Marian Tupy: Michael Shellenberger, thank you very much for joining me today. I want to talk to you about your book, Apocalypse Never, which is about the planet not ending as a result of global warming and global alarmism, but I also want to talk to you about the pandemic because I think that the two are connected in some very interesting ways. Given that we’ll be talking about a lot of controversial stuff such as your rejection of environmental alarmism and your support for nuclear power, let’s start by talking a little bit about yourself. You are an actual environmentalist, and you do care about the planet. Is that correct?

Michael Shellenberger: Yes, I am an actual environmentalist, as opposed to those fake ones out there. Yes, I actually do care about nature. On the other hand, I don’t know that many people who don’t. I have not met many people that don’t care about saving wild gorillas and whales and penguins. There’s not like an anti-whale movement or something. But yes, I will accept the designation as an actual environmentalist, and I’m also very critical of environmentalists, so I think the question is what we mean by environmentalism.

MT: Yes, I think if I remember correctly your Wikipedia page says that Time Magazine called you “Environmentalist of the Year” a few years ago.

MS: Well, a “Hero of the Environment” and Green Book Award winner. I was recently invited by the IPCC to be an independent expert reviewer. I testified in front of Congress in January. I don’t have formal training, but I’ve been doing this for enough time that I appear to have some amount of standing.

MT: So your approach to environmentalism, the environmental sciences, and what to do about the state of the environment has been described as techno-optimism. How would you characterize techno-optimism? Who is a techno-optimist, and what do they believe?

MS: I don’t use that word to describe myself. I don’t necessarily reject it because I don’t know what people mean by it. But it wouldn’t be the word I would use. The words that I use to identify my views are “environmental humanism,” and in the book, I explain what humanism means to me. I think some people associate the word “humanism” – particularly people on the right – with secular humanism. That’s not what I mean by “humanism.” By “humanism,” I just mean a worldview that accepts that humans are powerful and, if not good, have the potential to be good and that we should treat them as ends in and of themselves and not means to an end and that trying to improve the lives of people has mostly been good for the environment. It’s had some very negative consequences too, but if we continue to prioritize human flourishing and human well-being, we will continue to have improving environmental outcomes. That’s the environmental part of it. I do think we should have some intention to take care of the natural environment. I don’t think we get natural environmental outcomes without caring about the environment, but I think that humans and humanism and the support for lifting all humans out of poverty should be very central to what we do believe no matter where we sit on the political spectrum.

MT: One of the things that you are well known for is your advocacy of nuclear power. Why is nuclear power good, and why is it misunderstood?

MS: Well, the first thing I want to say about nuclear is that the invention of nuclear energy – and by that, I don’t just mean the power plants that we use to create electricity but the ability to split the atom and release all of this energy in the form of heat – is a massive event in human history. It’s not something that’s going to happen every few decades or even in every few centuries. It’s a massive pivotal event. Until the aliens give us their dark matter secrets or their anti-gravity secrets, it’s nuclear fission for a long time. We may go to nuclear fusion at some point. I’m sort of agnostic. I don’t really care that much about it. I don’t think I ever mention it in the book, but nuclear is a big deal. It’s the new fire. It’s a new way to make heat. It’s above and beyond anything we could do with solar panels or carbon capture and storage or making houses more efficient or any of the little things that people think actually are important for climate change or environmental issues. The creation of nuclear energy is a radical event, and it’s a radical event first and foremost not for power plant production but for the international system. Gunpowder allowed for large standing armies and nation-states. Nuclear allows for tiny, impoverished tin-pot dictator-run countries like North Korea to completely secure its borders against much more powerful adversaries. That’s a radical change in human history and in human evolution, and it was shocking. 75 years after the nuclear weapons were used, we’re still dealing with the original trauma and drama of that event. And so I think nuclear has a very important role in climate change and environmental issues. This is a technology that we have to take very seriously. It’s not a technology that we could get rid of if even if we wanted to. It is our burden and to our benefit to have it, and so for me, nuclear in some ways sits at the center of this book. This book is actually a combination of two books. It’s a combination of a book I wrote about nuclear and a book I was working on about how humans save nature, and in some ways, nuclear animates much of what’s going on in this book both in terms of a view of energy transitions, of moving from coal to natural gas to nuclear, as positive and beneficial to people and the environment but also as driving the apocalyptic fears of nuclear, which are what are holding the energy technology back from fulfilling its potential. And obviously, the key to nuclear power as a solution to environmental problems is that it emits zero CO2. The underlying physical dynamic of nuclear is that it is power dense. Power density is just how much energy you get out of a power source relative to the amount of land or material it uses, so when you go from wood to coal and then coal to oil to natural gas to uranium, you’re massively reducing the amount of matter or material or land that you’re using and you’re massively increasing the amount of energy you get. It’s so dramatic when you go from fossil fuels to nuclear. It’s also very dramatic when you go from wood to fossil fuels, and that’s the underlying dynamic. There’s no combustion, there’s no fire, and there’s no smoke from nuclear. There’s just heat, and the waste by-product is the uranium fuel that was fissioned, the atoms that were split apart and had their heat released. That’s all that’s left over. From an environmental perspective, it’s incredible. It’s really under-appreciated how radical nuclear is for decarbonizing energy production. You require virtually no land. You’re close to basically having eliminated land. The amount of land you require is just a vanishingly small. It’s insignificant at every level: a couple of football fields for the power plant and the mining now is underground. They put hot water in the ground, and it kicks up the slurry and they extract uranium. The facilities that extract them are tiny. No pipelines, no burning forests, no removing mountains. It’s a radical technology, and the reason we’re unable to appreciate it is because of these overhang fears of the bomb and what it means for life on Earth.

