Chris Keefer is a Toronto-based medical doctor, the founder of Doctors for Nuclear Energy, and the host of the Decouple podcast. In his second appearance on the Power Hungry Podcast, Keefer talks about being rejected by Google Ads, his recent trips to the COP 26 climate meeting in Glasgow and the pro-nuclear marches in Berlin, why Canada’s CANDU reactor design has been so successful, and why China and Russia are beating the rest of the world in deploying new nuclear reactors.
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, and welcome to the power hungry Podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. On this show, we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And I’m pleased to welcome again for a second appearance on the power hungry podcast, my friend, Dr. Chris Keefer. Chris, welcome back to the power hungry podcast.
Chris Keefer 0:18
Robert, it’s you know, it’s a special honor to be back. I had a great time on our first episode. So thanks for being charitable with me.
Robert Bryce 0:25
No problem. So, you know, I asked guests to introduce themselves. You’ve been on once, but you have to introduce yourself again, go
Chris Keefer 0:31
give a brief I’ll keep it brief. Yeah, sure. I’m a Canadian emergency medicine room physician. I have a you always talk about your family. So I’m going to borrow from you there as well. Robert, I have a beautiful three year old boy. I am passionate about health, environment climate. And as a result, I’m a nuclear energy advocate in a variety of forms, which we can get into.
Robert Bryce 0:53
Good. Well, so you’ve been at COP 26 in Glasgow, I want to talk about that. But more immediately, I want to talk about what’s happened just in the last few days where Google in its finite wisdom told you they’re not going to take ads for the decoupled podcast, what what is going on here?
Chris Keefer 1:10
You know, whatever. It’s, it’s a really bizarre situation. decouple, we’re actually now decoupled media. Okay, we kind of make this stuff up as you go along. Right. I say that a little bit facetiously. But we have we’ve launched to kind of a beyond the podcast, something called the couple Studios, which is hosted by a good friend of mine, and really intelligent filmmaker and videographer Jesse Freeston, creating kind of mid mid length content, you know, five to 10 minutes stuff that he’s hosting and bringing a really great angle to. And so for that, I mean, that’s a YouTube style platform, and it’s really important to, you know, have a distribution plan. You know, as you know, with podcasts, word of mouth spreads brown to get some reviews, we’re always looking for ways to grow our audiences, no doubt, but on YouTube, it’s really important to, you know, do some advise and, and, you know, get the podcast growing and get that that part of it growing. So we went through that basic application, it’s very simple, you know, a little bit of information, credit card details, that kind of thing. And we got a message back saying that we’d been flagged, and, you know, we could appeal the decision. And there was no, no rationale given it’s, it’s, you know, it’s typical sort of algorithm stuff. So, I didn’t think much of that I was like, well, it must be a glitch in the matrix. So you know, let me let me fill in this appeal form. Again, there wasn’t much to respond to, because it wasn’t like you are guilty of this specific, you know, social media code violation. But I just got a email back today saying that, um, you know, after reviewing your case, taking your feedback into consideration, which was, again was like three or four lines of mumbo jumbo, to confirm that your account was and still is in violation of our Google Ads policies. They don’t say what they were what policy was violated, as such, it’ll not be reactivate your account, please don’t create new Google Ads accounts as these will be suspended as well. When we suspend a Google Ads account, the suspension applies to the account owner and any current or future linked Google Ads accounts. So let’s just drag conium right across the board. I mean, again, just to be very close, no, it is available, but I can’t I can’t do anything with it to help distribute it basically.
Robert Bryce 3:05
And there’s no explanation of what the policy is or what you’ve been zero violation of zero or left. Yes. Or, or well, in the right word here. I mean, yeah. So you’re, you’re trying to tangle with one of the massive media corporation and you don’t know what to do you know, where even to start? Or if they’re, oh, there’s no leave a beat, we looked at your appeal, and you’re screwed. I mean, I’ve tried to get Twitter to verify my account now twice, turned down immediately, twice. I’m, I’m kind of gonna think I’m just gonna try a third time and then say, well, how do you do this? I
Chris Keefer 3:37
mean, I mean, there’s there’s craziest, I mean, as you know, I mean, social media has been this amplifier for some, some pretty horrific events, occasions, ideologies, ways of seeing the world. I mean, you know, the way that the Rohingya massacre played out partially on a Facebook platform, in terms of amplification, you know, but this this ease of censorship, which, you know, if it’s ideologically convenient to someone, they might be tempted to say, Yeah, we should we should have more of these controls on our on our platforms, but it can really bite you in the ass. I’ve never been someone to call for censorship of anybody. I think we need to have a battle of ideas. I don’t think we all need to get along. But we need to put the ideas out there and see which one stick. But yeah, it’s doing anything. That’s that. It’s not,
Robert Bryce 4:21
it’s where’s the controversy here? I mean, you’re not misstating anything, you’re not making things up. There’s no conspiracy, not promoting some conspiracy here. It just seems that this is extraordinarily arbitrary.
Chris Keefer 4:34
I’m guessing that it may have to do with, you know, vocal complaints from some people, not even really powerful people. But I imagine you know, there’s there’s opportunities to flag content, right, as a user of upset content, right. And I think the algorithms are probably quite sensitive to that. And so that’s, that’s likely what’s happened. But again, I mean, I’m an emergency room physician, working on science based material, inviting on some of the smartest, most intelligent You know, guests from around the world, we’re talking about, I guess, controversial taboo topic, which is, you know, largely nuclear energy amongst among some other topics. But yeah, it’s pretty stunning. I’ll get back to you with an update. I do have a plan. I don’t go down easy. I’m pretty sure we’re going to make this all work out. But uh, yeah, I don’t want to dwell on it too much on it’s not I’m not a feeling like a victim of
Robert Bryce 5:19
Sure. But at the same time, it is one of the indicators, and I haven’t had this happen to me. I mean, look, I’ve had people try and cancel me and, you know, they, you know, the attack me for, you know, what some of the things I’ve said and done well, okay, well, that’s fine. But you should have a rationale for it. If there’s something that that is there, that is clearly that you have some basis, then state it. But anyway, let’s go on and talk about cup 26. Because I know you went over there. Tell me your there are a lot of things that I want to talk about in with regard to what happened in Glasgow. But what was your overall takeaway? I mean, you how many days were you there? And what would you what did you leave with?
