In Fukushima Aftermath, Half of Americans Now Oppose Building New Nuclear Plants

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In poll results that are unsurprising, the nuclear disaster in Japan has hurt atomic energy's image here in the United States. A new CBS poll found that 50 percent of Americans now oppose building new nuclear plants, up from 34 percent the last time the poll was conducted in 2008. That year was the high-water mark for nuclear support in the post-Chernobyl area.

This poll is a symptom of a greater problem for Americans. We make energy decisions during crises and then forget about the energy system until the next crisis. Unfortunately, our energy system has to work all the time -- literally every hour of every day -- to keep our society running.

The poll also found that 62 percent of people oppose the construction of a nuclear plant near where they live.

Yet this all may be something of a moot point as only a handful of reactors were ever even under consideration.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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