MT: Obviously, one of the things that complicates matters is regulatory issues. Building nuclear power plants is expensive. However, as I found in my own research, uranium is actually remarkably cheap relative to other commodities. Over the last 40 years, when we looked at 50 different commodities around the world, we found that uranium fell most in price. That was quite an interesting discovery. What makes fusion better them than fission, and are we ever going to get there? I don’t want to spend too much time on it, but I want to know if you have any views on that.

MS: Not strong views. Like most science fiction fans, I assume we will need fusion for space travel, but like I said, if we get the alien anti-gravity technology, then that might be better. I don’t know. But in terms of the environmental impacts on earth, the differences between fission and fusion are very small. There’s still waste product to fusion. The waste product from existing nuclear fission is very small. It’s environmentally insignificant. It’s just nothing. Every waste problem should come before that waste problem because that waste problem is the smallest waste problem imaginable. I think the broader question is – is there something wrong with today’s nuclear power-generating technologies? Is there something fundamentally wrong with using water as the coolant and these uranium fuel rods that we’ve been using since the late 1950s? I don’t think so. There are all these arguments that get made, but the advantages are that we have a lot of experience using it. We have these supply chains that are used to making it and operating it and regulating it, and so for me, the main event on nuclear is that we as a human race, as a half-animal, half-god species, we still think of that technology as something apocalyptic, something world-changing, and in some ways, it is. So until we deal with that reality, my view is that the technology will not really achieve its potential or even significantly displace fossil fuels.

MT: When I talk to some of my environmentally conscious friends, some of whom are on the alarmist wing of the environmentalist movement, I’m always struck by their refusal to consider technical solutions to global warming. I’m talking about things like GMOs for example, which can be engineered to use less pesticide and fertilizer. I’m talking about CO2-free nuclear power, as well as aquaculture. And it seems to me that they are completely wedded to consumption and fertility limits as solutions to global warming, which many people, including myself, consider both immoral and impracticable. That makes me wonder if environmental alarmists are really wedded not to science but are driven by ideological, almost religious, impulses. This is really where your book enters into our conversation. Do you agree that this is in part a sort of secular religion, and what would you say are the main components of this secular region?