Chris Keefer 5:55
Sure, yeah, so I was there for about nine days. And yeah, I think it’s useful just to sort of paint the scene for a little bit. It’s occurring in Glasgow, which is the home of James Watt, you know, who unleashed the Industrial Revolution by putting a little finesse into the steam engine, draining those coal mines, and unleash this this era of prosperity. But also now, the side effect of climate change was kind of a poetic location, there’s a statue of James Watt, but I just kind of stood at the bottom of in awe thinking about the historic significance of this man. You know, it’s in this, it had been a very industrial city, obviously. And there’s this big conference happening in I believe it’s a converted soccer stadium area. Under heavy security. There’s a Blue Zone, which is for government figures, media, NGOs that are approved, and I was lucky to get access to that zone, there’s a green zone, which is sort of a sort of protest play area, quite far removed, which I didn’t end up getting to. And then within the city, there were several large demonstrations. There was a Friday’s for future climate strike March, and then a larger march on the Saturday, taking place, and almost horizontal sleeting rain and attracting about 100,000 people. So I didn’t have tickets for the first week. So I was mostly in the city at those climate marches, participating a lot more in civil society. And then we got into the into the blue zone itself. And that’s just a maybe it’s a bit like the World Expo of climate. There’s country pavilions, and NGO pavilions, and you can kind of tour large sections of the world like Africa and Asia and Europe, not every country is represented. And it’s very curious to sort of my hypotheses as to as to why that is huge contingent of African countries. Canada, for instance, didn’t have a pavilion. But Sierra Leone did. And I mean, clearly, there’s a bit of a, you know, energy return on energy invested calculation going on here in terms of establishing treaty, aid, relationships and relationships with NGOs at such an important event. So some, you know, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates had it just absolutely enormous deco pavilions. They each pavilion said something about the country that that housed it and their thoughts about energy and climate. So it was it was just a fascinating. You know, what would you call it like, you’re kind of like an art gallery really, of performance art.
Robert Bryce 8:11
Tell me tell me about Sierra Leone because I wrote a piece about the deadly explosion on November 5, if memory serves that we’re now the death toll from that fuel tanker explosion is 144 people burned alive in Freetown. Wow, capturing fuel from an overturned fuel tanker. What was Sierra Leone’s demons? What was their exhibit?
Chris Keefer 8:32
It was a it’s like a moderately sized exhibit. It was mostly just kind of, you know, a desk behind which some people were speaking I have to confess I didn’t spend a lot of time at that pavilion. But sure, as I was mentioning, Jesse frissons when he’s hosting a couple studios, he lapel mic up a South African woman named Princeton with Omni Sure, and Peruvian American show that over you guys, and they actually kind of turn around Africa talking about issues of, of energy poverty, you know, and that that little piece your your listeners to check out, it’s called can African poverty be a climate solution? A bit of a rhetorical question there. But I think your your audience would like it, but I’ll dodge a little bit this year alone question because I hadn’t.
Robert Bryce 9:12
And that’s on decoupled podcast.org, which is your new website that you’ve just now populating as well?
Chris Keefer 9:18
That that’s the old website. It’s on YouTube. Our decouple YouTube channel which we can organize. Okay, right. So word of mouth, we can word of mouth, Robert. So I appreciate that. That’s, that’s free. fashion.
Robert Bryce 9:29
We can’t stifle that word of mouth. Well, so if then, so your takeaway, I know you laid out kind of the general thing, and I’m going to be clear with you. I’ve watched these cop meetings for a long time. And my my sense of it is my you know, and I don’t know if it’s cynical or just realistic is that a lot of people go there’s a lot of rhetoric before there’s a lot of rhetoric during and then the last hour Oh, we finally hammered that agreement and the agreement invariably is, well we’re going to get really Seriously the next time? And if Am I wrong in my cynicism? Or my assessment here?
Chris Keefer 10:05
Not at all? Not at all. I mean, there have been cops believe in Copenhagen, I forget which number I was at 26. But several cops ago, you know, things fell apart. I think particularly because the Chinese said, Listen, there’s something called differential responsibility. It’s your guy’s fault. You industrialized first. And so that led to there not actually being any agreement. But most cops, there is an agreement. Obviously, Paris was one of the more famous ones, the most ambitious ones. I didn’t pay so much attention to the formal proceedings themselves. There was a big controversy about whether there was going to be a coal phase out or a coal phase down, and crashes like India, who rely heavily on coal, we’re seeing me so so I was much more interested in sort of the civil society areas and looking at the various pavilions, it was, it was really fascinating. You know, someone who’s quite obsessed with nuclear energy walking around the pavilions. The Russian pavilion was pretty interesting. It was, it was Rosa Tom, basically, I was like, Is this country or the company, it was all nuclear. And it was just extraordinary, because in the rest of the entire, you know, representation, all the countries in the world, there was scarcely a mention of nuclear. And they had a mock up of a VR reactor and an idealized city nearby. And, you know, it was all about the power of the atom. It was it was very interesting. And every every talk was about that. You know, and I think it makes sense as well. They’re looking for customers as well. They’re the number one exporter of nuclear energy around the world. And they’re not, they’re not afraid to troll the world a little bit and say, I don’t even call it trolling, right, just to be like, actually, this is the effective deep decarbonisation tool. That’s the only one that really works
Robert Bryce 11:40
and given the European energy crisis is their ultimate opportunity. Right? I mean, they told him on Twitter a few weeks ago saying something like, well, these gas prices, maybe they suggest you need a little nuclear over there. Hey, y’all. I mean, it was something I’m paraphrasing but that was what the gist of it No. And I
Chris Keefer 11:55
mean, I compare that to France, which it was, I mean, the aesthetic choices. The French pavilion were unbelievable. It was chipboard plywood floors, chipboard plywood, little box seats, and on the wall I kid you not Robert, it says make the planet great again, hashtag. I don’t know who designed this pavilion make it great again, hashtag make the planet great again. And I mean, this is very interesting, because clearly the people that planned the French pavilion did so before Macron had his big moment of discovering pride in French innovation. I think Shellenberger was on my podcast recently talking about that, that video that that the French government put out recently this pivots, Halo Vaughn, Taylor, nuclear this pivot back to nuclear energy, this commitment to build six new large scale, Pressurized Water Reactors, six EPRs into work on an SMR for export. That had percolated through to the representatives of the delegation. And I got to do it very interesting interview with one of them. But in terms of the aesthetics of the pavilions, there was not a mention of nuclear energy in France. I mean, you’d think it was a maybe think it was more of a Canadian pavilion because it was just just look like a bunch of lumber, like really shitty put together plywood, it was an two by fours. It was bizarre. Robert, it was bizarre. The the other favorites.
Robert Bryce 13:07
It is interesting idea, though, about the you know, what is the what is the exhibit say about the country that’s putting exhibit there, right? What is the message that they’re putting forward? And yeah, well, our country is about chipboard, or
Chris Keefer 13:23
it didn’t fit. It didn’t fit everything. Everyone’s head was spinning. And then just to give you a sense, I guess of like more of the civil society, NGO participation right across from the Russians. There’s this big pavilion focused on the issue of methane is a global warming gas. I kid you not the the large kind of lettering title of the booth was called the methane moment. And so we were all joking about how it be important not to not to have any methane moments during our time coverings. Conference. Was
Robert Bryce 13:52
the elevator. Yeah, you don’t want a methane? Elevator? Yeah, that was exactly. Exactly. Well, so what else did you take away? I mean, you you’re given us kind of a sketch of your visual sketch of but I mean, what was the mood? You the? There’s been a lot of talk around climate. But you know, the official declarations to me didn’t amount to anything. It was there. But it seemed that the nuclear pro nuclear forces were it turned out in Glasgow, more in my opinion, what I saw what I saw reported, maybe more than any of the other cops is I don’t know, absolute any of those. What so tell me about that part of it.
