A language of euphemism and distortion-a language like newspeak” from George Orwell’s 1984-has profoundly shaped public debate about nuclear technology since its inception. After World War II, nuclear developers used information-management techniques, including official secrecy and public relations, to promote what one called the sunny side of the atom”-energy too cheap to meter” that would supposedly power a new Golden Age. Such euphoric visions set the stage for one of the most extraordinary public-relations efforts in history: the selling of nuclear technology to the American public.
The original edition of Nukespeak, published by Sierra Club Books in 1982, was conceived in the wake of the first great nuclear plant accident at Three Mile Island. Breaking through the linguistic filter of the nuclear mindset, it carefully documented how nuclear developers confused their hopes with reality, covered up damaging information, harassed and dismissed scientists who disagreed with official policy, and generated false or misleading statistics to bolster their assertions.
Sadly, these developers also failed to learn from their mistakes-as this updated 30th anniversary edition of the book makes abundantly clear. Examining the critical events of the last three decades-including Chernobyl; nuclear proliferation thanks to the fiction of Atoms for Peace”; the campaign to re-brand nuclear power as a clean, green solution to global warming; and the still-unfolding disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant-the new edition argues persuasively that nukespeak” and the nuclear mindset continue to dominate public debate about nuclear weapons and nuclear power in a continuing attempt to seduce us into accepting the unthinkable.