A recent survey found that American attitudes toward the safety and efficiency of nuclear power may be shifting toward the negative. Just after the one year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, a Harris Interactive poll of 2,056 adults found that slightly more Americans now believe the risks of nuclear energy outweigh the benefits (41% to 40%).
This is a shift from 2009 and 2011 Harris polls which found that most Americans believed the benefits of nuclear power outweighed the risks (44% to 34% in 2009 and 42% to 37% in 2011).
Analysis of the poll results provided qualitative proof for the geographic and generational differences that many may suspect would divide Americans on this issue.
For instance, the South has the greatest concentration of nuclear power plants (almost twice as many as the East) and the highest percentage of adults who believe the benefits outweigh the risks (43%, compared to 33% in the East and 41% in the Midwest and West). Likewise those who identified as Baby Boomers (ages 48-66) or Matures (67 and older) are more likely to say benefits of nuclear power outweigh the risks than both Echo Boomers (ages 18-35) and Gen Xers (ages 36-47) are.
I find this particular statistic to be quite interesting, considering older Americans have seen first hand the destruction that can be caused by nuclear power.
Even more promising than the slight increase in Americans now concerned about nuclear risks vs. benefits is the fact that over the last three years, approval of renewable energy technologies has stayed strong. Since 2009, the Harris poll found that a majority of Americans believe that the benefits of solar, wind, and geothermal energy vastly outweigh the risks.
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