Chris Keefer 14:29
Yeah, no, apparently, I mean, this was my first comp. But apparently, there’s just been an absolute groundswell and a shift here. And I mean, I don’t want to I don’t want to paint an overly dramatic terms. But, you know, the anti nuclear folks have controlled the discourse, you know, with an iron fist. And just the fact that we’re breaking through and pronuclear messages are being received and they’re getting out into the media or policymakers are talking about them means that the dam has burst. And, you know, I don’t want to say we’ve won already, but that is a huge, huge victory. But now the discourse is open and they’re you know, opposing sides and we can have conversations and I think the the the logic is very much on our side the evidence is very much on our side so you know that’s that’s from something as simple as the you know, the large demonstrations outside of the conference, the Friday’s for future merge and the big NGO merge. Where, you know, Team nuclear was there in force, we had a bunch of melty the polar bears a lot of signs a megaphone pamphlets. In previous cops, people have been violently assaulted, they have been kicked out of the the marches, these climate marches, nuclear is not welcome. We did have one member of our team who was I mean, I don’t want to sort of like overpaid things, but she she had her sign ripped from her and taken from her and she was pushed a little bit. Of course, it was the smallest woman in our delegation. But I would say just by just by our presence there we talked a lot with there’s a lot of labor unions marching and I brought my, you know, nuclear workers or climate heroes banner and gave it to the GMB union members. And they said, Oh, sure, we’ll hold this. We’ve got nuclear workers in our delegations, that was kind of fun. There was a very speaking of free speech, there was a very interesting number of interactions that had with actually the same to Scottish police. And they came up to me, at the first day of demonstrations, they said, Hey, listen, like if the anti nuclear people you get in your face, or they’re, you know, they’re making you uncomfortable, please leave. Say, No,
Unknown Speaker 16:24
you don’t deserve to be out here. But they do.
Chris Keefer 16:26
And I said, you know, I don’t know where I’m from, we say, you know, to protect and serve. So if we’re being assaulted or you know, that’s, that’s actually your role to come in, and to protect and defuse that. And he’s like, you know, there’s a lot of stuff to do here. And I’m ugly, if you’re really worried about us then. And it happened the second day as well. I said, Hey, didn’t I come and talk to you yesterday? And I said, Yeah, absolutely. You know, and it was we have it all on camera, it was, it was pretty funny interaction, we’re going to be putting more and more stuff out on cop. We’re just under resource for the amount of footage that we captured. But, you know, but that stuff is, I think, on the way out at the previous cop and poll, and the police actually made the nuclear delegation leave. And so it’s it’s a, it’s a breakthrough moment, I think in terms of the conversation shifting. And, yeah, I mean, I had a very interesting moment with my own governments and our own new environment minister, which, which was a real sort of example of that as well. I don’t want to get into that an hour,
Robert Bryce 17:16
right? Sure. It was Steven guilbeault. Right. The he’s the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in the Trudeau Government. I think he just got that job in October. Right. And so you ran into him? Where was this an ambush? Did you know where he was going to be and plan this out? How did it work? How did it?
Chris Keefer 17:32
Yeah, I mean, for, for context, are very opportunistic government was governing under a minority, so they were propped up by another party, in our, in our democratic system, and COVID was kind of getting better in the summer, and they thought there was an opportunity to score a majority. So they threw an election, and they ended up getting almost the exact same seat count. Like basically, nothing changed, except for a bunch of Canadians got pissed off that we spent more than half a billion dollars on a useless election as another COVID Wave washed over us, right. So, you know, it resulted in cabinet shuffles as, as new governments do. And as a as an attempt to sort of win support in a certain region of the country. He gave this guy, this portfolio. And this isn’t just any old, any old gentleman. He’s a prominent environmentalist. He was involved with communications that Greenpeace Canada and internationally for 10 years, founded his own NGO, environmental NGO, he actually wants rappelling off of the, what used to be the tallest tower in the world, the CN Tower with a big climate banner and, and got a year of probation and a $50,000. Fine. So he’s got a real history of activism. He went a little corporate, in the last 10 years before his appointment, worked for a group called cycle capital and you’re going to love this. They’re sort of green energy investment firm. I did a bit of digging on them. And one of their one of their big investments was in a product called Air tech. And it makes bio coal don’t bio colas. Don’t know it’s this revolutionary new technology. It’s gonna blow your mind. You’ve written a lot about energy. Right, Robert? A bass away for this involves taking wood biomass, okay, heating it up in a no oxygen environment, and making bio coal.
Unknown Speaker 19:15
That’s called charcoal.
Chris Keefer 19:16
Exactly. Exactly. So I mean, the these titans of green industry, funding financing. I mean, that was one of their things. They’re really proud of that a big press release about it. I’m not sure how involved Stephen Stephen Gilboa wasn’t in that particular investment. But this is the kind of activities this man was involved with. I’m glad you’re also scratching your head as I describe that because I couldn’t believe my eyes when I wrote it. This is a green investment making charcoal. I mean, I think Shellenberger wrote about that a lot in terms of its impacts on forests. And actually when our colleagues returning the African countries, they were talking with the forestry ministry and they said, you know, tell us about the forest and they said we need energy. Right if we have energy we’re gonna stop cutting down these forests and turning them into charcoal. So we pretty ironic
Robert Bryce 19:57
we need propane and butane but so we’ll see Then fast forward to your talk with Joe, because you recorded it. And you were on Shane gamems podcast recently talking about this. So what did you What did you ask him? And why did he say?
