Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Rise of Nuclear Fear

A good book to read: The Rise of Nuclear Fear: http://www.physicstoday.org/resource/1/phtoad/v65/i6/p55_s1?bypassSSO=1 "What comes to mind when you think about the word “nuclear”? Mushroom clouds, fallout, radiation, cooling towers—or something else? Nuclear power and nuclear energy form “one of the most powerful complexes of images ever created outside of religions,” writes noted historian of science Spencer Weart in his new book The Rise of Nuclear Fear. Weart’s latest is an extensively revised version of his 1988 classic Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Harvard University Press)."... "Weart is candid about his support of nuclear energy—not least to avert catastrophic climate change—and he devotes much of the second half of the book to arguing that Americans’ (and others’) fear of reactors is irrational on multiple levels. Compared with chemical plants or other forms of energy production, reactors are safer, more tightly regulated, and less damaging to individual health. (Weart attributes 10 000 premature deaths a year to coal smoke.) Yet reactors spawn fear, and symbolism is to blame. Weart writes that citizens worldwide subconsciously associate the tropes from movies and books about atomic war so that “nuclear reactors were lit by the reflected glare of nuclear weapons: that fear, disgust, and distrust of the industry stemmed in large part from its many intimate associations with the dreaded bombs.”"

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