Like many, Caroline Cochran first became aware of the major environmental issues facing the planet through film, particularly when Al Gore visited the University of Oklahoma regarding his film The Inconvenient Truth. Since going to graduate school at MIT and becoming a clean energy startup cofounder, she found herself in a documentary and traveling to environmental film festivals. A recurring theme at these festivals seemed to be the idea of guilt as an end of itself, or at best a sense of incrementalism as an action item to alleviate guilt. But many came up to her saying that theirs was the first documentary that gave them some hope for the future. This talk describes a case study in how the messaging of the environmental movement is creating divides, both economically and emotionally, that leave us all worse off. It then examines data on one demonstrated way that carbon emissions and pollution can be reduced dramatically in a modern economy — broad implementation of nuclear energy with renewables. Caroline Cochran cares deeply about the environment and health, which underlies her dedication to making advanced nuclear energy a reality. As the founder and COO of Oklo Inc., Caroline Cochran is leading the team towards building a very small advanced reactor generator that can be waste-negative, carbon-negative, and replace the world’s dirtiest and least reliable remote power sources. She brings with her a wealth of experience, from being a manager in 16 projects, including 10 start-up projects, to founding 5 different organizations.
Cochran is the first author of several published papers, and currently is an editor for a nuclear energy education and advocacy website. She earned her BA in Economics and her BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Oklahoma and her MS in nuclear engineering from MIT. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.