Quillette Podcast 40 – Nuclear Expert Michael Shellenberger on the Woeful Shortcomings of Chernobyl, the HBO mini-series

Toby Young talks to Quillette contributor and nuclear energy expert Michael Shellenberger about what Chernobyl, the critically-acclaimed HBO mini-series, got wrong and why that matters. Michael wrote about this recently for Forbes. They also discuss the religious impulses driving the Extinction Rebellion protests.


  1. Simon Gregory says

    Re climate extinction, this article confirms that the intent of at least one of the founders is to tear down everything.

    “And I’m here to say that XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system of that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life. This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence (especially) over the last 600 years of colonialism, although the roots of the infections go much further back.”


  2. Hollywood Mark says

    His father was CIA and I assume he is too. He comes around every couple of years recently with a new angle/push on nuclear power industry revival. Be wary.

    • David Jacobs says

      We’ve got YOUR name on our list, “Hollywood.”
      The CIA

  3. Bitwonk says

    If possible, please provide transcriptions of your podcasts. They’re much quicker to read than listen to, IMO.

  4. Pingback: Something for the weekend #67 – 2020 : Tracking Optimism

  5. Robert Wolfe says

    Outstanding, spot on. Regarding the use of violence as a remedy for depression, in “The Noonday Demon: an Atlas of Depression” by Andrew Solomon, he mentions that committing acts of physical violence seems to help relieve depression. One theory why Ashkenazic Jewish men suffer a higher level of depression than other groups is because of the strong cultural taboo against physical violence.

  6. Allen says

    There was no talk of the design and safety flaus of the Soviet RPMK reactors. The graphite tipped control rods where the graphite increased the reaction to explode the reactor. I believe that is called a “dirty bomb” because nuclear fusion does not occur. Also, the intentional design without containment housings to save money. Renewables, built today, produce cheaper power over nuclear.

    • Mark Butler says

      This conversation skips a lot of the actual issues with nuclear power and focuses on inconsequential nonsense from a docudrama.

  7. Mark Butler says

    I watched the HBO series & never thought it should be taken too literally. But seeing the series and listening to Michael Shellenberger it seems Michael is being intentionally disingenuous. I won’t go point by point but it’s striking that this conversation never acknowledges an area the size of Rhode Island had to be abandoned for who knows how long, Decades/Centuries? And that the accident site was only made “safe/contained” in 2017, thirty some odd years after the disaster. And that this newest containment structure will need to be replaced many times over before area is inhabitable. And the threat of forest fires is a constant concern…etc,etc.

    On nuclear power in general: Has Michael or the industry worked out a safe solution for spent full rods? Like safe for thousands of years kinda safe? And given a long enough time line, of which nuclear material half lives seems to be pretty long, it’s likely every nuclear power plant will someday have a serious problem. How many exclusion zones can a plant with 9 billion people handle? Humans can’t plan for geopolitical / social / geological / climatological stability for the timeline these materials require. We humans build on the backs of previous generations accomplishments and give ourselves much too much credit. But don’t worry…we have Michael Shellenberger

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