The Power Hungry Podcast

Michael Shellenberger: Apocalypse Never

June 29, 2020 Robert Bryce & Michael Shellenberger Season 1 Episode 2
The Power Hungry Podcast
Michael Shellenberger: Apocalypse Never
Chapters
The Power Hungry Podcast
Michael Shellenberger: Apocalypse Never
Jun 29, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
Robert Bryce & Michael Shellenberger

In the second edition of the Power Hungry podcast, Robert Bryce talks with Michael Shellenberger about his new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. Michael is one of the most famous environmentalists in America as well as a former candidate for governor of California. He and Robert discuss a myriad of topics including liberation theology, the roots of apocalyptic environmentalism, and why nuclear reactors, not wind turbines and solar panels, are the only viable path forward if we are going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve natural areas for people and wildlife.

Show Notes Transcript

In the second edition of the Power Hungry podcast, Robert Bryce talks with Michael Shellenberger about his new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. Michael is one of the most famous environmentalists in America as well as a former candidate for governor of California. He and Robert discuss a myriad of topics including liberation theology, the roots of apocalyptic environmentalism, and why nuclear reactors, not wind turbines and solar panels, are the only viable path forward if we are going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve natural areas for people and wildlife.

Robert Bryce :

Hi, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. This is the power hungry podcast and I am pleased that you're with me and pleased that you're ready to hear our new guest. Michael Shellenberger. This podcast is new. I talk about energy, power, innovation and politics, because politics are often involved in energy are almost always involved in energy and power systems. So Michael, it's great to have you on. We're going to talk about your new book, apocalypse never why environmental alarmism hurts us all. But I want you if you don't mind to introduce yourself. I mean, I you know, I've been introduced I never quite liked the introductions that people give me. So if you were just introducing yourself to, I'm putting you on the spot here, introducing yourself to someone, how would you you know, someone that you've just met, you're going to be in the train car bus with him for the next hour and a half. How, please, who are you?

Michael Shellenberger :

I would say Good question. So I'm the president of environmental progress. I have a small research and policy organization. And I am the author of a new book called apocalypse never why environmental alarmism hurts us all.

Robert Bryce :

Well, that sounds like a cool book. Tell me about the book.

Michael Shellenberger :

Well, what do you want to know? Robert?

Robert Bryce :

Well, I have read it and I have to say and you know, I Thanks, I appreciate you. Taking that on. The book has is great. And one of the things that I really like about it is the human approach and what my take away from the the message in the book is this your your extreme humanism and that bringing humanism back to environmental ism, instead of as you put it, I think toward the end of the book about the the moving away from environmental Apocalypse, apocalyptic visions of the environment to one that's a human NIST view of the environment and our role in It. So tell me about that. I mean, my first question I have here is this idea about apocalypses identity and the religious nature of the debate and you even have a chapter false gods for lost souls. You talk about the new environment or religion that is become increasingly increasingly apocalyptic, destructive and self defeating. Is this really

Michael Shellenberger :

heavy? Heavy beginning, Robert? Geez, I thought we were just going to talk about the environment

Robert Bryce :

book, man.

Michael Shellenberger :

Well, first of all, thank you for having me on. And you know, I'm a huge fan of juice and a huge fan of a question of power and have all your books and you know, it's been such a crazy news environment. I've got this rave review of juice coming out. And I've just been wanting it to come out at the right time so that it doesn't disappear into the, into the chaos of the end of civilization or wherever. Honor

Robert Bryce :

is there. Other news

Michael Shellenberger :

going on.

Robert Bryce :

What? Did I miss something that was this the asteroid?

Michael Shellenberger :

I mean, yeah, it's funny to write a book about that is about, you know, Apocalypse, or the fear of the apocalypse at a moment that feels so apocalyptic. And, you know, and I see a lot of what's happening now, I can't help but think about, I can't help but see a lot of what was happening last year on climate change. And what's happening now it feels like a religious revival. And so it's very much, you know, as you alluded to, a big part of what I was getting out, which is sort of what's going on. apocalypse number is 12 chapters. The first four or five chapters are sort of how I think we should think about environmental problems, which I think are very real very serious. They're what I've dedicated my life to addressing. And I also want to kind of pull apart the parts that we have good science and evidence for and what's exaggeration and alarm monism and apocalyptic. And then I wanted to kind of say, well, then how do we save nature and that's kind of the middle of the book how humans save nature. And the people that know me know that I am a huge supporter of nuclear energy. So that's there. My criticisms of renewables are there, and also a story about how we, how we save nature through energy transitions and moving to cities and industrialization. And then you get to the last three chapters, and that's where I ask, you know, why is it that the people who say they're most concerned about environmental problems, who say they're the most alarmist about environmental problems are the most opposed to all of the really obvious solutions? You know, like, if you're worried about us ran out of food? Why are you against using fertilizer tractors and irrigation? If you're apocalyptic about climate change, why would you not want to switch from coal to natural gas, and to nuclear and and that that has been that was the hardest part of the book to write, you know, it's interesting that those last chapter, I didn't even finish until the very last minute because I was literally still felt like I was getting to the bottom of that question. And so those last three chapters are just roughly speaking, it's power, money and religion, or no sorry, money, power and religion. And it was my way of saying, all three things are really important to understanding what's behind the apocalyptic environmentalism. And they should all be they should all be taken seriously as major drivers of it. But at the end, I do kind of think that the last one is the biggest one, which is the religious, the need for the need for faith and need to believe in something really big.

Robert Bryce :

Well, and you talk for the very early in the book, you talk very early about this, in fact, you debunk the claims that the California wildfires were caused by climate change. And I was just listening to Greg Thun Berg's new podcast in which he talks specifically About the wildfires and conflates the whole idea that it's being caused by climate change. But you said early in the book, and just you know, that apocalyptic idea that we're going to be burned up is a convenient parallel, right, that was we're gonna burn in hell. But you say early in the book, the bottom line is that other human activities have a greater impact on the frequency and severity of forest fires than the emissions of greenhouse gases. But that's almost it will it is heretical in this the the messaging that we continue to hear from Greta and many other people that are preaching this or putting forward this same kind of apocalyptic narrative. And so my question is, well, one Why has Greta Thun Berg become such the prophet of doom and it's been embraced by so many people and and i guess is it because she's preaching this? She said, what I don't want you to be comfortable. I want you to panic. You've quote her as well. And they've been the early part of the book.

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah, I mean, was a lot there in your question. So, you know, I felt the need to do a book, in part because I felt like the Twitter and even the article length explanations of my views and how I think about climate change and environmental problems, required the space of a book to be able to explain and unpack these things for people, as well as have a significant footnotes, you know, I mean, 25% of the book, it's for reform pages and 25% are just the endnotes. So you know, on really a lot of these problems really most or maybe all the most important ones. Other factors are outweighing climate change in terms of forest fires, flooding, Hurricane damage and the death toll from natural disasters and, and so it's just all the stuff that we would know it would be and also for agriculture, of course. So it's all the stuff that we would know it'd be if you what determines how big your floods are, depend on whether you have a flood management system. Do you live in Berkeley where I'm on the hills and if I didn't have it This elaborate system to channel rainwater every year, then our houses would just slide into the bay. Sure, president of Congo, they don't have that system. And so they have mudslides and they have all the flooding problems. And you can just kind of go down the list, including on forests. Now, I don't know to what extent Greta tunberg is just unaware of the science or to what extent she's misrepresenting it. I'm not going to speculate and I don't speculate as to why but I didn't want to spend the time going through that. And it's none of it's to say that climate change is not a concern or should not be a concern or that at some point in the future, it wouldn't have greater impact, but certainly for now, it's being outweighed by these other impacts.

