On Saturday, May 1, 2010, I had a conversation with John Horgan, the host of Science Saturday for Bloggingheads.tv. John was a long time nuclear skeptic who had expressed his support for President Obama’s initiative to reduce America’s nuclear weapons stockpiles, but his concern for the president’s support for nuclear power plant construction loan guarantees. He saw those two positions as incompatible.
As we conversed, I realized that John Horgan is an inquisitive person who is interested in learning and making good decisions, but he had never been exposed to the kind of information that many nukes consider to be second nature. Part of the problem is that nuclear technologists tend to assume that anyone who asks hard questions is part of the opposition that has pushed our technology down for decades. We have not done a good job of simply conversing and sharing good reasons why we are so darned excited about the potential offered by fission, a process that releases 2-4 million times as much energy per unit mass as burning even the most energy dense hydrocarbons.
After our conversation, I felt pretty good. It seemed that I had exposed John to some new information that intrigued him. Yesterday, several people contacted me to point me to a new blog post that John had published at Scientific American titled Maybe nuclear power isn’t so bad after all. Reading that post and the comments that follow it sort of made my day. Some of the comments revealed that there is still a lot of communicating left to do, but some indicated that I am certainly not alone in my enthusiasm for the process of sharing what we have worked so hard to learn.
Thank you to all of those who have added to that conversation. It warms my heart to realize that there are lots of people in the world who are more like John Horgan, with open, inquiring minds, than like close-minded opposers like Helen Caldicott or Amory Lovins.