Zion Lights, formerly a communications director for Extinction Rebellion, has become one of Britain’s highest-profile advocates for nuclear energy. In this episode, Robert talks to Lights about apocalyptic environmentalism, the threats that wind energy poses to bats and birds, the parallels between the marketing efforts used by tobacco companies and renewable promoters, and why the nuclear industry “needs rebranding.”
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, and welcome to the power hungry podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. On this podcast we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And my guest today is Zeon lights. She is an author in the UK and an environmental activist and welcome Zeon Welcome to the power hungry podcast.
Zion Lights 0:23
I, thanks for having me on.
Robert Bryce 0:25
Sure. So you’ve done a lot recently, and we were just before we started talking, you’ve been on the move. So I like to ask her I always asked, ask my guests to introduce themselves. So imagine you just arrived at a dinner party, you don’t know anyone there and you have, say 30 or 45 seconds to introduce yourself, go.
Zion Lights 0:49
Last year, I was director of environmental progress. I left that position at the end of November and have now co founded a group called nucleophilic. Zero. We’re a grassroots environmental group is based on based on evidence based action. And we have taken a few actions around the UK a little bit limited now because of the pandemic. But we have lots of exciting things in the door.
Robert Bryce 1:13
Good. Okay. Well, that was nice and brief. Thank you. You’re also a mom, right? You have two, two kids? What are their names? How old are they?
Zion Lights 1:21
They even are when they’re seven and nine, quite young. And at the moment the school closed here because of lockdown. So I’m teaching them in the day have set work four hours a day, and then working evenings.
Robert Bryce 1:35
It is much Yes, I know. Everyone is a homeschooler these days. So one of the things one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is that you’ve had a very interesting last few years. Is that fair? It’s been rather exciting. You were a spokesperson for extinction rebellion. And then you had a change of heart. Is that a change of mind and talk about your experience at extinction rebellion and why you left that group because that and then maybe it would be best for you to introduce extinction rebellion, because I think some of my listeners might not be familiar with their their worldview.
Zion Lights 2:15
So extinction rebellion is auto grassroots movement. It was founded here in Britain, and has sort of across the world, it’s only, I think, years old now. So it’s not been around long, but has affected massive changes in this country. I think taking direct action, very specifically breaking the law, causing the disruption to the government to declare a climate emergency, which a lot of local councils have. And to get net zero, you know, net zero date put in place, which our government has done is 2050 although all different political parties have different years ranging between 2030 and 2050. Both they’ve massively helped shift the dialogue around climate action, and also kind of put to bed a lot of climate denial that was flying around for a long time before that, and they did very much within the first year I think is massive, you know, invigoration, of of talking about really important issues, which were just normal. And I think most people forget that a few years ago, and I don’t forget, because I was talking about climate change a few years ago, or wanting to hear it, and it was actually very difficult to have a conversation and you’d start talking about climate change at all. No, I think it’s something to do with the sun actually, you know, I think it’s not real and now, over here, at least, that doesn’t happen. You know, they probably a good summary.
Robert Bryce 3:39
Okay, so you I watched the 2019 interview you did on the BBC, which is now fairly famous, and I would I would venture maybe a pivotal, pivotal media experience for you. You’re interviewed by Andrew Neil, and you were asked to defend some of the statements that have been made by people at extinction rebellion, and I can see you squirming really in your seat and I’m not being rude here. I think that’s Is that a fair assessment of how your how you are trying to respond to Andrew Neal’s questioning.
Zion Lights 4:14
I was one of the most vocal voices in extinction rebellion. When it came to evidence based information, I was one of the most vocal voices so alongside he died in protests for xR the scientists for the group of scientists intellectual Ballina called, who would kind of fact checks, you know, what spokespeople are saying what the official literature said. And I was in those groups, and I was very vocal and had called out ridiculous claim, frankly, you know, ridiculous claim about what will happen because of climate change. And so, what people didn’t know interview was that I had spent six weeks all Getting over the exact thing an engineer asked me about the first thing that he asked me about, which was about 6 billion people dying. By the end of the century, I had called it out and called out I had started in hours of meetings. Basically, there was a whole collection of us in xR who said, Look, we need to just own we didn’t I said this, the person should have said this is a rogue statement. The evidence says it’s 40. Then the problem was there was a whole other faction of people who said no, if done by vessel, we have to stand by this figure, we can cite some scientists who might now support it, you know, he’ll go on record supporting it. And I said, That’s not how science works. And it went, honestly, it just went round and round, it actually became just, I just got fed up with it and said, Fine, we’re just going to never talk about it again. The fact that I sat down after being briefed on all the different topics, and I sat down, and that was the first thing that was said to me. I did scrim because I didn’t know what to say. Because as an as, as someone who leaves in following what, what it tells us what the most up to date, information is on any issue. I couldn’t fit it and say, yes, that figures correct, right. And he really hammered home on that 6 billion, he just kept asking about it. But I also as a spokes, folks better fix each rebellion didn’t say, we don’t stand by the figure,
Robert Bryce 6:24
the court, you know, really awkward. You couldn’t repudiate them, because you’re working with them. And so you couldn’t do it there. I
Zion Lights 6:31
mean, I could have, but I wouldn’t have been a good spokesperson. And I was trying to tread that line. And I was the last time I you know, I quit after that, because I just thought, I can’t represent this organization publicly anymore. While they stand by figures like that. And I wasn’t the only one went over that. And since then they’ve put a statement on their website saying they still support the figure. So you know, it was it would always have come to the natural party. And I think that’s a shame because one of the reasons I joined extinction rebellion in the beginning, is because they talk so much about data, they talk about the IPCC report. You know, I kind of made me think, well, a green group doing something a little bit different, might be a space for me, I was kind of joined and catapulted straight into the spokesperson role. But yeah, it culminated in that moment, exact question that I couldn’t answer. So
Robert Bryce 7:24
every, we talked before we started recording that the conversion stories are popular, right. You know, Paul, in the Bible, right becomes the great evangelist for Christianity. And you’ve had a conversion experience as well. Is that fair? I mean, to anti nuclear to pro nuclear? Is that error? Is it What? How would you describe your own? Is that right? Is that? Were you Are you a convert? Now? I mean, how do you describe your transition in thinking,
Zion Lights 7:54
you write a lot that story, the media has a heyday with that story? truth is that I can predict from quite a long time. And I actually left the Green Party to be a member of the Green Party here. And I actually left over the nuclear issue. And at that point, that was my eight years ago, I wasn’t at that point, matter, repro nuclear, but I thought we should be asking questions about it. And what I found was that anytime I asked a question, I was shut down. And I was told no, we don’t talk about that. We don’t need nuclear. And I didn’t feel that it was right. And I left quick, the Green Party as well. And then moved in and out of different environmental groups for years, you know, for years, and Eric to action and kind of rested for direct action, you know, when I was quite young, because I was concerned about climate change and didn’t know what to do about it. And because
Robert Bryce 8:41
if you don’t, if you don’t mind, so as you say that it’s like, well, as I’m what I’m hearing you say is that you were climate activists without a group that you could call home. I mean, is that Yeah,
Zion Lights 8:54
exactly, exactly. I just didn’t fit. I just didn’t fit in anywhere. And I left several of those groups. And then for a while, I kind of went solo when I wrote my book, and I was just doing a lot of cool public speaking. And extinction rebellion came along, and I couldn’t get involved right away. I kind of sat back and watched and thought, what are they actually doing? Is it positive? Is it helpful? And they’ve dominated the news, you know, by shutting road. I mean, I was there. We were
Robert Bryce 9:21
close several public disobedience. I mean, this harks back to Earth first actions back in
Zion Lights 9:26
Yeah, I used to be member as well, but they close. So we closed several large areas of London and I was there on the first day Waterloo Bridge, I helped to take the bridge to help to hold the bridge. But what I found really good at that point, I have to say is when you know, they’d have me interviews would talk about the science, and they would talk about the need for action. And I don’t really know what happened, where that got lost or why it changed. But in the beginning, it was very positive and there was a lot of promise and I think that they did a really good thing and I’m glad that I was part of it.
