Who we are

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Zion Lights

Zion Lights

I’ve been an environmental activist for almost as long as I remember. As a student in the early Noughties, I helped establish the first ever green group at Reading University; I was involved in the (now disbanded) Camp for Climate Action in my early 20s, protesting against investment in the tar sands industry (which is used to make petroleum products). I lived and breathed a eco-aware lifestyle, and still do: based in Devon with my two young daughters, I don’t drive or fly or eat meat; our carbon footprint is relatively low.

I was against nuclear power for a long time, and although I didn’t actively organise anti-nuclear rallies, I wrote about nuclear in a negative light and attended various protests with anti-nuclear elements. To be frank, as an environmentalist surrounded by other environmentalists, it was simply part and parcel to be anti-nuclear. Many of us didn’t even realise that we were doing it. Few of us dared to question it.

As I explained in the public letter in which I came out as pro-nuclear, I was very active in Extinction Rebellion UK (XR UK) with the team that founded the movement, but I couldn’t openly advocate for nuclear in XR due to my role as a spokesperson for the organisation.

However, I noticed that pro-renewables language and campaigns crept into some of what XR did in the same way that anti-nuclear sentiments had surrounded me for most of my life, and I questioned this imbalance.

It’s a difficult thing to step away from your tribe and question long- and often deeply-held personal beliefs. I wasn’t sure where I fit any more in terms of politics or the environmental movement, and the more I read about nuclear, the more I realised that I couldn’t be against it.

I had asked to ensure that evidence had an advocate, and this weighed on my mind.

I decided to study the science behind effective science advocacy, so I completed an MSc in Science Communication. This can be a challenging vocation, as I found when my evidence-based book on green parenting was published and the chapter on vaccines, which debunked many of the myths surrounding them, enraged some readers. I had to deal with an unexpected torrent of hate mail and claims that I was being paid by ‘Big Pharma’. This isn’t pleasant: but I felt then about vaccines as I feel now about nuclear power: compelled to communicate the truth.

If nuclear technology was invented today, I believe we would celebrate it as the clean energy solution it is. It can get us to net zero emissions. It can bring down air pollution. It can help to lift people out of poverty.

All of these things are, to me, solutions worth talking about and celebrating.

When I decided to become vocal about nuclear, I told myself that it would be worth the hate mail because my aim was to help make the world a better place. It’s not an easy fight, but it’s one worth getting into the ring for.



Marie

Marie

I learned the positives of nuclear energy when, on maternity leave, a friend put me in touch with a Miss Joan Pye, who had worked as Personal Assistant to Sir John Cockcroft who headed the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in the 1950s. Joan was in her eighties by then, hard of sight and hearing, and she asked me to help with her admin duties while my children spent time with their grandparents. This worked out really well, and although Joan didn't have children of her own, she enjoyed meeting mine.

She wanted to educate widely on the theme of nuclear “energy for the next generation”. She bought a computer, set up her list of contacts, mainly retired scientists and engineers she had met at Harwell, paid someone to help set up a website, ‘The Joan Pye Project’, and enjoyed networking and information-sharing up to the age of 102.

She explained that people have entangled (to some degree understandably) the idea of nuclear power with the fear of nuclear war. The effect of this is that mis-understandings, disinformation, media bias and poor risk analysis all stand in the way of the most sensible clean energy option we have.

It is frustrating to see the media and the public continue to doubt and undermine the credibility of the nuclear industry; people who effectively want to shut out our best bet for reducing fossil fuel consumption.

My children are fed up of hearing me go on about it by now, but I would encourage more mums to look towards the option of harnessing power of nuclear fission wisely. The climate has already warmed by 1 degree Celsius, with significant effect since the 1980s, and as it continues to heat, our children need an unbiased message including hope and faith not just that of fear.

Read more of Marie's story at Mums for Nuclear UK, part of the world-wide Mothers for Nuclear movement.



