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Diablo Canyon Lives

Michael Shellenberger

Friday, September 2, 2022

Chris Keefer  0:00  

The couplers Welcome back. Today I'm joined by returning guests Michael Shellenberger. I think for our audience. Michael needs no introduction, but only a few things here, founder of environmental progress, Best Selling Author apocalypse, never San Francisco. I think there's two more books in the pipeline. Mr. First was to say that out loud, Michael, we're going to be going a lot deeper into your biography because today we are here to celebrate saving Diablo Canyon. So Michael a warm welcome back.

Michael Shellenberger  0:30  

Thanks, man. Good to be back. Chris. How are you feeling? Brother? I'm good last day of you know, it just came out of COVID from my first my first round of COVID. And you know, it's both worse and better than I expected. So, okay, happy nice to end it with the saving Diablo at the as the final. The final treat is coming COVID Well, you

Chris Keefer  0:50  

look like a million bucks. And I actually didn't recognize you. I mean, I met you down in Berkeley in June. But this this baby face, you know, it's really worth our listeners jumping on YouTube to see this, this time warped view of Michael. But I mean, maybe we are time warping a little bit, because I think what I'm really interested in chatting with you about today is those early days. You know, I used to do a bit of traditional martial arts and we were big on sort of genealogy and scrolls of you know, who came first and you know, who passed down the knowledge. And I do think that's important in understanding as an advocate, as an activist where you come from who's tradition, you know, you're carrying forward, obviously, we're putting our own spin on everything as we do that. But you know, I in the attention that I put towards this, and I wish I had more time to do a deeper study, but I see sort of early heterodox environmental thinkers like the dearly beloved and recently passed James Lovelock, who spoke a lot of truth to power when it came to nuclear Stuart brands, but I think Michael, more than anyone I'm aware of, you turned it into a into a movement, which is very much what we're seeing now in which you know, was instrumental in saving Baron and Dresden. And I think Diablo Canyon here as well. So that baby face maybe will be kind of time traveling. As I said back to those those earlier days. You sort of starting to see the world in the way that you see it, and particularly the early days of the Diablo Canyon movement. So I'm not exactly sure where to start here, giving you a few jumping in points. But again, let's just let's just have like a bit more of a reaction to the significance of this news, which is, I think only about 36 hours old right now.

Michael Shellenberger  2:36  

It's a massive event. It's this is Diablo Canyon. This is a highly symbolic nuclear plant. It's my favorite nuclear plant. It's the first nuclear plant I tried to save. It's the most recent nuclear plant we've saved. We've now helped save nuclear plants in Illinois, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, South Korea. We've gotten we've helped gotten nuclear built in and in the Netherlands. These are all victories that we can take some amount of credit for, of course, you'd never take full credit, and usually as people on the ground there that deserve a lot of credit. But Diablo is a very, very sweet victory. And this is, you know, you gotta remember it was the governor of California Gavin Newsom, who tried to who made shutting it down his sort of signature, you know, act in order to run for governor in 2018. I started the movement to save it in 2016. It's now very mainstream, and at the time, I think it's worth pointing out and I think he's probably Reason You mentioned having on we were very alone in that it was a very controversial thing to try to save Diablo Canyon. I defended Diablo Canyon so vigorously on the local NPR affiliate in San Francisco in 2015. That they refuse to have me back on. I've basically been blacklisted from a set of I was basically blacklisted from a lot of polite company for the last six years. You know, and here we are today. I'm was quoted on NPR, the National Public Radio of the United States. I was in The Washington Post on this issue. CNN is flying me to Portugal, later this month to speak about nuclear. This is I'm gone. I've gone from I feel like I went from persona non grata to persona, you know, most Grata if that's even a thing. Celebrated nice, you know, and I feel I definitely feel like a proud father of this movement. I mean, you I don't know if you're gonna talk about later but you're on the you're on the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, or you're on a big Wall Street Journal story, your big photo. Yeah,

Chris Keefer  4:50  

I got the online copy. So I'm not sure but yeah,

Michael Shellenberger  4:53  

me too. But huge, beautiful story about the pronuclear movement. It opens with you and Um, and it has all of the people that we all know the movement, Zion lights is in there. So I feel very proud of, of having, you know, been a co founder of this movement and a real early champion, in part because it was so lonely and painful in the beginning, and then to see so many people rushing into it, you know, as they say, failures and orphan and success has many fathers. And so I think we're seeing a lot of people taking credit for what's going on today. And that's fine, but I appreciate some of the recognition because it was it was we were pretty much as a small handful of us just a few years ago.

Chris Keefer  5:36  

I mean, Maddie formerly says Verbinski, no Mattie hilly have campaigned for green nuclear deal, she put this meme up yesterday, I'm probably going to paraphrase it incorrectly. But it was basically saying it's these you know, cool girls, Valley girls in a car and a convertible saying, like, hey, loser, get in receiving nuclear power plants. And, you know, it just really spoke to me, and it speaks to that community. And we are, I think, a very welcoming community, get your ass in here. We're having fun. But I think it also is like to have seen that for that to be something that is permissive, or, you know, that could become a meme, I think would be very strange, as you're describing six years ago, like who was there out there that was saying, hey, let's let's try and save, quote unquote, old nuclear plants. And I think that's really one of your key contributions is that, you know, there's interest in nuclear, there's Bill Gates, you know, there's other sort of tech entrepreneurs that are chasing novel designs. But in terms of, you know, this vision around stewarding what we have around that being the foundation for for the future. Tell me a little bit more about that. Like, I think some of us have kind of heard heard your origin story. We know you were involved in I think it was the Apollo renewables kind of program. I don't want to I don't want to kind of rehash stuff that's more of a public record. But I'm just I'm just interested in kind of laying that foundation as we dive deeper into the Diablo story.

Michael Shellenberger  6:59  

Yeah, sure. So I mean, I was an early advocate of renewables. In the early 2000s, I co founded something called the new Apollo project that push for a big government investment in renewables, helped to personally lobby the Obama campaign team in 2007. They basically embraced the Apollo agenda, they did a huge investment in renewables. And it was around that time that I started to discover many of the problems with renewables that we're all very familiar with not just the unreliability, but particularly the land use impacts. And we were seeing a lot of conservationists in California, in Massachusetts, start to oppose wind farms and solar farms because of the big impacts on wildlife. And I'm a lifelong conservationist, I care about birds and bats and desert tortoises. And so that really moved me and it was around the same time that somebody said, Watch, take a second look at nuclear. And I read the United Nations World Health Organization studies of Chernobyl because that was an event that occurred when I was 14 years old. And it was terrifying for me. And I was a very quickly on the one hand, on the one hand, I could look back and try to figure out how long did it take me to change my mind, on the one hand was a gradual process from 2005 to 2010. On the other hand, there was definitely a moment where after I read the Chernobyl reports, and realized how few people died, that I was like, Oh, well, this is obviously what we should do, you know? And then it became then the question was, well, do we even need to do renewables? And of course, the correct answer is no, of course not. If you have nuclear, you don't need to do a bunch of solar panels and wind turbines, but then we were in, you know, I was the co founder of a think tank called Breakthrough Institute. And we were our donors were very liberal, and they didn't want us criticizing renewables. You know, we co authored this thing called the Ecomodernist manifesto in 2015, which argued for nuclear among other technologies that are saving the environment. But the pro there was no pro nuclear movement at that time. And it became very clear to me that we needed one in our safe nuclear that it couldn't be what nuclear has always been, which is an elitist activity. It's just it's a place of pretty high snobbery if you really are a part of it. And Ecomodernism had that snobbery including the name of Ecomodernism which is not a name that I love. I find it you have an