Robert Bryce 10:00
So you don’t describe yourself as a convert, I guess what you’re saying is that you’re thinking about nuclear evolved over time, which I think is perfectly fair. I
Zion Lights 10:08
mean, actually, so, engineer thing is important there, because he asked me a question. So this never gets remembered or picked up on. If you rewatch it, if you re watch it, he asked me constantly, how are we going to get to net zero by 2025? Now, this is extinction, rebellion, second demand, right? I’ve advocated for this. And he says, How are we going to get through this when we need to use this much gas, and he had numbers on a little sheet for him, and he read them out to me. And he said, this is how much gas will be deprived of how are we going to function and I sat there knowing, knowing that I wanted to say, we need nuclear and knowing that I couldn’t say it. And that again, it was just cope. I know what the solution is, I’ve looked at the numbers, I know how we can achieve this. I cannot say we need to build more nuclear power station. So he just kept pummeling this guessing. And all right, I could have said renewables right extinction running probably would have supported that they have a pro renewables group with an extinction rebellion. I didn’t want to say that I wanted to say the nuclear thing, because actually, we’re already rolling out renewables, but they’ll only go so far, you know, we need a slice of fission, you know, reliable energy, that’s nuclear, and I and I couldn’t say it.
Robert Bryce 11:16
Well, so that’s interesting, because now you’re again, talking with z on lights, z on lights. She is an author, an environmental activist, she’s on twitter at Zeon trees, the IO, n t, r e, and you’re now affiliated with nuclear for net zero.org with Mark Linus. So, but I want to just finish that one point, because you just mentioned it that, that on extinction rebellions website, they say life, as we know, it is about to collapse. And one of their demands is reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. I have to ask the question, I mean, isn’t that a recipe for for poverty and disaster, frankly, I mean, in four years to quit using all hydrocarbons? I mean, this would be I mean, it would be a ruinous event, wouldn’t it for people all over the world, people would starve to death? I mean, is there been unemployment? I mean, it’d be a massive dislocation, would it not?
Zion Lights 12:13
Well, what we would do next is rebellion is that the aim of 2025 was to shift ILOG away from you have to remember at the time, and we weren’t, you know, having these interviews and doing these actions was no was no confidence zero and place was not using that terminology. You know, grettir wasn’t even using that terminology. At that point, we were there saying, we have to have a commitment. And we’re just going to pick basically, I mean, I didn’t pick the plate, but basically an early it was picked because they were trying to force a conversation. And it worked. Right. So even though governments come up with 2050, that’s what that target is. that exists, because you kind of did what you what activists would call shift the Overton Window using kind of extreme en, you know, I haven’t spoken to anyone in X, I really think we can do 2025. You know, there’s not, that’s not what it’s about. It’s, it’s more just saying, as soon as possible, it doesn’t sound as good thing. We want it done as soon as possible, we’re going to put a date on it, and then we’re going to let you go away work out an actual date. And then we’re going to keep pushing Friday, because we’re going to say your date actually still might not, you know, because you’re leaving it to future governments. We want to see action now.
Robert Bryce 13:32
I’m sorry, shifting the Overton window, I don’t know what that means. What does. I’m just a civilian, I don’t know, I you know,
Zion Lights 13:40
so it’s just it’s taking an idea, it’s taking an idea. And when you present an extreme of an idea, you can help to shift the dialogue away from where it is.
Unknown Speaker 13:54
Robert Bryce 13:55
your end, toward your toward your
Zion Lights 13:57
Yeah, but it’s not that you get to your end, but you just shift you just shift it across. So we did this with with climate change, because there was a lot of denial. And it was actually quite normal for people to just say that it’s not happening. It’s not real. You know, even on UBC we’re supposed to be very, you know, fair, fair. equal, equal sound issues, supposed to have these values. We’d have other scientists talk about climate change, and then denier. And so we went in, there’s a lot of stuff that we did behind the scenes that people don’t necessarily know about, and we had meetings with, with people right at the top of the BBC, and you wouldn’t have a heart surgeon and then someone who says you don’t have a heart, right? You just wouldn’t, and you wouldn’t have a vaccinator. But no, you wouldn’t have someone who develops vaccines in a lab right? Then or an immunologist, or whatever for like for ologists. You wouldn’t have that expert and then have someone who’s anti vaccine, you just wouldn’t have it and we help dishes by saying look, and after actually after that, he changed their policy to say that they would try and look at just The evidence base. And maybe there might be evidence based arguments in some of those areas where you can get someone on the other side. But that’s the way we shifted the Overton Window away from where it was acceptable have those views in the mainstream somewhere where, you know, you’re just a bit ridiculous and kooky. Now, if you have to use if you think the sun’s just causing climate change, then you know, you don’t get the airtime anymore, whereas it used to be up to dominate the space. And this is exactly what needs to happen with nuclear.
Robert Bryce 15:29
So the Overton window, I don’t know, what is it? That’s a term of art and communications? I’ve never heard it before.
Unknown Speaker 15:36
Unknown Speaker 15:39
where it comes from?
Robert Bryce 15:40
Okay, well, let’s, let’s move on. But that was one of the things that I’m really interested in, you talked about the this 2025 idea that we can suddenly, I mean, effectively change the entire society in four years, which, in my view is is far fetched? I’ll say it politely. But the worldview to me that’s interesting. And it’s and one of the issues I really want to talk about with you is this tribalism and the tribalism around what I would call the catastrophists in terms of that there’s Doom is just around the corner. And that seems to be the that was the UN is looking at extinction rebellions website. That’s their worldview that we’re destined to just have, we’re gonna build life as we know, it is about to collapse. So my question is, why is this? Why is this apocalyptic vision so attractive? Why is Doom so attractive?
Zion Lights 16:33
I think it’s become the more feminine narrative. And it used to be
Robert Bryce 16:39
the What the What more narrative,
Zion Lights 16:40
dominant narrative, dominant narrative and extinct rebellion. And I think that actually was a more of a range of use in the beginning. And the 2025 thing is actually quite hopeful. You know, I like talking about it, because I know what you’re saying, like, How on earth would that happen? for humanity, when it works together can achieve incredible things. Right? We we a person on the moon, you know, look, look at recreated the ISS by working the International Space Station by working with other nations that created manufacture the parts independently in their countries, right, fight them off into space, using math so that they land in the same space and send astronauts up to assembly and our people live on it. I mean, that’s a crazy idea, right? Someone told you that idea. What would you say? The crazy idea, that’s never gonna happen?
