Environmental risks of different energy sources pose a significant problem for managers, decision-makers, and the general public. Attitudes and perceptions may differ by type of energy, as well as the recipient of the harm. A post-Fukushima survey of students and others in a university community in central New Jersey was conducted to determine how much people worried about the potential effects of different energy types (nuclear, chemical, coal, hydroelectric, solar, wind, and gas), which aspect they worried about (public health, workers, and the environment), and which form they thought the USA should further develop. Ratings for worry varied significantly by energy type and receptor type. In general, worry was greater for all aspects of chemical, coal, nuclear, and gas, and significantly less for hydro, solar, and wind. Worry was generally higher for exposure from the plant, exposure from food and water, exposure to workers, and exposure for wildlife than for either transportation issues or exposure from everyday occurrences. The same exposures (or targets) were rated for each energy source. The greatest worry for each energy type was as follows: (1) nuclear exposure to radiation in food, although worker exposure and exposure from the plant were very close, (2) chemical exposure was from accidents in the plant, (3) coal was from harmful effects of mercury on wildlife, (4) hydro was from contamination of drinking water, (5) solar was from harmful UV radiation exposure in wildlife, (6) wind was from mortality of birds due to wind turbines, and (7) gas was from harmful gas exposure to wildlife. Overall, the highest rated features in terms of worry (four of seven energy forms) were for wildlife. The survey population believed that wind, solar, tidal, and hydro power should be developed further, and coal should be developed the least.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Social Sciences(all)
- Strategy and Management
- energy development
- environmental risk
- risk perception