Listening to others: a personal view by Andrew
Teller, ENS society manager
Who are we?
PIME - the ENS’s annual conference for
nuclear communicators from all over the world – offers ample
opportunity for new insights, and stimulating discussion among
colleagues. My talk with a brand engineering specialist at this
year’s event, in Barcelona in March, was particularly noteworthy.
It set me thinking about who we are, as a community – and
if what he said is anything to go by – this was not a moment
His views can be summed up quite simply:
proponents of nuclear science and technology
we may be, but so far, we have been much too discreet about
our motivations and ideals;
this lack of assertiveness has cleared the
way for our critics to define us. They have
done this by painting themselves white, and, by default, conferring
upon us all the vices corresponding to the virtues they claim
to stand for; and
our messages to the public miss their target
because we have failed to create a positive image for ourselves,
and this is a pre-condition to establishing a climate of trust.
Is this the root cause of all our communication
problems? I can’t say for sure but, in any case, it certainly
does make a lot of sense. Therefore, perhaps the way forward is
for us to take a step back and spend some time defining and promoting
ourselves before focusing on the messages we would like to be
So, who are we? This is what I think we believe:
our faith in nuclear’s potential is
what prompted us to choose a career in the nuclear field.
It is not because we depend on nuclear to earn a living that
we have faith in it.
science and technology should and can be
tools for furthering the well-being of mankind.
we have demonstrated our ability to overcome
the technical challenges posed by the use of nuclear technologies.
we care about the environment no less than
anybody else. However, good intentions are not a substitute
given the crucial role played by energy in
our day-to-day lives, now and in the future, securing its
supply is paramount.
the increasing energy needs of a growing
world population are a fact that cannot be ignored.
those who advocate turning back the clock
are deluding themselves and the public.
there is no simple solution to any issue
constrained by conflicting objectives,1 as is the
case of energy use.
the energy issue must be considered in its
wider context. Countenancing social upheavals for the sake
of preventing potential threats is a remedy worse than the
evil it is supposed to cure.2
rationality is all-important. Only rational
debate conducted without preconceived ideas by all interested
parties can yield effective answers to the world’s energy
I like the idea of describing ourselves in ten
statements. However, this is, of course, only a personal view,
and there is absolutely no reason to stick either to this number
or to the content. Please do share your ideas with me - perhaps
by adding to and/or subtracting from these statements. After all,
creating a long-overdue image of (and for) ourselves should be
a group project – not the work of any single individual.
Your views can be emailed to: email@example.com.
I am looking forward to presenting you with an improved version
of our brand image in the next issue of ENS News.
1 For example, in the
case of energy: cheap and clean; renewable and versatile; reliable
2 Anti-nuclear proponents advocate drastic changes
such as scrapping huge investments in generation and distribution
capacity and resorting to open-ended energy saving policies. It
is these measures which can induce social upheavals worse than
the evil they are supposed to eliminate.