Global Education: Austrian Students Search for the Missing Link


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Read in German.

I am proud to introduce the work of a unique class of high school students in Austria, under the guidance of two teachers, Hermann and Lenore (pictured left). They have spent their semester looking at different facets of the Fukushima disaster and preparing essays expounding on their reactions. They have relied heavily, but not entirely, on the work available on this site.

 

Read the class pamphlet

 

For the past 36 months this site, www.AkioMatsumura.com, has focused on the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and provided expert scientific, medical, and political commentary to better understand the implications of an ongoing nuclear issue. We have connected nuclear experts, diplomats, medical experts, and power plant technicians in order to provide a complete picture. In other words, we see the importance of establishing horizontal connections between professions, rather than limiting our perspective to one area of expertise.

The Fukushima disaster is only one example of why we need to Find the Missing Link. Before this I worked to stem religious conflict, create political unity in Asia, and create global environmental awareness.

To me, finding the missing link is discovering solutions to the gaps that exist between the silos of our vertical thinking. What problems do we face that we had never anticipated, or at least not discussed appropriately? Fukushima is certainly one.

A pivot to true horizontal thinking – connecting groups and fields otherwise unconnected – is the only viable approach to resolve the issues we will face throughout the 21st century. And this must start at a young age. The friends I made in university remain some of my most trusted, diverse, and helpful relations.

The Austrian class and their work I present here is but one piece of a larger picture. A global education network – studying these issues together, able to communicate directly with relevant experts – is needed, now more than ever, to solve new problems emerging from a new world.

And it is more possible than ever before. One distinct advantage we have now is technology. The ease with which we can facilitate strong connections through social media, video chat, and other internet technologies is amazing. Now, even compared to five years ago, is the first time in history we can act on a global scale.

Such a network – dedicated to studying the “in-between,” the taboo, and the emerging – will be a huge service if done properly.

Here is one example of the students’ work:

10 essays cover

Radiation Accident in Fukushima

 

People all over the world heard about the radiation accident in Fukushima – everyone was shocked – but what happened afterwards and what is happening right now? Just a handful of people are really informed about the actual extent. The speech of Dr. Helen Caldicott*, a paediatrician, may bring some light into the darkness and states some of the government’s mistakes.

First of all, the Japanese government knew how the wind changed and where the radiation was going after the accident, but did not inform the people and so people fled into the path of maximum radiation. They also missed to clue people up on the effect of radiation to human bodies. Radiation can cause cancer, leukaemia and congenital malformations and these diseases are expected for the next few years in Japan. For example, it took children 5 years to develop cancer around Chernobyl. Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to the effects of radiation than adults. Present researches suggest that in Japan, one 12-year old boy has already been diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid and one 16-year old girl may already have developed cancer. [By now there are already 12 children found with thyroid gland cancer in Fukushima Prefecture, with an additional 16 suspected of having the disease:  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201306060092 Editor’s note ]

It is nearly impossible to clean up the mess in Japan, but this might not be the end of the tragedy. If there is another earthquake greater than 7 near Fukushima building 4, which contains a cooling pool, that will collapse and fall to the ground, burning and releasing 10 times more radiation than Chernobyl. People all over the world will suffer and a great part of Japan will be destroyed.

However, the Japanese government refuses to evacuate the areas near Fukushima and lets those people down. But this is not only a problem of Japan – we all are responsible to help and this will only be possible if the international community is informed about the situation there.

Not only did the government fail, the WHO (World Health Organisation) must also be criticized. It is their duty to give true information about radiation in general and its effect on human bodies. They should offer medical advice and support, especially to children, and they have to fight for the evacuation of the most contaminated areas. Although the WHO knows the risk, they actually do nothing and even downplay the health effects because they do not want to create panic.

If we take a look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we realize that the Japanese government infringes on 6 rights:

 

3. The Right to Life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.

5. No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or torture us.

14. The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.

The government refuses the evacuation and jeopardizes the lives of 250.000 people. There is not any safety, those people are actually tortured by radiation and that is definitely not fair.

22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.

There is no/not enough medical help in Japan.

25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled: all people have the right to be cared for.

29. Responsibility. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.

A life threatened by radiation is not what anybody would call a good life. The Japanese government is responsible for the people living in their country and they do not look after or support them. Furthermore, little children are being fed with contaminated food in kindergarten and schools which has – of course – a bad influence on their health.

The accident of Fukushima is the worst one that has ever occurred in human history. And now it is our duty to inform and help.

In conclusion, we are shocked about what is happening in Japan right now because we have not got any information about it since the accident. We do not only care about the Japanese people, we are also concerned about the effects on our health because of the contaminated environment we live in.

 

Sources:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DE-pq_wmNQ

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/12/16/national/who-downplayed-health-effects-of-nuclear-crisis-on-fukushima-residents-german-physician/#.UboT-hCgqeJ

http://www.youthforhumanrights.org/what-are-human-rights/universal-declaration-of-human-rights/articles-16-30.html

 

Michael Angerer, Jasmin Ascher, Julia Hecher – 7A, June 2013

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