Chris Keefer  9:23  

alternative name or was when it was being crafted? Was there a debate around what to call it? You

Michael Shellenberger  9:28  

know, not really it was only later that I realized it was such a it had such a snobby name and architectural connotations. I had some friends that were like, you know, I love you, Michael. And I like the ideas but the thing about Ecomodernism is I don't like the word eco and I don't like the word modernism love it. Yeah. And so I just you know, I at one point, I think I was doing like a radio interview like a quickie am radio and it was like, what kind of environmental star are you and I was like, I'm a pro human environmentalist. So I like pro human environmentalism. I also like pro abundance, environmentalism, I think that gets at it. Sometimes you'll say, Oh, I'm pro technology. But I mean, renewables advocates are pro technology, they're just in favor of a different technology. So I think that pro human gets at Duke, because I do think that much of anti nuclear environmentalism stems from a kind of hatred of human civilization of humankind. So I mean, I think that my contribution, if I had to describe it, in terms of creating this movement was it's just it's to create a movement is to de snapplify. It, it's to make it popular rather than elitist. And that meant actually saving the nuclear plants that we have, rather than, frankly, demonizing the plants that we have, which is much of what the Ecomodernist movement had been doing. Out of some, I think, kind of nihilistic celebration of nuclear plants that don't exist. So you know, you see a lot of people celebrating thorium, oh, it is these reactors, the people say things like, there are these reactors that don't melt down, they eat all their own waste, and they run on thorium. And I'm like, yeah, in your mind, they exist, but otherwise they don't exist. So to be a movement, I think it's important to be populist, to be anti snob, you know, pro people. And so that's what we did. And, you know, there were some tests of it right away. One of them was, you know, they came when the test right away was, you know, you're dealing in a movement, you have to deal with people that you don't like, and you have to deal with people that that are not necessarily your cup of tea. And there were people in the movement in those early days, who were both much more apocalyptic about climate change than I was, and, or am. And there were people that were pro nuclear that were climate skeptics, which is not something I am either. And we actually had a discussion about it, we had a various meetings. The other thing I did is that, you know, in Europe, I knew that we needed to try save the plants in Europe. So we went to Europe right away in 2016. The first meeting in Britain, nobody wanted to try to save the nuclear plants in Germany, except for me and the Germans. Like, nobody thought that was we're trying to save the plants in Germany, but I felt

Chris Keefer  12:25  

just because just because they thought it was hopeless, or yes, yeah. Yeah. So this is something I'm interested in, right is like, the cycle, like the psychology of your origin story, but the broader psychology people who become nuclear advocates, right? Like, there are some very interesting and particular things about our makeup, like, we tend to have a very thick skin, and we don't ever fucking give up. There's probably some, some more qualities, they're gonna be interested in your thoughts about them, but you carry on telling the story. But you know, I get interested in those thoughts. And also, I mean, you're describing the movement, as it was, I mean, we're still not numerous. We're still enveloped in as David and Goliath struggle, where we are sort of David with physics on our side versus, you know, Goliath, and you've done a lot to document, you know, just the, the sheer size of, you know, the renewables industrial complex, or the NGO industrial complex around environmentalism. But I'm so sorry to interject, but just a couple couple things I wanted to throw in there. Mm hmm.

Michael Shellenberger  13:22  

Absolutely. Well, I think that that's right. I mean, that is a characteristic of a movement is that you don't give up not until you succeed, or until you win. In fact, one of the problems of movements is when they don't give up after they've already won, not give up. They don't they keep they keep making demands after they've already succeeded. We see that with a bunch of different movements. But yeah, so I mean, yeah, for sure you don't give up but you also fight. Even when, you know, you might lose, you fight for things because you actually think that the process of fighting and building the movement is important in and of itself, but the movement is actually the end and not just the means. And that meant treating the people in the movement as ends and not means to an ends. And so that was a really core view that you treat everybody with respect and civility, you don't have to like everybody, you don't have to get along. But you do have to kind of have a sense of camaraderie, you know, a sense of populism. So I in Europe, so the first was like, we're gonna fight for the plants in California, which also everybody had given up on and the plants in Germany, those are the two kind of most difficult countries and in Japan, okay. and South

Chris Keefer  14:30  

Korea, like, it's like, ground zero of Antinuclearism. Yeah,

Michael Shellenberger  14:34  

I kind of would make it a point even, almost, it was really intuitively I didn't have a good reason for it. But I was like, No, we're gonna we're especially Germany. And I now look back and I think that the reason for that was because it adds tension it actually and also it says something about what you're doing it says, it says exactly what I'm saying, which is that you're going to you're going to fight for it even if you know you might lose because in the fight there's something valiant and noble You know, and then of course, we see we are going to win in Germany, California. So so it actually ended up working out. But even if we had lost, it would still have been worth it. But I think the other issue that came up right away in Europe was that we had a set of folks it was the climate alarmists, the most apocalyptic people who wanted to kick the skeptics out of the movement, they were like, literally, like, I think we should exclude climate deniers. And I was like, well, but are they? Are they pro nuclear climate deniers? Well, yes, but we have to be, we have to be 100% that climate change is the end of the world. And that's why we're saving nuclear. And I said, you know, actually, if it's a pro nuclear movement, it seems to me that you could actually have people that want to save nuclear for different reasons, in the same movement, who might actually disagree to some extent about a variety of things, including climate change, but still support keeping the nuclear plants online, there was a lot of concern that the climate skeptics would undermine the credibility of our movement. And this is also behind some of the efforts to exclude me of recent years from the movement or to try to, as you say, to write me out of the history, it has been this concern that there has to be a party line and the party line is that climate change is an existential threat. Well, in fact, all of those efforts, in addition to sort of being morally wrong, in my view, because they are dehumanizing, they're actually there. They're suggesting that some people's views that some people that at some pronuclear people are less valuable than others. And I think that's wrong, on principle, but I also think it's, it makes for a more fragile movement, rather than a more robust one. A stronger movement would be one that welcomes people of all viewpoints, except for holding one, which is that we need a lot of nuclear power, if you can hold that. In other words, you're like, look, it's not a big movement to start with. So why are you trying to make it smaller? You know, why are you trying to you know, and it's, you kind of, we wouldn't do it on on race, or gender or class or nationality. So then why do it with viewpoints? And this, it's interesting, of course, because this is occurring at a moment where there was there was a huge, you know, societal debate and cultural debate around the kind of demonization of people with different viewpoints and of the need for viewpoint diversity in our universities and in the culture. So I made a very strong argument that we needed to keep people who are more climate skeptical, and I think it really paid off. And we see in Germany, one of our best allies is Bjorn Peters, you know, he's in our WhatsApp group, Bjorn has become a friend of mine. Bjorn and I, we disagree about a lot like we he wanted to argue with me about sunspots and climate change. And I was like, No, you know, I'm like, I'm just dodge I bored by that. It's like, it's not even interesting to me. He's also super into a different kind of nuclear, this kind of dual fluid reactor, he's always trying to sell me on I'm like, I love you. I love you to death brother. But we agree that we need to keep Germany's nuclear plants open. And that is our that is our North Star. And we when we are focused on that we are very powerful, and he is very powerful. So I think that that says, I think that's it. I think that's if that's hopefully answering your question, I think that was the ethos that I wanted to infuse the movement with. And I think it's I think it's stuck for the most part, but there are certainly some people that are trying to constantly trying to exclude people that don't adhere to a particular left wing view.

