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Nuclear Energy Needs Re-Branding

03/17/2011

It’s hard not wonder what’s going on with the Fukushima Nuclear Plant – especially when it is the top story line, headline and voice-over of every media outlet seemingly 24/7.

Clearly there’s a problem. And its likely that whatever unfolds over the next days will have long-term implications for public opinion on nuclear energy. Hopefully one conclusion is to not build any kind of energy generation facility, nuclear, coal or gas, near earthquake fault lines.

But let’s just say the utility company gets the problem contained and damage is minimized. How do nuclear energy proponents come out of this with a fighting chance?

I came onto an interesting read from June 3, 2008 by Max Gladwell, “Nuclear Energy Needs a Major Re-Branding“. Gladwell says, among other things, “It’s safe to say we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the nuclear brand wasn’t in trouble. It has problems that no other energy brand has to shoulder.”

Gladwell continues, “Any discussion of energy should begin with addressing demand. This is the realistic versus idealistic approach. Idealists start with how they’d like our energy future to be i.e. hyper-efficient with 100% renewable, carbon-free sources. Wouldn’t that be ideal? Unfortunately, decisions made from facts often end up being less than ideal. They often mean choosing the least bad option. The realists typically end up dealing with the messes left behind by idealists.”

The nuclear brand is kind of where the Walmart brand was not too long ago. Disdained by some – no matter what…especially when things go wrong!

My solution – pit nuclear against Godzilla. When Godzilla first appeared in 1954 – with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear detonations and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. I’d brand nuclear as the only thing on earth that can stand up to Godzilla. How’s that for a benefit?

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