Robert Bryce :

Sure. When you make and I notice in the in the first pages of the book, you have one sentence referring to Coronavirus, right, you're saying in 2020. I've forgotten the exact wording here. But if you said in early 2020, there's this virus emerging. And but I think one of the things that you do well in the book is this kind of hierarchy or making delineating what those risks are and that that's one of the key things That I think your where your book really succeeds is making that comparison.

Michael Shellenberger :

Thanks. Thanks, Robert. I'm very proud of the pandemic references in the book because there are some, and I had it in there before Coronavirus. I was looking at comparing climate change to other serious threats. I don't know if I'd call them existential threats, but certainly big threats, including obviously the big one, which is nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, which we can get to later. But, you know, certainly, you know, to deal with the claims that get made that climate change is the biggest problem we face. Some say it's the biggest problem we've ever faced, which is an even more amazing, amazingly strong. But the idea that climate change is the biggest problem we face is really the thing that I wanted to certainly confront and take down. I don't think it's the biggest environmental problem I it's much less the biggest human problem. And so the book wants to really settle that question before we then move on to okay What is the stuff that we want to worry about? And, you know, to your point, I mean, what you and I share is, is that we want to, we want to tell human stories, we want to, we want to show that that, you know, there's still 2 billion people about that burn wood or dung or biomass and have to just breathe the smoke, but spend a significant portion of their lives having to go out and collect the biomass or the wood to use, and that we've just kind of lost sight of them. And so we have a so called environmental movement, which, you know, it's not just that it's oblivious, as I point out to these other problems in poor parts of the world, but is actively trying to maintain the bio mass economy in much of the world. And that's a huge problem. And it's an injustice. And it was really, in some ways, the deepest motivation for me in writing Apocalypse, never. Well, let's talk about that because that motivation, you know, I've known each other I think I was thinking about this today. I think I interviewed you and Ted maybe 12 years ago. something

Robert Bryce :

you've co founded breakthrough Institute with with Ted Nordhaus and I was attracted back then to the messaging that you were putting forward but a lot of it was around energy. So you mentioned Congo, you mentioned this. So you introduced us to a lot of characters. But I think, Bernadette Oh, I'm looking for her last name. I get my notes all over the place here. But Bernadette, similar, similar Taya, lives near Varuna National Park. Tell us why her story is important. Because again, I think that, you know, putting a human approach to it in a human face on it and talking about energy poverty, as she people like her living it. Why was Why is she important to you?

Michael Shellenberger :

Yes, she's sort of the moral center of the book. She's a subsistence farmer and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which I refer to as the Congo and she is someone that I met there. When I was visiting to understand the relationship between wood fuel, conservation, economic growth and energy, and there's actually three characters in the book. She's the dominant one, but there's really three women. There's Bernadette. There's Sue party in Indonesia has a factory worker. And then there's my wife, Helen. And I talked about just how much more energy Helen uses I talked about the different Helen's life is from subpart D and Bernadette, I wanted to, obviously, you know, these are three characters. I'm not suggesting they represent all seven and a half billion people in the world, but they represent three dramatically different stages of economic development and which are really different stages of energy and food, production and consumption and cities. And I wanted to tell those stories as a way to also get add putting climate change into perspective. Because climate change is not something that Bernadette worries about, nor subpart B for that matter, really they have other concerns like staying alive for Bernadette and for su party. It's making a living as a as a factory worker in Indonesia. And and Helen has concerns too, but they don't. They're just not that, that they're not that I wanted to dramatize those stories, and they those characters run through the book, because I think we've forgotten or we don't pay enough attention to it. And I think the climate discourse, especially the United States, and the tunberg, part of it is just very first world. It's just a very elite and, and I didn't want to write a book, sort of scolding young people for not caring enough about Africans, but I did want to give them compelling stories of Africans and Asians and live Americans around the world and what their lives are like to put these environmental problems in some kind of perspective.

Robert Bryce :

Sure. Well, so let me follow on that because as you know, we just mentioned we know Other a while and you've got a fire in you. I mean, you'd really do. You've had it for a long time you ran for governor of California. I don't know many people who you know, would. I mean, what, what's what is the motivation and I asked that partly because as I recall, you were born in a Quaker House, or you were born in a Quaker home or had a religious affiliation with the Quakers Is that right?

Michael Shellenberger :

Not quite let me unpack though because honestly, it's come up now on my Wikipedia page is currently misrepresenting my family history and then German news a German newspaper just came out with something that also kind of got it wrong and my parents are very good very distressed as you might imagine. Sort of straight but it's basically Yeah, so I'm a both of my parents were raised as Mennonites, which is a that's this anti status. Committee communities their their Amish are a sect of Mennonites. Well, not all Mennonites are Amish, Amish Mennonites. They both my parents both left that that tradition as they got older, but definitely I mean, I was a left wing kid. And it was definitely in the Christian pacifist tradition. It was I was attracted to liberation theology, you might remember, you might still have some Guatemalan fabrics from the liberation theologian theology days of the 80s. So very much that view the liberation theology views that you have a preferential option for the poor. And so your central concern should be for the poorest people in this society. And so for sure that the sense in which when I kind of gradually discovered how terrible most environmental policies are for the poorest people in the world, yes, that has been the fire that has been that is the fire of outrage against that injustice that that drove that has driven a lot of my work over the last 15 years and is definitely the I think the driver of Apocalypse. Never

Robert Bryce :

So was that what took you to Brazil?

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah, I mean, I was in love with Brazil as like a place. I mean, it was in part my it was Polo It

Robert Bryce :

was 1985, a late 1980s.

Michael Shellenberger :

I went to sorry, first I went to Nicaragua to work with the Sandinistas in, in the late or in 1989. And then I went and I learned Portuguese and because I wanted to be in Brazil, because they had this incredible left wing political movement called the Workers Party, and the landless peasants workers movement. And so then I spent the early 90 to the early 90s. I spent time in Brazil and I was going to be an anthropologist, and I did a bunch of work in the Amazon, what they call the semi Amazon the rule, the very poor subsistence farming parts of Brazil, which were mostly former slaves occupying just doing the the shittiest work. I mean, the hardest shittiest work. And so when people kind of go, you know, what are those Brazilians doing? You know, cutting forests down those terrible greedy Brazilians? I'm kind of like, yeah, you know what? Oh, wait a second like

Robert Bryce :

those. You wrote about it in Forbes, if you will, I guess a few months ago about the fires in the Amazon again debunking this idea that the fires were out of the ordinary or larger than usual. Is that am I recalling that correct?