Robert Bryce 17:26
Well, fair enough. But I, I need to argue that point just well, because, yeah, I get it. But we’re putting a handful of people on the International Space Station, we put two on the moon and they only stay for a few minutes and came back. We’re talking about changing the entire society in which we’re using 270 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. I mean, just 100. When you
Zion Lights 17:48
say that you’re talking about energy, right? And I’m talking about, I’m talking about technological innovation, is done using incredible energy, right? How do we get these rockets up for us atomic energy? Actually, why are we using that? Why are we in a space age civilization using coal? Why aren’t we using products hit? Let’s Let’s think of the app. Let’s look at the actual problem here. Right? The kind of ideal idealistic where we could look at where we’re at, we can send people to the moon, we do have that technology improving all the time, this appearance is landing on Mars in a few days, right? It’s a rover, it’s going to go into this is incredible, it’s using nuclear energy. Okay. At the same time we use fossil fuels to pollute the air because it’s mass deaths from air pollution, people who live by these coal plants. For the horrific off issues, you know, I don’t need to make huge arguments for this. We know this, we know this. This isn’t even looking at it from from the process of extraction and mining. We’re and and now also contributing to the problem that we have with climate change is changing our entire climate has been seen for billions of years, actually, that’s really bizarre and ridiculous. And that’s, let’s be honest, it’s no different than what happened on Easter Island, right? The resources, they saw what was happening, they work together and go right, we need to work out how we’re going to survive. They then put all their energy into creating these giant monuments. We have survived, which people people love to go and visit, but that’s what they actually did. And actually in order to create those monuments, they had to go and forests a load more land during a time of drought led to their dummies, you know, the the wars that they had when they run out of resources, or what if you read about them? Would they would kill each other and then eat each other. So it turned Cameron what a desperate, awful situation because they didn’t have that foresight. Actually, you know, we have more than they had we have technological ability. No one has had before we were incredibly advanced in many ways.
Robert Bryce 19:49
Sure. And I don’t I can’t argue with those but to bring it from Easter Island back to Texas or to Britain. Yeah, there’s definitely a downside to hydrocarbons. But the argument that Oh, they’re only bringing problems, I think is simply not true. I mean, this is these are the basis foundation of our society and everything.
Unknown Speaker 20:09
I’m not saying that they only
Robert Bryce 20:09
bring new problems. I’m just saying that I just think that that idea that we’re suddenly going to pivot. And yes, we have the technology, but that these technological shifts, particularly when it comes to energy and power take a long time. But anyway, that I don’t want to necessarily argue it. But I think because I think the broader is the more interesting thing to me is this, this apocalyptic vision, right, that that if that it overlaps with religious belief, which to me, I think I find this really interesting, right? That there’s we’ve sinned, right? It’s very similar to Christianity, and that idea that we need to repent, right, and that, that’s when I read the the XR stuff, I thought, Ah, this is very similar to what you’d hear in church, right? You’ve been bad, then you’re gonna go to hell, and you’re gonna burn because of it. And now you have to repent, and we have to change everything and effectively go back in time, because that’s a lot of what I see or hear from a lot of the climate activists is Oh, we need to use less, be less, do less, because we’ve sinned. Is that, am I miss reading? How do you you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. How do you see that overlap of Christianity and are the Christian ideas about sin and salvation with climate?
Zion Lights 21:21
I am going to respond to that I have to say, Can and Russia have just put reactors in just three years, it can be done, it can be done this if that had been done here. 15 years ago, when we had the technology, we wouldn’t even be in this position. We wouldn’t need a net zero day. It’s not impossible. That’s cultish to call this I get asked this all the time. Is it a cult? The coach site extinction rebellion? I think, sadly, it exists in a lot of groups, a lot of green groups, I don’t know, outside of those groups of dot, you know, these are the spaces have spent many years in office,
Robert Bryce 21:57
for example, but But to be clear, you’re saying this exists that apocalyptic vision, I just want to make sure what it is.
Zion Lights 22:03
I’m talking about. I’m talking about the cultish, nature cultish kind of tribal insular looking so so when I wrote my book on green parenting, it’s an evidence based book, right. And I wanted to write it because there was nothing out there at the time, or people who wanted an evidence based. Look at look at the issue. So I was looking at parenting books myself, and honestly, they’re just full of so much Woo, so much, you decided you wouldn’t believe it. And I read all kinds of stuff was anti vaccine. And I’d go Whoa, that is actually a problem because all of my friends are reading this and they’re believing it. Why wrote a book that had a chapter on vaccines that just explained the science behind vaccines, you wouldn’t believe even me being in the nuclear space is not it’s not new to me to be called a shill and get your tax because I’ve had it. I wrote that book, and I was called The Big Pharma shield and I was, who’s paying you? And I had all of that. And it’s not that for me, and that was kind of clean parenting community. Has this spirit see kind of No, we’re looking after our kids better, because we’re not vaccinating them. It’s weirdly cultish there as well. And I think this is why I never fit in in these spaces is because I just a part of it ever appealed to me, the kind of religious side, it does become a religious side, because you can’t shift your belief when presented with endless reams of evidence, strong body of evidence, you know, shows that you’re wrong, if you really can’t shift it, because you’d rather you could try Pappy, you know. And I think that’s a natural evolutionary thing, right? That’s a natural thing that we used to have a real advantage. You know, you don’t want to get kicked out your tribe. I’m just a little bit different where I don’t, you know, I do end up leaving the tribe. I do say things that upset the tribe. And they did this in extinction rebellion. As I say, I argued about things all the time. And no one’s gonna deny that in that group, I was not a quiet, going along with everything type person, I record a lot of feathers. And when it got to a point where I felt I couldn’t actually do much change to it, and I couldn’t be that helpful. And I stepped away,
Robert Bryce 24:01
reminds me pops into well, Groucho Marx, his greatest line was, I wouldn’t want to join any club that would have me. I agree with you about the cultish aspect of it that there is this that were chosen, and we’re going to save the others because they’re not they don’t know. And we’re going to we’re on a mission, right that there are many out there. There are several aspects of that that are overlapping with I, that you can look up how cults or how cults flourish, then their characteristics. But anyway, let’s let’s move on. In October, you published a piece in the Daily Mail in which you called out Boris Johnson on the office on his ideas about wind energy. The first I just found it was interesting that Boris, who, in my view from here in the US, I look at him he’s kind of a Trump like guy, I mean, in certain ways, right? Very much the populist, he seems like a very unlikely person to be embracing the climate Issue why why do you think that was? What what it was? Was he just seemed as good politics? Why is Boris Why did Boris Johnson have a change of heart? Why Why? Why did he jumped to the head of the parade on this?
Zion Lights 25:11
I didn’t know that he was ever against action on climate. And he actually, when he was a mayor of London, he was quite moderate in a lot of his views. I think he changed a lot of things in order to get more votes and to become the leader. And we have had leaders now of this party. I don’t know how much you follow politics. He’s a leader. And no, it’s showing leadership to be he’ll be remembered as taking leadership on this issue that over here, I realize it’s different different countries over here, there really is a strong feeling of we need action on this now, you know, that the polls consistently show that people across the board, young and old, are concerned about climate change. And they’re concerned about the future, even though obviously, you know, actually, we probably have everyone in the world. That, you know, for the least right we have, we have lots of our disposal that other countries don’t have written many countries are already facing kind of weather extremes and, you know, more prolonged out or issues that might not ever seen, you know, obviously, as I realized that since you’ve been in the same, we’re going to see them in our lifetime. And it’s something that I was involved in having those discussions, a lot inextinguishable. And we had this discussion a lot about what the sides actually say, and, you know, you can go back and forth on it, you can go back and forth on it, constantly saying, this is about me, that’s a model. But at the end of the day, we do know, at some point, it’s going to get worse. So why don’t we fix it now? And that’s very, it’s just very accepted here now.
