The German Population Is Declining?

It depends on who you’re counting in Germany – and their birth rates.

Germany

German population declines for first time in decade – Pandemic has caused a fall in net immigration in the first six months, federal data show.

Translation: The only population growth in Germany comes from those who are not German. And Germany is like Japan (below)? Sort of. Only the Japanese don’t let anyone into their country. Germans no longer have any control over who comes into theirs.

Germany has long been grappling with a Japanese-style combination of low birth rates, an ageing society and a stagnant population of working-age people, which economists say raises concerns about productivity, growth and public finances in the future.

Don’t Hold Your Breath, Tokyo

Two years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is making a big push to win back German tourists, who are still avoiding the country because of concerns over radiation.  Visitor numbers from Germany, the world’s biggest spenders on foreign holidays in 2011, fell 35 percent between 2010 and 2011, and in 2012 did not recover as much as other markets, officials said in Frankfurt on Thursday.

Tokyo

It’s like this, folks: The level of radiation occurring naturally in Japan is much lower than that of Germany. The levels of naturally occurring radiation PLUS the radiation resulting from the accident at Fukushima are still within the range considered average for Germany.

None of this matters, of course. Hysteria bleibt (stays) hysteria.

Even at the dentist, Germans are often skeptical about the effects of x-rays and require reassurance over radiation levels.

PS: Speaking of hypochondria (sort of), Berliner Beamte (civil servants with disgustingly cushy benefits), police mostly, are off sick two months a year – on average.

Cukes, Kooks and Nukes

I tell you, DANGER is everywhere you look these days. If it’s not deadly organic cucumbers (sorry, Spain, we didn’t mean to ruin your cucumber industry with a false alarm like that, no hard feelings, OK?), it’s freakin’ Ikea alarm clock attacks by “The Easily-Broken Kids Room Furniture Liberation Army” in the Benelux (thanks, Joe).

And then of course there’s the ongoing, ever-growing radiation alarms after the Japan Nuclear Crisis in, uh, London and New York.

Stop the world I want to get off or something.

“Whatever the radiation in Tokyo at the moment, you can be fairly sure it is lower than natural background levels in many parts of the world.”

Nein, Danke! We’ll import nuclear energy instead!

This is where the European unity part comes in, I guess (and the electricity still has to come out of the Dose/wall socket somehow, doesn’t it?).

Ever since the nuclear power plant moratorium has kicked in, Germany has begun importing more foreign energy than it exports, most of this having been generated at French nuclear power plants. This is where the ideological wheels hit the road, people. Are we having Realpolitik yet?

It’s typically German somehow: Loudly wash your hands of the matter while letting someone else do the dirty work for you.

And speaking of Realpolitik, I can’t wait until the “paying for all of this” part kicks in. There won’t be a moratorium on that one. It won’t be too long until the next wave of hysteria hits the fan again, in other words.

Davon profitieren vor allem französische AKW.

Don’t Read This

If you want to keep your Fukushima radiation hysteria level high, that is.

Another German contrarian opinion. Here are one or two interesting points (sorry, non-German readers):

The measurements alone reveal nothing about danger or risk. Higher radioactivity in the atmosphere, measured in various places in Japan, give us a snapshot but not a coherent picture. The doses of radiation are not constant and fluctuate dramatically.

But no one in Japan who has eaten contaminated food will die as a consequence of the radiation exposure now measured, it is not strong enough.

The residents of Tokyo are currently less exposed (to dangerous levels of radiation, considered to start at 100 millisievert) than a traveller on a flight from New York to Tokyo and back–that would be 200 millisievert.

These comparisons show how a perceived risk and the actual danger can drift apart. Being panic-stricken in German won’t help. The Japanese show impressively how to deal cool-headed with a critical situation. They will master this crisis, regardless of how it turns out.

Diese Relationen zeigen, wie ein gefühltes Risiko und die tatsächliche Gefährdung auseinanderdriften können. Panik, wie sie manchen in Deutschland befällt, hilft nicht weiter. Die Japaner zeigen eindrucksvoll, wie besonnen sie mit der kritischen Situation umgehen. Sie werden diese Krise meistern, ganz gleich, wie sie ausgeht. 

Blind Me With Science

Please.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that 300 scientists “from various areas of expertise” have written a letter to Angie Merkel requesting that Germany shut down Germany’s risky nuclear reactors (the entire industry) as soon as possible. What surprises me is when I occasionally bump into a German scientist who isn’t prepared to jump off the cliff with everybody else. They are, needless to say, very few and very far between.

