Studies have shown that attitudes towards Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom since the Japan incident have remained relatively unchanged. For more info visit website: http://www.niauk.org/News-Stories/Survey-shows-public-support-for-nuclear-power-remains-unchanged.html
I find this quite astounding but also comforting in the thought that once the public is convinced of the positives of nuclear power, their attitudes might be quite robust. Perhaps this is why it has been so difficult to convince Australians of the pros of Nuclear power, or perhaps the problem lies with simple science awareness problems.
A Mcnair Gallup Poll in 2007 (http://www.mcnairingenuity.com/Portals/0/PDF/McNair%20Gallup%20Poll%20-%202%20in%205%20Australians%20Favour%20Nuclear%20Power%20(Feb%202007).pdf)
suggests that attitudes in Australia towards Nuclear Power are improving, albeit slowly. In 1979 a dismal 39% of Australians were in favour of Nuclear Power with 56% opposing and the remaining 10% unsure on the matter. However a poll in 2007 showed that support for Nuclear Power in Australia had risen to 41%, a seven percent increase in 28 years with those opposing only dropping to 53% and those unsure being 6%. We should also note that those 28 years have seen France become a nuclear success story, and that in the number of nuclear power plants throughout the world from 1980 to 2006 rose by 54%! http://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/publications/pdf/rds2-26_web.pdf
Reliance on coal in 2006 was 41% with nuclear 15%, yet according the the World Coal Association there are 2300 coal fired power stations throughout the world with over 7000 individual units compared with only 441 Nuclear Power stations. That means that to meet the production of coal power plants on a power plant basis; nuclear need only install another 764 power plants, perhaps even less with fast breeder and thorium reactors coming online.
What baffles me is in light of all the evidence, scientific papers, and success stories is why we don’t have more support for Nuclear Power. With so many nations making the change and reaping the benefits why isn’t Australia taking advantage of this? We have abundant reserves of uranium, and instead of storing and utilising, we sell to other countries.
The only conclusion I can come up with for such slowly unchanging attitudes to a very positive idea is perhaps misinformation. According to a paper from 2007 I recently read called “Attitudes to Nuclear Power. Are they Shifting?” by Clive Hamilton and Andrew Macintosh:
“Only around a third of Australians (36 per cent) support the construction of nuclear power plants and the level of support has remained fairly stable since May 2006. There was a small decrease in opposition to nuclear power between December 2006 and April 2007 (from 50 per cent to 46 per cent). The proportion of Australians who are strongly opposed to nuclear power (31 per cent) is almost double that which is strongly in favour (16 per cent). It appears that the small shift in opposition has predominantly been toward being undecided rather than being in favour of nuclear power.
Opposition to nuclear power is highest among women (55 per cent), the young (49 per cent) and middle-aged (49 per cent), parents (50 per cent), people from middle income households (49 per cent) and those living in Tasmania (57 per cent), Western Australia (55 per cent) and Victoria (51 per cent).
Support for nuclear power is highest amongst men (47 per cent), older Australians (43 per cent), people without children (40 per cent) and those living in South Australia (47 per cent) and New South Wales (41 per cent).”
This suggests that many who were recently opposed to Nuclear are now unsure in light of new evidence, but not struck by strong enough evidence to make an informed decision. Is information on Nuclear Power really that hard to find? Or is it just because I am interested in the topic that it seems there such an endless supply of information on Nuclear Power that it could be impossible to be misinformed on the subject? I suppose that’s simply the problem though; with so much information there’s also false and misleading information, and what a disservice its doing to society.