Chris Keefer  18:50  

Ya know, for sure there's a certain element of you know, that Monty Python things The Life of Brian, right, the Judean People's Liberation Front and the People's Front for the Liberation of Judea, and they're at each other's throats constantly. Yeah, I certainly get that critique. Because, you know, I'm a pragmatic person trying to make change in Canada. And, you know, I come from a pretty Ultra left background. I maintain a lot of those core values and principles. But I'm absolutely willing to talk across the political aisle and I've been very influenced by I think, folks that you're referencing as well here like Jonathan hade with the coddling of the American mind and his his work on on morality as well. Let's let's pivot. Back to Diablo a little bit. You talked about you know, defining yourself as a pro human environmentalist. Diablo Canyon had a major role within the environmental movement. You know, we had pro nuclear environmentalists Ansel Adams, William Siri and it sparked a real division within that I think you'll do a much better job at at describing that but I first came became aware of that you know through your work so I think that's a relevant part of the story as we as we kind of pivot and really bask in this Diablo victory let's let's paint the history Again, it's significance. It's the feature, you know, the logo of our podcast practically. I was really lamenting the day, you know, if Diablo shot, you know, I mean, obviously I'd keep it up there but it's nice that it's gonna live there and not be just to kind of museum piece. But yeah, tell us a bit more about Diablo Canyon's origin story and its impact on the on the environmental movement.

Michael Shellenberger  20:23  

Yeah, sure. And I can even tell a little bit through my own because of course everybody has their own Diablo story, but I mean, mine was, you know, they it was okay, so it was PG, so I come out for nuclear and we started writing about it, probably around 2012. And then of course 2013 was Fukushima. And it was like, oh, man, you know, we didn't really have to defend nuclear now. There's a wobble we all had, which was like, maybe nuclear is as dangerous as they say. And then Fukushima happened. We're like, okay, it's exactly what we thought it was in terms of radiation impacts. And public fears being much worse than the radiation impacts. You get to 2015 and PG and E. And Exelon, by the way, both reached out to us at Breakthrough Institute and said, you know, we've, our plants are in trouble. And can you speak out for them? And I was, I remember just being very like, instantly, I realized that it was important for somebody to defend these plants. Piccini then invited me to go and visit Diablo Canyon. And I was like, Yeah, let's do it. You know, and I was, this was a plant. By the way, I shouldn't say my one of my first memories of nuclear power was when I was a boy must have been around the 80s. Like 84. My sister said to me, she goes, Can you believe they built a nuclear plant on an earthquake fault. And in my mind, I can still remember seeing a mushroom cloud because I thought that if a nuclear plants melt melted down, it was the same as a nuclear bomb going off in the mind of a young adolescent boy, you know, and and this was, of course, in the really scary period of the early 80s When there was this new fears of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. I was a very apocalyptic kid. So yeah, they say come to see Diablo so I was like, great. And they and I was like, Look, I want to do the Diablo tour. But I want the I want the nature tour as well. I want to see the outside of the plants. And so you get this incredible tour. And it's like, you know, it's just kind of classic Central Coast, California bucolic, there was an organic cattle farm right next door that was there. That was marketing their beef. You know, the outtake valve, the outtake feeder of the water leaves the plant, there's all these sea lions and seals. There's It was spectacular natural environment. And you see nuclear for what it is, which is the most ecological form of energy production. I met the workers at the plant, we had lunch, I looked him in the eye, I said, What happens if something goes wrong? What are you going to do? And they're just like, look, we live here, you know, we're gonna fight to keep this plant safe. So you then get to 2016, I realized that, you know, we need to save nuclear. And that it was clear that I wasn't going to be able to do that at Breakthrough Institute for a variety of reasons. And I needed to start a new organization. So I started environmental progress to do that. And I just kept peeling that onion of Diablo Canyon. And then lo and behold, I discovered several books that have been written, the best of which is called critical masses, the history of nuclear in the United States where the author at the very beginning, he says, and the author by the way has now is now that his the official historian at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Well, OQ is his name. He says in the intro, he goes, there's a typical story that gets told about nuclear that somehow it died under its own technical complexity, or safety concerns. This is the famous Emery Levin's line, you know, that nuclear died of was its own attack of incurable market forces are sort of, you know, sort of this picture of nuclear as is just too dangerous to be cost effective. And well look right at the beginning this book, he goes, That's not at all what's going on here. He said, what's really going on as the anti nuclear movement turns the public against nuclear, and I remember reading it being like, okay, you know, this really confirms my suspicions. And then he goes into this history and you realize that the reason that we have Diablo Canyon is because of this guy, William Siri, the president of the Sierra Club, who was himself a Manhattan Project veteran, did these crazy he was a UC Berkeley scientist did these crazy so he lived you know, a few blocks away from me in Berkeley to these crazy high altitude studies. people's bodies studied radiation studied altitude was this you know, kind of classic mid century Sierra Club mountain near not this kind of wispy you know, woke Sierra Club people today that are kind of a, you know, just a faint echo of the manly Sierra club leaders of the past. You know, I mean, these are the people that would like to get off work on Friday early, and then they drive it to the Sierras and they bag a couple of 14,000 footers and then get back home for work on Monday.