Chris Keefer 20:12
Well, you know, there’s a bit of a backstory, if you don’t mind me going into it, I think it’s important. So about three weeks ago, I was invited up to the largest operating nuclear plants in the world, which is in my backyard in Ontario, here’s called Bruce Power. And I was invited by a number of nuclear labor unions, there’s about three or four of them, who were inviting other members of the labor movement and our left wing political party to come up and do a tour of the plant and talk labor issues. And I mean, you’ve been to Indian Point, you’ve been to communities around nuclear plants. I mean, I won’t speak for you in terms of your experiences, but these are places with 1000s and 1000s of, you know, high skilled trades, jobs, machinists, millwrights pipe fitters, Boilermakers, etc, who are working in these intergenerational jobs alongside STEM professionals, healthy, healthy communities. Anyway, so it was a really neat opportunity to be there. And I made some connections with some folks at the Canadian Labour Congress, and one of them happened to be going to cop so we said we’d be in touch and I messaged him, you know, on day three or four while I was there, and he said, Oh, yeah, we should meet up and then the ministers coming to the World Wildlife Fund pavilion to make an announcement. I said, which minister? He says, Stephen, Jill bow. I said, Can I come? Sure. Anyway, so the the name of the presentation, it was called powering through the coal phase out with a just transition for workers. Right. Yeah. And I did you know, full disclosure, I was there, you know, with the decoupled podcast doing media. So I did get myself a lapel mic. My colleague, Jesse Freeston, had the camera going. And we were I was hoping to ask a question at the end of the presentation. But again, the name of this presentation powering through the coal phase, adjust transition. He Mr. Chabot, again, at every opportunity he’s had it has opposed nuclear energy, made statements against the, you know, fought to have the Gentili Candu reactor shut down. And Quebec tried to have our beloved Pickering plant closed here. The irony of all that is that in Ontario, nuclear energy provided 90% of the power to phase out coal in what has been called the greatest greenhouse gas reductions measure in North America in North American history. Right. And those coal workers got new jobs in nuclear plants, and how to just transition. Right. And this man is vehemently opposed to nuclear energy, any chance that he gets, right. So it was a typical session, and I think this was very typical of the events in the cop pavilion, you know, the dignitaries would come in, they’d get prepped questions kind of passed off to them, like little softball, and then they would leave before the public had any chance to interact. And I said, yeah, no, I’m not gonna let that happen. And my filmmaker buddy said, sent me a little text thing. Yeah, that’s what’s about to happen. So Mr. Guilbeau, was excused, you know, kind of midway into the thing after answers, questions got very important work to do. So I dashed for the door. And I opened it for him very politely. And as he stepped through, I said, may have a moment of your time. And it was just this kind of paleo psychology thing of, you know, you make a gesture to someone they feel compelled to make a gesture back, I think there’d be no other way I would have gotten a moment of his time. But I managed to confront him on this issue, you know, on whether his anti nuclear record and views would cloud his judgment in the light that all four principle decarbonisation path was of the IPCC call for nuclear energy. And that we did a coal phase that and had a just transition in Ontario, and he should be damn proud of that. And be bragging about that and be really exporting Canada’s success story around the world. He dodged the question. And we can talk a bit more about that. But I’m conscious that I’ve been on a bit of a diatribe here, Robert, I’m, I’m pretty, pretty passionate about this. No, I
Robert Bryce 23:43
understand it. But to me what, what’s interesting about that, and when I guess when I think about where Canada is, particularly relative to the United States, you have a reactor that is effectively your national champion that can do design, right, using hidden water, right? So and it’s one that’s been proven, you’d have no accidents with it. I was just looking at Bruce. I didn’t realize it’s six and a half gigawatts. I mean, the eight reactors in one location, I knew Palo Verde here in the US, I think, is the largest one, it was at four or five gigawatts, but it’s a massive, massive power station. But it just seems to me that your your championing of the nuclear sector in Canada is intriguing to me in there in that regard that if Canada were serious, it could be a challenger to rasa Tom on the global scale, right, if it chose to be in terms of exporting technology to other countries, particularly Africa, etc, that were you they need nuclear technology to as an alternative to coal. Is that Is that does that rhyme with you in terms of how you kind of saw Canada in the in the, in the global scheme now?
Chris Keefer 24:47
Let’s do a little thought exercise here. Okay, go ahead. So imagine you don’t know anything about the candy never heard about the reactor, okay. And, and I’m going to pitch it to you as something that’s brand new and doesn’t exist yet. Alright, so here’s this here’s this reactor. Okay, we don’t need to enrich uranium for it. So it’s very accessible. for countries that don’t have that capacity. You just take the stuff out of the ground millet and throw it in your reactor, okay? You don’t need heavy forging industry. So even if you’re a smaller country without huge industrial capacity, or you’re the US that has lost its heavy forging capacity, you can build this reactor in your own country. It’s accessible to you in that regard. This is a very, very safe reactor, it’s got multiple safety systems, it has a huge sort of thermal mass of water around it. And it’s not one big core of fuel that can melt down it’s in separate and all these little channels, right, so it’s an inherently very safe reactor. And as a spin off features magical reactor I’m telling you about, it can produce medical isotopes, and it actually produces just Bruce Power enough medical isotopes to sterilize 40% of the world’s single use medical supplies. So I don’t know if you’ve ever you know, been in hospital, Robert, I hope nothing recent but anything that’s cannot be withstanding very high temperatures, basically, because not metal or glass needs to be sterilized, right? And that happens with medical isotopes, and 40% of the world’s masks, IV, cannulas, endotracheal tubes, you name it. If it’s made it a plastic in a hospital, it’s been sterilized in that way. So this this reactor type Robert can enable modern healthcare is that does that sound like a pretty cool, advanced, exciting design?
Robert Bryce 26:20
It’s interesting, because if I’m closing my eyes, and they Okay, blank slate, like you said, I’m thinking, well, all these SMRs that are now being developed, that it has many of those same characteristics, and
Chris Keefer 26:30
it burns, it can burn thorium too. I mean, if you’re a thorium, bro, then yeah, so I mean, all this to point out that, all this to point out that I mean, you know, and I’m not a nuclear engineer, but I talked to a lot. And maybe I pretend to have one on TV or something. But, you know, there’s a lot of exciting reactor concepts, and a lot of advanced features, a lot of those concepts date back to the very early days of nuclear energy, when we actually had the regulatory environment where we could actually, you know, mess around and build things and see how they worked and whatnot. But, you know, nuclear, in terms of the West doing nuclear again, we know we suck at it. And we’re so obsessed, I think in terms of the Western industries that a new design a new innovation is going to bail us out and make nuclear great again for to echo the French there. Yeah. And I mean, that’s, that’s the real issue that that I see. at COP in terms of the discussions around nuclear, it was very, particularly not amongst the Russians, they were saying, Yes, we will build out a DVR, you know. And even the French, they’re saying, we’re going to build an EPR. So we’re going to develop an SMR for export. But in terms of the Western nations, the UK big announcement with Rolls Royce, Canada, the US very, very focused on on SMR, and advanced nuclear, and it’s kind of understandable, I think, you know, these companies are very well capitalized, there’s a lot of sort of speculation, maybe there’ll be a breakout, they have some money to throw around. Right. But, you know, again, in terms of the likelihood of success for the West, and in building new reactors, we saw we had that potential Renaissance, you know, at the time of so called Peak Oil. Sure. And we had some fancy new designs with the AP 1000, it was going to just click together, like Legos modular construction, the whole thing about the AP 1000, is that it was going to be quick to build, right, right. Didn’t end up working out that way. So you know, my very basic and philosophy on this is that the Western Minister needs to be very humble. And it needs to do something that knows how to do so here in Canada. We’ve been refurbishing our candles, because every 3040 years, you need to retube them, right? You need to swap out the major components. And so Canada’s largest infrastructure project has been refurbishing Canada units, we’ve got a supply chain up and running, we have a very skilled workforce, we’ve got a regulator that understands this issue very well, in my mind, the humble, safe thing to do as an industry is to build some more candies, right? Get the experience going get the industry healthy. And then yeah, do these spin offs. And that’s that’s what Rosa Tom does. That’s what China does, you know, they have a basic Reactor program, and then they start exploring some other stuff on the sides. But I find that we’re sort of putting the cart before the horse and saying, you know, we’re going to pursue a lot of new novel things, because they’re not like those other girls. And maybe the public will approve it. So well, when
Robert Bryce 29:09
you’re talking about that. What comes to mind, Chris, is this issue of scale, right? And it’s always about scale. And in my fourth book, power hungry, I said, Well, what are the what are the imperatives that what I call them? The four imperatives, power, density, energy, density, cost and scale? And so what? You know, I’m adamantly pro nuclear, but when I look at the US, and I look at all the different technologies, and I’ve done it many, many interviews about all these technologies that are in the in the in the that are in the development cycle, and they’re waiting for NRC approval and permitting and then, okay, well, you get that done. You still have to build them and you have to build a bunch of them. And that industrial process, that industrial basis is hard to build. It takes a long time and it takes a ton of capital, and it takes a ton of patient capital. And so I guess you know, your point about the Russian industry, you know, you’re obviously Canadian. No, no, there’s a lot I’m better than I do. But just the fact that Russia could if it wanted to have had the political will really push this out into the international marketplace, as the Russians are doing and and potentially contend because it has, as you say, the supply chain and the ability to sell it as a safe alternative to coal at scale. And that, to me is quite interesting. And something I hadn’t really thought about until we’re just talking about it now.
