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 too soon!

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 heard.

So, who are we? This is what I think we believe:

  1. 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.

  2. science and technology should and can be tools for furthering the well-being of mankind.

  3. we have demonstrated our ability to overcome the technical challenges posed by the use of nuclear technologies.

  4. we care about the environment no less than anybody else. However, good intentions are not a substitute for effectiveness.

  5. given the crucial role played by energy in our day-to-day lives, now and in the future, securing its supply is paramount.

  6. the increasing energy needs of a growing world population are a fact that cannot be ignored.

  7. those who advocate turning back the clock are deluding themselves and the public.

  8. there is no simple solution to any issue constrained by conflicting objectives,1 as is the case of energy use.

  9. 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

  10. rationality is all-important. Only rational debate conducted without preconceived ideas by all interested parties can yield effective answers to the world’s energy needs.

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: 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 and interruptible.
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.

Home l Top l Disclaimer l Copyright l Webmaster