MS: Yeah, I’ll answer that, and just to give some background, the book opens with four or five chapters debunking popular myths and also explaining what we should worry about and what we shouldn’t worry about: what’s science fact and what’s science fiction. The second part of the book is really about how humans save nature: what really matters if we want to protect the natural environment and how do we do that. And then a third of the book is about why the people who are supposedly the most concerned about environmental problems and the most apocalyptic are they the same people who oppose all the obvious solutions. The people who raised fears of famine oppose fertilizer. The people who raise fears of destruction of wildlife and endangered species support the spread of renewable energies like wind turbines that kill endangered species. The people who say the climate apocalypse is coming are the same people who opposed the transition from coal to natural gas to nuclear power. So that is a big question that has obsessed me for the last ten years, and it’s taken me this long to get to an answer to it. There’s been some scholarship on it, which I’ve drawn upon and read exhaustively, but there were still some questions around getting that right. I feel like I finally got to the bottom of it in this book. I summarize it in the last three chapters, “Money,” “Power,” and “Religion.” I wanted to give each its own chapter because I think each of them is important and significant, and one could argue that it’s over-determined, that each of them explains the phenomena of apocalyptic environmentalism on its own. It answers the question I mentioned on its own. But ultimately, I do think that there is an underlying religious motivation. It’s driven by an existential anxiety, by which I mean, not the anxiety that you’re going to be killed, but that you don’t know what your life is worth. Why bother? What’s the point? And that is a concern that is mostly among people that don’t believe in God or traditional religions. Traditional religions answer that question. You were created by God, and you’re here to do good as defined by God and his messengers, and you’re going to make your life right by God. If you do that, then you’ll go to heaven or some positive afterlife. As those religions have declined in importance to people and in belief — there’s just a significant secularization over the last couple hundred years and maybe longer – there’s that need for some meaning, some existential meaning. What’s the point of this life? If it’s just all meaningless, which is the I think the wrong view to take from rejecting traditional religion, what does it mean? And that leads to a strong desire to create a heroic story about one’s life and to behave in heroic ways, some of which can be very positive. Obviously, sublimating one’s anxiety into heroic acts can be very important, but those heroic acts can go very wrong as well, which I think Human Progress and Cato have been very good about documenting. Conservatives have done very well at documenting the excesses of people who want to behave in heroic ways. Sorry, libertarians are very good at documenting the excesses, although conservatives have been more sensitive to the excesses of good intentions and attempts at being heroic then, of course, liberals have, who tend to think that motivation should lead you to right outcomes even though it often doesn’t.

MT: Essentially since the breakdown of the ancient society, by which I mean what people were used to for thousands of years — the feudal society and the breakdown of the power and unassailability of the church and so forth, it seems to me that Western society has been searching for new gods for the last 200 years. We had Marxism. We had Nazis. They both failed us. Now, I’m obviously not comparing environmentalism to mass-murdering societies, but it is still a search for meaning in life, for an explanation of your place in the universe. Would you agree with that?

MS: And more than that. It’s both an exploration of your place, but it also then is giving you a way to behave heroically in radically changing society. So if you radically change society, if your demands are radical, if you have a radical impact, it makes you feel more immortal. That’s sort of the idea. We all have a need to feel that our lives matter, that they’re going to matter beyond our deaths. That’s the argument I make in the book. I’m drawing on other people’s work on psychology and anthropology, but we all have that need, and what environmentalism offers is a way to feel heroic and feel like you’re achieving your immortality project in ways that other religions are not offering right now.

MT: So obviously, in traditional religion, there is the concept of the afterlife, that you have something to look forward to. But presumably many of the people who subscribe to the environmental apocalypse are secular individuals. In the traditional sense, they don’t believe in the afterlife, so is this a search for posterity, that somebody 800 years from now is able to write, “Aha! Shellenberger was right”? They will remember you through the apocalyptic predictions that you were making.

MS: Yes, or the anti-apocalyptic predictions that I might be making. It’s not like I’m immune from this. Yeah, a hundred years from now when we’ve banished nuclear weapons and fossil fuels and nuclear energy and industrialized agriculture and we’re all living in villages in harmony with nature, people will look back and say Greta Thunberg was the one that saved our human race or Bill McKibben was the man that made us all want to live as farmers again and make our own clothing and forage for our own food. It was thanks to those prophets. And so they do have an afterlife. We all do. Most of us get our afterlife needs met through our children you know. I have kids, and I’m always struck by how much my parents get out of having grandkids. There’s obviously an evolutionary explanation of this. You see your grandkids living on, and that’s just your DNA tricking you into thinking that you’re immortal, which is a rather crass way of looking at it. I mean that’s how we have traditionally gotten our immortality projects done. It was through our kids and grandkids. It’s not everybody that then adopts this new apocalyptic religion. It’s particular people at particular stages of their life, often experiencing high levels of social insecurity. Social insecurity is a form of existential insecurity too. If I’m lonely or depressed or isolated, I might become more apocalyptic. The world is a terrible place. It should be destroyed. If I then find my voice saying that and I attract some recognition, then I get back into the beloved community, and I feel more positive that I will have an afterlife and that potentially I might have heroism and greatness. I think that’s what’s going on now. Of course, all of it is happening very subconsciously, so you have to be careful. When I got to some of this stuff at the end of the book, I just ended up turning it back on myself so that I wasn’t speculating about other people’s motivations. I talked about my own motivations and seeing if I can understand those because as we know, it’s often as difficult to understand oneself as it is to understand others. We are often mysteries to ourselves, but that’s where it kind of goes. And there is good scholarship by the way. I’m not just making this up and it’s not just Michael Crichton. The Wall Street Journal review my book yesterday and mentioned that I had come to this conclusion about their religious and spiritual drivers of environmentalism, and everybody was asking, “Did you see Michael Crichton’s speech?” Yeah, I saw the Michael Crichton speech, and I have full respect for what he was describing there, and there is a body of scholarly literature, including empirical literature, that shows the relationship between secularization and environmentalism.

