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  1. What a great guest. I love her Talk Nerdy podcast.

    I’ve often felt that nuclear was left out of the conversation among popular science communicators. This was a great seed to plant.

    I’m also interested in seeing that clip of Bill Nye’s introduction before the Pandora’s Promise showing. Do you know if this is on youtube?

      1. I watched the video but I missed the part where he might have said “You should be very afraid of nuclear…”. Although he may have not said those exact words, his overall message was very down and dismissive of nuclear energy.

        While I would agree with him that a tradition of secrecy has hurt the nuclear industry, he does not seem to understand the existing commercial nuclear industry is transparent enough if one cares to ask or look for the information. And, since the n-word has its own baggage, utility companies have no interest in making feel-good community PR ads about them for television. So yes, nuclear has a difficult self-promotion and PR problem and it does know this.

        But I’d like to add that while Bill Nye considers himself a healthy skeptic, the nuclear industry has a fairly vocal group of polar opposites of Bill Nye – those who believe in nuclear but not in climate change.

        I’ll say my pitch of reason here on the chance it will be read by those who fit the description.

        Nuclear technology has many types of customers. Actual customers: rate payers, utility providers, health care providers and their patients. And figurative customers, those who must be serviced or appealed to: regulators, legislatures, or the concerned environmentalist, the public at large.

        There are some nuclear enthusiasts but CC skeptics (NECCS) who feel very uncomfortable touting nuclear in any way shape or form in relation to CC. They will skirt around the topic with weak pitchs like “for those who are concerned about CO2, nuclear has a low carbon footprint…”. Even if a line like that is said out loud in the right tone of voice, there’s no getting around the obvious detachment that would convey because it essentially says “we don’t care for what you believe, but trust us, nuclear’s great”.

        These NECCS don’t seem to understand the value in crafting a sincere message that validates the concerns of those who you want to appeal to. It’s not appropriate to question the validity of the customers concerns especially if by doing so would be self-undermining.

        They need to understand that you don’t insult your customer’s reasons for wanting your product: carbon free energy. You need to celebrate your customer’s reasons for wanting to buy your services.

        This falls in line with an updated business axiom: “The customer may not always be right, but they are always the customer.

        I’m really glad that most of these NECCS types are not in the business of actually crafting the communications for the nuclear industry, but there are enough of them already to do some significant damage. Again, they don’t understand it’s not about being right, it’s about being relevant.

          1. In other words, what you’re proposing is to omit the phrase ‘climate change’ from from the conversation the nuclear energy makes of itself. That’s a terrible idea. You can’t hide that your heart isn’t in the same place as those who most oppose you but should most embrace you with that kind of attitude. It would be insincere and people can detect that with ease.

        1. But I’d like to add that while Bill Nye considers himself a healthy skeptic …

          What he “considers himself” to be is irrelevant. Personally, I think that he is very gullible. What he actually is is nothing more than someone so ignorant of this topic that he is willing to go on CNN after Fukushima and make a fool of himself by confusing cesium with cadmium. What a wonderful “science guy”!

          In the video that Rod linked to, the “science guy” was pretty much parroting Greenpeace talking points almost verbatim, and that’s because that is probably where he got all of his “information.” It appears that Greenpeace is where he gets all of his “information” about “climate change” as well. Goodness knows he has no technical background in either field. The guy has a (BS) degree in mechanical engineering and has spent much of professional life in show business. His only technical work has been in aerospace.

          There are some nuclear enthusiasts but CC skeptics (NECCS) who feel very uncomfortable touting nuclear in any way shape or form in relation to CC.

          These people are mostly the more mature, seasoned members of the nuclear community who bitterly remember being screwed over by “environmentalists” before. As the old proverb goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, …”

          If you want to bring them on board with your beliefs, then you’ve got to do better than your so-called “pitch of reason.” These people tend to be engineers and scientists, not public relations professionals in search of a message to craft. They work on logic, not emotion.

          You might start with the obvious question asked by the late Zbigniew Jaworowski:

          The question arises: Were the decisions concerning this enormous funding for global warming research taken out of genuine concern that the climate is allegedly changing as a result of CO2 industrial emissions, or do some other undisclosed ideas stand behind this money, IPCC activity, Kyoto, and all the gruesome catastrophic propaganda the world is now exposed to? If this concern is genuine, then why do we not see a storm of enthusiastic environmentalists and United Nations officials demanding to replace all fossil-fuel plants with nuclear plants, which have zero emission of greenhouse gases, are environmentally friendly, more economical, and much safer for plant workers and much safer for the general population than other sources of energy?

