For the first time in its history, a Gallup poll has indicated the majority of Americans now oppose nuclear energy.
The 54% against nuclear power is up significantly from 43% just 12 months ago and the 44% favoring it is down from 51%.
Even soon after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, support had remained quite solid for nuclear energy – 57% in 2012.
According to Zeit Online, A total of 17,155,535 people (≈6%) live within 30 kilometres of a nuclear plant in the USA.
After the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster, the then-USSR set up an exclusion zone of 30 kilometres. A 20 kilometre exclusion zone was implemented around the Fukushima nuclear plant.
If the potential implications of living near a nuclear power station doesn’t seem to be the issue bothering people, what’s happened?
Gallup’s post-mortem of the results states “energy prices and the perceived abundance of energy sources are the most relevant factors in attitudes toward nuclear power, rather than safety concerns prompted by nuclear incidents.”
It’s perhaps not renewable energy that is contributing to the view of energy abundance either, but lower gasoline prices suggests Gallup; which is interesting given an increasing awareness about climate change and the damage fossil fuels have wreaked upon the planet in their extraction and use.
An earlier poll in March indicated 31% of Americans believe the U.S. will face critical energy shortage during next five years; down from 50% in 2012. The percentage describing the energy situation as “very serious” was near a historical low. In addition to low energy prices, Gallup states a warmer winter may have contributed to the optimism (an event that may be linked to fossil fuel use).
Missing from this year’s poll on attitudes towards nuclear energy (or perhaps not published in the report) were questions about wind and solar that have appeared previously.
A Gallup poll from March last year indicated Americans overall wanted increased emphasis on green energy alternatives such as wind and solar. Solar power was the most popular energy source, with 79% stating the country should put more emphasis on it. Wind power was close behind at 70%.