There seems to be a consensus in the media the the events in Fukushima have significantly decreased the public's approval of nuclear energy.

See for example this article by the Telegraph.

Is there any evidence to back this up or is this just sulf-fulfilling fear mongering?

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    Doesn't have an objective answer. Mar 21, 2011 at 17:54
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    Certainly public faith can be measured, no? Mar 21, 2011 at 18:01
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    I think the media are demonstrating they would like it to be so, but I don't know anyone who thinks nuclear power is an issue in Japan compared with the destructive power of earthquakes and tsunamis.
    – Rory Alsop
    Mar 21, 2011 at 18:18
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    @James It can be measured via polls, but "shattered" is a clearly subjective term. Perhaps rephrasing it in more objective terms would be helpful.
    – anthony137
    Mar 21, 2011 at 19:02
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    I don't want to post an answer but this recent article in The Guardian: guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/… made me smile. There is still some common sense in journalism.
    – Zenon
    Apr 15, 2011 at 12:07

2 Answers 2


A Gallup poll addressed this issue, found Here. Support for nuclear energy in America had been on the rise prior to the incidents. Gallup concluded that near-term support has eroded but that whether the trend has long term implications is unknown:

The events in Japan may also be diminishing Americans' support for the use of nuclear power in the United States. The poll finds 44% in favor and 47% opposed to "the construction of nuclear power plants in the United States."

In recent years, Gallup and other polling organizations have usually found more support than opposition for nuclear power. This includes Gallup's annual Environment survey -- conducted March 3-6, before the Japanese earthquake and tsunami -- which found 57% of Americans saying they strongly or somewhat favor "the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity for the U.S.," with 38% strongly or somewhat opposed. Support peaked at 62% last year on this question, which was first asked in 1994. Whether the disaster in Japan will have a long-term impact on Americans' attitudes toward nuclear power as measured by this trend question remains to be seen.

As you can see in the following chart from the same poll, other factors such as political affiliation and education also seem to play a role:

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  • I have to leave but I mightbupdate this in a bit with a some recent talk about nuclear moratoriums and attitudes following Chernobyl.
    – Dogmafrog
    Mar 21, 2011 at 21:15
  • The answer only adresses US-opinions, but the question wasn't that localized; it doesn't have an USA-tag (and shouldn't, in my opinion). Mar 21, 2011 at 23:03
  • Yep, absolutely, my answer only addresses US opinions. I'll add a note at the beginning to make that clear.
    – Dogmafrog
    Mar 22, 2011 at 0:46

In Germany, the event has likely triggered the complete phase-out of nuclear power.

However, it is important to have a bit of context:

Nuclear energy always had a lot of critics in Germany, even in government. In fact, the previous red/green government had already signed a slow phase-out of nuclear power in 2000 (the “Atomkonsens” [German]). A few years later, the current conservative government had effectively cancelled this agreement in 2010.

The current crisis, having led once again to massive protests, has merely re-initiated the nuclear power phase-out. Polls show that 80% of the Germans are against an extension of nuclear power usage. Effective immediately, seven out of the seventeen active nuclear power plants in Germany have been shut down:

Moratorium [Source: Wikipedia; shut-down reactors are in red]

In summary, public faith in nuclear power has always been low in Germany but the Fukushima events may have provided the small extra push necessary to tip the scales.

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