MT: We discussed the search for immortality, and I think there is there is much to it. The aspect that has been discussed in relation to environmentalism is the concept of a search for meaning. Our mutual friend Steven Pinker is very skeptical about the research on meaning because we don’t have any long-term data on whether people in secular societies feel that their lives are more meaningless than they used to be before, but it seems to me that the search for the heroic is, in fact, a search for meaning. Is this something that is particular to Western secular, growingly irreligious societies?

MS: Well no, it’s in Japan and it’s in China. It’s not just in the West, but yes, it’s in secular, prosperous societies, and it’s definitely not as strong in poor, developing societies. You see it among the educated elite who are also more secular. If you go to Rio de Janeiro, if you go to the Leblon neighborhood, the people there if you interviewed them about climate change would sound exactly like my neighbors here in Berkeley. The things they would say would be identical. I’m not sure if that answered your question about it.

MT: So it’s not a question of Western societies only. It is a question of a certain type of person regardless of where they live but with education and perhaps a certain level of material comfort and a loss of belief in the traditional religion. The search for an alternative and search for meaning in environmentalism takes them. Am I summarizing your position well?

MS: You got it, and you’re also right about the history of it. I mean Nietzsche is the first major philosopher who writes about this problem. He says it’s going to be a big problem. He was proven right when you get to World War I and World War II and, like you said, fascism and communism, and when those gods failed and died, this impulse had to go somewhere and so it ended up going into environmentalism or apocalyptic environmentalism, which is a very different animal from the earlier conservation. Post-war environmentalism is pretty radically different. It’s Malthusian. It’s apocalyptic in ways that the earlier conservation agenda was not.

MT: One of the things that you discuss in your book is this concept of nature fallacy. Can you describe it a little bit to us? I’ve recently seen a book on nature fallacy published by a professor at GMU. Basically, it was a book about how when people see something described as natural, they immediately think that it is better, but you also have a take on it in your book, which came out contemporaneously. What’s your take?

MS: Yeah, I’m here in Berkeley, so your average University of California Berkeley student, if you ask, “Are renewables good?”, they’ll say, “Yeah, renewables are good.” And you’ll be like, “Why?” And I may go, “Well, because they’re more natural” or “because they integrate us with the natural environment” or something like that. That’s one group of people, and that’s most people. If you go to the grocery store and it says natural, I get that. And that’s a lot of people and even a lot of believers. The idea that nature is something that we should like is actually also a recent thing. There’s a great book about Britain where people start caring about the natural world for the natural world’s sake somewhere around the 16th century in Britain. It sort of starts with cities and they get pets. If you look at animals, we ate them and then we made them pets and now they sleep on our beds. So nature comes to us, even as we transform environments to reduce wildness. I think that’s a big part of it. There’s this other thing going on though, which is the idea that we protect nature by going back and by being poorer and using less energy and living closer to the land as farmers and moving away from industrialization, either to agriculture or full-on hunter-gatherer. You might go full-on paleo. You save the environment by going backward. Now, that’s the folks whom we would call Malthusian thinkers. That’s a smaller group of people, but those are definitely the leaders of the big environmental groups. It’s the people that write the books. It’s Al Gore. It’s Greta Thunberg. It’s Greta Thunberg’s family. It’s Greta Thunberg’s allies. It’s the Green Party. It’s all the big environmental groups, and they’re the people that write books. They’re lawyers. They’re people that have a deeper ideological driver than just the shallow, “Oh, it’s natural and therefore it’s good,” which by the way is technically the appeal to nature fallacy. The naturalistic fallacy is actually something different.

