Atomic Show #217 – Michael Mariotte, President NIRS

At the suggestion of a long time Atomic Insights contributor and Atomic Show listener, I invited Michael Mariotte for a guest appearance on the Atomic Show. In the small world made up of active nuclear advocates and people adamantly opposed to nuclear energy, Mariotte and his organization are famous — or infamous, depending on one’s perspective.

The specific impetus for this show was a conversation on NIRS’s Greenworld blog titled Poll: Anti-nuclear presence at September 20 NYC climate march/rally?. Mariotte and his organization are planning to hold a nuclear free rally as part of a planned march in New York City to draw attention to the challenge of climate change. That seems quite illogical and counter productive to me.

Michael served as the Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) from October 1986 through December 2013. He is currently the president of the organization.

NIRS is not a fan of nuclear energy. In fact, their staff page includes the following subtitle “Working for a Nuclear-Free World.”

Michael reminded me that we have engaged — on opposite sides — in discussions about nuclear energy on the web since the early 1990s when we both had accounts in the walled garden called America Online.

In spite of our polar opposite positions on nuclear energy, Mariotte and I agree in several areas. We are both concerned about the effects of CO2 released from our massive fossil fuel industry. We are both worried about many other aspects of a continued dependence on hydrocarbons, including the political instability and income inequality that dependence is producing.

During this show, Michael explains his belief that it is possible to achieve a “Carbon Free, Nuclear Free” energy system and that the intentions and future plans of people like Elon Musk, companies like Google and NRG, and countries like Denmark and Germany are showing the viability of that goal.

Not surprisingly I disagreed with his belief; there are real limitations that make the vision closer to a mirage than an attainable goal. However, we kept the conversation civil. Unlike my talk with Arjun Makhijani, the author of Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free, Mariotte did not hang up. In fact, we left the conversation open as something that might be continued on another day.

I hope you enjoy the show.

Thank you, James Greenidge, for suggesting this discussion.

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