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah. I mean, it was, um, you know, so I've been writing like, I've mostly been doing energy and climate, but I always wrote a little bit on Brazil. I always kind of stayed, you know, and it was in my in our book that I did with Ted that, you know, you mentioned earlier. But yeah, I mean, all the Amazon Fire stuff was going on, and it was so wrong. And it was the reporting was so bad. It was so terrible, without context without any history, without like a second opinion from anybody. I mean, it was just a Most environmental journalism today is pretty terrible that for you know, literally knocking a second perspective. So I call like my main one of my main sources this guy done that damn netstat as you did for me in the book, most chapters have a more qualified environmentalist than me or a scientist or somebody talk about plastic waste or by calling call him he's the Amazon guy. And I'm like, So Dan, this thing about like the lung, like the Amazon being the lungs of the planet, it's not right is it? He was like, That's bullshit and that like, I think that like, the bullshit, like him just calling bullshit and he's like, the biggest scientists like the biggest he was like, lead author of the IPCC on the Amazon. And then we just go through and just debunk everything else. You know, just starting with the most important fact of it all is that Europe in the United States, we deforested everything, turned it all into farms, like how did you think we became rich, you idiotic, a historical Whatever people I mean, kind of like, did you these are like these college educated people at the New York Times, and CNN, they all went to Swarthmore and Wesleyan. And if they don't know the history of like, you just think like, I mean, it just it was brutal. It was the combination of how bad it was scientifically, plus how a historical it was, and how

Robert Bryce :

right and celebrities jumping on and saying, Oh, you know, the Amazon and we're going to go and yeah, but but, but but I want to go back to that idea about where you came from was the from partly your own religious tradition, but it's interesting that liberation theology moved because I remember that very well. And it was, you know, it was Protestants and Catholics both and you know, the, I think that Pope at the time of john paul, the second crack down on the liberation theology in South America, because he didn't like it too radical. But what what's interesting to me and it's one of the things that I wrote down was, so have you moved from the left to the right Right or did the left move further left and leave you where you were? right because your work? Your book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal you've published in Colette. I mean, you've been in many ways I'm not gonna say fully but more accepted on the right than you have on the left. Am I reading that correctly?

Michael Shellenberger :

Oh, for sure. And there's a way in which there's like a lot of this book I is for conservatives. I want this book to be read by conservatives. I want to be read by Republicans. I'm excited to have conversations with conservatives and republicans. But I don't think it's a conservative book really.

Robert Bryce :

I'm not calling it i'm not i'm not Yeah, yes. I'm just yeah, to me is interesting. You know, you ran for governor but you're so mean, how do you label your politics then? Or do you even fit any kind of label now because I mean, I remember I wrote a piece about liberals and conservatives and I got an email back Don't call me a liberal. You know, I'm I'm a specialist.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah.

Robert Bryce :

So well, how would you define

Michael Shellenberger :

So

Robert Bryce :

no, no, no, no. Yes, you okay, but how would you define your politics given that the democratic left the traditional Democratic Party in America dominated by environmentalists or anti nuclear, you know, been claiming that we can just use renewables? Bernie Sanders, Bernie, the Bernie bros? That's their position? Right. And AOC I think to a large degree, although she's seems to be coming around a little bit in terms of nuclear, but how my question how do you determine how do you describe your own politics then?

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah, great question. Well, let me just say on the book, because Okay, yeah, sure. Yeah, I mean, so So, you know, so So I wrote the book for so many different people. There are a lot of people on my mind while writing this book, first and foremost, my kids, you know, my kids are 21 and, and 14. And, and so I want kids in between 14 and 21, to be able to read this book. So that's why it's full of little stories and characters. And you know, that the like the main character in the classics chapter is the Is the woman who pulls the plastic straw out of the sea turtle knows like, I want kids to know that, like read this, just read the plastic waste chapter. If you only read one chapter, just read that chapter. Right like, so I want like everybody to read it. I definitely had progressives on my mind that I was addressing a bunch of this stuff too, including the stuff about the poor. You know, I mean, I did not deliberately choose all women of color as characters of the book. I didn't set out to do that, but that is who they are. And two of them are what we would consider poor her. Bernadette's to party in Congo and Indonesia. But I mean, this is not like this is there's there's a journey I want progressives to take by reading this book, and I hope that they will take there's definitely a journey I want conservatives to take to. I'm obviously delighted to have readers from both Canada. And there's sort of the question of my identity. I definitely at this in this book by the end as you You know, I work through a bunch of my own identity and, you know, just to come back to the religious part for a second, you know, I feel like what I did because I was never I was never a good Christian. I was raised to be a Christian, but I was never a good Christian. And, and but I became basically, socialists, you know, had a Marxist period, and then was social ish, you know, and I don't know now I there's, I would probably still say I'm a liberal in most ways on a bunch of things, but, you know, you come out of it and you go, there's definitely there's, there's this this thing I was trying to understand, which is why if at bottom of so much apocalyptic environmentalism is a conservative political philosophy that comes from a guy named Malthus, you know, you know, if if, if Malthus and Malthusian ism are basically conservative, but yet it's been embraced on the left. How did that happen? Remember Marx and Engels hated Malthus, they condemned Malthus, Marx called Malthus a stain on the human race. So how do you get an accommodation then between the left the socialist left, and this conservative Malthusian philosophy, and I described how that occurs. And it was a stone in my shoe for like 10 years because I couldn't figure out what happens and I feel like I got to the bottom of it. It's maybe the only original thing in the book. You know, the book wasn't aiming to be original is aiming to be comprehensive and right and rigorous but

Robert Bryce :

but this Malthusian ism, I mean, this is the this still defines Well, I mean, gretta in her her email, or no, I'm sorry, her podcast talked about people living within planetary boundaries and almost lauding people living in Africa because they're living within planetary boundaries and for our sweet, right and smooth and Swedes are not so is that you said you get to the bottom most will then the bottom of that, that belief systems Run me through that. Then what was it? How did you get to the bottom of it? How do you how do you see it? How did you what was that original?

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah, um, yeah, so the the short version is that there's an accommodation made between socialists who I think were were Marxist. It was not fully It was not totally clear, but they're definitely socialists and multi museums, there was an accommodation made, um, I don't know if it was ever like, explicit, like if the two important characters I described in the book. You know, Paul are like, and very common, or I don't know if they ever got together and like shook on it. It was more like the outcome of arguments over time, and between other people too, but those are the two characters I kind of track. And the deal is that, you know, we're going to do things to basically try to reduce the standard of living and reduce the amount of energy that we consume in the rich world. And then the poor countries, they get a little bit richer. Right now they'll get solar panels and batteries on their huts. But then they'll sort of stay farmers, right? And then we'll all kind of meet in the middle and you kind of see this now in things they call this single they called the donut. They have this weird donut thing they do. Bad and dumb, but it's like, it's that accommodation of kind of like it's both redistributive and Malthusian because remember, Malthus was against helping the poor, you know, but so what happens then is that the World Bank and United Nations and all these institutions, that's when they moved from funding, roads, electrical systems and dams, to funding, you know, democracy clinics and women's empowerment workshops and solar panels and batteries, and organic farming, agro ecological farming, you know, and not funding fertilizers, tractors, irrigation systems, so that event shift occurs at that period after they really close after we've sort of that sort of vision of a mall through Xion social ish agenda is put in place. So where do I come out on that? And what you know, what do I call it? I call like liberal or conservative or left or right. You know, in the book, I don't really get into it, I say what I really want to get to with the book is to argue that what I'm proposing is something that I think should be called environmental humanism, in the sense that humanism accepts human power, and human goodness. And that really, like there's no way to suggest that someone's going to make decisions on behalf of nature as a religious idea, and a power move. And so that's the most important agenda there. I mean, I have other beliefs about things like we need more housing in California and we, the homelessness problem isn't is like a moral abomination and an embarrassment and should be fixed and that we probably need some kind have universal psychiatric care to help mentally ill people you know you got to put all my beliefs together and you go I don't know is that liberal probably compared to most republican just pretty liberal right but definitely I'm not gonna I'm not gonna I am 48 I'm 49 now Robert so I'm not gonna like pull my punches on on liberalism Democrats should know