MT: And one thing that you discussed in your book is this theory that everything connects. I would like you to talk about it very briefly, but also in the context of COVID. Very often, when I read newspapers or watch TV since the outbreak of the pandemic, what you see is people saying things like, “Nature is sending us a message. This is what happens when we don’t treat nature with respect.” And what I find particularly puzzling is the assumption that pandemic is what happens when humanity encroaches on nature’s territory. In fact, it seems to me that that’s the inversion of reality because as billions of people move to the cities, we are leaving more and more of nature for animals and more and more nature to rebound. Talk a little bit about that everything connects theory, especially within the context of the pandemic.

MS: Well okay, let’s deal with real-world dynamics, and then we can talk about the ideological. So the real-world dynamics are that the pandemic is the spilling over of animal viruses, probably from bats, to humans, and that’s occurring more as we get more interactions between people and wildlife and we get more markets like that and they’re connected to airports and global transportation. That’s this current pandemic, and most people have heard that story before. However, the implications of it are that you need to concentrate and centralize food production even more. That may seem counterintuitive because when you concentrate animals, there is a greater risk of a disease spillover, but it’s only in the heavily capitalized, intensive farming that they have the money to test the animals, test the people, and harden the facilities so that bats can’t fly in and roost over the pigs and spread the virus that way. On the coronavirus, that’s the opposite of what a lot of apocalyptic environmentalists would say is the implication of the coronavirus. Then you kind of get ideological, and there’s sort of an idea that all of these problems are just of too much progress, too much wealth, too much scientific advance, too much technology, and that we just need to go back in time. That’s what’s driving the sense in which these problems are all sort of interconnected, that somehow it’s all stemming from something bad in humans like greed and ignorance as opposed to just trying to eat or provide food and energy for eight billion going on ten billion people. Instead, there’s a story that these environmental problems are kind of punishment for our sins against nature, for us having bad intentions towards nature in a sense of being greedy or hubristic. I think that’s how I’ve seen it be used anyway during the pandemic. You might have seen it differently.

MT: What do you make of a lot of environmentalists ascribing to nature — in the same way that intellectuals in the past were ascribing to history — ascribing to them almost human-like agency, personalizing these very impersonal forces? Is that something that you also find interesting?

MS: Yeah, the book argues that basically much of apocalyptic environmentalism is just repeating Judeo-Christian stories and the people repeating them think they’re scientific stories. They think they’re secular stories. They don’t even have an awareness that they’re just repeating the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation, and they don’t have any awareness of it because they were raised secular. Of course, it’s so in the culture, and some people think it’s archetypal, but these heroic stories are coming from similar sources. I definitely think that’s a part of it, where we project onto nature the idea that we’re being punished. They don’t quite want to come out and say like that. “Nature is responding. We are the virus.” I see that a lot on Twitter right now. A lot of people say to me, and I’m like, “Maybe you are, but no thanks.” It’s not accurate.

MT: I also think that just as humans are involved in a search for food, so is the virus. I mean for them, we really are the place to feed and to procreate, and I think that this evolution of viruses obviously is going on alongside the evolution of the rest of nature, and it has been going on for a very long time, so it shouldn’t be surprising. What has been surprising, of course, is that instead of focusing on the danger of a pandemic, we’ve been focusing on an environmental threat a few decades down the line. What do you think the pandemic and the sort of recalibration of risk analysis is going to do to the environmentalist movement in the short to medium term?

MS: I think it’s going to have a big impact. We’ve been saying for a long time that climate change threatens civilization, but we’ve never shut down civilization to deal with climate change, and we never will. I don’t think they’re ever going to be able to ascribe a single death to climate change. We shouldn’t have any deaths from climate change. We’ve become more resilient to natural disasters. Natural disasters have declined 90% over the last century. We’re producing more food than ever, and what will determine how much food we produce is how much irrigation fertilizer and tractors we give to poor countries. Meanwhile, we’ve shut down the whole economy because of coronavirus. Now, even if you think that we’ve overreacted to the coronavirus pandemic, you would have to acknowledge that it has actually threatened civilization in some fundamental way. Now, I’m not saying it’s the end of civilization, but we’re a divided country right now, and we’ve had riots, and the economy is in a massive recession. We’re trying to avoid depression, and societies may have to do dramatic things that that we will never have to do for climate change, so I think that will change it. I dedicated the book to my kids who are 14 and 21, so I want to definitely reach kids 14 to 2. I think they have a reasonable question, which is, “Ok, so last year we were all on the street because we thought climate change was going to threaten civilization. Well, now we’re at home sheltering in place.” How do we think about these two problems? And you have to be honest and say that pandemics just threaten our lives in ways that climate change won’t, and I think it’s going to have a big impact.