          So why not? Please tell me. I’m begging.

          Note that Jaworowski asked this question before “Climategate,” so now there are other questions. For example, why was someone from Greenpeace included in the group of key people involved in planning the “Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis” section of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report? The Greenpeace guy wasn’t even a scientist.

          To someone in the nuclear industry, that’s like asking someone from the NEI, who has a background in PR, to help out with a LOCA analysis for a SAR. It just doesn’t make sense, and so one begins to wonder, just what is going on here?

          But those who have been around a while remember, understand, and know the following: environmentalists lie. It’s what they do. We’ve seen them lie about nuclear power for about half a century now, and this is stuff that we know and work with every day. Now, if they have been lying for so long that nuclear power is going to destroy the world, then why, why, why would you expect someone with any sense whatsoever to believe them now when they say that “climate change” is going to destroy the world?

          That’s what you’re up against. You’ve got a hard row to hoe.

          But I think that it’s cute that you still believe that this whole thing is about “carbon-free energy.”

          1. Firstly, we do see some environmentalists clamoring for nuclear energy. To say they all do not endorse nuclear or that they all lie is simply false. I saw a conference full of nuclear enthusiastic environmentalists this last June.

            I do not want to bring bitter curmudgeonly nukes into the fold of PR communications. Such is not my mission or line of work. I’m not calling all nukes bitter, but you do seem a bit bitter, Brian. That sort of goes without saying that kind of attitude is not going to work in assisting the nuclear industry to better itself.

            But let’s suppose you’re 100% correct for the sake of argument. Let’s say climate change is one big hoax and lie. If that were the case, shouldn’t nuclear energy be especially well positioned to exploit such a circumstance as Jaworowski implies? Whether it was true or false, either way, nuclear should still be well positioned to take advantage of the situation, no?

            It would take me too long to speculate on the reasons as to why the environmentalists aren’t knocking on the doors of the UN, but I can say that many of them didn’t like nuclear long before climate change or global warming was a topic. It seems that the nuclear industry has had a hard time making friends for a very long, long time.

            So why do you want to blame the actions of others who you have no control over for whatever situation nuclear energy happens to be in? It’s the job of NEI, ANS or a number of other small groups who are jazzed about nuclear to spread the good word and rarely (thankfully) do I see any of them blaming environmentalists for the apparent lack of growth in the nuclear sector. Admittingly, nuclear seems out gunned when it comes to the power to influence. I’m under no illusion that it’s easy, but certain attitudes certainly make it only worse.

            As Cara Santa Maria pointed out, Bill Nye did change his mind after he was invited by Monsanto to have a closer look at what they do. You may not like the guy but his voice travels far and it would be better to give him a dog and pony show to try to change his mind. And by the way, Cara Santa Maria is extremely kind, I haven’t heard that woman say a bad thing about anyone.

          2. “I’m not calling all nukes bitter, but you do seem a bit bitter, Brian. That sort of goes without saying that kind of attitude is not going to work in assisting the nuclear industry to better itself”

            Bitter??? Oh, I’d go alot further than that. He’s obnoxious, opinionated, ignorant to the nth degree politically, and completely intellectually dependent on whatever talking points and deceptions his media of choice has filled his brain with. He lives in an information tunnel that he doesn’t have the integrity, or the balls, to slither out of. Do a search of this website, and you will find his “contributions” here consist of little more then attacking the messengers of any and all commenters that don’t to cow-tow to his simple minded and abrasive BS.

            He is a prime example of who NOT to be as a spokesman for NE, and what NOT to say to gain support for NE. Rod should be embarrassed by Brian’s presence here.

            1. @poa

              Commenters on Atomic Insights are not spokespeople for nuclear energy. I’m not responsible or embarrassed by the presence of anyone in this forum.

              Your insults this time display a little more creativity and a little more attention to avoiding the crutch of profanity.

          3. … but you do seem a bit bitter, Brian.

            I’m bitter? Boy, that’s rich. You’re the one who started the bellyaching. I’m just explaining why people feel the way that they do. But, as is usual with the CC True Believers, you choose to shoot the messenger instead of honestly addressing my explanation. I guess that, soon, you’ll be accusing me of being in the pay of Big Oil. That’s the typical pattern, after all.

            I do not want to bring bitter curmudgeonly nukes into the fold of PR communications.