Robert Bryce :

I get it but you're in California we'll come back to California Just a minute. But humanism as you've talked about it what what came to mind was this idea of limiting human potential right with by constraining energy supplies to the developing world and what we see now in the last few years the World Bank rejecting any funding for any kind of hydrocarbon projects, the you know, in NGOs in the US Sierra Club and others working against OPEC except Export Import Bank to prevent any funding of these kinds of electrification projects if they're involving hydrocarbons, right? But that's a long way of getting to the point but what I hear and you're talking about environmental humanism, is a and you've made this I think the same line, a high energy planet, right? We want more energy because that's good for people. And that's why you're so pro nuclear. So let's so it's a it's a pivot so nuclear, then you've been perhaps, I think, no doubt, not perhaps among the world's most staunch advocates for not just keeping plants existing plants open but in developing new ones. So how how what's your outlook for let's let's just give me the rundown on where nuclear is now. And what's your outlook for it is?

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah, well, let me say something about nuclear. The book there was some people that were like, you know, is the book kind of just rehash your articles from Forbes and that's it. It does not do that. I mean, there is there will be things in the book that are familiar to people every my forearms but I do go beyond that. And I will spoil a little bit of work goes on nuclear just because you asked and I think it's important. You know, what I made clear what I argue in this book is that the that nuclear energy and humankind's capacity to split the atom and release this tremendous amount of energy is a revolutionary moment. And it's a radical, radical technological breakthrough of which they are very, very rare. I mean as Boshoff, Smeal and everyone emphasizes, and you just look at it, you just go there's just not this is fundamental. So this this is fundamental and nuclear is fundamental to energy, yes. And to war, and weapons and thus to the global system. And so the, in the gunpowder allowed for large standing armies, it allowed for the nation state. Nuclear Energy allows for a tin pot dictatorship in North Korea, to completely secure its borders against the most powerful country that has ever existed. And so that's radical like that. radical, this weapon teams, the fiercest of beasts, you know, it, you know, the United States and Soviet Union after, you know world war two were just, you know, it was just it was it was looking terrifying and and the most violent men in the world one could argue are dealt hard to restrain themselves after restrain themselves. And so it's such a radical revolutionary technology, the most fundamental truth of it, which is what we've just been talking about is so uncomfortable to people that it mostly doesn't get talked about. And so but we we have apocalyptic fears of this technology. And you know,

Robert Bryce :

that the apocalypse, the apocalyptic view is due to the weaponry and that is difficult to separate from the energy part of it right. And that's been one of the things that I think is really tainted the whole conversation, right. So you've been around the world You've been in Taiwan, you've been in Korea trying to save these nuclear plants, while not just splitting the atom, but splitting that discussion, right and splitting the difference between well, weaponry and energy. They're not the same. But you're actually you've made the argument that the weaponry is actually positive, which is a mean, you know, on the face of it doesn't not something you originally would think of.

Michael Shellenberger :

Well, yeah, I mean, actually, well, it's interesting. So, yes, so the traditional so the official position of nuclear advocates, and by which I include both the nuclear industry but also the science and technical community and random pro-nuclear environmentalists, like myself, is that there's just nothing these two things are completely different. There's just there's nuclear power plants, energies, nuclear weapons, there's nothing that ties them together, and then the anti nuclear people go well, no, I mean, there's, you know, there's a kind of shared knowledge base. There's the scientists themselves who know how to do these things. There's the process of using of using uranium for different things, if you enrich it at different levels, sure you pitch it to very high levels, you can make a bomb, if you enrich at the very low levels that makes for beautiful, the best form of energy. And that these two things, you know, there was this original idea, even Oppenheimer, the father of the bomb, bought into a fantasy that we could deem nature uranium, that there would be some technical fix. We still see it with some nuclear entrepreneurs, they say, I've developed these reactors that are proliferation resistant, or that they're sort of they're all you know, and fine. There might be things that you could try to thwart some inspector or something, but, but they're all trying to basically do something that's not true, which is to say that there's sort of a sharp break rather than a clear continuum between these things. So that's really between between the bomb and the and the reactor. Yeah, I mean, If you're a scientist you have. So if you kind of go if we want to get rid of nuclear, you know, if you really want to try to get rid of nuclear, we figured this is by the way, there's these scholars at Yale and Harvard after the bomb was used in 1945. They kind of get together with these workshops. And they figure out like right away, like within days of this amin weeks, they kind of go, look, they're like, it doesn't seem like any nation that has the bomb. It doesn't seem like any nations that have the bomb, whatever bill to get rid of them. Because what would happen if two countries that had the bomb, got rid of them and then went to war? Everybody says the same thing. They're going to race to rebuild their nuclear bombs. Of course, that's what you'll do. So then the risk would be that they would use one they would use them on each other and more. And so the political scientists, they were like, so it'd be better to not get rid of them, you know? So they looked at realize this in 1945, but that creates huge psychological. I mean, that's a very psychologically challenging idea. Because, yeah,

Robert Bryce :

because Doomsday is always around the corner.

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah, there's always the potential that as long as they exist, there's always some potential that they could be used. Now, you know, um, you know, and then the early scenarios, were just insane. You know, I mean, they still are really, I mean, that's part of the logic of it. I mean, they don't need you that insane. But it was like, you know, so there was this idea that if they were used in a war, that it would be the end of the world. And there's some questions around that. I don't really explore it very much. But suffice it to say, nuclear just became the, you know, justifiably and unjustifiably the symbol of the apocalypse. Right. So you can you can just try to ignore it or pretend it's not there, whatever. But I think what ends up happening is that It then seeps into the unconscious and people, then it then manifests in a fear of nuclear power plants. So for me, I haven't, you know, now it's been 10 years, you know, I've been I've been pro nuclear for 10 years and having talked to a lot of people in red, you know, studied the heck out of this thing. I'm convinced that it's much better to just have the conversation about what the significance of these weapons are. Because even if you kind of go, they've, um, you know, because we're in this period of incredible peace, you know, but since World War Two and the declining death toll from wars and battles, you know, there's still wars and battles, but the deaths from them are much lower. I mean, Indian Pakistan have these battles. And right, I mean, India, and China just had this little skirmish and you know, it's kind of like,

Robert Bryce :

but it's a few thousand killed not thousand. Yeah,

Michael Shellenberger :

yeah. And it was kind of like, we just, that's gonna be small, but it is kind of like,

Robert Bryce :

super let's transition from because, yeah, going from that weapon. argument are saying that actually and I'm going to paraphrase what you're saying is that actually the weaponry the nuclear weaponry is actually a force for peace or force for stability, if not peace, but then handicap nuclear for me because I am adamantly pro nuclear. But I also see it facing just challenges all over the country. And when you look at its share of primary energy, going back to the 1980s, has not captured on a percentage basis any increase in overall primary energy. So the short question was what's needed for nuclear then to really prosper in the next few decades to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah, so I mean, look, first and foremost is that there has to be a consciousness shift on nuclear. I mean, I just kind of i don't i don't think that there's some fundamental technological problem with the particular fuel coolant combination that is dominant, which is using these uranium fuel rods right and water. There's a lot of ideas out there they, we've done a history of them. we've demonstrated many, many different kinds of reactors. The United States has demonstrated many, many different kinds of reactors. The Soviets had an independent nuclear program, as did the French and the British. As have the Argentinians and others ran, we keep coming back to lightwater, which are the you know, we come back to water cooled, right ATM, because we, in part, because there's so much experience with it. We have these supply chains, we know how to use it. So. So in terms of the technology, I don't think we've revamped the technology. Now, you know, in places where there's less cheap natural gas. There's much more support for nuclear levels. Even in South Korea, the public support is much higher than the support among the government for nuclear. Japan's different but, you know, so in Britain right now, my view is Britain is the most important country in the west for nuclear because it's coming Considering building its building to French, they call them EPR reactors full sized reactors, I guess 30,000 megawatts each.