Robert Bryce 26:45
Gotcha. But your issue really was what his point about 40 gigawatts of wind and that he you know, he made a statement about you’ll be able to run your tea kettle and everything on wind and you know, guilt and so on. But But your will ask you to explain it. What What was your what were your key objections to his putting wind in as the solution.
Zion Lights 27:06
But first of all, it was just spilled. So he was aiming that it would power a lot more than it would I currently what it was now something like
Robert Bryce 27:14
I can’t remember the numbers. 40 gigawatts was his number, right.
Zion Lights 27:18
But he so but so the spiel he put on it when he interviews in his talks with all about it, as many homes as this many homes. And when you actually crunched the numbers, it was nowhere near so it’s just not as much of it. You know, he made it sound who so he’s doing that the same time? I mean, it’s great, right? It’s great to have climate initiatives, and people want winning at the moment. I mean, right actually been is controversial. In some communities, people want it, but they don’t want it near them. Let’s say that a lot of conservationists don’t want it because of the impact. So there’s lots of stuff. So I don’t want to generalize too much. There’s lots of stuff going on. But generally people don’t like the idea of wind.
Robert Bryce 27:56
Yeah, they don’t want it in their neighborhood.
Zion Lights 27:58
Yeah. So they’re happy to see some climate action, right. And this happy to see some time action. It’s nothing really it’s just nothing. And that the problem is that at the same time, I’ve been kind of waiting to Bruce Johnson I open letter to him that had about 150 sign designer, and we need to get size whaleboat. Right. There’s a lot of our old nuclear reactors are shutting down like 14 of the 15. They’re showing that they’re just oh, we need the new tech lead. And you know, it takes time, right, we need to stop building it now. And he just hasn’t, he just doesn’t sign off on it. He says openly that he’s nuclear, yep, all good. And then if money doesn’t come through, the store gets signed off. And things just end up taking even longer and even longer. I don’t really know what’s happening there. It’s just kind of author I’m doing it but I won’t actually upset anyone by doing it. I don’t know. But in the meantime, all these people are waiting ready to go in these jobs. All these engineers ready to go right? You know, it’s ready, all the plans are in place. Let’s let’s make it because that’s actually if we make if we build size, we’ll see that we’ll just replace what we’re losing. It’s not even going to help us it’s not helping with attrition with climate it’s just gonna replace was otherwise amount that we’re losing is going to be replaced by fossil fuels. Sometimes when windy, the wind, it’s not always windy. I know that sounds really ridiculous. And you couldn’t believe how you’ve explained this to you but I literally say to him, you don’t have to believe me? Check energy, electricity, map, electricity macro, go and check it any day. Sometimes when does 15 60% That’s great. Sometimes it’s zero or 1% Thermal is often 0% and you know, look at it just numbers. You can have a look where does the energy then come from? It comes from more coal. We still use coal because from us we mostly use guarantees about 60% us
Unknown Speaker 29:42
Zion Lights 29:43
so we can build more of it but that’s that’s not the solution there’s a tiny part of a much bigger problem of a bigger problems.
Robert Bryce 29:50
So you beat me to the punch on sighs well see because I was gonna ask you to give an update on it but your update it sounds like is that it’s stuck is that is that what you
Zion Lights 29:58
stuck and it’s the problem. You As well, they’ve been stuck for years. So nothing’s nothing’s happening is moving, it’s just not getting off the ground. And we also had another site, which was wilfer in Wales, and actually people in that community, really, it’s the opposite to anybody in the community. I’ve spoken to people in that community, and they really want wilfer, they really want a nuclear power station there, because it’s a very deprived area. There’s no jobs, there’s nothing and they’re offering jobs apprenticeships, families know that the kids won’t have to move away from this area of Wales, because it will bring money to the area Plus, you know, stuff will be done given into the area to help accommodate islands, the fact that they build it, and what happened is, he didn’t sign off on it. And it went on and on and on. And the company that I’d invested in actually pulled out because they’d already put millions into it, fee and into it, and the government hadn’t signed off, they called out. And I spoke with Hitachi. And I spoke to them, I spoke to them, because I just wanted to know what happened. I it was in the news, and I wasn’t really getting the story. And I just managed to find a contact. So can you just tell me what happened? And he said, You know, I just gotta tell you off the record, I’m gonna tell you, UK is not a friendly place for nuclear. Like it’s just not, it’s not worth it for us investors, potential is going bankrupt. Because this project is not going to get off the ground. And it’s taken so long. And now lots of other people are sizing of that site. But again, that’s going to take years, guys have the plans, they were ready to go a waste of time. Can we say we have a net zero? We’re in a climate emergency, and then say, well, we’re just gonna put a few wind farms over there. Nonsense.
Robert Bryce 31:34
It’s remarkable when I hear you saying this, that it sounds very similar, very similar to what I see here in the United States, which is a lot of lip service and a lot of subsidies. I mean, last minute budget bill that was put through Congress in December, included extensions for subsidies for wind and solar. A lot of politicians saying, oh, we’re supporting advanced nuclear, and Okay, I’m all for advanced nuclear, but those reactors are 10 1520 years away from deployment at scale. And meanwhile, we’re facing this shutdown of over five gigawatts of of existing nuclear now. And there is no effort, no effort at the federal level to prevent that from happening. So it’s just a remarkable disconnect. And it’s interesting that the politics that I hear you say about what’s going on in UK, some just like what’s happening here in the United States that there is no constituency either to it at the federal level in Washington to keep those the existing reactors open. And no understanding of well, you can say you want more wind, but that’s not going to solve the problem. And yet there’s this I don’t know is it isn’t so is it? Is it a collective delusion is an inability to do math when you don’t?
Zion Lights 32:45
You know, that’s what I was about to say is it’s it’s what it is, it’s a problem is that these people understand how numbers work the planet. That sounds ridiculous
Robert Bryce 32:56
because they the policymakers or the environmental groups have about who are you speaking
Zion Lights 33:00
to hardly anybody, hardly anybody if it MCI he understood go and have a look at his book crunch, the numbers, IPCC great numbers, nobody else looks at the numbers, it’s pulling numbers out of the sky, we want this number magic, just gonna appear out of magic. That’s not how it works. You have to add up what you have you have to what your needs are. And actually, actually, then, is that but there’s also we do understand the numbers and they lie, they lie about them, right. So there’s a report over here that everybody loves. That’s the report on how we get Britain 200% renewables. And that report requires a 60% reduction of personal energy use, though they have crunched the numbers, they do understand we’re not going to meet them. And even if they build all of this, oh, here, it’s not gonna be enough. They’re basically saying we need and I’m like, thing that we need to do that. Pretty is good. It’s true. I used to advocate for you to say, Oh, we should all just live with less, we should lower carbon footprints. It didn’t happen, right? It didn’t happen. No, no, no. of magical behavioral science, and a way to make that happen. So either we’re talking eco fascism, authoritarian rule, which obviously completely I’m completely against, or it’s just magic, we think, a magic magic, everybody’s gonna use 60% less energy. And it doesn’t even look intermittency. No hospitals need to keep running. Right? It doesn’t even consider that.
