Archive for August, 2011

How worried are we really about energy security?

Posted in Climate Sock, Energy sources on August 29th, 2011 by leo – Comments Off on How worried are we really about energy security?

Last month we saw data on whether climate change or energy security is seen as more pressing.

The results were interesting. They suggested that people were more willing to reduce their energy consumption to help the environment than to protect the UK’s energy security; yet it also seemed that people wanted the government to prioritise protecting the energy supply over providing more environmentally friendly electricity.

It’s since been pointed out to me that the wording of the ‘personal responsibility’ question may have had a misleading influence. The option for energy security was phrased as ‘To conserve energy now to make sure the UK has enough in future’.

As was suggested to me, an interviewee might take issue with the implication that there are transferable units of electricity that can be used immediately or saved for later. Of course not using a unit of electricity today doesn’t mean that the unit will continue to be available tomorrow.

So perhaps my conclusion, that individuals see themselves as having a greater role in tackling climate change than they do in tackling energy security, was overstated.

And in fact another poll suggests exactly that.

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What difference has Fukushima made to attitudes to nuclear power?

Posted in Climate Sock, Energy sources on August 20th, 2011 by leo – Comments Off on What difference has Fukushima made to attitudes to nuclear power?

One of the idiosyncrasies of the nuclear industry is that they love polling. As a result we have a pretty good idea of what the world thinks of nuclear power, and how it’s changed over the years.

Charmingly, they’ve kept at the public polling after Fukushima, and so we can see how opinion’s changed after that, too. This is really useful because with an event this prominent, the media tend to assume that the public have been paying attention, and that public opinion must have undergone a dramatic shift.

Sometimes this is fair. The MPs’ expenses scandal did capture public attention and brought attitudes towards politicians even lower than they had been before.  But other high-profile media stories, like the UEA email release, came and went without having all that much impact on public opinion.

In the UK and US at least, Fukushima is looking like the latter kind of story, where a lot of media attention doesn’t lead to much of a change of attitudes.

It’s certainly had a huge amount of coverage. Compare on Google Trends for the UK the words “nuclear” and “news of the world”, the other major story of the last few months (before the riots, which dwarf the others):

So “nuclear” seems to have got more news coverage than “news of the world”, but been used slightly less in searches. We get something similar (with fewer hits) if we use “Fukushima” or “hacking”.

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