Ukraine's last hope?

The agreement now on the table might be the last chance to stop the bloodshed in Ukraine and also to avoid a situation devolving into a civil war. The main question now is how much the agreement actually will be worth. The current regime in Ukraine has not shown itself to be very trustworthy when it comes to earlier agreements and at the same time the opposition, or at least its more hardcore elements, will most likely have difficulty accepting an agreement that leaves the hated president in power for maybe up to the end of the year.

It is also ominous that the special envoy of Russia unlike his EU counterparts from France, Poland and Germany apparently haven't signed the agreement as was first intended. The Russian statement that they too want to see a stable Ukraine might not mean in their mind the same thing as it does for the EU.

When you can't expand sideways, expand downwards

Singapore aims to become a transport hub for petroleum, but that means an expansion of the petroleum handling facilities which isn't all that easy to accomplish in a city state where land is a scarce commodity. The solution? To expand downwards.

Source: BBC News

The start of the Anthropocene?

The Nobel laureate in chemistry professor Paul Crutzen's proposal of a new geological age is discussed.

Source: BBC News

The dangers of nuclear power

As if the earthquake and the following tsunami were not enough, Japan got into another nightmare with its damaged and apparently out-of-control Fukushima nuclear power plant.

It can of course be argued over the logic in the reasoning to construct nuclear plants in a region that is on the absolute top of the list when it comes to earthquake risks. Japan have naturally not been unaware of the risks involved, but have apparently deemed that in order to provide the electrical energy needed to power the world's second largest economy the risks were worth taking. It now seems that the safeguards even in such a hightech country have not been sufficient.

It is not the first time the safety of Japan's nuclear programme has been questioned, or even the first time incidents have cast a shadow on the policies. But this is by far the worst such incident.

Horribly devastating Japanese earthquake

The earthquake with its epicentre outside the northeastern coast of the Japanese main island of Honshu seems to have been an unusually bad one even by Japanese standards. By being an 8 on the Richter scale it is one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded, and even if it struck the most earthquake-prepared country in the world, the devastation is massive.

Even if the actual earthquake itself most likely made for a not insignificant amount of damage, the really horrible part is without doubt the giant tsunami that it produced. With waves of up to ten metres, there simply cannot have been much in the way of disaster preparation that have withstood the destructive forces of the water.

One question that draws to mind is if this was the great earthquake that is expected to strike the Kanto region anytime now and to be compared to the destructive 1923 Kanto earthquake. According to the seismologists it maybe was not. Which provides for an equally horrible disaster scenario if that is the case. Because even if this current one struck further north than Tokyo it definitely to some degree affected the city as well, and we can only try to imagine if an earthquake of equal power would strike even closer to the Tokyo metropolitan region, considering the extreme destruction made by this current earthquake and tsunami on a less populated region than Kanto.

In either case, what is unfolding is a tragedy and unfortunately a very harsh reminder of how small we humans are compared to nature's powers.