The Nuclear Literacy Project

By Suzy Hobbs

Yurman

In the weeks and months following the events at the Fukushima plant in Japan, the American Nuclear Society’s Social Media listserv has become a headquarters for sharing information, ideas, and strategies about how to combat misinformation about nuclear energy. This active forum is facilitated by Dan Yurman, who through this effort has opened a new door for collaboration between communicators from all corners of the nuclear community. Many on this list have voiced concerns that the industry response to Fukushima has not yet managed to transition from defensive to offensive, in terms of public outreach.

It was really only a matter of time before these thoughts evolved into a plan. There is a genuine need for a comprehensive, collaborative outreach campaign to share accurate information about nuclear energy with the public. The listserv is an incredibly valuable tool that has resulted in numerous success stories, and I would like to announce the latest idea to emerge from this group: The Nuclear Literacy Project.

The Nuclear Literacy Project plans to go where the nuclear sector has been quite timid about going before—the wild world of advertising. With the help of several organizations, including PopAtomic Studios, a top-notch committee of nuclear professionals, and a really good advertising agency, we are going to systematically address the need for effective public outreach. We will also coordinate between many existing and emerging outreach efforts to ensure that we can support one another and reach our shared goals.


In the vein of our art exhibit, “Faces of the Nuclear Renaissance,” we will work to give nuclear professionals a platform to share their personal reasons for supporting nuclear through both traditional and contemporary advertising.

The goal of the advertising campaign will be to direct the public to clear, concise resources for their consideration. For those who feel inspired, we will also provide action items that help everyday folks get involved in supporting nuclear. The “Nuclear Made” campaign is one example of the action items we will implement, empowering consumers to use their dollars to support clean energy. Just imagine fancy French wine in the grocery store with one of these stickers!


This is a truly grassroots effort, based on collaboration and volunteerism. I would like to thank our committee members and advisors who have stepped up to help make The Nuclear Literacy Project a reality.

Committee Chair: Carl Lumma Carl is the former sustainability analyst for Apple, and worked at that company at a time when they revolutionized advertising. Click here to read more about Carl’s thoughts on why some advertising methods are more effective than others.

Committee Members: Each of these individuals brings unique expertise and knowledge to this project, but they all have one thing in common—they are professional communicators who have recognized that we must do more to reach the public with information about nuclear energy. Based on this realization, they have each offered their time and energy as concerned citizens, rather than representatives for their respective employers.

We are very lucky to have such an esteemed and inspired group:

Advisory Panel:

Web Master: (Web site coming soon: www.nuclearliteracy.org)

  • Jason Correia, Web master and Social Media coordinator

Lastly, I want to thank my board of directors for its honesty and whole-hearted support, as well as Dan Yurman and Laura Scheele—the folks who made it possible for our small organization to have access to the people and ideas needed for “Nuclear Literacy” to emerge from the ANS Social Media listserv. Thank you as well to my fellow ANS members, who, by supporting ANS public information initiatives, have provided a home for spirited discussions about nuclear communications.

This project is still early in development and we are currently seeking additional advisers, sponsors, and donors to make it a reality. If you, your company, or organization would like to get involved with The Nuclear Literacy Project, please contact me, Suzy Hobbs, at popatomicstudios@gmail.com.

Hobbs

Suzy Hobbs is the executive director of PopAtomic Studios, a non-profit organization dedicated to using the power of visual and liberal arts to enrich the discussion on nuclear energy. Hobbs is an ANS member and a frequent contributor to ANS Nuclear Cafe.

7 Responses to The Nuclear Literacy Project

  1. Allen McCurdy

    An aggressive grass roots style of educating the American public and setting the record straight is long over due. I was very disappointed at the coverage by even the “conservative” Fox news.

