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Will the German Nuclear Reactors Continue Operating? An Interview with Mark Nelson
Today’s article will be a bit different. I talked with Mark Nelson, a nuclear energy expert and environment activist, who has been closely following what’s happening with Germany’s nuclear reactors. He made me look at the issue from a completely different angle, and I want to share that with you.
But first, a fun data point, a key thought about GeoHistory, a call for help, the highlights of my interview with Nelson, the interview itself in video form, how you can get more informed, and a tip on what you can do to influence the outcome of the German reactors. Let me know what you think!
Fun Data Point
Last week’s article about Elon Musk’s children has among the highest open rates of free articles this year, at about 55%. It’s also among the least viral, with very few shares. It made me think of… a 2x2 matrix, and the difference between righteous articles and guilty ones.
My GeoHistory articles are some of the most followed ones. They’re especially relevant to the people who have some connection to the countries analyzed, or always wanted to understand them better. Some of you wonder why I focus so much on geography though. It’s time to explain it.
Everything around us is governed by geography:
Or rather has been. The Internet is transforming it all.
If we don’t understand how geography influenced the past, we can’t undesrtand how the future will change. What the GeoHistory articles do is shed light on the past impact of geography on our history and what other forces have been taking over from geography, so we can guess the directions that history will take in the future.
We’ve done this in the past with languages and political systems, and I’m working on a huge series on how transportation technologies have influenced human habitats in the past, and how that will change in the future with new transportation technologies. I’m very excited about it. I hope you will too, when I start releasing it in a few weeks!
In the meantime, next week I’ll publish on the GeoHistory of the United Kingdom, which is especially interesting as the country that broke through the Industrial Revolution—an event that started untethering humans from the land, but that in fact hugely determined by land. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
One of the best parts of Uncharted Territories is you. Your comments are super interesting, and there’s always an expert on something to help me get the articles better. I want to push that.
So I’m looking for experts in many fields who’d be willing to help me make the content better. Specifically, I’m looking for two things:
People who would want to help improve my drafts, by either looking at early versions of my thoughts, or catching errors later on. Some of the disciplines that would help here are:
The impact of transportation technologies on society: past ones like roads, ships, trains, cars… And upcoming ones.
The impact of energy tech: past energies like horses, coal, electricity, or the steam engine; new ones like nuclear, fusion, renewables, a future with abundant cheap energy.
The impact of military tech, both in the past (horses, stirrups, canons, walls, conscription…) and the future (eg drones).
Education: What works, why it’s not applied in school, and what will be in the future of education.
And some others: Automation and the impact on work, China today, the history of the Netherlands, the history of money, the mechanics of viral spread of religions, whether illegal markets should be—eg, sex, drugs, blood…
I’m trying to move Uncharted Territories into audiovisuals! Lots of people have asked me, so I’m starting to think about this seriously. I’d love to get in touch with the best in the world at producing docuseries, financers, scriptwriters, map visualizations, data visualization, Generative AI for video. If you are one know one, please help me find them!
The Interview with Mark Nelson
It’s a bit less than 1h30, and we covered a TON of things. I will summarize it for the premium readers (and I’m hoping to have a transcript and audio version for them too), but here are the key topics that we discussed:
Historically, nuclear energy and weapons have been much more connected than I thought.
The German decision of whether to keep the nuclear reactors open or not has completely changed, but the debate hasn’t changed with it.
None of the key factors behind the closure of the reactors stands to scrutiny. Here’s a nice article from Nelson’s group explaining them, including some visualizations you can interact with to understand better the situation of each reactor.
The support for nuclear in Germany is startling.
The internal German politics behind the decision.
Here’s the interview:
How You Can Help
It turns out you could have a clear impact on the topic.
The German parliament has a system to bring topics to debate if they get more than 50,000 signatures from Germans. A petition from German professors to debate these nuclear reactors in the parliament is getting steam.
They’re at 16k, so a push from us could get it beyond the threshold. If you are German, feel free to go sign the petition.
If you know Germans who might be interested in signing the petition, feel free to send it to them!