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Episode 10: A Better Nuclear Story with Suzy Baker

“Most technologies require a social license to operate. Public opinion matters.”

So says Suzy Baker, the Communications Director of the Clean Energy Program at Third Way. She and Alex – the Communications Director at Breakthrough – often talk shop, and this episode reveals their secrets: how do they communicate climate change in an inclusive way, without falling back onto tired tropes? It isn’t just about creating better taglines; it’s about economic and political restructuring.

While Suzy now works primarily on nuclear energy and carbon capture, her story is an unusual one. She studied fine arts, and spent her school years making sculptures of ocean bacteria to visually advocate for the importance of ocean health. After graduation, her resume grew increasingly diverse: art teacher at a pediatric oncology hospital, NGO founder working on nuclear digital campaigns in the Southeast, artist focused on lead poisoning awareness, policy analyst at the US Department of Energy… The list goes on and on. Her unique background made her an expert in collaborative, cooperative, audience-aware science communications, as well as an incredible podcast guest. Find Suzy on Twitter at @SuzyHobbsBaker.

Here's a full transcript of the interview.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Third Way partnered with the sustainable design team at Gensler to visually tell the story of advanced nuclear and put its potential into perspective. The resulting sketches are gorgeous.

  • The first small nuclear modular reactor in the country may be coming soon. It would be the first advanced reactor project to be built in the US.

  • Atoms for Africa, a Breakthrough + Center for Global Development report, sought to understand how nuclear energy could be deployed in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors found that small modular reactors (SMRs) could match needs most appropriately, since few grids in the region have the capacity for light water reactors.

  • This summer, the US Senate passed a $145 billion spending bill, which includes a boost to energy innovation programs.

Image from the Nuclear Reimagined project by Third Way and Gensler.

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