Robert Bryce :

And they're considering Hinkley c right

Michael Shellenberger :

at Hinkley Point C. Yeah, like all construction projects, everything from yes nuclear power plants, but also to train station to train stations, train lines, the channel, the Olympics stadiums and the like. It's going way over budget, but the British are nonetheless considering building four new reactors to its size as well. And to add more side that would be identical to those two reactors are building now and would use the same construction crews, the same construction managers the same guys pouring cement and rebar and doing quite well

Robert Bryce :

following the French model of unifying this the fleet around one design.

Michael Shellenberger :

So all we know about nuclear economics is one thing, which is that the only way to bring down costs, same people building the same kind of reactor over and over again. That's all we know. Anything else that people claim about the economics of nuclear, like some better fuel or cooler combination is not based in history, empirical research data. Okay. So all we know is that that British model, which is the French model, which was the US model, which is also the Japanese and the South Korean model, every time they do that the costs come down, you know, so, so that's all we know. So then you kind of go, well, what's gonna happen in the United States? How fast can there be a consciousness shift in the United States? How's that

Robert Bryce :

consciousness shift or because I look at this issue in the United States. And let me just pivot away from the US because I said Britain is the most important country now. But where most of the electric demand growth and I was looking at the new BP statistical review numbers, the overwhelming majority of the demand growth for electricity for energy in general is in South Asia and in Africa. So I agree that it's important to prove these reactors and build them in the US and in Britain, but that's not where the growth is. globally. So how do we get Sure, you know, India to ramp up and to move useless coal ore and China's moving, building the most reactors of any country in the world? But what about Bangladesh? What about Pakistan? What about, you know, these other countries where huge population growth? And is it now and forecast for the future? And huge electric demand? How did we get nuclear in those places? Because that to me, seems like the bigger challenge.

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So let's see. So Vietnam, so Vietnam and South Africa, they both considered big nuclear build outs, they decided not to they had different reasons for it. In Vietnam, it appears to be a combination of it being maybe more power than they thought they needed it being maybe too close to Russia than they want it to be. And, and maybe also some internal political factors around the benefits of coal versus using nuclear. Se south south africa, there was corruption claims that were being made, which I'm not sure have defended those words a factor because there's corruption in a lot of different industries. Sure, in coal, there's a lot of corruption. I realized my neighbors about to saw, can you hear that? Should I move? I can't hear it. Okay, great. So those are two developing countries. Where would it have been like if the United States, for example, had been offering to build ap 1000s in the same way that everybody offers to build them, which is that we would finance them or the US or the World Bank would do its job and finance the nuclear plants. And so Africa and in Vietnam, just like they had financed hydroelectric dams in the Congo, if they actually did what they're supposed to do, which is why they created the World Bank in the first place, then we would have nuclear, they're like a full full story and the story like that's all you would need, like that's all those two countries. If the United States were like, Look, we'll do nuclear and we'll do it at the same price as you think you're going to get coal or natural gas. We would have built them And then it would have been fantastic for Bechtel, which is who would build the plants that we built them, right? French could do the same thing. And it'd be fantastic for the French. So why don't they do that because of political reasons, which are basically based on these perceptual and consciousness reasons that I keep coming back to. In other words, if the World Bank had not been, you know, mall, fuzzy and ized

Unknown Speaker :

defects

Michael Shellenberger :

in defenestrate means something like that

Robert Bryce :

thrown out the window. Yeah, that's right.

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah. You know, and if the United States had a nuclear industry that had some fighting spirit, rather than effectively being in a state of depression and resignation and managed decline, as I testified to Congress earlier this year about the state of the US nuclear industry, then I think it would have been a very different game, you know, um, but these are Heart,

Robert Bryce :

I mean, ultimately isn't just its hearts and minds. I mean, but I think that the, the, the conversation is starting to shift. And I think that that the pro-nuclear people are gaining traction, but they aren't gaining traction. Let me let me switch to talk about renewables here. Because you've also written a tremendous amount in the book about renewables. And that's one of the things that I've been focused on as well, and why so we've talked about the problems with nuclear and why you know, it's except except stability has been problematic, right? For four years. Why are renewables so popular? What is it that gives you that solar and wind? And so two questions Why are they so popular? And why are environmentalists so easy, easily accept, or rejecting any discussion of effects on landscape wildlife and people?

Michael Shellenberger :

Well, now we get back to the spiritual questions again. Yeah, I mean, so a new just today a new Pew, pew. poll came out and I looked at the numbers on nuclear, solar and wind and solar and wind are like 90% 80% support, like 90% support for solar 80%. Silver for wind, and nuclear is that like 40% or 50%? I think it's like keeping nuclear plants open is much more popular among everybody than building ones. But it's very low. So you kind of go well, that's all the explanation you need for nuclear bombs. You don't have to make up some story about why somehow cooling your uranium course with water is the core of nuclear problems. The problem is that people don't like nuclear and they love solar and wind. And why is that? It's because people know absolutely nothing about any of them. They know zero for the majority of people, right? So I'm just saying for Bill McKibben knows plenty and Greta tunberg knows enough to show more intellectual responsibility than she's showing on nuclear and renewables, but most people they go sunlight in winter Good and harmless, and I like them. And therefore I like those technologies. That's it. That's all it means. For a harder group of environmentalists, it is about harmonizing with nature. And they want to do that for what I ultimately conclude our religious reasons, right, is spiritual reasons.

Robert Bryce :

Right. But that there's that disconnect, and it's one that I keep, you know, a lot of my work lately has been on this very same thing. Well, what about the effect on migratory birds? I mean, the Trump administration has effectively said we're not going to enforce the migratory bird treaty act. I've interviewed Merlin Tuttle, a world renowned bat expert says the effect on bats and several projects have been delayed or killed because of potential effects on bats. I mean, the effects are deadly. So there's this disconnect, and oh, we like the idea of wind and solar. Well, what about the birds in the bats? Oh, climate change? And right, somehow Trumps that which, to me, I still I, I struggle to understand why that there's such an easy acceptance of the destruction of landscapes, the destruction of wildlife and or, you know, flying mammals and birds, and also just the effect on rural communities. And it just seems like it's it's not even part of the discussion among the pro new renewable advocates.

