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Public opinion


While some countries like USA and France are still uisng, and deopending on, nuclear power, still the public there are opposed to new nuclear plants.

Nuclear power and the public. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, BY M. V. RAMANA | 3 AUGUST 2011 Article Highlights Opinion polls show that public support for nuclear power has declined since the Fukushima crisis began, not only in Japan but also in other nations around the world. People oppose nuclear power for a variety of reasons, but the predominant concern is the perception that it is a risky technology. Some communities that are closely associated with it even suffer from stigmatization. The nuclear industry has tried a variety of strategies to break down public resistance to nuclear power — including information campaigns, risk comparisons, and efforts to promote nuclear power as a solution to climate change. None of these strategies has worked well, mostly because the public lacks trust in the nuclear industry. Public resistance to nuclear power is likely to continue, making it difficult to site and build new reactors. This resistance may be a major obstacle to the rapid expansion of nuclear power.

Japan is by no means alone. Around the world, nuclear energy has declined in popularity. In the United States, for example, a Washington Post-ABC poll conducted in April 2011 found that 64 percent of Americans opposed the construction of new reactors. Another poll, conducted by CBS News in March 2011, soon after the Fukushima crisis began, found that only 43 percent of those polled would approve of building new reactors, down from a 57 percent approval rating in 2008. Support for nuclear power was similar or lower in countries as varied as Chile (12 percent), Thailand (16.6 percent), Australia (34 percent), and the United Kingdom (35 percent). Even in France, which relies on nuclear power for about three-quarters of its electricity, one poll found that a majority (57 percent) were in favor of abandoning nuclear energy.

These approval ratings are not strictly comparable because the polls were conducted by different agencies, asking different questions and providing different kinds of information prior to asking the questions. Nevertheless, there is little doubt among those who study public opinion on nuclear power that, by and large, it does not command much support.

Nuclear power wasn’t always so unpopular. For example, in the United States in 1977, when CBS News conducted its first poll on nuclear power, 69 percent of those surveyed expressed support for building more nuclear plants. Just two years later, after the Three Mile Island accident, public support had plummeted to 46 percent, and it dropped further to 34 percent after the 1986 Chernobyl accident. Since the 1980s, a majority of the US population has consistently opposed the construction of new nuclear reactors. Not coincidentally, there has been practically no nuclear construction in the United States since Three Mile Island. The public perceives nuclear power as a very risky technology…..The nuclear industry has tried a variety of strategies to break down public resistance to nuclear power, but they haven’t worked well.

…..The full contents of this article are available in the July/August issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and can be found here.

Public Opinion on Nuclear Goes Critical  Mother Jones, —By Kate Sheppard, Mar. 23, 2011  “….The poll, conducted by ORC International on behalf of the Civil Society Institute (CSI), found that two-thirds of respondents said they would protest the construction of a new nuclear reactor within 50 miles of their homes. Fifty-three percent said they support “a moratorium on new nuclear reactor construction in the United States” and would prefer energy efficiency and renewables…. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press also released a new poll on Tuesday that found nuclear support had taken a nose-dive….

As for funding these new nuclear plants, 73 percent in the CSI poll said they don’t think taxpayers should “take on the risk for the construction of new nuclear power reactors” with federal loan guarantees. The Obama administration has made expanding the loan guarantees a major part of its energy agenda, but there have been plenty of concerns about forcing taxpayers to foot the bill if something goes wrong.

When Gallup last polled Americans on nuclear power in 2009, it found support at a new high—59 percent of the public favored it.

Continuing Gender Gap over Nuclear Power, Pew Research Centre, March 21, 2011There has long been a wide gender gap in views of increased use of nuclear power and these differences persist amid the crisis in Japan. By greater than two-to-one (63% to 26%), women oppose promoting the increased use of nuclear power. A narrow majority of men (53%) favor the increased use of nuclear power while 42% are opposed….

Japan’s public backs abandonment of nuclear power, Press TV, Jul 25, 2011  “… nuclear power  is often seen, as Prime Minister Naoto Kan put it at a recent press conference, as a technology too dangerous for human hands.
A new public opinion poll underlines the change.
Do you support the abandonment of nuclear energy?… 70% of the Japanese public says yes……the information to hand suggests that while the current administration may not last much longer, the non-nuclear vision which Prime Minister Naoto Kan has outlined for his nation may prove to have considerably more longevity… …

Fabricated public opinion is the norm. Japan Times, 8 Aug 11, By PHILIP BRASOR “……What’s disturbing about the recent rash of nuke-related yarase (fakery) is not the authorities’ cynicism, which is part of the job description, but the general public’s presumed apathy. “Most people think (the nuclear issue) has nothing to do with them,” Kawakami says. Thus, you can’t claim, as the media does, that public opinion is manipulated. It’s manufactured. That’s NISA’s job, and always has been. So it hardly matters if the energy agency is censoring the news. Media monitoring is just busywork, a game between the authorities and the press. The citizens might be entertained, but until they’re encouraged to participate as free-thinking individuals, they won’t be engaged.

