CGEP Discussion on Nuclear Technology and Policy

On April 10, 2015 the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a “Discussion on Nuclear Technology and Policy.” The CGEP panel:

Tom Blees, President, The Science Council for Global Initiatives;
Travis Bradford, Associate Professor of Practice in International and Public Affairs; Director, Energy and Environment Concentration, Columbia SIPA;
Eric Loewen, Chief Consulting Engineer, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy; and,
Robert Stone, Director, Pandora’s Promise.

There is a lot of well-informed discussion – I recommend the 90 minute video. Around 1:04 Robert Stone was asked to comment on current public attitudes towards nuclear power. He replied that of the screenings where he was present “the response overwhelming support, over 90% in favor of what I’m saying in the film.” At 1:06 Robert goes in to the exceptions to this positive outlook. Following is a loose partial transcript:

Surprisingly, audiences in Europe are still infused with this idea that Chernobyl killed 100s of thousands of people. There are continual documentaries on television about that.

(…snip…) Probably the most controversial and shocking aspect of the film was what the World Health Organization has reported after years and years of study. WHO has published that substantially less than 100 people have had their lives shortened by the Chernobyl accident.

The mayor of the town of where 50,000 people were relocated from Chernobyl asked me to bring the film. They were so grateful for the film because there is this perception that we all have two headed babies, we are all dying of cancer. They said no documentary film maker has ever talked to them or visited them.

Europe: there have been so many EU TV documentaries claiming great damage/death caused by Chernobyl – and more that talked about Fukushima in the same way. No European broadcaster has shown Pandora’s Promise. 

They said we can’t show your film because it contradicts all the films that we have produced. They can’t both be true. It will undermine our credibility with our audience.

3 thoughts on “CGEP Discussion on Nuclear Technology and Policy

  1. Our approach to attempting to get support for nuclear power has been a failure, yet we irrationally continue to use the same approach, i.e., simply presenting objective information. By now it should be obvious that we need to change our approach.

    We have irrationally assumed that minds are changed by objectively presenting facts. Although that approach works for a few people, the vast majority of people are not swayed by facts alone. Obviously we need to find a different approach.

    To find an effective approach to getting support for nuclear power, we need to enlist the aid of psychologists and marketing experts in addition to scientists. They can develop different approaches to changing public opinion and use focus groups to test those approaches. When effective approaches have been found, we can implement them on an ever increasing scale.

  2. we can’t show your film because it contradicts all the films that we have produced. They can’t both be true. It will undermine our credibility with our audience.

    There is a reason why “lügenpresse” (lying press) is a meme.

    • What about the idea that ALL sides of a matter should be aired so that people can make up their own minds? I’m sure we’ll agree that there is something seriously wrong here.

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