            Then why are you moaning and whining that they’re not jumping on the “CC” bandwagon?! What is your point? Do you even have one?

            But let’s suppose you re 100% correct for the sake of argument. Let’s say climate change is one big hoax and lie. …

            And putting words into other people’s mouth — that’s another common behavior pattern of the CC True Believers: misrepresent the messenger before you shoot him. It’s so much easier to kill a strawman, isn’t it?

            … If that were the case, shouldn’t nuclear energy be especially well positioned to exploit such a circumstance as Jaworowski implies?

            Of course it does! But just because you can make a buck off of something, that does not necessarily mean that it’s true. Jeez … just how cynical are you?

            It seems that the nuclear industry has had a hard time making friends for a very long, long time.

            It’s more like the nuclear industry has had a hard time choosing friends that don’t stab them in the back. The Sierra Club was originally pronuclear — remember? The old-timers remember when oil companies were invested in nuclear power. Exxon Nuclear was founded in 1969 and sold by Exxon in late 1986.

            Firstly, we do see some environmentalists clamoring for nuclear energy. … Bill Nye did change his mind after he was invited by Monsanto to have a closer look at what they do. You may not like the guy but his voice travels far and it would be better to give him a dog and pony show to try to change his mind.

            Personally, I thought that Pandora’s Promise was a pretty good “dog and pony show.” It was full of environmentalists that Nye would be likely to empathize with, but as the video that Rod linked to above demonstrates, it’s obvious that he did not change his mind. His anti-nuclear keynote speech was delivered less than half a year ago, after he had seen the dog/pony show. He has had plenty of time and plenty of opportunities to change his mind. If Steward Brand, the prototypical environmentalist, can’t change his mind, what makes you think that a lobbying group like NEI can?

            Wasn’t it Einstein who said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

            1. @Brian Mays

              Please refrain from attacking JasonC. He is a particularly valuable member of the Atomic Insights community.

              Besides, I agree with his thinking and advice.

          4. You mean you weren’t able to beat him into submission on your timeline??? Well, damn man, I guess you better insult him and make an enemy out of him then, eh? I mean it’s working so well for you guys, isn’t it?

            Besides, you are reaching so many more ears than he is, right? So who cares if you piss him off and alienate him?

            Yeah, I know Brian, I told you guys I’d go away. But this is just too much fun. And you’re just too easy.

            So carry on, lets see how insulting you can get towards Jason. Maybe you can sway him over to your way of thinking with your winning personality and firm grasp of logic.

          5. Gee, Rod. I thought I was attacking Bill Nye, and I’m not going to apologize for that. He deserves it.

            I don’t have anything against JasonC, except to wonder why he feels the need to attack people who just happen to disagree with him — or rather, are just not as enthusiastic as him — on what is a tangential issue to one that they agree on.

            But if I can again be the spokesman for the “bitter curmudgeonly nukes,” as JasonC refers to them, I really don’t think that they have anything against Stewart Brand or Gwyneth Cravens or Mark Lynas or Robert Stone or anyone else in Pandora’s Promise (except Helen Caldicott, of course). They don’t care much one way or the other that these people consider themselves to be climate crusaders. Just like the majority of the American public (according to Gallup), “Climate Change” is simply not a very important issue for these “curmudgeons.”

            1. @Brian Mays

              But climate change is an important issue for many decision makers and many people who are reflexively opposed to nuclear energy without any real understanding of its capabilities.

              They are prime candidates for a pro nuclear message.

          6. Rod – And nobody is stopping you or Robert Stone or anybody in his documentary from getting that message out. So frankly, I don’t understand what all of the complaining is all about.

            Seriously, who are these gremlins that you imagine are in the way? The NEI has a page dedicated to Climate Change with tons of links.

        2. Whats this? A voice of reason? Theres actually someone commenting here that refuses to be cowered and intimidated by Brian’s ignorant drooling bluster?

          Brian can’t, won’t, put CC on the table, because those holding the flashlights and directing traffic in his information tunnel have directed his thinking perfectly. His receptors are finely tuned to receive the transmissions of the far right.

          And the idiocy of it is truly astounding!

          Yes, by all means, take the GW and CC rationale off the table when defending NE. Play into the public’s distrust of huge business entities, and remove environmental concern from your sales pitch. Admit a self serving motive, profits above science.

          We need nuclear because….well…its just better than the renewables. Besides, those renewable folks are just lying to you, and our environment is just fine, thank you very much.

