Exploring Students' Ideas About Risks and Benefits of Nuclear Power Using Risk Perception Theories
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Due to increased energy demand, Turkey is continuing to explore the possibilities of introducing nuclear power. Gaining acceptance from local populations, however, may be problematic because nuclear power has a negative image and risk perceptions are complicated by a range of psychological and cultural factors. In this study, we explore the views about nuclear power of school students from three locations in Turkey, two of which have been proposed as sites suitable for nuclear power plants. About half of the student cohort believed that nuclear power can supply continuous and sufficient electricity, but approximately three quarters thought that nuclear power stations could harm organisms, including humans, living nearby. Rather few students realized that adoption of nuclear power would help to reduce global warming and thereby limit climate change; indeed, three quarters thought that nuclear power would make global warming worse. There was a tendency for more students from the location most likely to have a nuclear power plant to believe negative characteristics of nuclear power, and for fewer students to believe positive characteristics. Exploration of the possible nuclear power programmes by Turkey offers an educational opportunity to understand the risk perceptions of students that affect their decision-making processes.