Your Thoughts Matter
According to a 2012 report from the Congressional Research Service, “U.S. Energy: Overview and Key Statistics,” energy consumption in the U.S. nearly tripled from 1950 to 2011. Over the same period, however, electricity consumption grew even faster, rising from 334 billion to 4,120 billion kilowatt hours — an increase of 1,134%.
Energy plays a central role in the U.S. economy, from transportation and manufacturing to agriculture, housing and beyond. The mix of power sources and uses are in constant flux, however, as indicated by a 2012 report from the Congressional Research Service, “U.S. Energy: Overview and Key Statistics.”
Beliefs about how risky something is — from legalizing concealed handguns to allowing carbon pollution — are often shaped by deep cultural forces. The theory of “cultural cognition” suggests that individuals will interpret evidence, no matter how well supported by science, in ways that reinforce their connections to those with whom they share a worldview.
In March 2011 a series of cascading disasters hit the northeast coast of Japan — earthquake and tsunami, then a nuclear emergency. While the first two created widespread devastation and untold suffering, the third is likely to have the longest-felt effects. After the debris has been removed, towns rebuilt and the economy stabilized, evidence from Chernobyl indicates that health concerns will persist for nearby residents for decades to come.
On April 26, 1986, an explosion in reactor four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the former Ukrainian SSR caused what was then the worst nuclear power-related accident in history. On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami seriously damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Okumu, Japan. In both cases, radiation escaped into the environment, prompting widespread public health concerns.