Opposition to nukes in California grows, Cal Coast News, July 28, 2011 A new public opinion poll indicates that support for nuclear energy has dropped sharply in California.The poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reveals that nuclear energy, which had been enjoying an upswing in public support, is now viewed with concern since last spring’s disaster in Japan.

Nearly two-thirds of Californians now oppose building more nuclear plants in the state—the lowest level of support ever found ini a PPIC poll. The findings are consistent with a similar PPIC conducted last month….

Citizens across world oppose nuclear power, poll finds Guardian UK by  23 June 2011 The debate over nuclear energy is fiendishly complex, but one important factor is public opinion, and people in 24 nations across the world oppose it.    A new opinion poll from Ipsos MORI tells us: 62% of citizens in 24 countries across the world oppose the use of nuclear energy, with a quarter of those having change their minds after the Fukushima disaster….This is a proper poll, across a wide range of countries ….

The most anti-nuclear nations in the poll, at about 80% against, were ItalyGermany and Mexico. Only three of the 24 countries had majorities that favoured nuclear power: India (61%), Poland (57%) and the US (52%). The UK and Sweden were split 50-50 within the uncertainty cited.

In France, where most of the electricity is produced by nuclear, 67% opposed it, the same percentage as in coal-rich Australia…….

With 62% against, nuclear was the least popular, followed by coal (52% against), gas (20%), hydroelectricity (9%), wind power (7%) and solar power (3%).

Polls can’t tell us why people hold the opinions they do. But its blindingly clear that renewables have global support. It is possible to keep the lights on without nuclear, if renewables get the huge support needed from governments. My question is whether governments are listening to what people want?

Methodology: The survey was conducted in 24 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. An international sample of 18,787 adults aged 18-64 were interviewed between May 6 and May 21, 2011 via the Ipsos Online Panel system. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated in each country with the exception of Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Russia and Turkey, where each have a sample 500+. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflected that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points for a sample of 1,000 and an estimated margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points for a sample of 500.   

Declining Support for Nuclear Energy in Japan, Nuclear Files,  September/October 1999 A public opinion poll conducted last August showed that more and more people are concerned about the safety of nuclear power in Japan. Most daily papers only printed these general outcome of the survey but a more precise look at the details shows that the concern goes far beyond the superficial, general concern almost everyone has…..(CSI).

in the 80’s and in the 90’s there was a rapid increase of those who either wanted to reduce the use of nuclear power or were against the usage, an outcome that clearly rejects the governments policy of increasing the role of nuclear power….

Over Half of U.S. Adults Now Back Moratorium on New Reactors … Three Out Four Oppose More Taxpayer-Backed Federal Loan Guarantees, Favor Increasing Emphasis on Renewables, Would Make Companies Liable for Fukushima-Style Disaster Clean Up Costs. 
WASHINGTON, D.C.///March 22, 2011///While a drop in public support for nuclear power would be expected after an incident like the Fukushima reactor crisis, the nuclear disaster in Japan has triggered a much stronger response among Americans, a majority of whom would freeze new nuclear power construction, stop additional federal loan guarantees for reactors, shift away from nuclear power to wind and solar power, and eliminate the indemnification of the nuclear power industry from most post-disaster clean up costs, according to a major new survey conducted by ORC International for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute 

Australia’s Senator Scott Ludlam addresses Footprints For Peace  Aug 22, as walkers leave for their 1250 Km walk trek in Australia – protesting against uranium mining

“………The campaign, now in its third generation, is carrying the hopes of people all around the world that we will close this nuclear cycle. They are not marching for safer uranium mining, they are not marching for slightly better regulation of this toxic industry; they are marching—and I am here to add my voice to theirs—to close this industry down once and for all. We know that the legacy of uranium mining absolutely will not be over and done with in my lifetime or in the lifetime of the children who come to visit us in the public gallery every day, because the toxic products and by-products of this industry are deadly for so many hundreds of thousands of years. But we can play our part to prevent more of these carcinogenic places from being exploited and opened up by the mining sector.