You know, pg&e had come to Him, they wanted to build the plant. In some sand dunes in a place called the Nipomo dunes, we'll see revisits it and goes, nope, these dunes are too nice. We don't want the nuclear plant here, you got to stick it somewhere else. They discovered this little canyon, they need to be near water. And they that's so called Diablo Canyon. And he pushes it through the board of directors of the Sierra Club. And the arguments against it, at first just had nothing to do with the current arguments against nuclear at all had to do with like, well, it's a nice, you know, it's an oak woodlands. Or, you know, and then as they really start to turn against it, so they kind of he kind of gets it through, but everyone's sort of unhappy. And then basically from 66 to 69. That's when the anti nuclear movement really forms Diablo Canyon becomes a kind of case study. And they you sort of see what happens, which is that these guys, they start to make arguments against nuclear, that are Malthusian arguments against overpopulation, against too many people coming to California that would be enabled by cheap electrical power. And the you know, of course, so you suddenly are like, you realize the arguments they're making are the exact opposite that ones they would make later. You know, the problem with nuclear is that it'd be the energy be too cheap, you know, that it would allow for too many people. And then they then they just start, you start to see these guys just start to make up all the arguments that they made up for the following, you know, so it becomes a kind of, they started picking up the arguments about radiation and melt down risk and whatnot. But you can kind of see in Diablo is the kind of embryo, both of the ecological case for nuclear, right, it's not, you don't have to have coal mining, you don't have to have hydroelectric dams, which take up all the space and the embryo of the arguments against nuclear and so it really becomes the kind of Earth case of nuclear and so as soon as like, the more you read about it, you know, you're just like I'm becoming I think it's fair to say obsessed with the plants with the characters. I you know, we then you know, things would happen, like, we would discover that peih Gee had made a photograph of a humpback whale breaching in front of the plant, and we were like, What is this? You know, her like, this is the most iconic nuclear photograph ever taken. I mean, it's a stunning photo, I put it everywhere, every chance to use it. You have a photo of it. I mean, it's,

Chris Keefer  27:48  

uh, yeah, they of course, probably weren't using it in their promotions. Right? It took took so they will of course not No, no, of course, classic, classic move, right?

Michael Shellenberger  27:55  

Classic nuclear industry move, right? Where they're like, Well, let's take a picture of the turbine Hall. It's like you have a picture of a humpback whale in front of your plant. And you're not using it. Stupid engineers, you know? So yeah, so you know, there's that stuff. And then you know, so then suddenly, I get word and 2016. People leak information. And they were like, they're gonna, they're going to announce they're going to close the plant. So I go down to San Luis Obispo, which is the city near the plan. And I hold a pub, a town hall meeting, and it is packed. I mean, it had something like 300 people there. And I was like, you know, and of course, I had this, I had this news about the plant being closed. And I basically got up and I just shared all the information I had. And I said, My promises that I'm going to share with you because I had some people it was a weird reaction. Sometimes some people will be like, be mad at me that I was telling them that the plan was going to shut down, which is clearly just a kind of

Chris Keefer  28:50  

displacement. Who's the audience? Michael? It's a

Michael Shellenberger  28:53  

combination of workers and community folks, you know, who had some concern over the plant? Okay, but it was not

Chris Keefer  28:59  

that easy, just for internationalist as the context is, is this like a nuclear town that's just surrounding the plant or it's a community with a bunch of other economic rhinos?

Michael Shellenberger  29:07  

Yeah, and yeah, have you been there by the way?

Chris Keefer  29:11  

I have not No, only I've watched your footage of being in the boat in front of the plant and I kind of like I've been there and I've you know, yeah. If you're around the world now but yeah, yeah. It's

Michael Shellenberger  29:23  

first of all, it's an absolute I mean, look, it's California. It's central coast. So people listening they may know Big Sur is a very faint it's up the road. So Big Sur is up the road. Santa Cruz is up the road and Santa Barbara is is down the road on the south. But it's on the famous California Highway One You know, it's this you know, just just really beautiful it's a youth there's a university and Engineering University in San Luis Obispo called Cal Poly as an Cal Polytechnic. It's one of the part of the UC system. It's a cute little town. I mean, it's not huge. There's a cute downtown. It's a great place to raise your kids. It's not like a big city. But it's also not like, you know, it's not Podunk exactly either. I mean, it's university there. And you wouldn't call it a company town at all, in fact that, in fact, they made some of the Anti-nuclear folks were so successful there that they really turned to the town against at least temporarily, I think the attitudes have shifted back and forth over the years. And now it's clearly on the side of keeping it open. So you know, so I give this talk and it's, it's pretty well received. And I'm like, we got to build a movement to save the plant. And afterwards up come these are actually is beforehand. Heather, then Heather Madison. Now Heather Hoff reaches out to me and gets in touch. And then she brings her friend Kristen's aids and there are these two, I guess it's I don't know, is it sexist to say they're beautiful? I don't know. Is it bad? Now I can I say that. They're these two beautiful young mothers, brilliant individuals, and passionate and just kind of everything you'd want out of kind of movement leaders. And they were like, We want to help and so they became mothers for nuclear and now mothers for nuclear as its own thing, and they've got chapters around the world. You know, there's so much that came out of it. I'll tell you another one. I'm actually putting i can't i love this photo so much to Heather Hoff. She is so she was actually she worked in the control room. So here's the control room operator, which as you know, it's like the pilot of the ship of the of the plane. It's a very manly little space. I actually saw it in Diablo when I got my tour. It's it was so cool. The men's that are just like Star Trek, right, like Star Trek. Yeah, yeah. Control. Really? Yeah. But it was like analog Star Trek. Right. Like, that's happening. We're talking Yeah, Captain. You know, even with this kind of like 60s Green, you know, I mean, it was actually 80s. But you know, the men are kind of walking around. It was mostly men, I think. But as far as some men and women are walking around, and But Heather, who now is a procedure,

she writes up the procedures, which is also more interesting than it sounds, but she actually works in the control room. But she, you know, one of the things that came out of Three Mile Island, which, of course was the best thing to ever happen to the nuclear industry, because they made them get their shit together. They do tons and tons of worker trainings. So Heather took a selfie, Heather was taking a lot of selfies at the time. And she took a selfie of herself in the control room. Practice, like the practice control room. And so we've got this incredible photo, you know, of that I have used all the time of Heather has this, you know, beautiful blonde woman in this control room. And I just think it's one of my most favorite photos of all of nuclear, I think it's iconic. And it also spoke to the ways in which my view was like, we've got to humanize the technology, we've got to feminize the technology, you've got to naturalize the technology, meaning you got to you got to let people see the technology in nature. And you've got to help people see that nuclear is people, you know, people go, so I would notice when I would go to my historical research, you go back and look at how the industry would present itself. And it would like show pictures of machines without anybody near them. And you still see this theme where you get these engineers who go, who who are bragging, I want these, I'm going to create nuclear plants that don't need any people as though people are the problem, you know, is a real anti humanism crept into the technology into the but of course, it's people, you know, yes, when something goes wrong, it's because of people as always like a jet plane. But when things go, right, it's because of people. And so I wanted to affirm that human side of nuclear. And that also then meant working with the people that work in the plants not being scared of them. Now, to some extent, you would see in the in, which has been a huge challenge. We can talk about it, but but we would see sometimes workers and executives who have a lot of social fear, understandably, around advocating for nuclear, they would sort of hide behind. They would sort of hide behind the supposedly lack of legitimacy to speak for their industry by saying things like, Well, Michael, it's good for you to speak out, because you're not in the industry, and we need third party validators, but I'm just going to stay comfortably at work and avoid any political advocacy. And I was like, and this was another change that I introduced, which was like, no, we want the workers to advocate for the plants. If the workers aren't advocating for their plants, you start to have questions about how good the plants are. So anyway, that I don't know if that helps to give some early picture of I think why why Diablo Canyon then becomes a kind of symbolic and real world. test case for what it takes to save a nuclear plant.

