Asking Powerful Public Scientists Hard Questions

On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists hosted a symposium titled Speaking Knowledge to Power in Princeton University’s Robertson Hall. The speakers included John Holdren, Allison Macfarlane, Frank von Hippel and Christopher Chyba.

Three out of the four (Holdren, von Hippel, and Macfarlane) have long been influential skeptics about the use of nuclear energy, even though they are well-educated scientists with solid reputations in their particular fields of study. Two of the four currently wield considerable power from their politically appointed positions, with Macfarlane serving as the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Holdren serving as the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Von Hippel is proud of his chosen role of being an outsider. He described his conscious realization that he is more effective at influencing policy from his academic perch than from being in a responsible position inside the government.

As a independent citizen armed with personal knowledge about the value and capabilities of nuclear energy in addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing human society, I thought it would be a good idea to make the trip to Princeton so I could ask the powerful public scientists some hard questions.
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Smoking Gun – NCPC & John F. Kennedy

There is a folder in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum titled National Coal Policy Conference that documents an apparently successful effort to influence a rising political star to support national policies that favor coal over natural gas, residual oil and atomic energy. The NCPC, whose existence lasted from its founding in 1959 […]

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Can Natural Gas be Bridge? Shell Ad Says Yes

National Geographic Poll: Can natural gas be a bridge to clean energy?

There is an interesting article at National Geographic titled Can Natural Gas Be a Bridge to Clean Energy?. That eminent magazine is promoting the article and wants people to help answer the question it poses; here is a copy of the Tweet that provided me the initial link. Tell us what you think: Can natural […]

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Correlation Between GMOs and Nuclear Fission

Have you ever noticed that many of the same organizations and people that fight nuclear energy also fight GMOs? Both technologies promise disruptive abundance that can improve the lives of billions of people. Here’s food for thought: Big Agriculture has as much to lose from technologies that solve world hunger as Big Oil, Big Coal, […]

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Nader’s nuclear blind spot

Climate change discussion by politicians. Brought to you by BP.

A March 12, 2014 Democracy Now! segment featuring an interview with Ralph Nader was advertised as a report about the recent US Senate climate change talkathon. Nermeen Shaikh, the show co-host, moved rapidly from a discussion about the Senate actions to draw attention to climate change to asking Nader a leading question about nuclear energy. […]

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Smoking gun – Antinuclear talking points coined by coal interests

Some of the earliest documented instances of opposition to the development of commercial nuclear power in the United States originated from designated representatives of the coal industry. They were the first people to mount sustained opposition to the use of taxpayer money to support the development of nuclear power stations. They testified against the implied […]

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New testing rules benefit oil producers

One of the odd circumstances that arises out of extracting, transporting and marketing a commodity in high demand is that overall industry profits can increase as an indirect result of experiencing a scary accident that destroys a portion of a now infamous small town and kills nearly four dozen people. One predictable response to such […]

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NEI Small Reactor Forum Report – Part 1

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) hosted its biannual Small Reactor Forum on February 25, 2014. The agenda for the one day event included six well-organized sessions with presentations from three small reactor vendors, the industry trade group, the regulatory agency, and several outside observers with a significant interest in the technology from a variety of […]

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Smoking gun: AEC told President Kennedy why coal industry was opposed to nuclear energy

It’s been quite a while since my last smoking gun post on Atomic Insights. It may be time to revive the series to remind nuclear energy advocates to follow the money and know their opponents. In the battle for hearts, minds and market share it is always useful to know why vocal opposition exists, but […]

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Fuel resiliency will be part of quadrennial energy review

During his speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday, February 19, Energy Secretary Moniz made a comment about fuel resiliency that is worthy of discussion, especially as it might provide another opportunity for nuclear energy advocates to make the case for the importance of continuing to operate, develop and deploy our technology. Dr. Moniz […]

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ExxonMobil, XTO, and climate change strategy

On January 24, 2014, the The Society of Environmental Journalists and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program presented a panel discussion titled The Year Ahead in Environment and Energy. I found out about it via this tweet from Andy Revkin: Video: Enviro journalists on Keystone, gas boom, western drought, much more at […]

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On Germany, coal and carbon

By Paul Lorenzini Germany’s nuclear phase-out has an obvious and unavoidable consequence: they will burn more fossil fuels and emit more carbon. They may succeed in lowering carbon emissions using some artifact (comparisons to some historical year) but only a fool would contend that their carbon emissions will be not be higher than they otherwise […]

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