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A Fourteen-Minute TED Talk Summarizes the First Half of My Book

Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 by Gary Schwendiman

TED talks are a new concept for me. I’m of the generation that finds out about them because one of my kids—or even grandkids—forwarded me a link. But I have to say, I’m impressed with the idea of a nonprofit organization that is devoted to spreading ideas, to giving people who have good ideas a stage from which to present them, to taking that stage all over the world, including to remote and small communities.

And I’m even more impressed with what some of the TED-talkers (if I can call them that) have had to say about nuclear power recently. I urge you click play above or this link to watch this fourteen-minute talk by Michael Shellenberger. 

When it comes to clean energy, this talk makes absolutely crystal clear that nuclear power is the way to go for electricity production. Shellenberger is a true expert on climate change, energy, and the environment, and he reveals a global perspective in his talk, during which he references visits to India and China and engages intensely with the situation in Japan. At the same time, he lives in Berkeley, and this is a recording of a live talk that is quite focused on California. In this connection, he busts some myths—a man after my heart! He points out that for all its “clean” reputation, California has actually been slower than the national average in lowering its emissions.

But the other byproduct of his focus on California is a sense of urgency, of crisis, of call to action. He clearly explains the issues with wind and solar that I talk about in my book, and he reveals how these shortcomings in the popular clean technologies become compounded with irrational fears of nuclear power so that plants get decommissioned and not enough new ones get built—and he debunks those irrational fears with some of the very same arguments that I use in my book. To him, this clearly isn’t just an academic subject or dispassionate observation of one force increasing and another decreasing. This isn’t just football anymore.

When I wrote The Future of Clean Energy, my aim was to explain the issues, debunk the myths, and, yes, make a strong case for the technologies I judged best suited to take us into the future with clean, reliable energy. I used the analogy of a football conference because it was a relatable way to point out some essential similarities between fuel sources, and also, frankly, to keep things both lighthearted and theoretical. “Friends talking football,” don’t get worked up about the future of the planet.

If you want to see where some of these ideas go in front of a live audience, with a sense of urgency, this will be a good use of fourteen minutes of your time. My book would be the ideal reference for someone responding to Shellenberger’s call to action.


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