Chris Keefer 30:25
Right. Yeah, I mean, I think I think, obviously, Russia is huge right now. I mean, I don’t know if you heard about it. But I don’t think it was really announced as a part of a cop thing. China didn’t have a pavilion. So I didn’t learn as much about their positions. But just pre comp, there was an announcement that they’re doing a $440 billion investment in 150 gigawatts of nuclear over 15 years. So I’m calling this the the, the Mesmer plan with Chinese characteristics. You know, it’s it’s a pretty extraordinary investment in nuclear. I mean, China’s a huge country. I mean, that’ll make that would give them the largest fleet in the world. Probably 150
Robert Bryce 31:01
gigawatts, and 450 billion in spending?
Chris Keefer 31:05
Mm hmm. Yeah. So you run the math on that? I think it’s around three or 4 billion a gigawatt, right. Yeah. Right. And, you know, they’ve credibility on that, I think in terms of export, like, I would love to see Canada export, its its technology, I think that’s great for the economy. You know, I tend to be a bit of a liberal, soft at heart person who says that, yeah, there’s this kind of idea of carbon debt, and we can repay that carbon debt by, you know, exporting our can do technology and helping other smaller countries use less fossil fuels or leapfrog certain, certain fossil fuels they can. So they can decarbonize it as they can, you know, have that stable, reliable electricity that they need to develop. But I do think in terms of
Robert Bryce 31:46
that isn’t one of the problems that with can do is that, you know, you’re talking about reactors that are 800 megawatts for many locations, especially if we’re talking about Africa, because I think, Okay, so where would nuclear at scale really make the most difference? And it’s going to be in southern Asia and in Sub Saharan Africa. But, you know, a lot of these countries, Sierra Leone, we talked about before
Unknown Speaker 32:07
800 megawatts just going to be too big. Right now. Absolutely. There’s,
Robert Bryce 32:11
so there’s the potential that can do could be could be reduced down to 100 megawatts, or 50 megawatts that that’s not that’s going to require a retooling? Re redesigning of the designs? No,
Chris Keefer 32:22
I mean, there is a CANDU SMR. Again, I’m not trying to be, you know, I can do salesman here. I think it’s great technology. I’m a proud Canadian, you know, in terms of Canada being a nuclear exports, giant, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we have a moderate role to play there. I think we should pursue it. But countries like Russia are established. And China’s obviously going to leap to the forefront because they can offer financing. Right? Right, they can build you that reactor, and you can pay it off in the next 3040 years. And while your country’s being developed by the electricity is producing. So, you know, the idea that Western upstart reactor companies are going to be, you know, powering Africa with SMRs that are, you know, us designed, etc, I think is is a little pie in the sky, I think China’s gonna fill in that void. They just built an SMR in Pakistan. And I think they’re poised with their historic investment to be able to actually offer the financing to these poor countries, because all these countries want nuclear, like when we did our little tour of Africa with Princeton, and surely, they’re saying, Yeah, we love nuclear. I mean, we want I don’t really care what kind it is. But it’d be great if it was nuclear.
Robert Bryce 33:26
And you say that because I say that many times what we care about is power. We don’t give a darn about energy, we don’t care what goes in the gas tank and put sawdust or you know, coconut cream pie in the in the gas tank that makes him press on the accelerator. That’s what matters to me this is the car gonna go or if I flip the switch? Well, it’s interesting, because what I what I hear you saying, Chris, is something I haven’t heard you say before, but it’s that you’re adamantly pro nuclear and passionate about it, it comes through right, you’re just this has been your you really your life’s work for the last several months or even years. But you just don’t think that the what I’ve heard you say is you don’t think the West is going to play much of a role in the deployment of nuclear at scale and the global market?
Chris Keefer 34:03
I mean, I would like us to, I think that’s going to take a real groundswell of the change in public support. And I think we’re seeing that and part of it is just pragmatics. You know, it’s it was very interesting. You had a Mark Nelson on a little while ago. He’s talked a lot about that history of electricity, deregulation, energy deregulation, in the UK under Thatcher, and you have this extraordinary return return with this was called the regulated asset base, financing model where, you know, investors can be paid out during the construction phase for their investment in nuclear and it’s it’s anticipated that it will save something like 20 to $30 billion to the public over the life of their plants. Because as you remember Hinkley Point the the price for it is about two thirds interest or getting interest at nine or 10%. That capital can be de risked if we can set up these kinds of investment environments that are friendly, such as this regulated asset base, and I just thought it was so ironic that that was happening. In the UK, you know, the the the origin place of this kind of ultra deregulation, right? And now they’re sort of, they’re moving back to that model, like when you know Edgardo Sepulveda was very influential in, in educating me on this. But, you know, when we were adding five or six or 7% capacity to the grid every single year, if that happened within a certain regulatory environment, right, you know,
Robert Bryce 35:19
and it was the same, and it was the same here in the US, which I think is one of the reasons why incremental additions of new nuclear in the US are going to be so difficult because our, our electricity consumption has been flat for 15 years. And meanwhile, we’re adding a whole lot of new generation capacity. It’s up 14% or so in the US, even though generation total consumption has been flat. So we’re adding capacity that’s being underutilized. So the idea of adding yet more Well, where’s it gonna go? And who’s gonna pay for it? And in particularly difficult market in the US given that’s the demand isn’t growing, and you’ve got a very diffused ownership situation in the US Navy, nearly 3000 publicly owned utilities? It’s a very complex,
Chris Keefer 35:59
regulated monopoly. And yeah, regulated asset base that can that can pay out. You’re right, though. I mean, there’s not an increasing demand. There’s the idea that there should be in the form of you know, this electrify everything agenda, which I know you’ve had some serious critiques with having had your grid failure for yes, for a long period. That’s very understandable. I mean, that’s that’s kind of been one of my lines recently is if you want to electrify everything, then this needs to be ultra reliable electricity. Right. You know, and maybe not
Robert Bryce 36:25
mind, if we started, just go back to that regulated model, because that’s the part where and I think marks Milsons points on this, I didn’t really realize that that the deregulation of the British electric market happened just a few years before the deregulation of the Texas market. And that, then both both places, both provinces both have a massive failure, and within a few months of each other, and but it goes back to the point that I’ve been making for a while, which is, no, this isn’t just a market, this is a critical service. And you can’t just let it go to the you know, the whim of the marketplace. You the government needs a strong role here to make it happen. And and I guess that’s that’s the point about Russia and China is that they have a strong role in the in the nuclear industry. And that’s why it’s thriving there. It’s making my making sense on that.
Chris Keefer 37:09
No, not at all. I mean, you know,
Unknown Speaker 37:11
I am not making sense.
