Challenging dominant radiological and nuclear risk communication narratives in a post-trust and post-truth environment
While climate change has given nuclear power a new lease on life as a carbon neutral source of energy, it is the subject of almost unique public dread. This poses a significant, if geographically uneven, obstacle to any nuclear renaissance. The aim of this research is to understand the determinants of public perceptions of nuclear power and the potential for scientific risk communication interventions to change them in a ‘post-truth’ era of pervasive public distrust. This project will:Explore the historical evolution of public risk perceptions around nuclear power and radiation.Explain whether, how, and why those perceptions vary and change.Develop and test communication interventions to shift public perceptions.The Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF) is a suitable theoretical framework to use for the creation of risk communications strategies as it accounts for the complex socio-cultural, socio-political and historical framing that radiation and nuclear inevitably is subject to (Kasperson, 2012). Additionally, it also provides a framework for how to attenuate perceived risks, something that is central to this project. Fukushima highlighted that risk communication strategies for nuclear power are inadequate and the need for effective strategies to be designed prior to the next nuclear accident. This research will therefore be able to make significant academic contributions, not only in regards to risk communication around nuclear power and radiation, but wider contributions in regards to SARF and post truth/trust research.
9 – Political Ecology, Energy & Environmental Health