Michael Shellenberger :

Yes. Well, what's interesting is that it has been an issue, right. So from the beginning, it's been a huge issue. massive issue, the wind industry certainly thinks it's a massive issue. They've invested huge amounts of money. I mean, the amount of money the wind industry gives to environmental organizations is astonishing. The amount of money they spend on hiring scientists to come to conclusions that fit what they want to say to the public, is astonishing. They've created a huge new organization to just do propaganda for the wind industry, about the science of this stuff. It's incredibly daunting when you look at it all. But it all boils down to basically The same kind of tactics that all destructive industries use when they're abusing the environment, which is to basically deny that their impacts are significant suggest that other things are worse and play up the uncertainties but it's it is changing. I will say two big things have happened just in the last two weeks. The first was the decision by a judge to curtail wind turbine activity on Lake Erie, which was this hugely contested thing. This is like one of the great birding lakes of course, like it's a famous Black Swamp observatories there, I think you may have heard about in your book, you know, the impacts would have been just horrible, right on like these amazing migratory bird species right that everybody goes and sees every year. So the judge said, or it was the regulator. It may have been judging the second case, said you can only you have to stop letting you to prevent the blades from On spinning and chopping up birds at certain times I think was it just at night or just during certain seasons just ignite its icebreaker wind project on Lake Erie which Yeah, the first one.

Robert Bryce :

Yeah, in the Great Lakes I mean, it's been talked about now for a decade but the first one that's getting it got

Michael Shellenberger :

kind of rough, which if you just say to an environmentalist, we're going to go put a big industrial energy project in the middle of Lake Erie in any other any other technology they would have been like what no, like if you'd been like wanting to put a natural gas facility there a nuclear reactor in Lake Erie Oh my god, it would have been like front page New York Times. editorials every week attacking it would have been NRDC direct mail, asking you for money to stop the energy project. I like Gary because it's wind and it's a spiritual quest. They so but anyway, that what's important is that I think you're because you have been also working you've done as much longer and better than I have for so Long so you deserve much more than credit for. And I think it's been frustrating on the internet to have these rulings the one that says they can't run the turbines at night, which means the project's not economically viable, which in some ways is like a sweet troll you know, it's kind of like oh yeah, you can run those turbines when they're not

Robert Bryce :

gonna kill a lot of birds 700 to several hundred million dollars but you're gonna lose your money. Yeah,

Michael Shellenberger :

yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. It's such a sweet roll and then the second one is that the judge in killed this big you know, I mean, it's it's gonna crash in

Robert Bryce :

line in Nebraska, right this is the transmission magic through the sand. Yeah,

Michael Shellenberger :

I mean, you Google whooping crane mortality, you will come across the first paper you'll find will tell you that the greatest source non natural source of whooping crane mortality is transmission lines, right? So you kind of go Well, last time I checked there was like only like, you know, 15 whipping cranes left. Okay, I'm exaggerating. There's like 1000 but like, Yeah, but like there's not like they're their population is Clearly in trouble, like at a genetic viability level, so they're like the whooping cranes get all this attention. You know, we looked into Lisa Leno's is a character in my book some of the you've known you introduced me to I think, um, she, you know, she looked in all that literature and was like, Man all this stuff that got all the Hollywood movies you know like the guys trying to fly with the whooping cranes with the planes and the ultra lights and training them and printing them really has not brought the population has not increased the population significantly the species in serious trouble and yet every major environmental group The United States has been like Yeah, yeah, let's go just build a transmission lines across basically the entirety of Nebraska the entire whipping crane habitat right um, but it's

Robert Bryce :

disconnect. The disconnect is particularly prominent in in California. I mean, you're Yeah. Are you born and raised in California, by the way?

Michael Shellenberger :

No, I came here after college,

Robert Bryce :

right. So you've lived there for most of your life, but this disconnect between the land use I mean, you can't build wind projects effectively in California that to hatch speed speed of transmission to hatch B transmission project took, what? 10 or 12 years $2 billion. I mean, the idea that you're going to be able to make some quick transition is the other part of this and we only have 10 years AOC you make the same point. In the beginning, we're talking to reintroduce Michael Shellenberger. We're talking about his new book Apocalypse, never why environmentalist environmental alarmism hurts us all. But you talk about this, and we only have 10 years, we only have 12 years. But the idea that we're going to make a quick transition, and we're going to switch to renewables, particularly in a state like California where you can't really build anything. I mean, because of Sequa. Because of all the other rules there that though, what's interesting to me about the renewable push is that it is strongest in some of the most heavily democratic states that are effectively where it's effectively impossible to build much new renewable capacity. And it's part of that disconnect. Am I am I missing something?

Michael Shellenberger :

No, you got it spot on, Robert. I mean, as you and I both agree, I mean, I go further and go, we'll go. It's not I used to say renewables aren't fast enough or something. I don't know. Now I go, there's too they're too fast. Like it's taken us in this terrible direction. You can't I so, you know, one of the things I did in this book, by the way, is that I tried to rely as much as I could on other sources, then, then my own organization, and I did that deliberately because I wanted to, I want to be able to read the book and be like, this is based on the consensus science, whatever Sure. out on not on shallenberger just running some Excel spreadsheets. When we did, we did do some wrong calculations, but whatever. But the point I'm making is that vaslav Smeal, who is kind of widely viewed as the big energy analyst of the day, I mean, he's kind of more books than anybody more articles. Bill Gates says he's the guy whose books he most looks forward to reading. Right. Um, every Anybody respects him, you and I know him and respect the hell out of them right here. Um, I don't agree with him on a whole bunch of stuff. He's a mole fouzia in his last book is completely Maul fusing. I don't agree with the implications of what he finds. But his analyses, everybody kind of agrees and we reproduce them. And they're amazing. So he writes this whole book on power density, and he goes, you know, right now, our current energy system uses a half a percent of land, right? If you were to go to 100%, renewables for all your energy, it would be 25 to 50% of us land and most nations land. Sure. You kind of go well, maybe Vasile, I've had a bad day or something. And that statistic can't be right. But everybody comes to the same amount. David Mackay in his book, right? and sustainable energy without the hot air 2009 I think same calculations, and then my staff and you do them because you can do them with an Excel spreadsheet and it's always To orders of magnitude. So it's, you know, it's hundreds of times more land for to produce similar energy of a wind farm or solar farm as a natural gas or nuclear plant. So it's, I think we have to get because I mean, I'm not gonna I'm having this is an argument that I'm having, and I'm not going to get into kind of who I'm having it with. But there are some people who want to suggest that the renewables that we will eventually be able to transition to renewables, right, it's happening too slowly that we need renewables

Robert Bryce :

and if we only had the political will, we could do it

Michael Shellenberger :

yeah, the only the political will, and that we need them that we need them environmentally. And so this book just demolishes that. And even shows that when when France goes tries to go from nuclear to renewables, the carbon intensity of electricity goes up because they had to burn more natural gas to deal with our liabilities. So

Robert Bryce :

let me just return we've been talking about an hour and I don't want to go I don't want to take your whole day but the That was one of your position on the renewables. Got you again, going back to your you know where you fit politically on Tucker Carlson show. I mean 10 years ago could you have ever imagined being on Tucker Carlson show? I mean are

