Nuclear Power and the Public
This study is an attempt to understand attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors with respect to nuclear power and several other technological risk sources. A unique feature of the study is a comparison between public views in the United States, where nuclear energy is resisted, and France, where nuclear energy appears to be embraced (France obtains about 80% of its electricity from nuclear power).
Although the experiences of France and the U.S. with regard to nuclear energy overlap during the post World War II decades, there are a number of significant differences in timing, motivation toward adopting nuclear power, the economic context, the cultural and political milieu, regulation, and financing of the industry. We would expect these conditions to be associated with significant differences between French and American attitudes and opinions about nuclear power and related issues.
saw greater need for nuclear power and greater economic benefit from it;
had greater trust in scientists, industry, and government officials who design, build, operate, and regulate nuclear power plants;
were more likely to believe that decision-making authority should reside with the experts and government authorities, rather than with the people.
These findings point to some important differences between the workings of democracy in the U.S. and France and the effects of different “democratic models” on acceptance of risks from technology.
KeywordsNuclear Power Plant Risk Perception Nuclear Waste Motor Vehicle Accident Ozone Depletion
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