One of the idiosyncrasies of the nuclear industry is that they love polling. As a result we have a pretty good idea of what the world thinks of nuclear power, and how it’s changed over the years.
Charmingly, they’ve kept at the public polling after Fukushima, and so we can see how opinion’s changed after that, too. This is really useful because with an event this prominent, the media tend to assume that the public have been paying attention, and that public opinion must have undergone a dramatic shift.
Sometimes this is fair. The MPs’ expenses scandal did capture public attention and brought attitudes towards politicians even lower than they had been before. But other high-profile media stories, like the UEA email release, came and went without having all that much impact on public opinion.
In the UK and US at least, Fukushima is looking like the latter kind of story, where a lot of media attention doesn’t lead to much of a change of attitudes.
It’s certainly had a huge amount of coverage. Compare on Google Trends for the UK the words “nuclear” and “news of the world”, the other major story of the last few months (before the riots, which dwarf the others):
So “nuclear” seems to have got more news coverage than “news of the world”, but been used slightly less in searches. We get something similar (with fewer hits) if we use “Fukushima” or “hacking”.