How did the fracking controversy emerge in the period 2010-2012?

Allan Mazur

In 2010-2012, the controversy over fracking grew rapidly, first in the United States, and then internationally. An important step was the anti-fracking documentary film Gasland. With help from celebrity sources, the film was produced and won a prize at the Sundance Film Festival by early 2010 and had an Oscar nomination by early 2011, in the meantime popularizing potent images of hazard including tainted aquifers and ignitable water running from kitchen faucets. During this period, major US news organizations paid little attention to the issue. The offshore Deepwater Horizon disaster of April 2010 spurred The New York Times to prolific reporting on potential risks of the new onshore technique for extracting shale gas. With flagship news coverage, the controversy had by 2012 gained wide media attention that evoked public concern and opposition, spreading from the United States to other nations.


College chemistry students’ understanding of potential energy in the context of atomic–molecular interactions

Nicole M. Becker, Melanie M. Cooper

Understanding the energy changes that occur as atoms and molecules interact forms the foundation for understanding the macroscopic energy changes that accompany chemical processes. In order to identify ways to scaffold students’ understanding of the connections between atomic–molecular and macroscopic energy perspectives, we conducted a qualitative study of students’ conceptualization of potential energy at the atomic–molecular level. We used semi-structured interviews and open-ended surveys to explore how students understand potential energy and use the idea of potential energy to explain atomic–molecular interactions in simple systems. Findings suggest that undergraduate chemistry students may rely on intuitive interpretations of potential energy, incorrect interpretations of curricular definitions (including the idea that potential energy represents stored energy) and heuristics rather than foundational understandings of the relationships between atomic–molecular structure, electrostatic forces and energy. Thus, we suggest that more explicit attention to the nature and role of potential energy in the undergraduate chemistry curriculum may be needed.


Reconstructing the public in old and new governance: A Korean case of nuclear energy policy

Hyomin Kim

Korean nuclear energy regulatory policies started to change from earlier exclusively technocratic policies into open dialogues after several anti-nuclear protests in the 1990s. However, technocratic policies still coexist with the new regulatory orientation towards openness, participation and institutional accountability. This paper analyzes Korean nuclear regulatory policies since approximately 2005 as a blend of old and new governance. The aim of the paper is not to decide whether new nuclear governance is deliberative or not by completely reviewing Korean nuclear policies after the 2000s. Instead, it provides an empirical account of how seemingly more participatory processes in decision-making entail new problems while they work with and reproduce social assumptions of different groups of the public.


Tale taming radioactive fears: Linking nuclear waste disposal to the “continuum of the good”

Sari Yli-Kauhaluoma, Hannu Hänninen

We examine how the constructor of the world’s first repository for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel in Eurajoki, Finland, aims to shape lay understanding of the facility’s risks and to tame the nuclear fears of the local community by producing positive associations, imagery and tales. Our empirical material consists of the constructor’s newsletters targeted mainly at the local residents. In the narrative analysis, we identified a storyline where the construction of the repository is linked into the “continuum of the good” in the municipality of the construction site and the surrounding areas. The storyline consists of five different themes all emphasizing the “continuum of the good” in the area: cultural heritage, well-being, developing expertise, natural environment, and local families. Our study contributes to the literature on pro-nuclear storytelling by showing how the inclination is towards narratives that are constructed around local symbols, cultural landmarks, and institutions.