Ben Reade

Ben Reade

I’ve been an environmental advocate my whole life. I grew up on an island farm focused on animal wellbeing and self-sustainability on the Isle of Mull. What attracted me to nuclear was how it could produce clean, environmental friendly power, that didn’t have all the problems the other ones did. It could have powered my home island which previously used diesel and now uses power-cut friendly wind. Right after the Fukushima accident I read into all the in’s and out’s of nuclear and realised how safe it was and became jealous of France's cheap and clean nuclear powered electricity. I couldn’t stop talking to my friends about how awesome it was. After making stable money for myself in tourism I left the place I grew in up to go and study the subject at university where I also started publically campaigning for it around 2019, and through these events ended up in the Nuclear 4 Net Zero group.



Andrew Kay

Andrew Kay

Machine tool and hydraulics engineer based in York, came to nuclear after becoming concerned with climate change, biodiversity loss, and running the numbers on different low carbon sources.



Owen

Owen

After sleepwalking through most of my life oblivious of the extent my carbon footprint was having on the planet, I made the conscious decision 5 years ago to be more proactive with combating climate change.

My fear is that the world is not acting quickly enough to make the lifestyle changes needed to help our future generations. In addition to this, I believe other environmental activist groups are setting unrealistic expectations when it comes to lifestyle changes that we need to make to ensure our planet is sustainable.

After educating myself further on the low risk and high effectiveness of nuclear energy, I realised how crucial it is; an ally to make sure our world is sustainable.



Astrid

Communications consultant and tech delivery specialist. It wasn’t until becoming pregnant and freaking out about the famous 12-years-left IPCC special report that I really became obsessed with finding actual solutions to the climate emergency. I had spent much of my youth believing in large-scale political changes as answers, but I was done waiting for revolutions. Learning about the benefits of nuclear power, the lack of public understanding of the issues and the enormous communication challenges that face the industry has me hooked.

Now I help out Generation Atomic in the US and I am a co-founder of the UK branch of mothers for nuclear, Mums For Nuclear.



Richard Ollington

Richard Ollington

Coordinator. London-based strategy consultant. First learnt about the importance of nuclear energy after reading Sir David MacKay's book Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air, a required reading for Cambridge University Engineers. Interested in macro modelling of energy systems and understanding the engineering and financial practicalities of different Net Zero energy mixes while considering their net environmental and social benefits.



John Stumbles

John

I'm an IT bod turned plumber, now semi-retired, OAP, and occasional assistant community artist. I've never really thought of myself as an Activist but I suppose I have for most of my life got involved with causes I think worthwhile, from standing as an independent socialist in school mock elections, through involvement in the Legalise Cannabis Campaign, CND and the anti-polltax campaigns during the 1980s, to helping start a Skeptics in the Pub group, and more recently action on climate change with Extinction Rebellion and now here with Nuclear For Net Zero.

Like a lot of hippy-ish counterculture folks I used to think that vaccines, "GMOs", and nuclear energy were poorly-understood, badly managed, dangerous, and unnecessary technologies which alternative medicine, Organic agriculture, and wind and solar energy were better alternatives for. Richard Feynmann, David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, Ben Goldacre and the late David MacKay were some of the better-known people who have helped me think more scientifically about the world, but there have also been less well-known folks who have helped educate me.

Also like a lot of former hippy-counterculture anti-nuclear people, for a while I got quite evangelical about nuclear (and especially Thorium molten salt reactors) being all that we needed. But somewhere along the way I learned that there are not only scientists who study climate change and its effects, but also experts on mitigation, and that - as with vaccines, and medicine generally, and biotechnology, and so much else in our modern highly technological world, the experts do actually know better than us lay folks, and we do need experts (whatever Mr Gove may think). So when the experts at the IPCC find that we need renewables, nuclear and Carbon Capture and Storage I'm more inclined to think they're right than the ideologically-motivated zealots who claim we can tackle climate change with one (or more) arms tied behind our backs.



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