  2. Way to go Suzy! I will definitely keep an eye on the project. We need your work, and more.

    I hope that I can somehow contribute from Italy, a country which is deep into the dark age of anti-nuclearism… :-(

    Ciao, Luca Bertagnolio
    Futuro Nucleare

  3. Bill Eaton

    Most thoughtful folks on both sides of the nuclear power debate consider waste management to be the pivotal issue. If we the industry fail to elevate the issue and finally establish a success path for high level waste we will simply repeat the failures of the past in gaining traction on public sentiment and support. It will be a shame if the ultimate resurgence of nuclear power is begrudgingly accepted only as the best of several unpalatable options. We have the opportunity today to go beyond preaching to the already convinced if we somehow settle on a strong position with respect to fuel and DOE waste and promote a solid position with resepct to closing the fuel cycle. All in costs and the incremental effect on total production costs are not routinely discussed even among advocate groups. Technically, and even in this forum, many are willing to continue kicking the can down the road with respect to reprocessing and its benefit on disposal strategy. I hope the tone of this initiative (education and advertising) will strive to address the pivotal issue of waste management which has provided a robust counter-argument to commercial nuclear power since the early days.

  4. @ Linear Drive- the website will be up in a few months.
    @Allen and Luca- thanks for the support!
    @Bill- we will be working with an professional ad agency to help develop our message, and waste management will certainly be addressed. I live in South Carolina, so we may be able to feature someone at Savannah River who can talk about the many options we have for our spent fuel. I think that most of the public doesn’t realize that there are different methods for waste management- and that is what it’s about “responsible resource management.” If we think about “waste” as another resource it feels less like a burden and more like an opportunity for the advancement of clean nuclear energy- reprocessing, IFR’s and Thorium MSR’s all start with “waste.”

  5. Kenneth Hughey

    First of all congratlulations on this “bold” move and may I say someting that is long overdue. However; in my many years of speaking to the public concerning the benefits and risk of nuclear power, I have learned that the public does not appreciate highly technical explanations conerning the various subjects. While they want and desire someone that has a command of the subject matter (and is considered an expert); they do not appreciate being”talked down to”. For example, in explaining the potential doses recieved by either the nuclear worker or the public; the over use of terms such as rem or mil-rem only confuse the public and are terms that they simply do not on a routine basis relate. Rather always be sure to collate the dose to something that the public understands and can easily relate to such as the dose recieved was equivalent to 1/3 of a chest x-ray.
    Finally; I could not agree more with Bill Eaton’s comment on what the US is going to do about the used nuclear fuel is likely the most pressing issue in the publics eye. For years they have heard the nuclear industry say that it is not a technical issue but rather a political issue but yet we have made no progress in addressing the issue. To the man on the street this seems to say that it really is a serious technical issue and thus maybe nuclear power is too risky to trusted. Thus we have to clearly demonstrate a solution to the used nulcear fuel issue in this country with postive steps NOW solving the problem; even if the plan is a long term venture. There must be a plan and steps taken now in the implementing of such a plan including the discussion of recycling the used fuel. This will need to start as a policy discussion rather than a purely economic discussion in that it will likely be some time before the closed fuel cycle is mature enough to truly be ecomical.
    The recent ANS White Paper on this subject is an excellent forum for starting the debate.
    Good luck.

  6. James J. Raleigh

    I am SO sick and tired of reading nonsense in the press and blogs about nuclear issues… IMHO and in keeping with “The Nuclear Literacy Project,” WE as a group need to be much more vigilant in refuting and reputing the misinformation and blatant lies that are being put out in the media…

    That DOES NOT mean just posting rebuttals within ANS Cafe, it means doing daily web searches on nuclear issues of interest and responding DIRECTLY to the Newspapers, correspondence, blogs, etc. on THEIR comment pages, to THEIR readers!!!

    We can discuss amongst ourselves until our faces turn blue… We ALL need to outreach and inform the public…

    I see too much “in here” and not enough “out there”…

    The opposition is focused, well funded, and organized in printing and posting their propaganda and WE need to be there — every time they print something — to counter it and provide the accurate account!!!

    Get outside your personal comfort zone and get aggressive about correcting falsehoods!!!! Our adversaries are certainly aggressive and WE need to return the favor!!!!!….