Episode 96 - A journey from renewables to nuclear
Ben Heard is recognised as a leading voice for the use of nuclear technologies to address our most pressing global challenges.
It certainly didn’t start that way.
Back in the day he was a member of environmental NGOs and shared their basic objection to nuclear technologies. Being serious about the environmentalism stuff, he undertook a Masters in Corporate Sustainability at Monash University, beginning in 2004. He was one of the inaugural graduands of Future Environmental Leaders (now the Centre for Sustainability Leadership). His work threw him into the deep end of sustainability, with stakeholder consultation for issues like native and plantation forestry industries, legacy toxic waste sites and transport infrastructure. He discovered that nothing was simple, everything involved trade-offs, all risks are relative and if you try to do your job well almost no-one will like you very much but hopefully most will respect you.
He started working in major projects in climate change adaptation (managing the risks from the change) and mitigation (slowing the change down). This led to the establishment of his own small consulting firm in South Australia. Around about then, the apparent futility of work was getting him down…the projects were great but there was just no solution on offer to match the scale of the problems at hand. So instead of continuing his objection to nuclear technology he shut his damn mouth about it for a couple of years and did some learning. The result was a presentation entitled Nuclear Power: From Opponent to Proponent, delivered in 2011 to the South Australian Technology Industry Association. That was the start of pathway of writing, presenting, advocating and ever more learning about how we can reinvent the future using all our knowledge and ingenuity. Through his blog, Decarbonise SA, Ben tracked this journey and helped to build a growing international community.
Ben is undertaking doctoral studies at the University of Adelaide, where he examines clean energy supply with a focus on nuclear technologies. His first published paper won the 2016 Publication Medal from the Royal Society of South Australia and he has presented his research findings at conferences around Australia and the world. Founding Bright New World takes Ben back to his NGO beginnings, using what has learned to give environmentalism and sustainability a reboot for the 21st century.
Ben lives in Adelaide with his wife and two children. He is a member of Bicycle SA, Trail Runners SA and the Friends of Brownhill Creek. Please contact the office to make an appointment. Alternatively take up road cycling and trail running in the Mt Lofty Ranges and you will probably bump into him.
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