Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Polling the World on Nuclear Energy

accenture_logo We’re a little suspicious of polls because they are too often used to reinforce a, so to speak, pre-proven point.

Bisconti Research conducts polls for NEI, we know them to be honestly conducted and fair as can be, but could we blame you for doubting them, just a tiny bit, as you think, Ah, NEI? Well, no, unless you were expecting us to buy you drinks – then maybe yes.

But even if you let your guard down to accept poll results you might otherwise give the fishy eye, there’s the next poll – and the next one – and so on – and before you know it, Ross Perot did win that election. Wind energy is heavily supported by the prison population but not Sister Bernadette’s kindergarten class. Nuclear energy disturbs bird watchers but not gardeners.

So we’re a little suspicious of polls.

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That said, we much enjoyed the increased support for nuclear energy found by Zogby International and wondered whether its poll – and Bisconti’s, too - would see further work backing them up or showing them to be outliers. Well, here comes Accenture:

In the U.S., the picture is a little different. Overall support for nuclear power seems to be growing, with 37% of respondents saying they’ve become more supportive in recent years. And 81% favor using more nuclear power, with only 19% flat-out opposed to nukes. That opposition is due to concerns over plant safety, nuclear waste, terrorism, and cost, in that order.

That’s consistent enough with Zogby and Bisconti as not to matter, but where the real interest lie is that they rumbled through 20 countries looking for feedback.

The upshot? About 69% of people favor adding more nuclear power; 31% are opposed. In the past three years, 29% of people have become more supportive, and 19% have become more entrenched in their opposition.

Those numbers showing increased support (i.e., people changing their minds) are important, because they represent a audience receptive to all those things nuclear energy represents – non-carbon-emitting, locally managed, economic benefits, etc. As energy independence and security, as well as global warming concerns, become paramount in the public discourse, so does nuclear energy. The industry didn’t generate those connections, but since nuclear energy is the right key for these particular locks, there you go. Poll numbers go up and they stay pretty consistent.

Now, we should say that countries are not all on the same page, either in support for or in their lists of concern about nuclear energy. Additionally, throwing renewables into the mix with nuclear energy generates some interesting numbers that might reward analysis.

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Accenture’s business involves them with government and business policy, so it likely created this poll to start conversations with its clients, at lease some of whom must be taking a fresh look at their energy options. That Accenture is publicizing the poll may well benefit their core business. Take all this into account.

Also:

New York-based Accenture, a global management consulting and technology firm, works with nuclear industry clients, primarily in information technology.

Suspicion never dies.

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You cannot look at this poll directly – it’s behind a pay wall – but google around for “Accenture nuclear poll” and run through some of the stories that summarize it. Here’s a story from Reuters UK to get you started. Fascinating stuff.

Accenture’s logo. Not our absolute favorite, but clean and simple, no?

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