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经济学人中英对照:日本的氢致灾难

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Japan's hydra-headed disaster日本的氢致灾难

The fallout 放射性尘埃

Some natural disasters change history. Japan’s tsunami could be one

有些自然灾害改变历史,日本的海啸会是其中之一

THAT “tsunami” is one of the few Japanese words in global use points to the country’s familiarity with natural disaster. But even measured against Japan’s painful history, its plight today is miserable. The magnitude-9 earthquake—the largest ever in the country’s history, equivalent in power to 30,000 Hiroshimas—was followed by a wave which wiped out whole towns. With news dribbling out from stricken coastal communities, the scale of the horror is still sinking in. The surge of icy water shoved the debris of destroyed towns miles inland, killing most of those too old or too slow to scramble to higher ground (see article). The official death toll of 5,429 will certainly rise. In several towns over half the population has drowned or is missing.

“海啸”是世界通用的为数不多的日语词汇之一,这说明自然灾害在日本已是习以为常。但是,即便从日本多灾多难的历史来看,现在它所面临的这场灾难也是非常悲惨的。里氏9级的地震是该国历史上最大的一次,释放出的能量相当于投放于广岛的原子弹的30000倍。强震之后,海浪咆哮而至,把一座座城镇完全吞没。从受困的滨海地区传来的零星消息表明,恐惧仍在加深。冰冷的海水把被毁城镇的废墟卷向几英里外的内陆,夺去了大多数由于年龄太大或行动太慢而未能转移到较高地方人们的生命。官方公布的死亡数字5249肯定会增加。在几座城镇,半数以上的居民溺死或失踪。

In the face of calamity, a decent people has proved extremely resilient: no looting; very little complaining among the tsunami survivors. In Tokyo people queued patiently to meet their tax deadlines. Everywhere there was a calm determination to conjure a little order out of chaos. Volunteers have rushed to help. The country’s Self-Defence Forces, which dithered in response to the Kobe earthquake in 1995, have poured into the stricken area. Naoto Kan, the prime minister, who started the crisis with very low public support, has so far managed to keep a semblance of order in the country, despite a series of calamities that would challenge even the strongest of leaders. The government’s inept handling of the Kobe disaster did much to undermine Japan’s confidence in itself.

面对不幸,素养良好的民族表现出极其克制的一面:没有抢掠,海啸幸存者中也几乎没有什么抱怨。在东京,人们仍然耐心地排队缴税。每个地方都要一种平静的决心:在混乱中保持秩序。志愿者踊跃伸出援手。在1995年阪神地震中应对不力的日本自卫队已经奔赴受灾地区。虽然一连串的不幸对最坚强的领导人都是个挑战,但是此前就任于危难之际、公众支持率很低的日本首相菅直人现在也成功维持住了日本的秩序。政府应对阪神地震的无能大大降低了日本的自信。

The wider concern更广的担忧

The immediate tragedy may be Japan’s; but it also throws up longer-term questions that will eventually affect people all the way round the globe. Stockmarkets stumbled on fears about the impact on the world’s third-biggest economy. Japan’s central bank seems to have stilled talk of financial panic with huge injections of liquidity. Early estimates of the total damage are somewhat higher than the $100 billion that Kobe cost, but not enough to wreck a rich country. Disruption to electricity supplies will damage growth, and some Asian supply chains are already facing problems; but new infrastructure spending will offset some of the earthquake’s drag on growth.

眼前受灾的是日本,但也提出了一些长期性、最终将会影响全世界所有人的问题。出于对日本这个世界第三大经济体的担忧,股市跌停。日本的中央银行似乎已经通过大量注入流动性来平息人们对金融市场的恐慌。之前发布的全部损失估计值比阪神地震造成的损失值1000亿美元稍高,但不足以摧毁一个富国。电力供应中断将对经济增长产生破坏作用,亚洲的一些供应链已经面临问题;但是重建基础设施的投资将会抵消地震对经济增长的部分拖累。

Those calculations could change dramatically if the nuclear crisis worsens. As The Economist went to press, helicopters were dropping water to douse overheating nuclear fuel stored at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, where there have been explosions, fires and releases of radiation greater, it seems, than the Japanese authorities had admitted. The country’s nuclear industry has a long history of cover-ups and incompetence, and—notwithstanding the heroism of individual workers—the handling of the crisis by TEPCO, the nuclear plant’s operator, is sadly in line with its past performance.

