources that I have found occasionally helpful:
The Automatic Earth blog (which normally focuses on global financial/political issues) has occasionally sprung a tangent in which they examine the crisis at Fukushima specifically, as well as general state of nuclear power. Although I hesitate to call the tone pessimistic, reading thei take does tend to feel like stepping into a cold shower. For example:
Monocle has always had a long fascination with all things Nippon so I have also found some their content helpful (although they do seem a little too cheery at times given the gravity of the situation).
Also, the Monocle Weekly podcasts have talked about Japan numerous times. If you dig through the archives the past couple of months you'll find info on Japanese branding, culture and business, as well as first-hand perspectives from some of the gaijin. Perhaps most insightful is the discussion on the state of global news coverage and the fact that many global media companies had significantly downgraded their Japanese bureaux in recent years in favor of other Asian cities where they have perceived that "the story" had migrated to.
Although it may seem that much of the world doesn't really care, some of us are doing our best to dig up whatever information we can find on the state of things in Japan (even if it takes a little work). I'm eagerly looking forward to the postings of this new blog and any insights that they might provide regarding Japan.
Thank you for taking the time to write and publish this. Best of luck, yo!