Here’s what physicist Christoph Barthe (a climate change guy) has to say about German nuclear power in an opinion piece called Despite Fukushima (page 15, Die Zeit No. 14, 31 March 2011):

Felix Dachel maintains in his response to “In Praise of the Movement” (Zeit Nr. 13) that the majority of Germans were already against nuclear energy before Fukushima. This is incorrect. An Allensbach survey from March, 2010 revealed that 44% of those asked said that, “all things considered,” they were for the further use of nuclear power, 37% were against it. A survey taken by TNS Emnid in February 2010 revealed that 60% of Germans asked were for the continued use of nuclear energy once the question of the final disposal of nuclear waste gets cleared up, 37% were against it.

Now a lot of nonsense is being spread around in the public concerning this question of the final disposal of nuclear waste. The unresolved waste disposal issue is certainly an effective public appeal argument for the anti-nuclear movement, but it is completely inappropriate as an excuse to phase-out nuclear power. The amount of highly radioactive waste is extremely small: Three-thousandth of a gram per kilowatt hour in Germany. There are more than enough suitable rock layers available which have been stable for countless millions of years and which we can expect with good conscience to remain that way for a few more million years to come. That is simple geologic knowledge. In contrast to that, greenhouse gases continue to be pumped into the atmosphere with foreseeable catastrophic effects that the same anti-nuclear activists warn us about.

It is the same thing when you compare the risks of climate change with the risks of nuclear energy, a technology that has been, despite 30 years of resistance to it, the most climate compatible energy source yet developed. If you compare the very slight risk of radioactive pollution with the very real danger caused by the continued unabated pollution of the atmosphere through greenhouse gases, generation after generation, then it must be clear that the question of risk speaks in favor of nuclear energy and not against it—despite Fukushima.

“There’s an app for that”

And there’s a market for it too. In Germany there is.

This one is bound to sell like hotcakes. A German developer has wasted no time in bringing out an Apple app that gives you the location of the AKW nearest you. You know, Atomkraftwerk (nuclear power plant)?

It also gives the user the pertinant information about each one located like how soon we’re all gonna die, the next demonstration planned, the shutdown date. Stuff like that.
 
Dank des AKW-Finders muss man sich nun nicht mehr durch komplexe Online-Angebote arbeiten, sondern bekommt sämtliche Infos auf einen Blick präsentiert.

German Gaijin Just Don’t Get It

How could they?

Here are some lines from a report by a Spiegel journalist who, being a product of his Umwelt (environment), obviously can’t understand what is going on with these peculiar, “fatalistic” Japanese who have the audacity to show courage in the face of disaster.

There is little evidence of panic.

There is not a single person protesting on the streets in the entire city (Tokyo).

Japanese fireman Nakamura Junichiro: “It was not my choice, but I wanted to go there. This is the most difficult hour for Japan. It was my duty.”

“The tsunami represents a good opportunity to cleanse this greed (the egoism the elder speaker believes his fellow Japanese have succombed to), and one we must avail ourselves of.”

The destructive forces of nature, writes Asia expert Ian Buruma, are “to a certain extent part of Japanese culture.” This creates fertile ground for a Japanese fatalism that has developed throughout history and culminates in the expression “shikata ga nai,” meaning “it can’t be helped.” A further product is the widespread belief that nothing beautiful on Earth is permanent and that the Japanese people must close ranks in times of national disaster.

Those who seek to wait it out in Osaka must be gaijin — a non-Japanese or outsider. Someone who doesn’t understand that now, more than ever, every cog in the wheel counts. Someone who shirks his responsibility while a hero like fireman Nakamura Junichiro risks his life to cool down the reactors in Fukushima.

Germans Shut Down Simpsons Too

Just in case. For three months or so, I assume.

After the government shut down seven nuclear reactors for fear of, uh, fear itself, German broadcasters have now decided to ban episodes of The Simpsons that poke fun at nuclear disasters.

It seems that now that the Greens have exploited “the situation” (no, not that guy on Jersey Shore) and leapt to power in two state governments after elections held over the weekend, said broadcasters fear that hysterical Germans watching these episodes could die of hysterical laughter.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced earlier this month a three-month moratorium on plans to extend the operating times of Germany’s nuclear plants and ordered that the seven oldest reactors be shut down.