Robert Bryce 34:21
And that’s a critical point, because that’s the, I mean, the way I’ve thought about it is nobody ever gets elected by saying, I’m going to make you poor. Oh, you want to go to vacation on vacation? Well, I’m sorry. You can only go halfway to the place you wanted to go. Sorry. You know, oh, you can only use air conditioning half of the time in the summer. Well, it’s, you know, 40 degrees C and UK or 100 degrees here. We’ll know. I want to use it all the time. I don’t want but that as I okay, well, so the way I would put the question, so it’s widespread in numeracy. Is that the is that the problem?
Zion Lights 34:58
Yeah, absolutely. Completely,
Robert Bryce 35:01
and you use the word eco fascism. What does that mean to you in this case that your that there will be some central Politburo that’s going to tell you what you can do?
Zion Lights 35:09
Yeah, it could happen, right? It could happen. You could have you could have people coming and checking your meters and saying, How much are you using? Which energy using use too much? And you know, what would happen? Who really well off? Would You’re right, because they just need to get more credits or whatever. And the people who aren’t very well off, would just have to scale right back and live in cold houses. aren’t that different to fuel poverty issues? Now, to be honest, it’s a ridiculous, but the thing is, I’m not saying that it will happen. I’m saying that that is, is the end of that. That’s a logical kind of conclusion of that, right? We all have to reduce by 60%. How are you going to make that happen? unless it is an enforced rule? And I’ve heard people actually say, that’s what people need. And that creeps me out. And I don’t think it’s okay. as much on record. No,
Robert Bryce 36:00
let me follow up on that, because it’s something that I think is quite interesting as well is that there’s a very much a class issue involved here. And I see it with the, the philanthropy around some of the environmental groups here that, you know, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, they’re, you know, an unimaginably wealthy, and they’re giving all this money to environmental groups, and yet they have private jets, and they have five or six homes. And I mean, even john kerry has a private jet. It’s like, Are you the best guy to be carrying this message? I mean, because it’s doesn’t it seems to me that it’s not in touch with the reality of people’s lives about what they need and the vehicles they’ll buy or something. It Do you see a similar class issue in the UK emerging there, or am I imagining this
Zion Lights 36:43
there is a disparity. I think it might be more extreme in America. But we have things that we’re leveling, we have levelers, like, you know, NHS, everybody gets treatment, you know, everybody pays more in their taxis, you earn more you pay more in taxes, and then everybody gets basic treatment for basic, any health issue, you know, and you get treated equally you get you don’t, you can’t jump, do you kind of thing. So we have some levels, but there’s definitely that disparity as well. And be honest, I don’t think most people have a clue about how ordinary people live, like just ordinary people. And I say this for politicians and green groups. I don’t even think it’s a problem that it’s a problem of celebrities, or Jeff Bezos or whoever I think green and do is don’t have a clue. Like, for example, over here would be campaigning heavily, heavily against AI as well, right. They’re saying, Look, it’s near and he just reserved for the fact that it already had guys will be on it. All the reports found it didn’t hurt nature, right? Obviously in the construction phase a little bit. Never again, great. 4050 years, 60 years clean energy. Let you want to talk about what hurts nature. Let’s talk about wind farm. I’m not saying that to be anti wind because I instantly just get called unison to. Let’s look at actual research I’ve read the research about people she attracted to informs his recent research, they say they actually attacked and corrected, fire up to them and they buy new bat species become endangered because then they take up a lot of space. And there isn’t a lot of space in this country. We’re a small country with not a lot of land. We’re talking about land use all the time. We need to change the way we use land. We need to have less agriculture. We need to do more rewilding. Once all this magical land more onshore wind and solar, I mean, come from doesn’t the numbers not add up, they just add up. You can have a small compact site, like sizewell and you can have a few more of them and not wreak havoc on birds and nature and you know, land and access to land for people. You know, you don’t you can have that these NGOs lobby so heavily against it and they’re very powerful. They’re very powerful, but
Robert Bryce 38:51
they get the leading opponents to sighs well see named them then who are the
Zion Lights 38:54
main? Well, I mean, you know, remains the main thing group is the RSPB Royal Society for protection birds, which is actually you have also opposed when on their land, and they have also posed solar, so they’re not just being anti nuclear. But they have in the past allowed a glass plant on a patch of their and you can look that up. You can anyone can look it up. It was quite controversial at the time. They took money from this gas company to allow them onto a reserve. They weren’t allowed sizewell.
Robert Bryce 39:25
So there was Friends of the Earth also opposed. I mean, who are the
Zion Lights 39:28
friends on reactive here and they’re not not publicly? As far as I’m aware? They’re not in peace, obviously. Right. You know, Greenpeace, Greenpeace don’t have as much as a present terrorist in Germany and France. it do it do campaign. At the moment. It’s It’s already been campaigning heavily, heavily and it’s like the Royal
Robert Bryce 39:49
Society for the Protection of birds.
Unknown Speaker 39:51
Robert Bryce 39:53
Well, that isn’t it is odd. I didn’t know that because I’m a bird watcher. I’m very concerned I’ve written about the science on On on the mortality of birds and bats I’ve interviewed Oh, the Oh, he’s the founder of bat Conservation International, Merlin Tuttle about this and he’s talked about birds very slow, very low Ripa very long reproductive cycles. They they’re long lived, and they’re only flying mammals. And yeah, there is a particular problem in Hawaii and bad mortality from bird wind turbines far higher than than expected. So this is one of the aspects of the this climate movement that to me, I just leave me to use your British ism, gobsmacked that the environmental groups. They just excuse this wildlife impact is that well, climate change is really the issue we have to but I think Ben hertz says it well, which Wait a minute, we’re trying to protect the natural world. Why would we degrade the natural world at the time we say we’re trying to save it doesn’t make any sense. And that really
Unknown Speaker 40:51
Zion Lights 40:52
any, any, anything that we create will have some detrimental impact. Let’s be honest, anything you create any food plant, you’re going to have roads, you’re going to have concrete being shipped, if anything. So we my argument is we just use the most energy dense thing. The most high impact gives us the most energy in the least space. Across the board that’s nuclear, there’s no there’s so much research, I don’t think I need to write lots of stuff on it. You could you could just look it up. It’s where I have these conversations where I show them and I did this with the RSPB actually wrote a whole article about it about land use. I sent them the research and they just said, Oh, well, it’s too expensive. So they move the goalposts it’s not really about any of these issues. And that’s it’s very hard to have a conversation when they move goalposts because it’s just somebody being antinuclear, they’ll just open up and then it will eventually get to Oh, it’s way strict radiation, you just go. You guys actually you guys have a few of this climate crisis, right? You guys a few did. I and and all the time that’s going on over here, which is massive, like we’re losing species at ridiculous rate. I mean, all over the world, it’s very noticeable here. We don’t have a lot of wild animals. We didn’t have like, huddling around American compares and coyotes, we just don’t have I mean, we don’t really have any predators, foxes and punches. That’s it. They’re not really known how much people really value it really value it and physically lobbying against the solution. But one of the biggest solutions, which is nuclear, has led to this decline has led to more of a decline. And they’ve they’ve actually, they’ve actually made it worse.