………Public opinion, which has flatlined the progress of the civil nuclear industry since the 1980s when most countries simply stopped building these facilities, has turned sharply against the industry. The industry believes this is simply a consequence of the Fukushima disaster on Japan’s Pacific coast, but the roots run much deeper than that. Public opinion has reasserted itself in countries and places where public opinion is taken seriously. I cannot provide you an opinion poll from China because I am not even aware if such things are taken, but I can provide one courtesy of an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by MV Ramana, who provides links to the polls. I will just mention a couple. Support for civil nuclear power—this does not go into the weapons issue—in Chile is 12 per cent, not a very popular industry in Chile. It is 16 per cent in Thailand, 34 per cent here in Australia and 35 per cent in the United Kingdom, and 57 per cent of French citizens want to abandon nuclear energy—in France, which we are told is one of the pillars of the nuclear industry around the world.

Between 41 and 54 per cent of Japanese oppose nuclear energy but many say it is much higher. I think the politics of nuclear energy in Japan will take some time to work through. In 2005 a poll showed 82 per cent of Japanese favoured nuclear industry. The consequences of the horrific disaster in Tohoku I think have changed that and have changed it permanently, right up to the very highest levels of Japanese politics. The interest groups are still very well entrenched; the vested interests pushing the reprocessing and the civil nuclear power and the research side are still terribly well entrenched in Japan. But this is one of our major client countries and public opinion there has shifted very quickly. In the middle of April 17,000 people protested at two demonstrations in Tokyo, and 60,000 people marched in demonstrations in Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukushima in June of this year. In July of this year Hidankyo, the group that represents the 10,000 or so survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan, the first generation of hibakusha, called for the very first time for the elimination of the civilian nuclear industry.

In Germany 60,000 people participated in a protest on 12 March, forming a 45-kilometre human chain from Stuttgart to the Neckarwestheim power plant in Germany. And 110,000 people demonstrated in 450 other German towns on 14 March. This is a country that had intimate experience with the far end of the nuclear fuel chain, …

In Switzerland, 20,000 people turned out, marching peacefully near the Beznau nuclear power plant, the oldest one in Switzerland. In Taiwan, 2,000 people demanded an immediate halt to the construction of the country’s fourth nuclear power plant in March of this year. In Russia, the environmental groups Ecodefense and Groza risked a great deal by recently demonstrating in front of Rosatom. We do not hear a great deal here in Australia about the Russian antinuclear movement. Those are people who take risks that I could not even imagine to do the kind of work that I do here. People have been killed in Russia for expressing their views on the so-called peaceful nuclear industry and the extraordinary carnage that has been writ in the Russian and Eastern European populations by this industry.

In India last Wednesday a hunger strike was held at the Koodankulam reactor, where a plant is currently under construction. I have had a bit to do with the Indian antinuclear movement over the last 12 years or so. They are amazingly inspiring. They carry, I think, the original intent of Gandhi’s ahimsa into their campaigns against these appallingly misconceived and very, very dangerous projects in India.

In the United States, two dozen groups launched a legal challenge to the US nuclear regulator to stall the extension of the operation of ageing reactors.

The industry is in such grave and serious trouble around the world because very few countries have been building these plants since literally the late 1970s, before the Three Mile Island near disaster at which the evacuation of a million people was contemplated. It has bankrupted a generation of utilities and investors and it will do so again. We have a different proposal, which is the orderly phase-out worldwide of this industry that has brought such misery in so many places. People have died in this struggle, from Karen Silkwood to Fernando Pereira, who died in 1985 when the Rainbow Warrior was sunk in a terrorist operation conducted by the French government. Hilda Murrell, the aunt of Rob Green, the retired UK navy commander, died in 1984 and the investigation into the cover-up of her murder is ongoing. Anna Mae Aquash, a Native American woman, was murdered in 1975 for opposing uranium mining at Pine Ridge, and a Russian antinuclear activist was killed in 2007 in a protest outside a future uranium enrichment site. The industry would do well to pay attention. These voices are not from the fringe. We are not going anywhere and we will not rest until this industry finally has been closed down.



  1. […] pocket, a vested interests in business and official circles that disciple chief energy. But some 70% of a Japanese open favors phasing out chief power given of slow reserve concerns; 150,000 people sojourn displaced by a 3 reactor meltdowns in 2011. […]

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  2. […] pocket, a vested interests in business and official circles that disciple chief energy. But some 70% of a Japanese open favors phasing out chief power given of slow reserve concerns; 150,000 people sojourn displaced by a 3 reactor meltdowns in 2011. […]

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  3. […] the vested interests in business and bureaucratic circles that advocate nuclear energy. But some 70% of the Japanese public favors phasing out nuclear power because of lingering safety concerns; 150,000 people remain displaced by the three reactor […]

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  4. […] pocket, a vested interests in business and official circles that disciple chief energy. But some 70% of a Japanese open favors phasing out chief power given of slow reserve concerns; 150,000 people sojourn displaced by a 3 reactor meltdowns in 2011. […]

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