如果核危机恶化,那些估计将会大幅改变。当经济学人下载付印时,直升机正在向福岛第一核电站注水,以给其中贮藏的现已过热的核燃料降温。该核电站已经发生过爆炸和起火,释放出的核辐射看来比日本当局承认的要大。掩盖真相和应对不力在日本的核工业由来已久,虽然作为个体的工人具有英雄主义情怀,但是该核电站的运营商东京电力公司处理这次危机还是跟它的以往表现一样,令人失望。

Even if the nuclear accident is brought under control swiftly, and the release of radiation turns out not to be large enough to damage public health, this accident will have a huge impact on the nuclear industry, both inside and outside Japan. Germany has already put on hold its politically tricky decision to extend the life of its nuclear plants. America’s faltering steps towards new reactors look sure to be set back, not least because new concerns will mean greater costs.

即使核事故很快得到控制,即使释放出的核辐射被证明不足以对公众健康产生危害,这次事故都将对不管是日本国内的还是日本国外的核工业产生很大影响。德国已经收回延长核电站寿命这一政治上很狡猾的决定。美国建设新反应堆的蹒跚脚步看来一定会退却,特别是因为新的担忧意味着更大的耗费。

China has announced a pause in its ambitious plans for nuclear growth. With 27 reactors under construction, more than twice as many as any other country, China accounts for almost half the world’s current nuclear build-out—and it has plans for 50 more reactors. And in the long term the regime looks unlikely to be much deterred from these plans—and certainly not by its public’s opinion, whatever that might be. China has a huge thirst for energy that it will slake from as many wells as it can, with planned big increases in wind power and in gas as well as the nuclear build-out and ever more coal-fired plants.

中国已经宣布暂停其雄心勃勃的核增长计划。中国有27个在建的核反应堆,是任何其他国家的2倍以上,占到世界现有核项目的将近一半,还有再建50个反应堆的计划。从长期来看,中国政府不太可能会畏惧于这些计划,当然也不会畏惧于民意(而无论民意如何)。中国对能源的饥渴似乎吸干多少口井都不够,政府准备大力增加风电和气能还有核电站,以及更多的燃煤火电站。

Thus the great nuclear dilemma. For the best nuclear safety you need not just good planning and good engineering. You need the sort of society that can produce accountability and transparency, one that can build institutions that receive and deserve trust. No nuclear nation has done this as well as one might wish, and Japan’s failings may well become more evident. But democracies are better at building such institutions. At the same time, however, democracy makes it much easier for a substantial and implacable minority to make sure things don’t happen, and that seems likely to be the case with plans for more nuclear power. Thus nuclear power looks much more likely to spread in societies that are unlikely to ground it in the enduring culture of safety that it needs. China’s nearest competitor in the new-build stakes is Russia.

因此,这是关于核电站的两难问题。要使核设施达到最高的安全性,不仅需要良好的规划和设计,还需要能够做到负责和透明的社会,因为这样的社会才能建立起能够得到并且值得信任的机构。有核国家没有哪个做得如同期望的那么好,由于这次事故日本未能做到这点可能变得更加明显。但是,民主国家更善于建立这种能够得到并且值得信任的机构。但是,民主同时也使少数执拗者更容易阻碍一定事情的发生,关于核能的计划似乎很可能面临这种情况。因此,在核能所需安全的持久文化不太可能为其提供支撑的社会,核能似乎更可能扩张。在新建核电站上跟中国最接近的对手是俄罗斯。

Yet democracies would be wrong to turn their back on nuclear power. It still has the advantages of offering reliable power, a degree of energy security, and no carbon dioxide emissions beyond those incurred in building and supplying the plants. In terms of lives lost it has also boasted, to date, a reasonably good record. Chernobyl’s death toll is highly uncertain, but may have reached a few thousand people. China’s coal mines certainly kill 2,000-3,000 workers a year, and coal-smogged air there and elsewhere kills many more. It remains a reasonable idea for most rich countries to keep some nuclear power in their portfolio, not least because by maintaining economic and technological stakes in nuclear they will have more standing to insist on high standards for safety and non-proliferation being applied throughout the world. But in the face of panic, of sinister towers of smoke, of invisible and implacable threats, the reasonable course is not an easy one.