Robert Bryce 42:27
It is remarkable, and frankly, to me deeply depressing. I mean, just that this, this blind kind of acceptance of this, these land use impacts. And in particular, you know, you mentioned that, and what I’ve seen in the in the in the press, and I follow it pretty closely is the backlash against wind and also high voltage transmission lines in in all of the UK. It was in Wales that they had a 1200 people showed up at the Senate, they’re saying we don’t want more wind, we don’t want more pylons, that this is deeply unpopular. And my response is the same as yours. Well, it has to have a small footprint. And I remember in fact, sizewell see the comparison of the footprint of the sizewell c versus wind and versus solar. And it was just a great graphic, and I’m sure I have it on my computer. But I’ve done similar graphics myself,
Zion Lights 43:10
I wrote, I wrote an article about it. But this code is a medium piece. It’s called nuclear nature. He loves story no one wants to tell. And it looks at Dungeness nuclear plant, which has been chugging along for years. And wildlife, it’s actually thriving in that area, largely because it’s not, you know, impacted by people. People aren’t really going and walking around the site. But the nesting there in injured species and nesting, this isn’t actually incredible. And it’s the opposite of what you hear. Right, which is that it’s going to destroy the wildlife. No, actually, that I’m sorry, but that is wind. That is wind turbines on mass scale on a mass scale. And it’s not just I’ve heard people say, Well, we just have it on offshore. It’s the same offshore numbers of birds of the same offshore, it’s on their flight paths. I mean, maybe there is a way to just don’t get on a flight. It’s not happening here. Yeah. be hard to have these conversations. As soon as you say it, you just people just shut down or you’re criticizing climate action, climate action, building more nuclear plants. Right. If you think long term, and if you understand the basic numbers, say,
Robert Bryce 44:14
right, you said that there were nesting that. Did you mention a bird species? I’m sorry, audio we have is just a little little off. But you’re saying there are certain bird species nesting at the nuclear plant?
Zion Lights 44:24
There’s been several found Yes, there’s a whole report of countless species that hang around in the Dungeness nature reserve area where the nuclear power
Robert Bryce 44:34
and the nuclear plant there is which one I’m sorry,
Unknown Speaker 44:38
Goodness, goodness. Okay.
Unknown Speaker 44:39
Yeah. Well, so
Robert Bryce 44:40
following on that very thing, because over the past few days, and I saw you on Twitter talking about this, that Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, other high profile activists have repeated again, their claim the world can run solely on renewables and there’s a new group called Global 100 our strategy group.org It’s the same characters the same, you know, from Stanford, and I’ve written about Mark Jacobson, and he’s sued people who criticize. And yet they keep making the same claims over and over. And I’ve looked at the number of offshore platforms, they would require the number of wind turbines onshore. It’s staggering. The number
Zion Lights 45:18
he did. He didn’t. He didn’t he, so what he did, he tried to see someone. It like, reviewed his numbers. And when there was a critique, he tried, but he dropped he dropped the lawsuit. You
Robert Bryce 45:32
know, I’m well familiar, and he was ordered to pay the legal fees. And I think he did. It was over $600,000. Yeah, yeah, that’s right. So anyway, that’s the premise. So why is that? Why is renewable energy so popular? I mean, we’ve talked about the numeracy issue in numeracy, rather, you’ve your you have a master’s in science communication, you’ve said, this is your life’s work. I asked this a lot. What why, in your view, why is this idea of renewable energy so popular?
Zion Lights 46:02
First of all, it’s called renewable energy. What a great name. Secondly, there’s been a lot of promotion. No one ever talks about the renewables industry. What do you think of when you hear renewables industry? Do you ever hear that terminology? Of course, it’s an industry. Of course, there’s people behind it. Now, if I talk about nuclear instantly get called a shell, and you work for industry, but they don’t, you know, that’s what I get accused of. A lot of lot of renewable companies are owned by companies owned by fossil fuel companies. They have lots of money. And it’s so incredibly well, well, I wish someone would do that for nuclear. I really wish they would, because actually, so many, so many positive things about nuclear that no one knows about, right? It’s more energy density and the low impact and the it’s like it and you know, that’s for a long time, and it gives people jobs, lots of good things doesn’t contribute to global warming. Isn’t that amazing? You know, instead, instead, it’s this. People think of clean energy, they think renewables and I think a lot of it is in the name. And a lot of it has been in the way it’s been marketed to people. I get endless adverts I see adverts for for renewable initiatives all the time from companies, and I’ll often go use that company. I’ve never heard of it. You know, it looks like some small, you know, owned by local people. And then I look it up and it’s nice. Some really big, few giant sounds like I know, it sounds weird. It sounds like a conspiracy. But anyone could go away and have a look and have a look at who
Robert Bryce 47:30
out here in the US. We’re not sure.
Zion Lights 47:33
We know know what these companies are capable of writing back to what happened with tobacco. When tobacco was promoted as this incredibly healthy, good, positive, no different, no different and everybody’s pulling for it. Even though even though I speak to people, right, so for example, David Attenborough, you know, Sir David Attenborough is sure everybody loves him, right? I grew up watching his documentaries, massive wildlife nature lover, we wrote to him You live in netzero, wrote to him with a long letter, urging him to accept that we need nuclear. And this was off the back of him creating a new documentary, which is all about all the problems we face. And in the distant at the end, where he kind of said, here are some of the solution. He just showed renewables. She wrote, we wrote to him saying, you ought to have to say nuclear as part of the solution for PLA. And he actually wrote back handwritten letter, you know, just a couple of paragraphs. And he said, I don’t question the need for new there.
Robert Bryce 48:29
I don’t personally need to say it publicly.
Zion Lights 48:32
It’s fairly public, he wrote back to us and said it, but then you’ve got to find a journalist is willing to write about it. And you’ll find that a lot of journalists actually don’t want to touch nuclear, because they get attacked by people that they write anything, that thing is productive. In fact, it was a BBC journalist who wrote an article on nuclear over the sides or C decision. It was not a product or article, it was just looking at the impact. It had some criticism in there as well. But it just was looking at the fact that he was so heavily attacked on Twitter, it was incredible. Like you’re not allowed to talk about it.
Robert Bryce 49:01
We’ll see. But you made one point earlier, comparing renewables to tobacco. That that’s pretty remarkable. I mean, I don’t want to call it a charge. But it’s a remarkable comparison. But your Are you saying that the marketing of renewables has been similar to that of tobacco in the way they they’ve sold it as good and healthy and clean?
Zion Lights 49:21
I am saying that Yeah, come and look at adverts that you can buy oil companies for renewables. Everywhere. I often post them on my Twitter, I post actual adverts Have a look at them. Incredible. It’s like the list. Three, no one’s telling all these people believe all these false conspiracies. Here’s one right here. nothing happening right now. Nope. tumbleweeds? media doesn’t write about it. People don’t talk about it. It didn’t happen by accident.
Robert Bryce 49:47
Yeah. I mean, it’s remarkable and it is true. It’s true. I mean, you look at what the development plans here in the US for offshore wind. Who are the big companies well, one’s Danish company, the other is Ecuador. Well, that started oil hydro
Zion Lights 49:58
right. These this thing I saw was I saw with Greenpeace on Twitter making an announcement that they were so happy with EP, because they’re investing however much it was in renewables. And to be fair, they did get the mood wrong, because I looked at the comments and everybody was just saying, What? Why are you? Why are you defending BP? We know they spent loads of money lobbying against climate action, what are you doing? It would rather get rid of fossil fuels that support nuclear. That’s how, that’s what how crazy that ideology is being nuclear. And this was happening Germany, right will phase out nuclear, or coal. And then look at what’s happened then. And like,
Robert Bryce 50:36
again, the story in Germany from where, you know, what I’ve seen is that they can’t build more wind because of the local pushback and building high voltage transmission is the same. And we’re seeing the same very same dynamic here in the United States. It’s it. I think Europe and the UK are ahead of the US in terms of these land use conflicts, but I think they’re very, very similar. So in 2015, we’re close to an hour here and I’m My guest is Xian lights. She is an author and environmental activist. She’s on twitter at z Andriy z, io and tree. And she is a founder Is that right? of nuclear for net zero.org. co founder, founder with Mark Linus,
Zion Lights 51:19
the job got hoax, you as the actions coordinate and extinction rebellion.