Chris Keefer  35:04  

Tell us about the the forces that came together to engineer the premature closure. Because I understand the union was involved or bought off pg&e environmental groups. The governor like what? Tell us tell us about that story?

Michael Shellenberger  35:18  

Ah, okay. Well, this is really weird. So, so Okay, so it's really, okay, so you have a set of anti nuclear groups have been trying to shut Diablo Canyon since 1969. Right. So these guys have been around forever, mothers for peace alliance for nuclear responsibility and our DC Sierra Club. Okay, so they've been out there operating. Gavin Newsom, who's lieutenant governor in 20. You know, 14 2015 2016 is looking for things to establish him as a Democratic leader in the state and nationally, Friends of the Earth approaches him through a guy named David Freeman, who's who was actually the former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority. This is a very important thing, because of course, so much of the war on nuclear comes from within nuclear. So David Freeman approaches Gavin, this is sort of how the story was relayed to me by various sources, Gavin sees it as an opportunity. He pursues closing the plant forcing the closure through the State Lands Commission, which he's the chair of as lieutenant governor, which is one of the agencies that has to give it one of the many permits that it needs. They then also go and manipulate the state water board to to start to raise hackles about that tiny amount of warm water that enters the ocean and instantly becomes cold water because it's the ocean, claiming that there's some harm on sea life that nobody could possibly detect, and of which there's zero evidence for. I discovered all sorts of weird things. I mean, it would take too much time. But I mean, basically, I discovered, you know, first that there was no science supporting any marine life impact from the plants, and that all of that was bogus, that this was all just being driven by Gavin's political ambitions. Then you get to the unions and somebody, you know, I'm like, at the time, I'm just kind of calling people up and just talking to everybody. You know, that's kind of how when I don't know what's going on, I just I turn on my reporter hat, and I just call up people and people talk, you know, people talk at every level government unions, industry. And somebody said something like, you know, the unions seems like should have an interest in trying to keep the plant open. So I so I reached out to all the unions, I know you've done work with unions, a lot of work, right. So I reached out to all the unions, and it became very clear that the most powerful union by far is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. So I reached out to the head of it. And I said, Hey, don't you guys have a kind of fiduciary responsibility to protect the plant and boy, he was, he was responding to me right away. Because in other words, they have a like, legal responsibility to keep the plant to fight for the plant. So he couldn't be in a situation where, you know, he was having somebody like me accusing him of not defending the plant. At the same time, he was clearly involved in a political game with the governor or with the Lieutenant Governor and the governor. And he was the slimy just one of the slightest individuals I've ever dealt with in my entire life. He's now moved on, but he was he basically came to he sent a guy over to meet with me, he offered me money was really weird. Like, right, like, I didn't ask for any money. He offered me money. And I was kind of like, well, that's, I'm always very suspicious when anybody offers you money as you should be, you know, somebody's like, let me give you money. It's like, why are you gonna give me an HB? Like, sure, just give me money. I was like, I mean, we certainly the cause needed it. But I was like, What do you know, what are you doing? And they went, so they, they were okay, so it's just what I suspected they were they had already cut a deal with Gavin. And they wanted to come, they wanted to participate in shutting the plant down. They were negotiating to shut the plant down. And, but they had to look like they were trying to save the plant. So they go through a bogus plant saving exercise yard signs that put this incompetent guy in charge of the effort. And here's the most sinister part of it. They literally ran ads in the newspaper, to ask people to save the plant. And they were ads done by a professional Anna Greenberg, I believe was the person involved with his top Democratic Party operative like nationally, they ran these ads and I remember as soon as I saw them, I knew what they were doing that the ads were actually like tobacco company ads aimed at kids telling kids not to, you know, it's like never that's the famous thing with tobacco industry as was like the tobacco industry be like kids, smoking is an adult decision.

You know, adults say don't smoke, you know, and it was like, the kids were like, Great, I'll smoke you know. So these were ads and they were so nasty that the actual They had a woman turning her head away from the camera and I think another one had her frowning. And it was like all this kind of garbled, terrible language like it was the most off putting ad ostensibly to save the nuclear plant. It really sent chills up my spine when I saw them because I thought this is really sinister and cynical sort of behavior. So yeah, and then, of course, as soon as Gavin more recently decided that he wanted to save the plants IBEW was they're turning out its workers to save the plants. You may have seen some of the videos of the workers just like, oh, yeah, we're saving the planet now. So I've always had a quite a jaundiced eye towards those workers as have mothers for nuclear.

Unknown Speaker  40:47  

And I mean,

Chris Keefer  40:49  

is it just kind of corruption that explains that, you know, in terms of this fiduciary duty, we have a very different dynamic here, I think IBEW represents workers in a number of different fields, we're blessed in Canada, with unions that largely represent just nuclear workers, and are very clear about what that means. And what that means politically. I don't need to dive into it as

Michael Shellenberger  41:09  

a company call it a company, someone said to me in the labor, I'm not a labor movement person, but somebody is in the labor movement said this is known as a company union, meaning the company is basically controlled by the company. But that's not actually quite accurate. It was more like a political union, it was controlled by the Democratic Party. And I think a more judicious way. Or maybe a more fair way to say it is that IBEW is involved in multiple negotiations with PG and E and with the California government at any given point. And the status of Diablo Canyon is one of many different the workers that it represents the Diablo Canyon are a small number of the workers that represents overall it had a bunch of things that was negotiating at the time, including for like the guys that do the electrical and maintain the electrical wires, you know, and that was like a big part of their dispute. But it was a very, I mean, you got, each of these things would look like separate rabbit holes that she could go through, go down, and I would just kind of look at it and go, I just as IBEW is not with us, like I knew that. So when I say we were very alone, I mean, we were really alone, I didn't have the Pro nuclear snobs that said they cared about nuclear, but actually would rather just talk about thorium and, frankly, bullshit designs that don't exist, and never will. I didn't have the labor unions. I didn't have environmentalists, we were truly starting from scratch. And that was hard and lonely and painful. But I think that what it did is it allowed us to construct the ethos that I think has mostly succeeded, which is this ethos of built of having a value of building the movement and treating people like NS and not as means

Chris Keefer  42:48  

no, I think that's something I've noticed, you know, in terms of interacting with, you know, some of the prominent people in this movement as it is, it's so much about someone reaches out, you give them a call, you get to know them, right? It's such a movement of personal relationships. And at times, I've been like, Hey, guys, we need to be more savvy, you know, with using, you know, the web based tools and, you know, sending letters, you know, with new apps and platforms. I'm not sure what the Justice Democrats are using, but there's been some sort of revolutions and political organizing in that regard. But what I've noticed in terms of the political advocacy community that's been really effective is that it's such a thing about cultivating people getting to know them. And again, it precisely that, that that pro human side of it being very human focused. So you talked about, you know, these kind of lonely years. So, I mean, obviously, you know, quote, unquote, the impossible has happened. This is this is quite a radical turnaround. I mean, 2016 to 2022 is quite a few years. You know, talking with my friend Isabelle Boemeke, he she was going around talking to all the different groups who wants to work on this Diablo Canyon thing, she was being told by just about everybody, it's a lost cause it's hopeless, don't waste your energy. She came across, I think, Mark and Paris, you know, folks that have worked with you in environmental progress. And, and, you know, things have kind of moved from there. But still, I mean, I've been paying attention to this issue peripherally for some time. And I mean, this comes as a bit of a surprise to me. You know, the legislature, I think it was for between the Senate and the House for people voted against this legislation to continue operations at Diablo Canyon, can you give us your sort of theory of change as to why this has occurred? I mean, it's occurring in a much broader context. We're seeing nuclear reversals, nuclear close reversals around the world, but who would have thunk it in California?

