Origins Podcast with Michael Shellenberger: From Apocalypse Never to Running for Governor
A two pronged spirited discussion with Michael Shellenberger on whether climate change is really the number one global problem, followed by a discussion of his recent run for governor of California.
I was very happy to have the chance to speak to Michael Shellenberger some time ago, after his book Apocalypse Never appeared. Having written my book, The Physics of Climate Change, I was intrigued by his take on the fact that climate change is not an existential threat. Once I read his book, I realized we agreed on many things, with perhaps the differences being on emphasize rather than substance. Nevertheless, we did have some disagreements, and we had a very spirited, and I hope respectful, discussion about climate change and its implications, but also on the other issues that need to be addressed and which climate change activists may be exacerbating because of their unique focus on this issue. The need to address important infrastructure issues in Africa and elsewhere in order to bring people up from poverty and also to help insulate them, or at least allow them to adapt to climate change is of great importance. Also, one of his central issues, the need for Nuclear Power, is an important issue, and I agree completely with Michael that we should not be closing down nuclear power plants, nor interfering with the construction of new plants. I don’t see Nuclear Power alone as a panacea, however. While perhaps largely due to the current burden of regulation, nuclear power plants are expensive and time consuming to build, and I think that they are just one component of what needs to be a many-pronged effort to address climate change and other global challenges.
Michael is incredibly passionate about his view of the crucial pressing challenges we face, and any categorization of him as liberal, conservative, libertarian, or climate denier, is false. He is a thoughtful humanist, and I found the discussion with him to be enlightening, as well as provocative, and I learned a lot in the process. That is the best kind of discussion, after all.
After doing 2.5 hours together a year or so we sat together again (on zoom) for another discussion in the midst of his current run for California Governor. This gave us a chance to reconnect, and also talk about a different, new set of issues more relevant to that race, and to current problems facing the country.
I hope you enjoy this two pronged episode. If you want to watch the episode Ad-Free, please purchase a paid subscription to Critical Mass.