Famous British journalist tells the story of nuclear transforming from antagonism to advocacy



From Ünlü İngiliz gazeteci karşıtlıktan savunuculuğa dönüşen nükleer öyküsünü anlattı in ÇAMLIK, 21st October 2020 (Google Translation from Turkish)

Zion Lights

Environment Journalist Zion Lights, Representative of the United Kingdom for the Environment Development Organization, told the story of turning from anti-nuclear energy to advocacy. Stating that the media had a great impact on the formation of anti-nuclear public opinion, British journalist Lights said “Nuclear energy is our only real option to achieve zero carbon emissions. To change the public perception of nuclear energy, we need to focus on all the positives it brings to us. Nuclear should be rebranded as green energy, ”he said.

One third of all low carbon electricity produced in the world is supplied by nuclear energy. Legends and prejudices about nuclear energy, which has been emphasized to play a vital role in the fight against global climate change, for decades cause the importance of the clean energy transition to not be adequately conveyed.

"Nuclear energy deserves to be better known"

Rafael Mariano Grossi, Managing Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), drew attention to the contribution of nuclear energy, a proven advanced technology, in overcoming major challenges in achieving sustainable development and climate goals. Stating that nuclear energy deserves to be known 'better' by the public, Grossi said, “Nuclear energy offers a stable and reliable power source. It can help both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the needs of the world's growing population; especially in developing countries. Nuclear power plants produce almost no greenhouse gas emissions or environmental pollutants during their operations. It becomes a vital complement to discontinuous energy sources such as wind and solar energy. Nuclear energy,

While nuclear power was scratching, it became one of supporting activists

There are quite interesting findings of the famous British journalist Zion Lights, who specializes in environmental issues, regarding the difficulties in accepting these characteristics of nuclear energy by the wider masses, which Grossi also highlighted. Noting that misperceptions and ideas about radiation and the mixing of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are the main problems in this regard, Lights, in the past, was a spokesperson for the anti-nuclear energy global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion, and today he has turned into one of the 'nuclear energy supporter' activists. The story of this transformation also sheds light on what needs to be done to make nuclear energy known 'better' as Grossi has said.

"The media has a great impact on the formation of public anti-nuclear"

Lights says the media has had a great impact on the formation of public anti-nuclear power. “The myth that nuclear is bad is an easy narrative to absorb people. "Fear-based reporting also contributed to nuclear misinformation, which made the anti-nuclear images stronger," said Lights, who is now the UK Director of the Environmental Development Organization. The famous journalist explaining how his perspective on nuclear energy has changed with the questions asked by Nicole Jawerth from IAEA Public Information and Communication Office, is as follows:

“I have heard many legends about how harmful nuclear waste and radiation are. In fact, in the environmental movement I've been involved for most of my life, most people believe these myths. But about 6 or 7 years ago, when I was a member of the Green Party, I participated in an energy debate and tried to ask a question about nuclear. But your question quickly fell over. I felt something was wrong, so I spoke to an engineer friend of mine. He sent me a scientific article about the number of deaths said to have been caused by radiation in the Fukushima accident, one of the legends I believe. My belief was that many people died from the radiation disaster. But the truth is that None of those killed in this accident were killed by radiation. This pushed me deeper.

"Nuclear energy is our only real option to achieve zero carbon emissions"

Defending that nuclear energy is the only real option to achieve zero carbon emissions, Lights said, “We live with the effects of global warming, which makes life more complicated for those who currently live in poverty, strains economies around the world, and causes the extinction of biological species. We need clean energy options to cope with global warming, reverse these effects, lift people out of poverty, and reduce the negative impact of industry on the quality of air we breathe. Nuclear power is our only real option to achieve zero carbon emissions. Nuclear stands out not only because it takes up little space, but also that a single facility can provide 80 years of clean energy. However, we often see countries using coal or natural gas to fill their energy deficit.

"People confuse nuclear energy with nuclear weapons"

“The myth that nuclear is bad is an easy narrative to absorb people,” Lights says. Nuclear energy has also had a negative image for a long time due to its popular culture characteristics. For example, when I talk to people who are afraid of nuclear waste, I found that they think that waste is a terrifying green, corrosive liquid as shown in TV shows or movies. Ideas about radiation are likewise wrong, and people confuse nuclear power with nuclear weapons. To change the public perception of nuclear energy, we need to focus on how to talk about it, who will talk about nuclear, and all the positives that nuclear energy brings to us rather than the current 'safe' industry line. Nuclear should be rebranded as green energy ”.

"Unknown facts cause legends and fears"

Touching on how to change the perception of nuclear, Lights said, “It is important to start with the root causes of people's fears. Most of them have no clear idea of ​​what radiation, teleportation or nuclear energy is. Many do not know that radiation naturally occurs from the ground and from space, that it is around us, that it can be easily measured and protected from it when necessary. Lack of knowledge causes myths and fears. Simple, concrete facts that address myths and concerns directly should be told. This method can help dispel certain fears, rather than refer to stacks of data, numbers, and lengthy articles that many people wouldn't actually read. But the main thing is to be a kind, patient and understanding communicator ”.