Michael Shellenberger  44:40  

I mean, it all it's, I think it's really three things. The first is I do think we have changed opinions in California. There's objective as survey evidence now that shows a plurality of Californians support keeping Diablo Canyon online, and minority opposes it. So that's changed we've seen another national search previous support for nuclear power has gone up in the United States. And I think that we can, as a movement can take some credit for it. And I'll take some credit for it personally, given my TED Talks and the work that I've done. So I do think that has had a big role. I think the second issue is that there's just reality on the ground. And that's that they can't keep the lights on here, dude. I mean, just to give a sense of an August 24, the state said we would that they were going to ban all gasoline powered vehicles in 2035, they're going to ban the sale of them and 2035 Well, six days later, they asked people not to charge their electric vehicles because they didn't have enough electricity. So I ran the math, you know, you would need 10 Diablo Canyon sized nuclear plants to provide electricity for all of the EVS if all the cars and trucks in California were EVs. That's, by the way, using the assumptions of California Energy Commission. So you know, what are we what are you? What are you guys doing here, there's a kind of reality on the ground, you know, the latest one that I just pointed out as if they are firing back up a kerosene jet fuel powered power plant in Oakland, which is one of the dirtiest power plants in the state. It's been an environmental injustice and a blight on this Oakland neighborhood, and mostly poor black and brown neighborhood in Oakland. And they're having to keep running it because otherwise they're gonna have blackouts. And so I guess that gets to the third issue, which is that, you know, the governor had to do this, you know, the governor, you know, had so you get to this incredibly symbolic thing where the governor who had demanded we shut it down, it's not saying you got to keep it open. He does not want blackouts, either, because, you know, he's trying to run the state. He's trying to be a good governor. But he's also running for President, as I've been pointing out, including when I ran against him for Governor a few a few months ago. People didn't believe me at the time, by the way, people said, Oh, come on. Shellenberger is like no, he's running for president. So I do think that that politics can be your friend in that sense. But I just think, you know, look, the legislature, the Republicans in the legislature, are pronuclear, just like Republicans in general are pronuclear. So that wasn't a hard lift. But the governor was told the Democrats, look, you got to you got to keep the plant operating. And we're going to have blackouts. And I think that few legislators wanted to be on the side of voting for blackouts.

Chris Keefer  47:21  

There's a great friend of the podcast Doomberg, who has this this quote, in the war between platitudes and physics, physics is undefeated. There's kind of a strange irony here, which is, you know, maybe it's renewables that save Diablo Canyon. Because of you know, what an unmitigated disaster failed. Yeah, the Nigeria, Nigeria, ification of California. I mean, I had ROBERT BRYCE on a couple of weeks ago, and he was just talking about Generac. And I mean, boom times for for the diesel generator folks out there in California and Texas in particular, right.

Michael Shellenberger  47:53  

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean, I think, yeah, that's, that's, that's sort of the this sort of the bottom line to it. But I do think, because, you know, you can kind of go, oh, well, does it matter what we did at all if it just takes a crisis, but I think it does matter. I mean, there's a famous quote from Milton Friedman, which is that, you know, you develop the ideas, and then it's going to take a crisis for the policymakers to finally pick them up. And I do think that that's what's been going on. And we have changed attitudes. I mean, there's no doubt about it. I mean, I can just tell you, anecdotally, I would go on to Twitter in 2016. And people would accuse me of being a shill of taking money from the nuclear industry, which of course, I had not and never have never will. They would say things to me, like nuclear power is actually carbon intensive, which is just absurd. And now, people expressed to me genuinely, particularly like Zoomers, you know, or even young millennials that kind of go well, why are people against nuclear again, I don't even understand that. You know, I just kind of laugh. It's like, well, it's a long story. But, yeah, I think it's really changed. I just tweeted, there's somebody, some random person sent it to me and I just tweeted it today, which was, somebody tweeted, some young person tweeted, the fact that basically the entire world is in an energy crisis, because a small group of people decided to be woke about nuclear energy is mind numbing, you know, and it went viral. So I think that the people are starting to wake up to this and kind of go, oh, actually, there is no need for resource scarcity, because nuclear provides infinite energy, fertilizer or freshwater and food. You know, it's a, it's a shocking thing to realize, just you know, what a miracle nuclear is.

Chris Keefer  49:36  

Yeah, I mean, God, I'm blanking on the name of the guests just now. It'll come to me in a second. But um, Jonathan Campbell, I believe. So he was on and he was talking about Alexander the Great, you know, marching through the Baku essentially, you know, we're where petroleum was just bubbling to the surface, but you know, he had no petroleum distillery industry. He had no diesel engines. So you know, it was used I guess, a little party fun. and some Greek fire here and there, right? And it just strikes me. I mean, having having a nuclear plant that's there operational paid off, you can turn magic rocks into just copious amounts of energy. I mean, you know, I'm speaking tourism here to someone who has not stated again, but I mean, it's just, it is absolutely mind boggling. That kind of civilizational vandalism that we've we've been seeing with the closure of this key infrastructure. You've been talking a lot recently, we hung out briefly again in Berkeley, you know, I have very academic parents, I really should have paid a lot more attention when they were talking about some of the the greats and it was a very foolish rebellion of mine not to have have read and pick their minds as much. But you've been sort of exploring nihilism recently. D civilization, I know you've been influenced a bit by Peters I hands most recent book on on D globalization. So in the context of that sort of Alexander the Great comment there, and the sort of civilizational vandalism of destroying perfectly operational nuclear plants in a context where, you know, I'm sort of starting to think of things a little bit as there's almost like a war against nature that starting not in the typical way we think about it in terms of resource extraction, but like, nature is maybe becoming a little less inhospitable. You know, throughout human history, most of human history, human beings have really, you know, had to fight off the forces of nature, we become very comfortable recently. But, you know, having energy is both a key way to mitigate climate change, but also to adapt and to be able to deal with, for instance, the water crisis you're seeing in your home state right now. So talk a little bit, I guess about the question, right?