MT: Do you think that your children appreciate that to achieve the sort of goals in terms of reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere that Greta Thunberg, for example, talks about, we would have to be in lockdown times one hundred? Do you think that young people appreciate that if they are miserable in lockdown, the requirements of the environmental extremism would be one thousand times worse?

MS: That’s funny. That’s a very interesting point. The only problem with that sort of rhetoric is just that it’s never going to happen. I think it’s a little distracting too from the main event, which is just that carbon emissions in Britain, France, and Germany peaked in the 70s. They peaked in the United States fifteen years ago. Most rich countries have had their emissions going down as we transition from coal to natural gas and to nuclear, and global emissions will probably peak in the next ten years. Some people think they’ve peaked already. Some people think they’ll peak in 20 years. Put me down for 10 years. If you’re really concerned about emissions reductions, then you should want natural gas and nuclear, and yet, they all oppose natural gas and nuclear. I think it raises this issue of what you really want. What’s going on here?

MT: Ok, since we are running short on time, one last question, and that concerns the modeling. Obviously, since the start of the pandemic, we have seen pretty much all well-known models constructed by incredibly smart people using supercomputers and so forth get the pandemic terribly wrong. That was happening in real times with real data streaming in, yet our predictions about infections and death rates and many other things have been way off. Where do you think climate prediction models are going to be down the line? Is anybody going to believe them to start with, and what is their appropriate place in climate science?

MS:  I think I may have a slightly different view of the models. I think that we should have a more modest view of what models are able to predict, and we rely too much on models and too much on experts and ignore other forms of information and other ways of predicting impacts. If you ask, “How wrong were the experts?” Well, we knew this was a highly transmissible disease, and we see that in environments where infected people are exposing others, we get a lot of spread of the disease, and we see that if you wear masks and you keep social distancing, you have a lot less spread. That may sound horribly obvious, but that’s sort of the most important thing. There’s some debate around how much we open up, but it’s not going to be calibrated by modeling. It’s much broader than that. Just wear masks and social distance and that works. Then, you have some debates around people wearing masks and getting haircuts, and that’s getting worked out. Then, you have some modelers who say, “My model is going to predict this really accurately,” either in climate change or on pandemics. And then people say, “No, your model is not that accurate.” It’s accurate-ish. If you have more carbon emissions, we’re going to have a warmer planet. It’s just kind of a basic physical process that doesn’t require any computer modeling. We’ve known it for over 120 years. If you have more social distancing and more masks, you’re going to have less transmission of coronavirus. The models are helpful, and we should look at them, but at the end of the day, you double carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the temperatures are going to rise somewhere between one and a half and four and a half degrees centigrade. It’s a pretty big difference, but that’s the climate sensitivity. Maybe it’s two to four and a half degrees now. Beyond that, how much more do we actually know?

MT: It is strange that given how the models have really failed us with regard to COVID, we put a lot of emphasis on models which are predicting something happening 80 years from now, but perhaps this particular crisis will teach us to be a little more humble.

MS: I think humility is the most important thing. I didn’t even include it in the book because this is one of many details, but for a long time, they thought that more warming would increase rainfall in the Amazon. Now, everybody agrees that increased warming is going to reduce rainfall in Amazon. That’s kind of important. And then, does it really change what you do very much? Most of us want to save the Amazon, not out of some prediction of future rainfall, but just because we want to save the wildlife and the biodiversity. So I just think sometimes, the debates about modeling can get a little sectarian when I think there’s often some broader agreement about kind of basic stuff — masks and social distancing in the case of the coronavirus — and then you work out how much we are going to impose masks and social distancing. How much do we want them? And that’s often determined by things other than the models.

MT: I’m deeply grateful to you for your time. Thank you very much, and I wish you all the best with the sale of your book. We are obviously going to push it on Human Progress because I think it’s a very important contribution to our understanding of what’s going on. Hopefully, we’ll do this again. Thank you for your time

MS: Thanks, Marian.