Michael Shellenberger :

incredibly, it was incredibly controversial for me to go on Tucker Carlson's show, I mean, speaking of this current, I mean, I'm not. I have been I've seen I've said some choice things about some of the, the impulse to censor, that's, that's in our culture right now. But among my friends, people that I went to college with and who know me and my heart telling me that I shouldn't go on Tucker Carlson, I shouldn't do that because Tucker Carlson has all these terrible ideas. And it's like, first of all, I'm sorry, did I go on Tucker Carlson and agree with all of his ideas. I was I was on invited to a show. And second of all, when Rachel Maddow wants to have me on I am game to go on Rachel Maddow or Chris Hayes, or anybody. I mean, I talked to everybody so just but it was it was like honestly, I was offended by the reaction. From my progressive friends that I shouldn't go on Tucker Carlson. So I want to get back to your original question, which were you were sort of like, are you liberal, conservative? You know, I talk, you know, I I this thing where you're not supposed to talk to people, right? It's toxic, and it's noxious and it's obnoxious, and it's offensive, and I hate it. And I'm never going to comply with it. And if it means that, you know, I lose some support or fun or friends or whatever, then they're not my friends. I just I'm not going to do that. So anyway, yes, I want to talk about some it is shocking. And you do pause for a minute, you know, it's kind of well, how far would you go? What if Adolf Hitler had a flock? or what have you on fox news tonight?

Robert Bryce :

He has a new podcast.

Michael Shellenberger :

I don't know. I mean, can I challenge him about the Holocaust while I'm on it? Or like me?

Robert Bryce :

I'm gonna make I'm gonna make the transition from Hitler to Michael Moore. Okay. Important. How important was planning to the humans? You wrote a scathing review in Forbes? It will scathing, I guess? Yeah. I think my personal biases, in some ways marks a turning point, I think because it's the left showing the left that there when it comes to energy there, I bet it's a deeply mouthy and anti human film. I didn't like that part of it. But yeah. What do you think was an important film? What is it? How does it stack up for you?

Michael Shellenberger :

Oh, huge. I mean, I agree with you. I mean, I think it's a hugely significant moment. hugely significant film. What the film shows is the destroy environmentally destructive impact of renewables. That's what the movies actually about. Then they lay they say things in it, you know, that are like, obviously wrong. You know, like, too many people and this is a problem of capitalism. It's like, well, is it a problem of capitalism? In other words, with renewable wind, wind and solar farms require less land under a socialist society, just just curious like, you know, like, You know, like a nuclear power, like requires more land under whatever I mean, it's it doesn't it's just wrong and right.

Robert Bryce :

A lot of things in the film that Yeah, didn't like yeah, the way the urge to censor it, and the fact that it was Josh Fox and yes, and Michael Mann and some of the other leading lights of the climate movement. Yeah. Oh, this film is dangerous to me. And that was even, in some ways more interesting than the film itself, because it was this effort to to restrain the discussion, right to limit the parameters of what's acceptable to talk about. So, look, again, we've been we've been on for about an hour so let me just let me ask you just you

Michael Shellenberger :

know, Robert, we can see I love talking to you and I don't care if anybody listens to this man. I just love talking to you. You're the you're like the you're like, you were you know, a man. I just you were ahead of us on a lot of this stuff. You were saying this stuff long before we were and you deserve a huge amount of credit for having created this moment. I know it's been frustrating. It hear you kind of go talking about how nobody gets to renewables. And you know, and I agree, it's terrible. But it's also like, it's kind of inevitable. I mean, I kind of go, there's a part of me goes, it's just I'm sorry, but I don't think 20 years from now, we're going to still be here being like, everybody's still wrong about renewables. I mean, in part, because first of all, we did a lot of renewables. I mean, this is not 1520 years ago,

Robert Bryce :

that they're already running into the limit, right. social acceptability. I mean, Bloomberg is had a piece on Friday about Norway and when the first line said that the Norwegian government is backing off of wind because of the line was massive protests. And the same thing you've written about this as well in Germany, and in New York. In fact, I've written about this that when projects are so unpopular in New York State, which has a 70% clean energy mandate by 2030 and 100% by 2040. And then, of course, closing Indian Point, as you know, they're going to close it Diablo Canyon and Canada. For you, but the projects were so we're So the plan is to close Diablo point okay, but the wind projects are so unpopular in New York state that the state had to pass a rider on the state budget that effectively strips local communities of zoning authority and they just are going to cram these projects down on local landowners because it's part of this urban rural divide where oh we'll just put it out there right there's nobody out there well, you know, forget them Oh, they're republicans anyway. So you know,

Michael Shellenberger :

yeah, yeah, I think that's part of it. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, well, no, I mean, I think I think Yeah, for sure. Look, things are changing. I mean, Germany the wind industry is basically shut down because of the transmission problem right. And the you know, hide they kind of go hydrogen you know, you said I gotta go there you know, that's a new thing. They go wave should is not working. We're in like, you know, we have we are producing we produce twice as much. You know, garbage electricity basically in California as we did last year and twice a month last year we did the year before meaning garbage electricity mean electricity produced by solar panels Yay, that the electricity there's no demand for it so we have to pay Arizona to take it from us. And then Arizona's like, okay, God, I guess we'll try to make some hydrogen with it because that's a, you know, it's like it's like a mess. And then of course, we kill the wind projects. Not we No, I mean I'm not taking credit for California and California killed a wind project in Humboldt County, our most environmentally dogmatic county you know, we the the Nebraska line was killed by a judge the windbreaker project and you kind of look at and you go, boy doesn't look great for those projects, and then all the so there's just, I just kind of go, it's just inevitable that I feel the same way about nuclear. So for me, you kind of go in and kind of go I don't know, like, I don't know, how long will it take? I'm like, I don't know, is the US nuclear industry going to actually fight for its technology or not? Because that would be what determines whether the technology does well is it gonna like sit there and pretend like renewables are good for another 20 years. mean like, you know, and in our in our you kind of go and is AOC going to change your mind? I mean, what's what's stopping her from just leading progressives to be pro nuclear? I mean, come on. She's, I can't believe she has the phobia that Bernie Sanders has, you know, I mean, come on.

Robert Bryce :

You can't build wind turbines in Vermont, either, by the way only pending project was was the regulator shut it down earlier this year? Yeah. Well, so, back to you. So, enough about me. Oh. So what about are you gonna run for governor again?

Michael Shellenberger :

Oh, man. I don't I don't know. I don't know if I will. I have a lot of reasons not to. You know, what I'm committed to what I'll say what I'm really committed to is actually trying to deal with this problem that we have, which is that we have, you know, over 100,000 people living on the street Most of many of them suffering from severe mental illness using methamphetamine and heroin that we're subsidizing directly and indirectly, there's no psychiatrist in the world that thinks that it's good for people with schizophrenia to take methamphetamine and heroin and live on the street. It's creating, it's really bad, very, very bad, it's immoral. And we're not building housing for young people and we're being selfish jerks. And so I'm committed to seeing that change. And so I am going to do I am going to after this book, you know, I, I don't think I'm going to write ever another book on the environment. I really don't. I'm gonna write about the environment for the rest of my life. I love I care about it. I'm gonna write about this book. And but I mean, I do want to also address some other things that I care about, including these questions of what do we owe each other as fellow Americans? What is our duty to these people, you know that the poorest people in society who will severe mental illness? These are concerns I have and the Board of Directors of environmental progress, in fact, has decided that we are going to work to to expand the stuff that we work on. And so in answer to your question, I don't know about the governor thing. But I am definitely committed to addressing the problems we have here because they're, frankly, it's just here in my home. And and I love the state. And it's a it's a big rack and a disaster and it needs to be fixed. And so that's what I'm committed to. And that would that I without formally announcing it. That is my strong intentions for my next book to be about the crisis in California.