Michael Shellenberger  51:37  

Yeah. Why are we why are we having an energy shortage? Why do we have a water a freshwater and energy shortage? If we have nuclear power, why we have abundant energy, we have enough natural gas for over 1000 years for the United States and Europe combined, we have nuclear is infinite. So why do we have these shortages? They're clearly first of all, they're self inflicted, we've decided not to do them. So then you get to the question of, well, why are we not doing it? And you kind of go well, people were misinformed about nuclear. But then why were we misinformed about nuclear, you know, what was the what's going on? And you trace that down, you kind of get whether it's financial interests that compete with nuclear, there's sort of, you know, competing industries, but that doesn't really explain why I mean, you know, the Internet, newspapers didn't stop the rise of the Internet. So why are they able to repress nuclear and I think you come to basically it's people that are on a spiritual crusade that are trying to stop nuclear. I mean, they've literally the Germans and Greenpeace, they've endorsed coal over nuclear, because nuclear is the devil. It has taken the position archetypal ly and spiritually of a demonic force. Whereas coal might be polluting, but it's not. It's not demonic in the way that nuclear has become for, for spiritual, German, apocalyptic environmentalists, it's a religion. So where does that come from? And it fundamentally comes out of the crisis of faith of the move away from traditional religions that really starts intensifying in the late 19th century, in the early 20th century, with the rise of Darwin and some sense that you know that humans are animals like every other and that there's no inherent meaning to our existence that we we grow up, we eat, we defecate, we have sex, we procreate we reproduce, and then we die just like other animals. And that's not that's what we call nihilism. Nihilism is this awareness that the world doesn't have any inherent meaning that the world is meaningless now. It's not meaningless in the sense that we create meaning from it. That's what humans do. We tell stories about the world. And we traditionally had a story that we told in the West, which was we were created by God, and God told us to go and be prosperous and multiply. And then when we decided when people stopped believing that story, we then had a vacuum, a god sized hole in Western culture that we needed to fill. And so it's been filled by this new apocalyptic religion. And should it surprise us that, you know, they have come to treat nature as a kind of God, and that they've displayed we've had a sense of guilt and that guilt is now we now feel guilty for what we've done to nature. And of course, there's a group of people that gain power in telling the story, we see extinction rebellion of Greta tunberg gain power and telling the story. They use fear in the same way that old school preachers used fear to get people to control people and to gain power in society. And it's all happening of course, under the backdrop of rising depression, rising alienation, rising loneliness, and so it provides it meets some needs, but I do think it does. It is not ultimately very satisfying. I think that nuclear provides a way out. And I think that pro human environmentalism is itself a counter spirituality to this nihilistic anti civilization. depressing story. And that story is that it's not the same as the Judeo Christian story, we're sort of told by God. But it is a story of human progress. It's a story of human ingenuity. I mean, there is something truly magic about fission. I think that's probably what you were getting at. I mean, we were Maddie and Mark and I, when Matt and mark right environment progress, you know, we would, I would, I would think a lot about uranium as the sort of physical source or fuel for the fission reactions. I mean, fission of course, is possible, then the atom, but it's most possible with an unstable atom like uranium. And we became obsessed with these cloud chamber videos of you might seen where you put a piece of uranium in a cloud chamber, and then you get us can see the electrons flying off of it. And I, I thought this was very moving. And I also was around the same time, I became obsessed with Marie Curie. And the discovery of radium, the discovery of radiation, that there was some sense in which it's alive.

I mean, it's not really alive. It's not a biological entity, obviously. But there's energy. And if you kind of get down to it, and you, you get, you kind of go, so much of the fear of death manifests as a fear of becoming and that we know that what's really going on around us is that things are constantly in a state of change and becoming and that we're constantly kind of trying to freeze things as they are, we have a lot of anxiety, sometimes a lot of existential anxiety around change. You know, 1.1 of the yuppies in San Francisco said the reason that baby boomers don't like to see change to their neighborhoods is because they fear death. I think there's something true about that, you know, that there's something we kind of want to go back to the windmills back into the womb of, of, you know, pre modern societies to escape from all this horrible complexity, all this rapid change. And I think that nuclear is demanding an evolution of consciousness. It's demanding that we rise to the spiritual challenge of living in an age of nihilism and we say it has meaning and the meaning is that we are destiny is to lift everybody out of poverty, reduce our environmental impact to such an extent that we can have vibrant wildlife we can have vibrant ecosystems we can have everybody in the world living without air pollution, water pollution, having abundance that is a spiritual vision at bottom I believe that's not just a kind of scientific vision that's not just a sciences and tell us what to do. You know, morals and ethics and spirituality does and so nuclear becomes needs to be part of that exciting beautiful, life affirming vision against the the anti civilization Isla some of our opponents,

Chris Keefer  58:11  

Michael, everyone's that yogurt commercial, the solar punk yogurt commercial with the it's got blimps in the sky, or that are kind of windmills and solar panels in this huge space. Amory Levin's type house, is making the rounds a while ago, it's got a few few million views, but it is the kind of aesthetic that's being proposed. And it was quite attractive. You know, it's like, a color and a house or kids are coming back on the flying school bus powered by I'm not sure exactly what there's robots picking the apples, but it's a nice robot. And I mean, I think so much of this, the struggle of this movement is articulating I mean, you're you're sort of putting it in I just kind of philosophical religious terms, but like, articulating that aesthetics, right and, and that's something you know, Maddie was visiting Bruce Power the other day and articulating that as well just you know, that this is a big change for environmentalists to see this huge machinery, the scale of it and etc, but then situated in nature with minimal impact, and you know, this the scale of the power being produced, etc. But what do you think in terms of that, you know, I talk a lot about a battle of ideas, but the kind of battle of aesthetics Where do you see that going in the future? Yeah.

Michael Shellenberger  59:16  

I mean, um, so first of all, let me also say something about I do think that I first of all, I appreciate the recognition from you, Chris, because it's much appreciated and I love that I'm the nuclear energy and, and but I'm so I can't tell you how much how happy I was to see you in the Wall Street Journal. I can't tell you how happy I felt when I saw Maddies tweet thread on nuclear ways to go mega viral. I mean, like 30,000 retweets, which means 10 million people saw it. I'm so inspired by Mark Nelson and Harris lines in building sign up for nuclear events around the world. I love Zion lights and seen Zion lights flower. I see all of you guys as the leaders of the As movement as visionaries, you're all so different. You're bringing different things to it. But yeah, I mean, we spent a lot of time with Maddie and Mark talking about the archetypes here. I do think the big one that Maddie and I certainly I think Mark, maybe to a lesser extent got excited about was that nuclear is a Cinderella story. You know, genuinely Cinderella was the sister who was mistreated and called Dirty by by inferior siblings. And she was actually the special one. Yeah, so I see Maddie playing with this, you know, archetype. A lot. I mean, I think we also I'm also inspired by seeing people rejecting the idea that nuclear waste needs to be buried far underground. It's the silliest, it's such an obvious anthropological ritual, of, of burial of the dead, and in itself needs to be buried, the waste should be the waste should be treated like cheese, it's alive, it needs to be its future fuel for reactors, it needs to be kept at the side of production, the nuclear plants themselves are going to be immortal. This is Mark Nelson's language. So you can see this community that we I think, have created this, this this now it's an ecosystem, but it's it's trying to work out a kind of language, a kind of architecture of a new mythology for nuclear a new I hate to say religion, but certainly a new philosophy, a new worldview, something that can be a counterweight to this dystopian, apocalyptic environmentalism. So, yeah, I do think the picture is important. I saw another picture, by the way, from conservative environmentalists, where I agreed with like half of it, you know, like you kind of go I like that we like that we agree with the clean air. We agree with the kids plane. I mean, it shouldn't just be the kids should not be just coming out of school Boston around the home, they should be going out and climbing the tree and falling down and being in situations of danger. They should be free ranch kids. There should I think there should be some gardening, but there should also be industrial agriculture. You know, there should be some diversity of landscapes, right? I don't think we want to make it a cookie cutter. But yeah, and they had, instead of solar or wind in the background, you want nuclear plants in the background with whales preaching in front of them? So no, I do think we've got some work to do. Right. If we're having to having to rip off a yogurt add, it seems like well, you know, we're creating that.