Chris Keefer 37:12
I know you are, I think you are. I mean, I am a creature, you know, my origins are in the political left. But I had a really interesting discussion with Michael Shellenberger through three episodes ago, and he was talking about how leftists kind of just look at capital is one big evil thing, and that there’s different kinds of capital. And you mentioned this earlier, there’s kind of a patient capital and maybe more of a profiteering financialized, Vulture capital, right, and one profits off of highly volatile energy prices and real shocks and catastrophes and the other like stability, and it’s a good partner for nuclear. And so there’s, there’s models that are attractive to each form of capital. And so I think that’s kind of really moderated my opinions, I do think there’s a really strong role for government. And I do think that some investment should definitely be coming from government. But the government can do a lot to set up an environment that’s good for that, let’s call it a good kind of capital that can be constructive that can help, you know, build up our country build up prosperity. And, you know, fundamentally, you know, I’m, you know, a real climate Hawk, but I think adaptation is vital at this point. And that’s gonna require a lot of energy and reliable energy. Right, right. So, you know, part two of this trip was heading over to Germany to Berlin for this last stand for nuclear to save the last year and six reactors and, you know, I went to the belly of the beast in terms of, you know, the country with the highest per capita spending on renewables. And it really, you know, that I have a pretty I’ve not been afraid to, to be a bro, shall we say, I hate that terminology. If you’ve raised the slightest criticism of renewable energy as a nuclear advocate, your nuclear bro. But, you know, it really had a profound impact on me being in Germany, particularly during a windless, cloudy week. And having interviewed the spokesperson of the German delegation about the hypocrisy of closing their nuclear and keeping their coal going and preaching to the world that they should, they should phase out coal. Well, coal was the number one source of generation on their grid this year. Right.
Robert Bryce 39:11
And that was Stefan Gabrielle Hoffa, I guess was that that was an interview that you have on your website. Again, my guest is Chris Keever Kiefer. He’s the founder and host at decoupled podcast, you can find him at decouple podcast.org. So also the founder of doctors for nuclear energy and a couple of other outfits that you you’ve been busy. But I thought that that, you know, the Germany issue is one that I wanted to talk about as well, because here’s a country where they effectively are bottlenecked in terms of building new renewables. I mean, they’re the backlash there as in much of Europe, as in the United States, is you’re seeing rural areas saying we don’t want you to dam wind turbines, go take them somewhere else. And oh, by the way, we don’t want your big high voltage transmission lines either, which is something that we saw the referendum on November 2 In May, on November 2 in Maine for Give me we’re 59% of the people who voted in Maine said we don’t want high voltage transmission projects built in Maine, even though it’s, you know, Canadian hydro coming to Massachusetts, no way. So how did you you had a better 20 or 30 minute conversation with half of what was your takeaway? Because I mean, you clearly made him squirm in some regards. What was what was your takeaway there?
Chris Keefer 40:21
I mean, I looked at that interview, as you know, it was a huge gotcha, you know, I sort of gave him the rope to hang himself, I was looking forward to sort of chopping the interview up and providing it to our German allies who are organizing this demonstration to maybe use his promotions just to say, Hey, look at that, look what this guy’s saying, right. And they said, This isn’t controversial. You know, I think, to my audiences outside of Germany, it was pretty extraordinary and eye opening, right. And I, you know, it wasn’t easy to get an interview with the spokesperson and press secretary of the German delegation, I may have taken a few little liberties, we’d gone and interviewed, actually one of your former guests, Richard Harrington, at the New York climate hub, and we’d gotten passes that said, you know, New York climate, New York Times climate hub, and I may or may not have mentioned that I had some affiliation, which I may or may not have with the New York Times. But it did earn me the confidence and get me this interview. And, you know, I approached it very much. I wanted to be fair interview, I was, you know, not being completely for width in terms of who I was or what group I was or what my allegiances are, but I didn’t want to have a sort of dogmatic interview with him. So I really, you know, gave him the chance to sort of sell Germany’s vision. But it was interesting, because I, you know, I started off by saying, you know, you’ve done this, at a certain degree of sacrifice being a first mover, with renewable energy, you know, but it must now be paying some dividends in terms of having been a first mover and owning a lot of the IP and things like that. And, you know, the famous German vertically, vertically organized supply chains, like that must be bringing some good to Germany. So it’s been very expensive. And yeah, our solar panel company has all gone offshore to China, you know, so he had opportunities to brag, but I think the truth is just so, so barren, that’s, you know, it came across. But you know, I was challenging him on things like, again, the fact that you’re observing extreme weather event this year, it’s not hurricanes or cyclones, it’s just that the wind isn’t blowing very much, it may be part of a phenomenon called Global stilling as the poles heat more quickly than the equator, we may be seeing mid latitude winds just dropping off. And Europe’s made a big gamble on this, that might really kick them in the ass. But as the result calls the number one source of electricity on the grid 27%. And they’re phasing out their nuclear, but eight gigawatts of nuclear in the next six or seven months, and not doing anything about that coal until 2038. But what was really interesting was getting them to talk about well, what’s the plan? What’s the coals gone? You know, how are you going to balance the intermittency? I brought up North Stream? And he said, Well, Germany is going to be climate neutral, carbon neutral by 2045. And so, you know, people that are investing in this gas infrastructure, they really need to know that this is a short term investment. You know, that Nord Stream two is a short term investment, or the new gas plants they’re building right now or short term investment? I mean, there’s a kind of, I’m not sure that it actually is that he is being dishonest. I think he’s drank his own Kool Aid. And I found that with a lot of the, the Germans they spoke to both from the delegation. And you know, in Germany at this demonstration, where I’ve never met people that were so frigid, cold and closed off and just unwilling to engage, it was like, I don’t know, I’m trying to think of the analysis, topic of conversation you might bring up that would that would result in such such revulsion. But it was a was a very interesting experience, I should say, what was what was also fascinating was, we were flying out of COP going to Berlin on the last day of competence. So as much as most of the German delegation, we actually ended up surrounded on the plane by the German delegation. And, Robert, we haven’t had the pleasure to meet yet, but I’m six foot nine. So I stick out like a sore thumb. And there was a lot of very unfriendly stares and texts flying back and forth or waiting in the checking lineup. It was, it was a very interesting experience.
Unknown Speaker 44:02
Because they knew who you were by that time, they must have Googled, I think the President we’re gonna call them out.
Chris Keefer 44:07
I think the press secretary got his knuckles wrapped.
Robert Bryce 44:09
Yeah. Let me follow up on that. Because Germany to me as well, the it’s the when I look at these issues, particularly around renewables, and it’s what I talked about in front of the Senate, when I testified before the energy Natural Resources Committee is it’s all about affordability, and that these renewables wherever they’re being implemented, and Germany, of course, is the prime example of this as is, as is California that this is incredibly regressive. I mean, did that come up at all among any of these discussions you had with the Germans because energy poverty is emerging as a real problem throughout Europe and one of the European largest trade unions said that they have something like 3 million or their members 2.7 million that aren’t gonna be able to afford to heat their homes this winter. I mean, this is facing a looming crisis. This was this even registering with what they’re where they are.
