Nuclear Power and Public Opinion

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The debate over nuclear energy dates back over 50 years. 1950s marked the golden era of nuclear energy where it was supposed to produce unlimited amount of energy, too cheap to be metered. Although the dream of “almost free” electricity never materialized, the oil embargo of 1970s provided the new ammunition to nuclear enthusiasts and nuclear energy became once more the cornerstone of US energy policy. The nuclear accidents at TMI in 1979, and Chernobyl in 1986 along with release of the movie “China Syndrome” dampened the public enthusiasm and nuclear power became a “dirty” name, seemingly nobody wanted to be a part of it. The public reaction forced the government to ban construction of new nuclear reactors that is still in effect. The new surge in the price of petroleum, desire for a greater independency from foreign oil, and the rising awareness on threat of CO2 emission and global warming has, however, renewed the debate once again. The new polls suggest that over 50% of the population want to keep the nuclear option open and part of the overall US energy policy. Similar trends can be seen in Europe and Asian countries.

References

(1) Toossi Reza, "Energy and the Environment:Sources, technologies, and impacts", Verve Publishers, 2005

Further Reading

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