Sunday, July 10, 2011

Energy crunch

I haven't mentioned how March's earthquake is affecting us recently. Basically those of us outside the north eastern side of Japan are not affected anymore. Those in the north now are battling flies and unsanitary conditions brought on by the heat, the humidity, the carrion of fish markets and ruined fields, the stagnant water left by the tsunami. From what is reported on TV, it looks and sounds like hell. I go nuts with the annual parade of ants that infest my house but in the north, there is no way to battle the flies that turn surfaces black. The possibility of fly-borne disease is feared.

Japan's government is doing flip-flops from one policy to another and politicians are alive and active at trying to pull the top man from the totem pole. They get nothing accomplished while the people in the north suffer patiently. Some of the other nuclear plants throughout Japan have been put on hold while the government tries to decide if Japan is even a safe place to have nuclear energy. The citizens want to protect the country from a repeat of March 11. Popular opinion is that as an earthquake centered country that we should ban nuclear energy altogether. And the possibility of a major earthquake in the coming years is scientifically high! But nuclear energy provides a lot of jobs and without it electric companies cannot support the population.

So... While the various electric companies throughout Japan argue and management corruption prevails, we little people try to do our part by turning off the air conditioners, wearing neck coolers, and planting vines in front of our windows. Many households are going to LED lighting instead of light bulbs.

Most department stores and restaurants have signs saying that in order to help conserve energy, the store temperatures have been set higher and the store lights set lower this year, and would all of us be understanding of the uncomfortable conditions.

Where years ago we were busy conserving trees by using hand blow dryers instead of paper towels in the store restrooms, nowadays there is always a basket of paper towels and the hand blowers have signs on them explaining that they are unplugged in an effort to conserve electricity.

The vending machines along the streets are no longer lighted and instead reflective signs tell drivers that the vending machines still dispense drinks, but the soft drink companies are doing their part by turning lighting low. (As someone pointed out, we could get rid of all the vending machines in Japan and save A LOT of energy!)

Even the brightly lit oasises along the dark country roads... the convenience stores, have turned out their glaring sign lights and customers have to look closely to see which store is which.

I carry around my hand fan, and I did buy Tetsu the cooling sheet (I will give it to him on Wednesday!) so I am doing my part!

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