There are technologies that decouple human well being from their ecological impacts. There are politics that enable these technologies. Join me as I interview world experts to uncover hope in this time of planetary crisis.
Where to listen
Nuclear accidents & the scientific consensus feat. Gerry Thomas
There is a popular misconception based upon charicatures of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons that Nuclear Energy is an evil, capitalistic and undemocratic form of Energy. In fact almost every major deployment of Nuclear Energy has been a publicly funded social democratic project. This week we talk about Sweden, the homeland of Greta Thunberg and one of the world's foremost social democracies which boasts one of the fastest ever decarbonisations of its electricity thanks to a strategic investment in Nuclear in the 1970's. We explore the past, present and future of Sweden's Karnkraft with John Ahlberg the co-founder of Kärnfull Energi, Sweden's first 100% nuclear electricity provider which is celebrating its 1 year anniversary this month.
In his most recent book, Apocalypse Never, Michael Shellenberger has stirred some major waves particularly in his promotional efforts where he recently penned an article professing an “Apology on behalf of environmentalists for the Climate Scare.” and where the key messaging seems to be “Everything you thought you knew about Climate Change and the environment is wrong.”
In this Episode Leigh Phillips, a science writer and author of "Eco-Austerity and the Collapse Porn Addicts" and I discuss Michael's book. Themes include: Climate Alarmism vs Catastrophism, Eco-Imperialism, Big Green's problem with fossil fuel funding and the need for economic planning vs. the free market to meet the challenges of climate mitigation and adaptation.
A lively and entertaining conversation with polymath Dr. James Conca about the ultimate environmental bogeyman. Jim is a science communicator and renaissance man with an amazing bredth and depth of knowledge on a diversity of subjects like Nuclear physics, Geochemistry, Radiobiology. He has worked at the NASA jet propulsion laboratory and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Join us on this episode as Jim helps us make sense of the sensible way to manage the very small amount of Used Nuclear Fuel generated by civilian nuclear energy.
Why are we so afraid of nuclear: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2013/03/24/imagine-theres-no-fear/#21f61c913d9c
Used Nuclear Fuel Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JfJEK3R1k0
Low dose radiation for COVID induced cytokine storm:
Mark Lynas is a science writer and author of numerous books on the environment including High Tide, Six Degrees, The God Species, Nuclear 2.0 and Seeds of Science. His most recent book is ‘Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency" In this book Mark summarizes thousands of IPCC source material studies and lays out degree by degree the human and environmental implications of our warming world. Mark has demonstrated a principled committment to following where the science leads him. He was a prominent anti-GMO activist who changed his mind after after studying the scientific consensus supporting the safety of GMO's. Mark was a co-authot of the Eco-Modernist Manifesto and is currently a visiting fellow with the Cornell Alliance for Science at Cornell University, which engages in pro-science advocacy and research around the world.
“Science adjusts its views based on what is observed. Faith avoids observation so that belief can be preserved.”
Zion Lights is a British author and environmental activist. She was a prominent spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion and the founder and editor of XR's Hourglass newspaper. Zion holds a masters in science communication and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting. Most recently Zion has made waves by resigning from her role as one of Extinction Rebellion’s most well known media spokespersons and joining Environmental Progress, an environmental group focused on promoting Nuclear Energy. Listen in to find out why.
Dr. Geraldine Thomas is the director of the Chernobyl tissue bank and a Chair in Molecular Pathology at the Faculty of Medicine of Imperial College London. Surprisingly her research on the health impacts of the Chernbyl accident led her towards a pro-nuclear position due to the technologies clear benefits of slowing climate change and saving lives by producing no air pollution. Dr. Thomas shares that contrary to popular belief there is a scientific consensus that the Chernobyl accident has resulted in the deaths of less than 55 people as a result of radiation. This is based on the work of the UN scientific committee on the effects of atomic radiation (UNSCEAR) and the Chernobyl Forum that involved 8 major UN agencies and the participation of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Alternative reports quoting death tolls orders of magnitude higher are methodologically flawed and were sponsored by the European Green party and NGO's like Greenpeace who had an ideological objective and cherry picked evidence to match their hypotheses. For more information from Dr. Thomas see below
Politics, confidence in science and attitudes towards surveillance technology have led to very different outcomes between the East and the West when it comes to COVID-19. Many Asian countries have achieved containment of the virus while the West largely remains caught in a quagmire with no end in sight. What explains these differences? Cultural attitudes? Neo-liberalism vs. State capitalism? Bankrupt social welfare systems? Distrust of elites and institutions? I am joined by Nils Gilman of the Berggruen institute who helps us unpack the complexities and learn the lessons of our COVID successes and failures.
Ecomodernism holds out the promise of decoupling human flourishing from environmental impacts through investment in mission-oriented research, development and deployment of an array of breakthrough low emissions technologies that can transform industry, transportion, agriculture and energy systems. It is a movement founded and largely based in the USA which tries to create a big tent and appeals to an all of the above politics. It embraces the roles of private sector entrepreneurs, free markets, civil society and the state in pursuing their goals. I am joined by Jonathan Symons who argues that a real crisis like climate change requires collective agency in the form of state funded democratically controlled intervention. It's how we got a man on the moon, how we developed nuclear energy and how competent nations like Taiwan and Australia are containing the COVID pandemic. The market isn't up to the challenge. To fulfill its promises ecomodernism requires a social democratic politics.
Germany has pursued a bold 550 billion euro transition plan away from Nuclear Energy towards a 100% renewables energy system. The Energiewende as it is known also aims to phase out fossil fuels but remains heavily reliant on coal, natural gas and biomass to firm up its fleet of intermittent renewables. Thies Beckers, a dutch energy analyst, joins me for a discussion about how the Energiewende is going and discusses his upcoming documentary, Atom-Exit. For more information about the film and to make a donation please visit www.easynuclear.com and follow Thies on twitter @thiesbeckers.
Between 2005-2014 the Canadian province of Ontario phased out its coal fired electricity generation in what some call the greatest single greenhouse gas reduction initiative in North America to date. It was the equivalent to taking 7 million cars off the road. Climate benefits were accompanied by dramatic improvements in Air Quality with smog days dropping from 53 per year to zero once the phaseout was complete. The elephant in the room that noone wants to talk about is the role that Nuclear Energy had in making this historic energy transition possible. Our guest Steve Aplin shares Ontario's example for the world as we aim for a transition to a zero emissions energy system.
My name is Chris Keefer. I am an Emergency Physician concerned with fighting climate change and poverty. Join me on my journey into the frontiers of science, technology and politics as I explore solutions to the climate and poverty crises. I’ve moved from being a green environmentalist advocating degrowth and opposing new technology towards embracing technologies that can decouple human well being from its environmental impact and imagining the kind of politics and economic system necessary to pursue this goal. Welcome to Decouple. In this inaugaral episode Jesse Freeston and I dive deep into it all. Fasten your seatbelts and dive on in.
Charles C Mann: The Wizard and the Prophet,
Noah Yuval Hariri: Sapiens,
Daniel Quinn: Ishmael,
Leigh Phillips: The People's Republic of Walmart,
Jonathan Symons: Technology, Politics and The Climate Crisis,
James Lovelock: A Rough Ride to the Future,
Lewis Dartnell: Origins,
Tim Maloney and Mike Conley: Roadmap to Nowhere