A report from UT Austin

In this issue:

  • A report from UT Austin
  • Best of Power Hour: Rod Adams on the secret history of nuclear power

A report from UT Austin

 This Monday I delivered a speech at the University of Texas at Austin to an audience of several hundred, including students, faculty, and community members.  Here is an account of the event from the school’s student newspaper.

Protesters stood outside the Mulva Auditorium Monday holding signs reading “People and Planet Before Profit” and “100% Renewable” in protest of a fossil fuel industry supporter’s guest lecture. 

The UT Center for Enterprise and Policy Analytics at the McCombs School of Business hosted the lecture in the Cockerell [sic] School of Engineering, where Alex Epstein spoke to a full Mulva Auditorium about the risks in using alternative means of energy and why he supports the fossil fuel industry. In the small hallway outside, about 30 students and environmental activists advocated against Epstein’s claims against the efficacy of renewable energy.  

Epstein, the president of the Center for Industrial Progress, said during the lecture that he supports alternative energy such as nuclear power but said they are not reliable enough to support billions of people. He said fossil fuels accounted for 80% of U.S. energy consumption in 2018, claimed fossil fuel is the world’s fastest growing source of energy and said radical change in energy usage with methods such as solar and wind would result in catastrophe.

As the account mentions, there were “protestors” outside my event, some of whom had registered in advance and were thus able to attend the packed auditorium. Those who attended were very polite. Because I knew many of the protestors would not be able to attend, I paid them a visit in advance and offered to answer any questions. As the footage of this attempt shows, no one took me up on my offer. At the event I gave an explanation of the moral case for fossil fuels similar to what I gave in my debate with RFK Jr., but considerably expanded. I got a lot of good feedback from the students who approached me afterward. Here’s a comment from one student who attended: Your reason to support fossil fuel is something so fundamental. I am from a developing country and our country could not afford the “high style” of living with renewable energy and hype of anti-climate change. We need money to feed million children and send them to school to understand that fossil fuel is important.—Achmad K., Indonesia Before my speech I had a 45 minute discussion with a group of 20 or so senior petroleum engineering students, who asked some great questions about energy, climate, and communication. After my speech, Richard J. Chuchla of Jackson’s Graduate School of Geosciences, led what was billed as a “fireside chat” with me, though there was perhaps more “fire” than chat as we disagreed on many points. I hope I can share the recording of the whole event, but especially of my back and forth with Chuchla. I am very grateful to have, for the second time in two weeks, spoken to a large audience at a major university. Thanks to Professors Carlos Carvalho and John Butler for hosting this event. And thanks to the approximately 25 Austin area energy companies who sponsored the event—especially to Ted Williams, an Austin area energy executive who spearheaded the sponsorship efforts. Ted is very passionate about exposing college students to rational, pro-human thinking on energy issues. He told me he wants to help executives connected with other universities sponsor similar events around the country. If you are connected with a university and would be interested in supporting an event, let me know.  

Best of Power Hour: Rod Adams on the secret history of nuclear power

On this “best of” episode of Power Hour, I talk with Rod Adams, publisher of Atomic Insights, about nuclear power and how the build time as well as the cost for new reactors have been increased by irrational fear of it. You can listen to it here.