          We are telling you the truth, Fukushima means nothing. Radiation makes your teeth white and your libido prosper. Trust us. Go nuclear.

          And, besides, it’s snowing in Alaska; what global warming?

          (PR by Hannity. This has been a public service announcement)

          1. Brian can’t, won’t, put CC on the table …

            POA – Didn’t you say that you were leaving? Didn’t you say that you were “done”? Promises promises … tsk tsk.

            Who is taking CC off of the table? This discussion started with a complaint that the so-called “NECCS” will “skirt around the topic with weak pitches like ‘for those who are concerned about CO2, nuclear has a low carbon footprint …'”

            So tell me, who is being reasonable and accommodating, and who is demanding that “you had better embrace my beliefs or else“?

            But why am I asking you questions? You said that you were done. Nobody can believe a word you say.

        3. @ Jason C.

          “They will skirt around the topic with weak pitchs like “for those who are concerned about CO2, nuclear has a low carbon footprint…”. Even if a line like that is said out loud in the right tone of voice, there’s no getting around the obvious detachment that would convey because it essentially says “we don’t care for what you believe, but trust us, nuclear’s great”.

          This depends on the audience. I am a conservative and make many comments that are pro nuclear on conservative websites and news sites. I am arguing for Nuclear in the context of an audience who think that CC and GW are outright lies and only a fool believes in them. In that context the milder form allows me to point out that there is a sales opportunity and an opportunity for unity around an energy source that is safe, clean, local, and very powerful and with reasonable regulation (a conservative issue) can be very cost competitive. I blast NG and the tendency to totally ignore Nuclear and post as many links to company sites as possible. But very few people bite.

          I think that most conservatives are pro-nuclear but don’t see the need for it. Gas is cheap and for most of them concern for the poor means that raising energy prices is cruel. I totally agree with them! Raising energy prices is cruel and I have personally watched the effects of those higher prices on the lives of my friends. It is devastating.

          On the other hand when facing a liberal audience I point out that Nuclear Energy can replace coal and solve climate change.

          It all depends on the audience.

          On the other hand, my basic skepticism about the motives for the types of changes being asked for from most of the CC GW crowd make me see watermelons. I also see the fossil fuel companies making sure that Nuclear is specifically excluded from the “sustainable / renewable” definition BECAUSE it does not sell their products. This whole argument is about market share and I was very thankful to see that Cara Maria understood that.

  2. This is so Awesome you got Cara on The Atomic Show. I’ve been an avid listener to The Skeptic’s Guide To the Universe for about 3 years now, and like you, the one frustrating thing to me is that, for a show that is dedicated to debunking pseudo-scientific woo, they almost never address all the bullcrap claims that float around about nuclear, promulgated by the anti-nuclear crowd. They also seem to be uncritical and unskeptical boosters of solar and wind energy, but never discuss Nuclear as a potentially powerful tool to fight against Climate Change, which they also regularly discuss.

    I can’t WAIT to listen to this Atomic Show Podcast, but I’ll have to wait at least a few hours till I’m off work.

  3. Hey Rod, quick correction about California anti-nuclear history: around 12 minutes, 20 seconds, you said: “The describe I had of California, in terms of being anti-nuclear, has deep, deep roots. The very opposition to building nuclear power plants came in a place called Humboldt Bay… and there was another small nuclear power plant that was trying to be sited. And this was the very early 1960’s.”

    Hmm, in my reading of the history, I’m not aware of any significant opposition to the 63 MW BWR that was built at Humboldt Bay (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humboldt_Bay_Nuclear_Power_Plant). The much, much more significant site of opposition was about 200 miles to the south, at Bodega Bay in Sonoma County. Perhaps you were trying to recall the name of Bodega Bay?

    Regarding the discussion around the 16 minute mark, here is where you can find the latest statistics about electricity generation and imports in California: http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/electricity_generation.html

    In 2014, the percentages were as follows:
    Hydro – 5.6%
    Nuclear – 5.7% (between 2000 and 2011, the average nuclear share was 12%. RIP SONGS)
    In-State Coal – .3%
    Out-of-State Coal – 4.2%
    Natural Gas – 41.1%
    Petroleum – .02%
    Geothermal – 4.1% (BTW, there is more than one “small” geothermal plant in California. there are lots of small ones, adding up to 2,703 MW in total.)
    Biomass – 2.3%
    Wind – 4.4%
    Solar – 3.6%
    Imports of Unknown Source – 28.8% (generally fossil fuels, but could sometimes be hydro)