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Phase out nukes? The answer depends on where you live
Article Type: News items From: Disaster Prevention and Management, Volume 20, Issue 1
A total of 47 percent of scientifically literate readers answering an online poll think nuclear power should be phased out, replaced with other clean energy sources.
The magazines Scientific American and Nature conducted a self-selecting poll of 21,000 of their readers about trust in scientists. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the audience polled, scientists were most trusted to provide accurate information about important public issues. Religious authorities and elected officials were least trusted.
The poll asked a couple of questions about nuclear power. Although nearly half thought nukes should be replaced with alternative energy sources, there were substantial differences between European and American respondents.
Among Europeans responding to the poll, 66 percent said they were not comfortable with the risks associated with nuclear power. Only 18 percent of US respondents were uncomfortable with the technology’s risks. Only 5 percent of Europeans claimed to be “totally comfortable” with nuke risks, while 24 percent of Americans were.
The poll also found growing acceptance of human-caused climate change. Despite the recent Climate-gate e-mail controversy, people around the world have become more certain that humans are altering the climate. About 80 percent of those polled agreed “humans are significantly changing global climate.”
These results, while interesting, were not done in a statistically rigorous manner. There were about 4,800 responses from the USA, for instance, and only 269 from China. “The respondents were self-selected, so some subsets of readers may simply have bypassed the questionnaire. And cultural differences may have influenced how people from different countries responded to identical questions,” says a story in Nature.
(Natural Hazards Observer, November 2010)