Silver Lining?

Helen Whalen Cohen
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Posted: Mar 16, 2011 12:16 PM
Some "good" news about Japan. Now they are primed to build a green economy! So says Nathan Gardels of the Huffington Post:
By taking Japan's mature economy down a notch, Mother Nature has accomplished what fiscal policy and the central bank could not. Now there are more bridges to somewhere to be built than one can count. Entire cities and regions need to be reconstructed in toto, from housing and commercial buildings to roads, rail lines, information networks, the energy grid and even the tsunami warning system that must be digitally revamped. Twitter- and Facebook-like platforms will need to be integrated into a system reliant on old technologies like warning sirens and radio or TV broadcasts. (It was reported that at one point on the day of the quake, 20 tweets a second were coming out of Tokyo.)
Gardels sounds almost excited as he relishes the opportunity to re-engineer the economy of a demolished island. There's more:
Indeed, Japan is uniquely positioned for a green recovery. While the world has been focused on Islamist terrorism or the miracle of Chinese growth, the island nation has been engaging in a quiet revolution as the incubator of the energy-efficient technologies of the future...As everyone knows, Japan is the leading manufacturer and exporter of hybrid cars, most famously the Toyota Prius. Honda has developed a hydrogen fuel cell car that is being prepared for mass production. Komatsu has just produced the world's first-ever hybrid heavy machinery, a 20-ton excavator used in construction sites all across Asia.
10,000 lives taken (and counting) and entire villages flattened, but just think of all the hybrid cars they can build.

Catastrophes like this one do not lead to economic opportunity, and it is callous to suggest so in its wake. The state of Japan's green economy is the last thing any of us should be concerned about right now.