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Enlightenment and Renaissance: Which Should Come First for Nuclear

Meredith Angwin's picture
, Carnot Communications

Former project manager at Electric Power Research Institute. Chemist, writer, grandmother, and proponent of nuclear energy.

  • Member since 2018
  • 81 items added with 29,047 views
  • Jan 13, 2012
Several months ago I blogged about an engineering presentation at Dartmouth. Dr. Swartz presented a talk with the provocative title: If Vermont Yankee Had an Accident Like Fukushima.
Swartz concluded that the “worried well” would be the major problem after any type of nuclear accident. Civilians would not receive radiation at a dose that would measurably increase their chances of getting cancer or limit their life-expectancy. They would also not believe any official assurances that this was the case. Dr. Swartz said it is up to the scientific community to explain the facts to people, and to reduce the health effects of widespread fear and anxiety.
In other words, we need education about radiation. We need widespread enlightenment about its effects.
Llewellyn King and Nuclear
Nuclear Townhall is sponsoring a set of videos about nuclear energy. In the short video below, Llewellyn King explains why the Enlightenment (education) has to come before the Renaissance (new plants) in this country. In history, the Renaissance came far earlier than the Enlightenment. So the nuclear industry has its work cut out for it!

Llewellyn King is an iconic figure in energy information, having founded Energy Daily about forty years ago. I remember Energy Daily from my days at EPRI. Copies were passed around among relatively low-level technical employees like myself and other project managers. Division heads received their own copies. Everyone read it every day, because it was the best source of insights for the energy industry. I do mean that everyone at EPRI read it. If a nuclear research manager had lunch in the cafeteria with a coal research manager, they would have a common point of conversation: the articles in Energy Daily.
King recently wrote a splendid op-ed about nuclear power: Sound the Trumpets for Nuclear Power. It’s not particularly politically correct for this state. For example, his editorial praises the role of the U S Nuclear Navy in keeping the peace. Still, every now and again, I like to share the words of someone who speaks the truth, even if it is impolitic.
It makes a refreshing change from watching the Vermont legislature in action.
Jesse Parent's picture
Jesse Parent on Jan 19, 2012

I agree that the ‘enlightenment’ will have to come first. There’s an unfortunate lack of ‘serious’ energy discussion in the states, (which may be rather obvious).


In other words, it would be the duty of the scientific community to reduce one of the major public health effects of any type of accident: fear and anxiety.

I agree about that as well, from the blog post. I wonder if the scientific community will be able to bring about an enlightment or serious discussion in general – there’s going to be a lot of breakthroughs before the anxiety and politicization can be overcome in a serious manner.

Meredith Angwin's picture
Thank Meredith for the Post!
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