Robert Bryce 51:24
And his name again, I’m sorry. Oh, Scott Hawks. Okay. So you’re a co founder of nuclear for net zero.org. Just a few last things, because we’ve been talking for about an hour and I like to wrap up in about an hour you you wrote a book in 2000 published a book in 2015, the Ultimate Guide to green parenting now, my youngest is 20, our youngest, Lauren, and I have three kids, our youngest is 21. So maybe this doesn’t apply to me anymore. But if you would give me very briefly the main takeaways from your book, if you don’t mind. And I I know it’s a long book, and I’ve written six, I know that. When you’re asked to boil it all down very quickly, then it’s a little bit of an insult. But anyway, we were running out of time. Tell me the main messages from your book on green parenting,
Zion Lights 52:06
I mean, main message is in a way in Lower your carbon footprint. I wrote it for people who wanted to do it anyway. So I wanted to do it anyway. Right, I had quite a low carbon footprint, a quick drive, for example, I never learned to drive. And then I had children. And then I went, Oh, this is difficult. How do I do this. So there’s a chapter in there on transport and what you can do, and it is even just as simple as here are the different kinds of bikes and options. And here is what it’s like cycling with children. And maybe you don’t live in the right place for it. These are the cities that are friendly for it. And maybe, maybe, you know, maybe there’s another option, and there are car sharing schemes. And then there’s a trap diet. And it’s a similar thing. And there’s a chapter on I can’t remember now there’s several chapters. There’s the vaccine chapter that was highly controversial, but it just says all it says and it doesn’t chapter doesn’t say, away in vaccines, not good way to communicate with people. It’s just saying, here’s what the evidence tells you about vaccination, if you read it, and go away and stuff. But actually, what I would say is, after that, I did my master’s, it was after that after I had the backlash from the anti vaxxers, which was honestly the hate mail was just next level. And I hadn’t experienced that before, right. So like, Whoa, I’ve done something wrong here. So when I went back to university, and I got my master’s, because I wanted to understand the best way to communicate with people. If you look at now, word of conspiracy theories all over the place, this is actually a really important thing to be able to do. And I learned a lot from studying actual science of communicating with people. And so I would not write that book. Now the way that I wrote it then, at all
Robert Bryce 53:34
interesting. Well, when you say that one quick thought, or just one quick comment that in the US, they’ve done analysis on the zip codes, where the anti vaccine crowd is the strongest, and it’s in some of the wealthiest zip codes. And
Unknown Speaker 53:47
I knew that
Robert Bryce 53:48
it always is, which is just odd, because you would think these are the most educated, most advantaged people and they’re the ones that are the ones saying, Oh, well, you know, we don’t need a vaccine, which I know it’s it is remarkable.
Unknown Speaker 54:02
Robert Bryce 54:02
so just a few last things. Zeon, you’re an amateur astronomer, and you gave a 2018 TED talk in which he talked about encouraging people to look up. And you had a great line in there. You said stars are intertwined with our stories. And I thought that was a it’s a great sentence, right? It’s a good, beautiful sentence, but it’s that we’ve always had this connection, right that humans until the electric age really had this connection to the heavens, and that that’s been removed. And well, I don’t want to put words in your mouth. But I thought your your TED talk was was beautifully done in that you’re, you’re asking people to reconnect with the sky. Is that a fair? Is that a fair assessment?
Zion Lights 54:44
Absolutely. And I think actually, this gets missed out all the time. When people talk about nature. Think about the sky, they’re thinking about the green space around them. But what about what about the night sky for so much of our history? We did depend we depended on This guy’s right, we used doors as maps, we use them to tell stories to teach young people how to behave in society. You know, we use them.
Robert Bryce 55:11
For navigation, we
Zion Lights 55:12
use them for that. Sorry. Yeah, navigation. That’s what it’s about. So incredible, incredible. And if you start looking into the stories from different cultures around the world over time, you just be Mind blown, because they’re just so very varied. But there’s often similar themes as well. Like, for example, telling stories that you know, so, I mean, how much time have you got the read about Aboriginal culture that had they called the EMU in the sky. And actually, if you look up at the night sky that you see in Australia, you see up there looking at the dark matter, so they’re not looking at the stars, we have an area around so it’s quite an unusual thing to do anyway, right. What you see is an immune it does look a lot like an immunity. Sometimes you look at constellations you think, doesn’t look anything like a riot, that’s sort of like a person with you really can see in the photographs that it would take me and it rotates as the year danger as a year to news moves along. You may take an hour as it’s in a different position, it reflects time that the Emmys are meeting the cabinet, it’s time to harvest that us eggs. And it’s because you know, they’re very reliant and in kind of interdependence with this species is so interesting. And Isn’t it weird that we don’t have any of those stories? Now? Where did they go, they went right, because of light pollution, you can’t open your door anymore, and look up and see the Milky Way. Just most people that I know, haven’t ever seen the Milky Way. Think that the images are the same thing. And it’s just not looking at an image on your computer is not the same thing. majan if you were always seeing that most nights you would look up and you would see the constellations, usually the Milky Way, I think it would change, you know, differently, think differently, we’d have slightly different stories. And it kind of helps you to find I think your place in the universe. And a lot of astronauts talk about this. You know, they talk about the overview effect of kind of vision, television they get from connecting with, with space, I think astronomy is really important. It doesn’t cross over all with the green, green movement or green space. But I think it should as as a valuable part of nature and something we should protect, you know, our ability to be able to look up and connect with whatever you want to call it, you know the stories of
Robert Bryce 57:24
our ancestors? Well, it’s an interesting, as you said that when one thought that popped in my head was that because I was in Big Bend a few, well, about two months ago, and I’m going again next month, and you know, it’s a great place for the dark skies and the McDonald Observatory is out there. And you see the stars there with such vividness that you don’t see in town, but in the light pollution issue is one other that I think is really interesting about reflection of our disconnection, right? But the thought that I had that popped in my head was this idea that this connecting, reconnecting with nature, and maybe I’m feeding this line back to you, and maybe it should be your line, that reconnecting with nature for us humans requires embracing if we’re going to serious about rewilding, if we’re serious about preserving nature, we have to embrace the highest technology we have, which is nuclear, that if we’re going to really be serious about saving nature, we can’t shot I mean, this is the theme of eco modernism, right, that we can’t shy away from the technology that we have, we have to embrace it fully and deploy it rapidly. Is that am I getting it? Right? Is that? Is that is that hit? Anything near true to you?
Zion Lights 58:33
I mean, I completely agree with that.
Robert Bryce 58:39
Well, no, I just think it’s an interesting idea, right? That if we’re going to save nature, we can’t shy away from it. It’s what now that and that is the theme of eco modernism. We can’t wait. We might have Stuart brands that were as Gods we might as well start acting like it right. You know, so that but i think that that fear of nuclear that’s been inculcated in this in in the society over decades by groups like Greenpeace and the others. It’s Yeah, it’s enormous and it’s enormous hurdle to overcome.
