An excellent radio interview: a Quaker explains why she now supports nuclear energy

Karen Street, a former electrical engineer and science/math teacher, recently did a lengthy and absolutely engrossing interview with a Wisconsin-based spiritual radio station, on the subject of nuclear energy. Karen used to oppose it, but as you will hear her explain, she discovered, in the course of a 1995 research project, some excellent reasons to support it. You can listen to the interview by clicking here.

The interview is pretty lengthy, and it is preceded by music that one might associate with the spiritual progressive left. But it is well worth your while. The interviewer is thoughtful and respectful, and Karen is just very knowledgeable, well spoken, and very interesting.

Karen also publishes a blog, called A Musing Environment. Check it out, it is very interesting and well written.

In my experience, the spiritual progressive left is not crawling with pro-nuclear people. In fact, quite the opposite. But it is easy to generalize about groups, and often those generalizations are wrong. I am always happy when my pre-conceptions are proven wrong—one of the beauties of this world is that it sometimes gives you a pleasant surprise.

This makes me dream of the possibility that some of the really compelling arguments in favour of nuclear energy—its tiny environmental footprint, its safety, its low cost—might find their way through the membrane of ideology that currently blocks them.

Karen has done an excellent job of increasing the permeability of that membrane.

Once again, listen to the interview here.

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11 years ago

“Karen has done an excellent job of increasing the permeability of that membrane”

Almost the entire conversation is a comparison of the number of deaths of nuclear vs. coal. Smaller topics included how many people would die from nuclear waste, and nuclear proliferation issue.

Can you imagine if they tried to sell cars this way?

“The new Focus, it kills three less people a year than the Chevy Cruize!”

Do you really think this is a good argument for nuclear power? Keep on dreaming!

Steve Aplin
11 years ago

Maury, you don’t think comparing casualties across various energy sources is relevant? The radio interview was on the perception of nuclear as a allegedly dangerous energy source. What else do you want her to say?

Your car analogy is funny but as an analogy it might fit as a response to the third or fourth buyer objection.

11 years ago

No, I don’t think it’s relevant.

At best it simply falls to the fallacy of the excluded middle. Nuclear is safer than coal? What about hydro? Or wind? Or PV? Or gas? Or diesel?

What else did I want her to say? Uhhh, how about one positive thing about nuclear power? No, “less bodies” is *not* a positive thing about nuclear power.

But of course this *is* the debate in this case, to the industry’s detriment. Industry and government officials, and their supporters, spend all their time talking about body counts. Any positive message is lost in the flurry of apologies. Your blog is a perfect example of that, the vast majority of your posts spend their time telling us why it’s “not really that dangerous, trust me!”

How’s this working out for the industry? Not well. Support for nuclear power is at an all-time low and continues to fall:

So instead of shooting the messenger, you might want to spend a few moments re-evaluating your assumptions on what the discussion is supposed to be about.

Steve Aplin
11 years ago

The “vast majority” of my posts “spend their time telling us why it’s ‘not really that dangerous, trust me!’”?

The vast majority of my posts on nuclear have focused on jobs, cost, and carbon emissions.