Chris Keefer  1:02:27  

And fundamentally, I think bringing it back to that, that pro human element, right and really featuring people at the at the forefront of the story. Because I mean, you look at a lot of the advanced, like who's doing aesthetic work right now. It's the advanced nuclear companies. And they're all really kind of high tech imaginings from Oh, close a frames to you know, the Rolls Royce. I'm not sure what exactly that is. But they're, they're people as landscapes, right? They're futuristic, they're cold. They're kind of it's not like yoga commercial, put it that way. And as you're saying, the old commercials not not perfectly what I necessarily aspire to, but, but there is a vision that's to be painted. And I think it really does center the people involved, and we do real disservice to those people. Unfortunately, those people aren't doing its job at, I guess, at representing their own interests and getting out there. But I think that's kind of where I into it.

Michael Shellenberger  1:03:16  

I spent a bunch of time frustrated with the nuclear industry. And I regret that I spent so much time frustrated with it. I also saw it as an opportunity at the time, but I now view it is even more than that, which is that? Yeah, the nuclear industry is absolutely terrible at communicating. Its technology. Great. So we'll do it. You know, there's now there's now plenty of people and plenty of non industry money and non industry actors in a vacuum. You know, it's like the classic thing where it's like, people say, No, you know, people sit around and complain about art. today. It's like, well go out and make your own art. You know, we're complaining about journalism, go make your journalism, you know, go go, don't sit there and complain about it. So that I do think the sky's the limit in terms of what's possible here. I think there's, we have a growing, we have a strong philosophical foundation, there's a strong and growing movement that has the right ethos, if it can keep the kind of snobbery out of the movement and the sectarianism out of the movement, then I think there's a bunch of stuff that needs to be filled out some of the, like you said, some of the imagery, some of the picture, some of the storytelling, some of the archetypes there's a lot of there's still some work to do. But I think we've got this is a movement that has a really good foundation I think a sufficient foundation now to go and save nuclear plants around the world get nuclear plants built and frankly lead the industry that's what's needed needs to happen now.

Chris Keefer  1:04:46  

So I guess just in closing, what's what's next what's what's making you hopefully, I guess you're probably looking to Germany and seeing sounds like there's going to be some kind of a compromise there. Maybe they'll kill one of the plants to sacrifice one of those on the altar. The Green Party through in the South. I mean, since Yeah, I mean, but just give us I guess, give us a little, you know, hopeful ending and where you think nuclear advocates should be should be putting their energies?

Michael Shellenberger  1:05:12  

Yeah. Well, like I said, I think that you guys are inspirations to me. So I think people that are listening should, you know, be entrepreneurial sort of thing, but also work with you and mark, and Maddie and Paris and Zion, to really build an inclusive, inspiring movement. For sure. I mean, let's just step up all of this activity. Korea's really exciting right now, you saw the government of Korea said we're going to actually cut the funding for renewables. So we're going to increase the funding for nuclear spot on Japan is now pursuing more nuclear. We saw we've seen a wobble in France, where the President said, Oh, the age of abundance is over. It's bonkers. I actually have a I just give a long interview to French magazine that he reads criticizing him for that. So we got to do more in France. So the everywhere in the world needs

Chris Keefer  1:06:05  

to passivity and like an ethos of giving up, which drives me crazy. I mean, and then there's like the ultra like it just in terms of the other psychological profiles, like amongst the kind of renewal bros like the thin skin, this is ABS and like, complete intolerance of critique. I mean, it's just it's interesting, the different sort of psychological frames that exist, right. And there'll always be those those differences. You know, we just did an episode, we did an episode with Mark on on storage. And I just, I just wanted to touch on the renewables thing with you, I guess, in closing so much I want to chat with you about but you've been a real sort of thought leader in daring to, to criticize them. But, you know, we did the storage episode mark, and I and I sort of opened it up by talking about, you know, fuels as storage. And, you know, we're sort of seeing the climate Hawk renewables fantasies playing out with a shortage of fossil fuels. And it's proving that their their experiment is not viable. Do you? Are you you mentioned South Korea, whether there's sort of turning down funding for renewables and increasing for nuclear? Do you think that leaders around the world are learning the lessons from these examples in terms of your theory of changing that's going to happen quickly, slowly, I mean, there's a lot of ego on the line to kind of people just need to physically die off before new ideas can can take over.

Michael Shellenberger  1:07:24  

I mean, look, it's gone pretty well, man. I mean, I have to say, I, I, you know, there were some dark moments and real fears and concerns. But I this energy crisis arrived sooner than we thought because of course, the you know, it was happening already in the fall of last year, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine accelerated it. So no, look, I think we're at the very beginning of a nuclear renaissance that is going to last for a longer time than the last one did. I do think we're going to see, that means we need we have our work cut out for us. I mean, you know, I was put out this is lifetime's worth of work. It's not like something that you're going to do nuclear is so hard, and it's got so much work to do that it's gonna be lifetime's worth of work. It's not like you know, we're gonna get a law passed. And suddenly we have equal rights for nuclear or something like that. It's really plant every single plant. Every single plant requires its own justification, its own movements, and in great being and see the incredible victory. I mean, Diablo was like the top news story. You know, in California today, maybe one of the biggest stories in the country yesterday. Big story around the world. Every time a nuclear plant is saved. It's an inspiration to everybody else in the world. So I just think we got the wind at our backs. I think we should take a minute and enjoy it. Take a Friday night and celebrated you know, clink some champagne or some non alcoholic beverage of your choice. And and then on Monday, let's get back to work because we got tons of work to do.

Chris Keefer  1:08:47  

All right. Well, what a great place to leave it Michael, thanks for coming on. Great context. I learned a lot about some of the origin stories about Diablo Canyon such as symbolic victory a shot heard around the world. I think as you were saying, Thanks for making the time Michael looking forward to having you back soon.

Michael Shellenberger  1:09:03  

pleasure talking with you brother. Secrets

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