Geopolitics

7.3 M Quake Strikes Off Japan Coast, Triggering Tsunami

JAPAN TIMES, NHK (Japan), CNN (USA), BBC NEWS (UK)

Worldcrunch

TOKYO - A powerful earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Japan on Friday evening, triggering a tsunami, reports CNN.

The epicentre of the 7.3 magnitude quake was about 245km (150 miles) south-east of Kamiashi at a depth of about 36 kilometers.

There have been no immediate reports of deaths or injuries, reports The Japan Times.


Evacuations have been ordered in the affected coastal regions, according to BBC News.

Seismic activity could be felt in the capital city of Tokyo where buildings swayed for several minutes.

Very big shake in Tokyo

— Mark Willacy (@markwillacy) December 7, 2012

Still going

— Mark Willacy (@markwillacy) December 7, 2012

Still slight wobbling...long, long quake

— Mark Willacy (@markwillacy) December 7, 2012

Why is this #quake not stopping? #japan

— Toshio Suzuki 鈴木 としお (@ToshJohn) December 7, 2012

Tohoku, Joetsu and Nagano shinkansen high-speed trains have been stopped to conduct checks on the lines.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said a 1-meter high tsunami wave was recorded at 6:02 P.M. Japan Time in the Ayukawa District of Ishinomaki City, reports NHK.

Map of the quake epicentre - Source: CNN.com

Tohoku Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said no abnormalities have so far been reported at its nearby nuclear plant in Onagawa.

This region was already the hardest hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011 and killed more than 15,000 people.

NHK newscasters really went all-out this time in issuing #tsunami warnings: “Flee now to save your life!” “Remember the Tohoku disaster!"

— Hiroko Tabuchi (@HirokoTabuchi) December 7, 2012


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda cancelled campaigning for the 16 December election to return to his office.

All tsunami advisories and warnings for north-east Japan have now been lifted after magnitude-7.3 earthquake this evening

— Mark Willacy (@markwillacy) December 7, 2012

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Ideas

Saving The Planet Is Really A Question Of Dopamine

Our carelessness toward the environment could be due, in part, to the functioning of a very primitive area of our brain: the striatum.

Ad scuba-diver and brain coral

Stefano Lupieri

PARIS — Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.


This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Addictions to sex and social media

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the 'pleasure hormone.'

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

Transverse section of striatum from a structural MRI image

Lindsay Hanford and Geoff B Hall via Wikipedia

Tweaking genetics 

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Les Echos
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