The Law of Unintended Consequences

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rattled the ocean floor off the coast of Japan. It was the fourth largest earthquake ever recorded. It was so powerful, it moved Japan’s main island by 2.4 meters. It shifted the Earth’s axis by about 10 centimeters and sped up the planet’s rotation by a few microseconds.

If you wake up in 300 million years feeling slightly under slept, now you know who to blame.

The damage from the earthquake and the tsunami it produced was biblical in scale. With only eight minutes of warning, waves swept as far as ten kilometers inland, killing thousands and destroying entire towns within minutes. Official estimates put the total death toll for the entire disaster at over 15,000 people.

Fukushima damage - unintended consequences

But wait, it gets worse. Authorities quickly discovered that a number of the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant—one of the largest in the world—had been severely damaged. Huge quantities of radioactive material were leaking out into the surrounding areas, including into the Pacific Ocean. In the span of a single afternoon, a destructive act of nature had turned into a man-made nightmare, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since …