Robert Bryce :

Well, and that's something that I've been looking at a little bit myself, because I find it just fascinating that and people don't know this that California has the highest poverty rate in America, outside of Washington, DC when you account for living standards, or cost of living rather, California has the highest poverty rate. And you and I talked both with with Jennifer Hernandez and john and john gumbo about Yeah, fine. This climate redlining issue, which is something that I find very concerning because Yeah you throughout the book and the book of course is is apocalypse never why environmental alarmism hurts us all from HarperCollins. Buy it on your Kindle, buy it on Amazon, buy it on BM. com.

Michael Shellenberger :

Buy the hardcover, buy the hardcover, because it's a better read.

Robert Bryce :

Hey, agreed. But that that that cost of energy as it was a key factor as well, and the cost of housing is a key factor. But these are the same issues that it what I'm gonna paraphrase or, you know, talk about what you saw in the book, and this the struggle to survive. It's becoming more acute for more people in your home state. And that's the challenge for California in terms of housing an energy, given the constraints I think are just enormous.

Michael Shellenberger :

Yeah. Well, I mean, it's just such a I mean, the crazy thing is such a blessing state. It's such a it's just so well endowed and so well resourced, and that has the Grammy we attract the greatest talent and the brightest people in the world. yet we're destroying our cities with these large open air drug encampments of mostly severely mentally ill, and deeply traumatized people, it's and mode and disproportionately people of color. So the things that we profess to care about so much in California Civil Rights, the poor, the environment, were inequality were the worst in many of those metrics. And it's, and it's a warning and it's I think there's some important lessons there. But, you know, the ways in which the environment has been used to do bad things, is something that those of us that care a lot about the environment have to speak out on. We have a particular a very particular moral duty to speak out against the abuses of the goodwill that most people have to wanting to save endangered species. The great apes, the whales, the penguins, the species I write about in the book. These are Magnificent species, most people want to save them. So to do bad things in the name of saving species like that, I think is quite is really you can see it's what motivated and drove me to do the book because I think it's very manipulative to be getting 14 and 15 year old children in the street suffering frankly already anxiety, rising levels of anxiety from toxic social media and, and all the other things that teenagers have to deal with today, to then go and tell them that there's not going to be a world for them in 10 years, you know, to go and tell them things about polar bears that are not true. You know, it's really wrong. It's just wrong and and so I you know, I was like, that's what I wanted to speak out on and it's happening again in California, you know, you just see it, you know, really denying people the housing that they need, because of using environmental, you know, building a an apartment building in an already developed part of the inner city. The makes the environment better, not worse. That's like, you know, it's like the stuff in the book, you kind of go keeping people using wood fuel, rather than building a hydroelectric dam makes the environment worse, you will need to understand why that is. And if you care about the environment passionately, once you understand that you'll care about stopping or in this case, promoting the kinds of nature saving activities and, and human fulfillment, increasing activities that we know work.

Robert Bryce :

Well, I think that's a good that's a good summary. And I think that it you know, to repeat your line about the need for environmental humanism instead of apocalyptic environmentalism. I think that that's, that's it and I think that that's where, you know, our commonality is that we just need to bring more humanist, more humanist approach to all of these discussions and how does it affect people and when that affecting people and wildlife and landscapes, those things matter, and it's not just about policy, it's got to be policy and Thinking about that policy and how it affects human beings and their well being is is something that I it's it's a long fight. And

Michael Shellenberger :

I mean, there's a way in which I did the part of this book that is for conservatives that I wrote for conservatives that I want it to be a message to conservatives. And just an appeal was sort of like, stop. Like so much of the conservative objections to apocalyptic environmentalism has been in the name of defending markets. Yeah, okay. I defend in the book, I talk about the importance of functioning markets to save the whales. I get it. Right and functioning markets made natural gas, cheaper than coal. And that allowed for natural gas to replace coal. But But markets are in service of something if markets didn't produce positive things, we wouldn't have them so we need to actually, and markets aren't aren't everything. You know, there's also a role for government and there's a role for the World Bank and there's a role for for financing like roads. And you kind of go like, like roads and electrical grids and hydroelectric dams. They're not really ever built by the free markets. You know, they're built by often by governments working, you know, with banks. And it's, it's a decision by, by the societies of those countries that they want to be modern and they want modern infrastructure. And so, you know, I do have that conversation in there where I kind of go, you know, the reaction to the museum left by the right was very, I think, confusing in the sense it wasn't humanistic. It was actually more like markets, markets markets, instead of conservation, instead of instead of Yeah, humans, humans and nature in a simpler way. I mean, that's why you and I think you're both very inspired by one of the characters in my book, Jesse ossible. Yep. Jesse is the in some ways, he just got this better than anybody by kind of unpacking. That's why it's more like, Look, it's a physical, it's like, it's like the same thing. I was. About how solar farms are not more power dense in socialist societies, you know, it's kind of like, it's like it's a physical process, you add fertilizer to the earth, and you produce more food. So if you're not going to let poor countries use fertilizer, how are you going to produce more food on less land doesn't really make sense, does it? That's the level at which I wanted this book to strike. You know, I wanted to get away from the ADL I wanted it's not I'm not gonna say it's supposed to be logical. I'm not sure such a thing as possible. You have to have some framework in which I think if you read this book, I don't think anybody's gonna walk away being like, you know, that's a treatise for capitalism, or that's a socialist.

Robert Bryce :

Right and when I hear you saying and this is where I think we're, you know, in violent agreement here is that you're pinning it down to what's the footprint and that's what Jesse also bells work did for me early on was make me understand and smell as well. What's the power density, what's the footprint for what you need because the energy is different. fundamental building block for all of culture, but it's fundamental to human well being. And that's that I think is the point that you know underlying all of Apocalypse never is this idea that we have to be cognizant of that footprint and it matters to Bernadette and her crops should be eaten by baboons from the park and the rest of it but it is all of a piece and as you say this that that we need these dense sources of energy to fuel our cities and to fuel our culture because otherwise it's going to fall apart. So look, we can talk a long time Michael and we have and I'm sure we will in the future, but I'm gonna I'm gonna draw to a close the book is apocalypse never why environmental alarmism hurts us all. It's from HarperCollins it's Michael Shellenberger his new book is this number two, number three.

Michael Shellenberger :

Number two, number two, okay, it's a but in some ways it feels like it's it's my first soul byline. So in some ways, it feels like my first book.

Robert Bryce :

Well, and as I said, I gave you a blurb for it. It's a master class in reporting and humanism I commend you for it because it really is a remarkable and and I think really the the the culmination of your entire career I mean you poured your all your your experience into it and for that reason alone i think it's it's it's definitely worth reading so okay so I'm gonna close it out here thanks to all of you for tuning in to the power hungry podcast buy my books watch my movie the movies do sell electricity explains the world the book is out since March called a question of power. You can find me on the interweb the Google the rest of it Robert Bryce, calm or follow the movie at juice, the movie calm. Michael Shellenberger. Thanks again for joining us.

Unknown Speaker :

Robert

Robert Bryce :

has been the power hungry podcast. We'll see you all next time.