但是,如果民主国家抛弃核能,那就错了。核能依然具有提供可靠电力、一定程度上保障能源安全、没有二氧化碳排放的优点。在致死数量方面,迄今为止,核能的记录合理而良好。切尔诺贝利的死亡人数现在还高度不确定,但可能已经达到几千人。中国的煤矿每年必定会夺取两三千工人的生命,煤矿和其他地方含有较多煤尘和烟雾的空气致死人数更多。对大多数富国来说,在能源组合中保留一些核能还是合理的想法,特别是因为通过维护在核问题经济和技术上的利益,它们在要求世界范围内采用高标准的安全性和不扩散方面会有更大的说服力。但是,在恐慌面前,在丑恶的烟塔面前,在隐形的和难以解除的威胁面前,这条合理的道路不会平坦。

Back to Tokyo话题转回东京

No country faces that choice more painfully than Japan, scarred by nuclear energy but also deprived of native alternatives. To abandon nuclear power is to commit the country to massive imports of gas and perhaps coal. To keep it is to face and overcome a national trauma and to accept a small but real risk of another disaster.

面对这个抉择,没有哪个国家像日本这样痛苦,核能给它留下累累疤痕,国家却又别无选择。如果放弃核能,日本就要大量进口天然气可能还有煤炭;如果保留核能,日本就要面对和解决国家性的创伤,接受发生另一场灾难这个可能性不大但又的确存在的风险。

Japan’s all too frequent experience of calamity suggests that such events are often followed by great change. After the earthquake of 1923, it turned to militarism. After its defeat in the second world war, and the dropping of the atom bombs, it espoused peaceful growth. The Kobe earthquake reinforced Japan’s recent turning in on itself.

日本极其频繁的不幸经历表明,这类事件之后通常会有巨大变化。在1923年的地震之后,日本转向了军国主义。在第二次世界大战失败、美国投下原子弹之后,日本赢得了和平的发展。阪神地震加强了日本近来转向国内的政策。

This new catastrophe seems likely to have a similarly huge impact on the nation’s psyche. It may be that the Japanese people’s impressive response to disaster, and the rest of the world’s awe in the face of their stoicism, restores the self-confidence the country so badly needs. It may be that the failings of its secretive system of governance, exemplified by the shoddy management of its nuclear plants, lead to more demands for political reform. As long as Mr Kan can convince the public that the government’s information on radiation is trustworthy, and that it can ease the cold and hunger of tsunami survivors, his hand may be strengthened to further liberalise Japan. Or it may be that things take a darker turn.

这次灾难似乎很可能会对日本的国民心理产生相似的巨大影响。日本人对灾难的态度令人印象深刻,世界对他们斯多葛哲学充满敬畏。日本人的这种作风可能重新架构起该国急需的自信。对核电站事故的乏力应对,代表了日本管理秘密体制的失败,对政治改革的要求会更强烈。只要菅直人能让民众相信政府公布的辐射信息是可信的,政府可以减轻海啸幸存者的寒冷和饥饿,他就还能加强改革、进一步促使日本自由化。否则,事情可能转向更糟的一面。

The stakes are high. Japan—a despondent country with a dysfunctional political system—badly needs change. It seems just possible that, looking back from a safe distance, Japan’s people will regard this dreadful moment not just as a time of death, grief and mourning, but also as a time of rebirth.

赌注较高。日本这个萎靡不振的国家,迫切需要改革它不正常的政治体制。如果日本人以后从一个安全的距离来回顾这段历史,他们完全可能把这个难熬的时段不仅视作死亡之时,痛苦之时,哀悼之时,还会把它视作再生之时。

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