Zion Lights 59:04
Nuclear has such a poor it just hasn’t really been it just has a branding issue. It needs rebranding you know. And in green in green groups, you often have this kind of idea of this idea of what’s natural and what’s not not not natural. I actually just wrote about this for a blog that he asked me to write an article about and example axions write more people don’t see them as natural. They actually would think that it’s more natural to get measles or to get something like polio where you could fight right. And there is a big disconnect there but it comes back to this idea of what isn’t isn’t natural. And it’s the same with people who are resisting axiom for Coronavirus. Actually, let’s just step back for a second. about that whole natural natural thing Coronavirus came from isn’t that natural You know, natural is natural, always good on humans natural. Look what we did and not just what we did now, with climate change. Look at Easter Island, look at Romans, look at what civilizations have done forever. It actually kind of natural to screw up. If you’re human, let’s be honest, let’s be honest and look at our history and just own it. All right, yeah, happened. But now we’ve met, evolve, evolve past that this is what needs to happen. We evolve past that point where we have the foresight, where we understand that we don’t do that anymore. We use the technological innovation that’s there, we protect as many people as we can to protect as many species as we can. We have kind of abundance for everybody. is is that such a crazy, hopeful nobody wants to see people living on the street, right? Nobody wants to see people suffering. Nobody wants to see them flying out that thing that just happened in in litigation, nobody wants to see that. If we have solutions, there will always be some chaos, we don’t have any control. You know, I don’t believe any kind of God, I’m atheist. total chaos out there, I completely recognize that we do have control, we should do everything we can to make it better. We cannot do that without the power of the atom. We just can’t. It’s just impossible. And the moment we embrace that, when humanity embraces that, everything will change. And I actually think that’s happening is Japan just recently announced that they’re going to build more nuclear after being anti for so long because of Fukushima. You know what happened? Energy became unstable. They had blackouts, realized, hey, blackouts are actually worse, far worse than anything that happened at Fukushima, you don’t wanna live with blackouts are going to happen if your hospital has a blackout. And you’ve got fridges full of vaccines after we kept at certain times, just say this to people who’ve actually said to me, Well, blackouts, we can live with that. And I said, No, hold on. I’m just talking about your light goes off. I know, really, that’s the privilege we reach when we just can’t fathom what it’s like, other people
Robert Bryce 1:01:54
never spent any time in a room.
Zion Lights 1:01:55
So used to just turning your light on and off. It’s always there. What the 60% less energy actually mean, you know, how are we going to keep those vaccines that I said, Sure. What about the people on the incubators? What are the important equipment? What about when you have access to code? You know, actually, what if we could wave a magic wand and fix that? Wouldn’t you do it? Who wouldn’t do it? We would all do it right? If we were really honest, what we want what everybody wants, their children. That’s what we want for the world, everybody would want and there’s no denying, so much of that comes to nuclear. And that’s why I did start out being anti nuclear. I did believe all the lies of actionable and waste and Fukushima. And as I read more, and as I learned more, I actually became really positive because I went out, isn’t this great that there’s a potential solution? Whereas before, I believe there was none.
Robert Bryce 1:02:42
Right is great and that we were doomed at which was part of that apocalyptic vision we talked about before. Okay, so last two things. My guest is Zeon lights, and we’ve been talking for about an hour and I don’t want to keep you all day here. And you’re in. Are you in Devon, where do you live in in the UK?
Zion Lights 1:02:56
I do live in Devon. Yes. And a small city called Exeter. Exeter. Okay.
Robert Bryce 1:03:02
So the last two things. What are you reading? Now? What? I know you’re a writer, what? Are you a fiction reader? What do you read when
Zion Lights 1:03:10
I read I read constant nonfiction. I’m actually reading an old Carl Sagan book called letters of ancestors. It’s really interesting. Carl Sagan is like my biggest hero, I like to have, I like to occasionally dip back into one of his books that I read before. A full with amazing, amazing science communicator
Robert Bryce 1:03:32
that tell me the name of the title again,
Unknown Speaker 1:03:35
are those of our ancestors
Robert Bryce 1:03:36
settlers of our ancestors? Thanks. So last question, what gives you hope,
Zion Lights 1:03:45
gives me hope, is
Unknown Speaker 1:03:48
thinking about where
Zion Lights 1:03:52
the discussions were about the problems that the world faces where they were in, many years ago. And those are discussions that I was having, and where those discussions are now. I have never seen so much discussion about these issues. Yes, it’s awful. Somebody produces a paper and it’s nonsense. And then they get scientists to sign it. And then celebrities tweet it, and you go, what more post fact era stuff? This is horrible. Actually, if you zoom out, having these discussions, people are having these discussions, looking at research and looking at evidence, you know, in my experience, it’s just, it’s just really new. Actually, you can go you can quick eat, you can post on Twitter, within five minutes, you’ll be fine. Perfect, you know, you can very quickly find out what and someone will have a link for a video and you can go and learn something new. We’ve had we’ve had capability, you know the internet for a little while, but it’s really gotten to this point where it’s we’re in this incredible information error. And if you use it well, obviously not everybody sees it well, but if you use it while the potential is incredible, it’s just enormous. I think it’s changing the way our brains work really isn’t the same way. The widow when we fill up the written world, people’s memories weren’t as good people used to read lots of information around and they’d be able to tell really long story long narratives. They when the written word word came along with write more of this down there, actually the capacity chain, but in a way you can hold more information, even if you haven’t memorized it, because you can write it down. And then you can communicate with other people with with the word Well, that’s kind of what the internet is. It’s amazing.
Robert Bryce 1:05:24
So if I were to abbreviate what you’re hopeful about is that the conversation is, is trending in the direction that you hope it would toward toward
Zion Lights 1:05:33
this time, in a long time, I learned about climate change when I was at school. And that was 30 years ago. And I was worried then, and it taken 30 years for us to have conversations. This is great. This is great news. This is why I tell much younger people who are going, you know, the kind of gray generation which is going I have no future what’s happening and like, Guys, you know what it’s been like for 20 years. Nobody cared. You’ve talked about species, nobody cared.
Robert Bryce 1:06:00
It wasn’t and that and that worldview is very much I would say it was in the Eco modernist camp that things are getting better, and they’re getting a lot better
Zion Lights 1:06:07
who they are, you need to go to find the.org and take the quiz to realize how much do a lot of things have gotten that you probably assume haven’t gotten better?
Robert Bryce 1:06:17
And I’m trying
Zion Lights 1:06:19
to recommend it get gapminder.org Alright. gapminder, Hans Rosling you know, you did all watch his Ted, you know, you did a great TED Talk.
Robert Bryce 1:06:29
Oh, yeah, he done a number of them that
Zion Lights 1:06:32
yeah, I mean, but gapminder it’s got a quiz on it. You go and you you can take it and I think it tells you a lot about yourself. I’ve never known anyone who got 100% we all think the world is a lot worse worse than it is basically and I and I often say this that he you know, humans are great humans leaving incredible thing. No, no humans. Let’s survive everything.
Robert Bryce 1:06:54
Well, great. Well, let’s stop there. My guest Zeon lights, is an author and environmental activist. You can find her on Twitter at Zeon tree or look for her and her colleagues at nuclear for net zero.org Zeon thanks a million for being on the power hungry podcast. Thanks to all of you out there in podcast land for tuning in. Give me 60 or 70 stars if you can on your favorite podcast outlet and until the next episode. Until then, thanks.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:23
Thanks, Robert. Thanks.