Chris Keefer 44:55
I mean, these are folks from the the ministry Interestingly enough, the the German environs Ministry has called the ministry environment conservation and nuclear safety, like the nuclear bogeyman is so big for them. They’ve rolled it into that ministry. And you can imagine that it’s probably not the friendliest of regulators. But I mean, this is a pretty sort of elite well heeled group of individuals that I don’t think have to worry too much about energy prices, as I did say he did mention that it has been a really big burden and sacrificed, but one that Germany seems, at least according to him, happy to make, I mean, going there, you get the impression that this is I mean, it’s a very wealthy country. And I mean, it’s a country that again, has added has basically doubled their grid capacity, as you’re saying they use not very much of the capacity of either the wind and solar or the fossil, right? When you when you put it all together. I mean, he bragged about how, you know, people have said renewable energy would never grow by five 5%. And, you know, Portugal has these days where they’re 100%, powered by by wind, but the corollary is in Germany, you know, they do have some days where they’re 100% powered by wind and solar, but while I was there, they were 100%, coal, gas and biomass. And, and that sliver of nuclear, which is about to come offline. So it really, I mean, Robert, it really hardened me, I have to say, in terms of how I think about renewables, and their impacts on the environment, on the climate, because they’re just they’re not effective deep decarbonizing tools. They’re a huge waste of resources. And, you know, again, having spent a lot of time in meshed in, in labor these days. It’s terrible for workers. I mean, it’s intermittent energy and intermittent jobs, slapping these things up every 20 years and a few maintenance jobs, not a lot of parking spots outside of a wind farmer or solar firm.
Robert Bryce 46:33
Well, it’s interesting you say that, because the way I’ve thought about it recently, and I’m certain I’m not the first one to put it this way, but that if we’re facing a future of more drastic changes in the weather, why would we make our energy and power systems dependent on the weather? Right? I mean, I mean, and if all the things that I could, you know, arguments I could make about nuclear and the need for that, and the need for need for baseload. And it’s partly informed by, you know, as you say, being hardened after these experiences, I had the same after being blacked out here in Austin in February, there was like, What is going on here? I mean, just personal. We went $66 billion was spent in Texas in the years before the blackouts. And then when crunch time came, it was effectively worth nothing as a joke that all that wind and solar went to Cancun, with Ted Cruz not available. Yeah, right.
Chris Keefer 47:23
Yeah, but $200 billion of damage on top of that, right, think of what that money could have been spent on seven lives, and seven
Robert Bryce 47:29
people did. And and many of them not necessarily immediately, you know, from hypothermia, but the knock on effects of not getting their insulin or not getting to the doctor not getting the hospital, not getting the dialysis, whatever it was. Those but there’s still deaths, there’s still deaths that were caused by the failure of the electric grid, due to a misapprehension of the policymakers to understand what it’s about. And that’s the part that to me is so deeply dangerous, and how Germany in particular is risking really its future in terms of its viability as an industrial economy. It was, but was there any sense of that in the foreboding? And what might be happening?
Chris Keefer 48:06
I mean, it’s interesting, I haven’t been paying as close attention as I should, I did hear there was a bit of a hold up on the final approval of North Stream to I mean, they’re not going to make the winter without it, especially with the president of Belarus, starting to flex muscles and saying, you know, what, if you’re going to impose sanctions on my country, I’m not gonna let the gas through. It’s gonna be a very interesting winter in that regard. But I mean, clearly, you know, Germany, it’s building the infrastructure to back itself up, you know, it’ll keep that coal around, I don’t think, you know, when they shut down a nuclear plant in Germany, they’ve vandalized that thing. It’s never coming back, they blow up the important stuff, they knock down the cooling towers, etc. When they decommission a coal plant, I’ll be quite honest and certain with you that they’re going to be mothballing that thing very gently, because they’re probably going to call it again. And so we’ve seen this. So far, just even before the cold of winter gas has been so expensive that even with really high carbon taxes, it makes more sense to burn coal and just pay the tax. And there’s countries that can do it that can use up all of these famous carbon offset trades for the entire year, because they got the money and Germany has it. But in on the on that renewables friend, it’s just come to a point with me where I will no longer kiss the ring of renewables. You know, there’s there’s a temptation to sort of go easy in so much of the journalism you hear well, you know, even with skeptics, you know, they’ll say, Well, you know, we’re not there yet, or, you know, we don’t have the technology yet. I was asked the question and some of the media coverage I’ve gotten since this Canadian intervention, a question about nuclear waste. And I said, you know, there’s some interesting storage questions out in the world. The question nuclear waste has been studied very carefully. We have excellent engineers looking at it. That’s not a it’s not a mystery. You know, how to store nuclear waste. What is a mystery is how to store grid scale, wind and solar based electricity and fill in intermittency. If you want to worry about storage, that is the thing to worry about. Because that is I mean, I think for you and I who have a sense of scales involved. We have a pretty clear opinion on that. But I think it’s really time that that folks Stop kissing the ring. Because this is a form of energy, which is is just, it’s harmful, again to workers, the environment and ultimately to the climate. You’re mentioning, you know, making ourselves dependent on weather dependent sources. I mean, the west of my country in British Columbia has just been wiped out by what’s called an atmospheric river, historic rainfalls and floods that have knocked out highways, the city of Vancouver is cut off, we get most of our, I mean, our Asia Pacific trade lands in Vancouver in Canada, I mean, 99% of our population lives within 100 kilometers of US border, we have a little railroad that brings everything across. This is this is devastating. But you know, we’re talking a lot about connecting renewables projects with high voltage DC lines, a bunch of those came down as well on these floods, it’s It’s insanity if our world is getting more unstable, and you know, we’re gonna have more and more natural disasters and, and floods and things like that. It’s it’s, we need to be thinking with a mind if making really robust infrastructure. If we want people to get through this and minimize casualties as a result of these increasingly extreme events,
Robert Bryce 51:15
I like the way you put that, Chris, and I’m in total agreement, this loss on the understandings of the needs for resilience. Yeah, that and and what’s become clear here in ERCOT, in Texas, is that the the Blackstar units that were going to be needed if the grid had actually failed, many of them were weren’t even able to do that job. And so yeah, this the failure of the grid and went and the ability for resilient societies my friend Tom, papa, papa IK is involved in these issues. It is it is should be of paramount importance. But coming after being in Washington for a couple of days, it doesn’t just doesn’t appear, you know, this week just doesn’t appear to be a high priority that oh, you know, and one of the Democratic senators popped out, you know, posted this, you know, chart of levelized cost of energy and all their nuclear so expensive. And, you know, there was no question attached to it. He’s just, you know, making this argument. Well, okay. Yeah. But you’re not counting on the resilience and reliability of the system. Are you so? Well, so? Tell me, let’s back up for a second, Chris, because we’ve been almost talking for almost an hour. So you’ve been expanding the podcast, expanding your ambition for what you’re doing? And I think it’s great. What’s your what’s your goal? Then we’ve said, Now, decouple studio studios, what is the new name? Your what’s what’s the goal? What’s the endgame here for you?
