[ RadSafe ] Devil's bargain? Energy risks and the public

Fred Dawson fd003f0606 at blueyonder.co.uk
Mon Jul 9 04:36:44 CDT 2012

UK Parliament - Published today

Science and Technology Committee - First Report Devil's bargain? Energy
risks and the public



30. When public risk perceptions diverge from the scientifically objective
risks it should not necessarily be characterised as irrational or
anti-scientific. Public concerns may be influenced by the level of
scientific understanding, but are also likely to be influenced by other
affective (that is, feeling or emotion-based) factors that may not be
changed by explaining risk in scientific terms.

31. It is possible for some of the fright factors affecting risk perceptions
to be mitigated, for example by building public trust, communicating
effectively, improving risk governance and operating in a transparent
manner. We make further recommendations on how risk communication should be
coordinated in the next chapter.

32. The Government considers nuclear power to be an essential part of the
UK's energy mix. The evidence shows that around half of the population
support this, even though it may be a reluctant support for the least worst
option. The Government's position as an advocate for nuclear power makes it
difficult for the public to trust it as an impartial source of information.
In our view, this perceived lack of impartiality further emphasises the
importance of Government demonstrating that all energy policies are strongly
based on rigorous scientific evidence.

33. We have summarised the complex social issues governing risk perceptions
briefly in this chapter. The next chapter focuses on risk communication and


Fred Dawson
New Malden

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