UTM aids in Japan crisis


Last week’s devastation in Japan left an estimated 10,000 people dead and another 10,000 missing.

On March 11 a magnitude 8.9 earthquake hit the northeast coast of Japan and caused a tsunami that carried with it buildings, cars, and boats. Several of Japan’s cities have been wiped out. Millions of people are left without electricity, water, and transportation.

The disaster also damaged a nuclear power plant, which remains in crisis. Three reactors have had partial meltdowns and the pools used to store spent nuclear fuel are dry and could heat up and spew radiation. Low levels of radiation have been detected south of the plant, about 220 km away.

Survivors are currently eating instant noodles, bread, and fruit.

“We could be living like this for a long time, so all we can do is stay in good spirits,” said Kouetsu Sasaki, a 60-year-old city hall worker, in an interview with The Toronto Star. “People here aren’t angry or frustrated yet. … But it’s a big question mark whether we can keep living like this for weeks or months. I try to concentrate on what I need to do this morning, this day, and not think about how long it might last.”

Students at UTM have been collecting funds through the Red Cross. All proceeds are going to the Japan relief fund. Students also turned to origami, which they sold. All proceeds were given to the Red Cross.

The Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Relief coalition will be holding events from March 21 to 25, including a vigil on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the MIST theatre. Students will continue to sell paper cranes in the CCT building, Davis Building, and Student Centre between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. All donations will be matched dollar for dollar by the UTMSU.

By March 17, the Canadian Red Cross donated $7.7 million (all from individual or corporate donations) to Japan’s relief fund.

“I want to thank Canadians deeply,” Kaoru Ishikawa, Japan’s ambassador to Canada, told The Winnipeg Free Press. “We are so grateful.”

The earthquake has also shifted the axis of the Earth by 25 centimetres, which could change time.

“Ten inches sounds like quite a lot when you hold a ruler in front of you. But if you think of it in terms of the Earth as a whole, it’s absolutely tiny; it’s minute,” U of T geology professor Andrew Miall told The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s going to make minute changes to the length of a day. It could make very, very tiny changes to the tilt of the Earth, which affects the seasons, but these effects are so small, it’d take very precise satellite navigation to pick it up.”

According to NASA, the redistribution of the Earth’s mass would cause the planet’s rotation to increase in speed of about 1.8 microseconds (millionths of a second).

“The one certainty is that there will be more earthquakes in this region, and probably another one as big as this,” said Dr. David Jepsen, a Geoscience Australia senior seismologist, in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

Three aftershocks have already been recorded, two on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. Their magnitudes were 6.0, 6.0, and 6.2.

Donations to help in the relief efforts can be made through the Japanese Red Cross, Unicef, Save the Children, or International Medical Corps through Google Crisis Response. Donations can also be made to the Canadian Red Cross.