Chris Keefer 52:30
I mean, you know, fundamentally, this whole journey is about satisfying my curiosity. I’m an endlessly curious person. And I, you know, I used to hunt. And I really feel like I’m hunting for the truth. You know, and I’m learning from some of the best people out there and shaping shaping my opinions as a result. And that’s, that’s kind of the fundamental curiosity that drives it. Obviously, I’ve formed some opinions Now, throughout this process. And I do want to create resources that are useful within the advocacy community, the energy nuclear advocacy community. And I mean, these are heterodox ideas. And there’s decades and decades of misinformation that needs to be reversed. There’s a really exciting ecosystem that’s growing right from you know, folks like Isabel Ben McKee on Tik Tok, making content which is largely consumed by girls between the ages of 12 and 26. It’s about 80% of our audience of millions on tick tock that are opening people’s minds making them think a little bit of energy, making them reevaluate nuclear. My podcast is on, you know, a far end of the end of another extreme, it’s, you know, long form 60 minute interviews, it’s pretty wonky, we don’t define all the terms. So we’re trying to create some content that’s in that mushy middle, that can onboard people and get them thinking about the issues. And so, you know, our first episode is looking at, you know, a big reason we’re failing on our climate goals is looking at that question of premature nuclear plant closures, India point, Indian Point, and the hypocrisy of the environmental movement. And the second one we just produced a cop again, was that that tour of Africa looking at energy poverty, and whether that can be considered a climate solution. And, you know, the the German pavilion was the site of some very interesting events. One was the launching of a campaign for a nuclear free EU green taxonomy. But the other was, and this was interesting, because we had this South African woman, sort of the star of Episode Two of the couple studios. And they were announcing a cooperation agreement with South Africa to replace their coal with renewables. And she took quite a bit of offense to that to this idea that, you know, this this rich country that’s predominantly using coal for its grid is going to lecture her country and destabilize and fragile eyes, their grid, you know, and in talking with Africans, I mean, South Africa in terms of where their grid network is set up. The surrounding countries really rely on South Africa, it’s a much more developed country. So if their grid starts crashing more, and they already do a lot of load shedding that has impacts far beyond South Africa. So You know, we’re looking to explore a lot of issues in a more nuanced way in a more you know, entertaining video format, which hopefully will then hook people in and move them on towards towards the podcast. It’s just kind of fun to now call ourselves you know, decouple media and have a few different kind of enterprises under that it’s a bit of a bit of bluffing but you know, you got to fake it till you make it.
Robert Bryce 55:20
So and that content that people can find on YouTube under on decouple Studios is that the is that where they’ll find it on you just
Chris Keefer 55:26
just the decouple channel on YouTube, the DICOM on YouTube, and eventually, we’ll fight the power and get our ability to advertise and hopefully grow that distribution, we put a lot of it up on Twitter as well, like we’ll cut a a two minute 19 second trailer for it, and then direct people to YouTube from from there, but we’re working on other distribution platforms.
Robert Bryce 55:46
Right. Got it. So I’m just curious now you’ve been at the podcast, we’ve started really somewhere around the same time, what have you learned in doing this?
Chris Keefer 55:56
Oh, my goodness, where to start? Where to start? Yeah, we’re just shy of 100 episodes and 100,000 downloads that should be happening kind of within the next two weeks or so. I mean, I think I think part of it is just to always be thinking about where I’m at on the Dunning Kruger curve. Because it’s easy to
Unknown Speaker 56:13
on the wet curve.
Chris Keefer 56:13
I’m sorry, that the Dunning Kruger curve. What is that? I don’t know what that is. So I mean, it’s this idea that I think it was based on a study of college students, but your idea about your sense of how much, you know, has a lot to do with sort of how much you know about a topic. So at the very beginning, you know, you realize you don’t know anything, and then you studied a little bit, and it’s very easy to overestimate what you know about that topic and become overly confident, right? And there’s a kind of there’s a hill and then a plateau afterwards. And with true expertise, you start to have a more accurate understanding of, of your everyday sense of mastery of a subject you don’t know. So there’s, there’s a danger. I mean, I’m an emergency medic medicine doctor, I get to speak with, you know, some of the smartest people in the world on my podcast. And that’s, that’s a real joy. But, you know, I guess just trying to always be humble always have a beginner’s mind. And always, I guess, make that assumption shit. Maybe I’m at this part of the Dunning Kruger curve, and I need to reevaluate my positions. Because hey, I mean, we’re human beings, it’s easy to form opinions, but I think it’s, it’s important to be flexible in those. And so, you know, I’ve taken and developed certain editorial lines been very influenced by my guests. I am trying I think, to also include some heterodox opinions that conflict with mine and entertain a bit of cognitive dissonance. I did have the head of the indigenous Climate Action Network I did an interview with with her at COP, you know, not someone I agree with on much, but I thought an important voice her family, they were displaced from their trap line, apparently by one of the big uranium mines. So I felt it was important to have that voice on and I’m just looking forward to, to staying fresh and keeping that beginner’s mind and just ultimately, you know, continuing to have fun with us.
Robert Bryce 57:54
Sure. Well, that rhymes with kind of, what’s my hurdle for I guess? Do I think they’re interesting? That’s really not only you know, do I wait, am I gonna learn something here? Do I think they’re interesting that that’s it, then that’s it. That’s it. That’s fine. We’ll have you on the podcast. Okay. So you know, my last two questions, I’ll pose them to you again. We were on the on the podcast several months ago. So what are you reading now? What’s, what’s the latest thing on your bookshelf?
Chris Keefer 58:18
Yeah, so I was on a plane. So I did actually forced myself to read. I’m reading a book by Mark P. Mills, called the cloud. It’s got a long subtitle that about unleashing the kind of roaring 20s of the 21st century. And it’s a it’s a very interesting book, I tend to shy away from sort of futurology books, but the information system is not something I know a lot about. So it’s it’s a pretty fascinating read. And I think, yeah, very interesting history of technology, that kind of cycles that lead to the discovery, you know, the first prototypes and the spread of technologies. Anyway, it’s a great book. I’m enjoying that a lot. And your second question is probably gonna be about hope. Isn’t that right? Yeah. I listened to a lot of your podcasts. Yeah.
Robert Bryce 59:04
And I guess, you know, what, and how is that? And has that changed? Or has it changed after being in Glasgow and Berlin?
Chris Keefer 59:09
Right? I mean, when you answer a question about hope, with a sigh, I mean, that’s a little bit telling. You know, I’m possibly going to be working on a project that’s directed towards youth, looking at kind of like a, like a career advice book for people that are concerned about climate. And it’s going to have a real focus on this idea of, you know, empowerment, you know, getting educated, go ahead and have a strike on Friday, but for God’s sakes, hit the books on Saturday, because we’re gonna need people you know, we’re seeing, like NBC or whatever, we’re gonna like, we’re locked into two or three degrees, there’s going to be big challenges with that. We’re going to need some really smart and skilled people in order to meet those. So I think what gives me hope is this idea of the youth becoming inspired and educated and empowered instead of kind of cowering and climate anxiety.
Robert Bryce 59:58
I like that. Yeah. I think we have plenty of other anxiety to go around and we don’t necessarily need to add that climate anxiety to it. Well, Chris, that’s been great. It’s been we’ve been chatting for about an hour so I’ll let you go to your your next next meeting. But my guest has been Dr. Chris Kiefer. He’s the director of He’s the director of doctors for nuclear energy you can find that doctors for nuclear energy.org or the deep decouple podcast.org or on YouTube decouple channel if I got them all there yet
Chris Keefer 1:00:27
Great. Yeah, that’s that’s most of them. But yeah, man, you’re very generous.
Robert Bryce 1:00:31
Many, many hats in many, many channels. Well, Chris, thanks a million for being on the podcast. I sure appreciate it and do all of you out in podcast land. Tune in for the next episode of the power hungry podcast. Until then, see you