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Breaking down the future of energy with Jonah Goldman: podcast and transcript

Chris Hayes speaks with Jonah Goldman, managing director at Breakthrough Energy, about achieving a path to net zero emissions by 2050.

Time is running out to reverse the damage done by climate change, according to a report released by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February 2022. Preventing further destruction will be the biggest undertaking in the history of human civilization. Can it be done? Jonah Goldman joined Gates Ventures, Bill Gates’s private office, in September 2014, where he is responsible for the organization’s relationships with policymakers around the world. In 2020, he helped Bill establish Breakthrough Energy (BE). BE is a network of entities and initiatives, including investment funds, nonprofit and philanthropic programs, and policy efforts linked by a common commitment to scale the technologies we need to achieve a path to net zero emissions by 2050. Goldman joins to provide a gut check on where we stand on the timeline for change as it relates to the future of energy.

Note: This is a rough transcript — please excuse any typos.

Jonah Goldman: If you're an innovator in 2022 and you're looking at climate, I mean, there is more capital available for you than you could ever imagine in a different situation.

Chris Hayes: Hello and welcome to "Why Is This Happening?" with me your host, Chris Hayes.

Well, an interesting thing happens when you record a special series and you have to do it ahead of time, which is that a lot can change in the world between when you record it and when you release it. This conversation today, we recorded prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it's a conversation focusing on energy. There's a lot of stuff in there, I think all of it's still relevant, but the context in which you might hear it or interpret it is, in some ways, going to be necessarily a little different after what has happened with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, particularly around the prevalence of hydrocarbons, their connection to Europe, Russia's power and also nuclear power, which has been at the center of the story.

We touched on it in this conversation. You've got civilian nuclear power in the form of nuclear power plants in Ukraine, which had been fired upon attacked or occupied by Russian forces, there's safety concerns there. There's also, of course, nuclear weapons, which have been hinted at or pointed to by the Putin regime. We figured it was worth keeping in all the discussion on nuclear, because it's still relevant, even though I think there's ways in which the context of it or the concerns around safety might be heightened now in light of the recent developments.

All right. Very, very quick history of human life on the planet, we've been around as a species for like 250,000 years, somewhere in that ballpark for 99.999999999% of that. We're basically operating off solar power. We use the sun. The sun grows stuff. We use it to feed us. We come up with some mills on water. We dam water. We come up with wind, some wind that we can use to harness.

But mostly we got to operate with the energy budget of just what's extant and around. Civilizations rise and fall. You get all kinds of different levels of development in different places, but that's the binding constraint on all human life for the first, again, 99.9999%.

Then around the 19th century, we begin to pull out of the ground, essentially billions of year's worth of sunlight trapped in fossils that we start burning and all of a sudden human indices of wealth generation, human activity, population, all that stuff, hockey sticks. There's two ages, there's the age before that, the age before fossil fuels and plentiful energy and the age afterwards. The things that we're able to do, everything that we consider, modern life, is undergirded by that energy budget. An energy budget where we got access to 5 billion years of worth of solar power, when everyone who came before us just had whatever solar activity was happening in that moment.

Now, we have to move to the next phase. Phase three is the one we're about to enter into. That's where we keep modern life. We don't go back to operating off of the energy budget of just what's extant in that day's sun and the sort of ecosystem, but we stop burning fossil fuel completely, because the burning of fossil fuel produces carbon in the atmosphere that is creating a planet that will be less and less habitable, heading towards two degrees Celsius in temperature rise, could go as high as six or seven.

At six or seven, you're talking about true dystopic apocalyptic scenarios of maybe not supporting human life, so we got to cut off before then. The goal ostensibly now, I guess, is 1.5. But everyone says we're going to overshoot that. The biggest question in the Future Of series we're doing, the most important question for human life on the planet is what the future of energy looks like. That's the one question.

Everything is subordinate to that. Everything cascades off of that. Every question about human life, about human politics, about society, culture, geography, war and peace, everything is subordinate to the question of what the next source of human energy will be. That's the number one question.

If you're going to devote your life to doing one thing, I think that would be the thing to devote your life to and today's guest has devoted his life to that. His name is Jonah Goldman and he's the Managing Director of Breakthrough Energy, which is a really interesting undertaking. We'll learn more about it. I feel like I don't quite understand what it is.

It calls itself a network sharing, a commitment to achieve a path to net zero emissions by 2050. You may have heard about it when Bill Gates basically made it one of the sort of big projects he was investing in. It's a private public fund. It's backed by Gates. Its vision is to essentially help solve that very question, what is phase three of human life on the planet energy source, what does that look like and so I'm really excited to have Jonah Goldman on the program.

Jonah Goldman: Thank you so much, Chris. My mother is going to be very proud of the way that you set that up. I feel a little bit more nervous than I did before, because I feel like you put the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Chris Hayes: It 100% is.

Jonah Goldman: Excellent.

Chris Hayes: You're doing the most important thing and if you don't figure it out, we're (inaudible). Let's start with what do you think of that history of humanity, is that track with how you think about this?

Jonah Goldman: Yes. I mean, we may have started emitting fossil fuels a little bit earlier than maybe you suggested, but still, yes, that's generally right. The history of human civilization is an energy story as much as it's any other kind of story starting way back when we were hunters and gatherers and then the way that we were able to create agriculture or agricultural productivity had a lot to do with the way we were able to harness energy at that point. It was like you said it was.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Jonah Goldman: It was how we could deal with our caloric intake significant enough to be able to have the wherewithal to go and do the things that we do. Yes, we've created this really, I mean, sometimes we like to say how terrible it is, it's a really remarkable modern lifestyle that we've created. It's pretty incredible.

If you look at the course of human history from before that moment till after that moment, I think once we made the decision to stop just being hunters and gatherers and living in civilizations and starting to create these kind of collective opportunities to thrive, that was a moment where maybe people can argue which side of the divide you come to.

Chris Hayes: Oh, and they do.

Jonah Goldman: And they do. Yes, certainly. But if you're on our side of the divide in a sense that you're going to say, "Okay, we're not going back to that situation." You much rather live your life after the moment of energy realization than before, because you get to live longer, you get to live healthier, you get to live with many more things that we take for granted.

Chris Hayes: Yes. Let me correct myself, I meant 18th century. I think I said 1800. I meant 18th century, 1700 is when it really starts to kick into gear.

Jonah Goldman: Those sorts of things or even before we started digging lots and lots of fossil fuels. But still, yes, that's just about it. Civilization is an energy story.

Chris Hayes: Let's talk a bit about what your background is, what do you do? What's your job?

Jonah Goldman: That's a good question. Let me just sort of lay out why we're doing what we're doing and the way we're doing it, and then my job is to hopefully help the incredibly talented team we have succeed at the thing we're trying to do.

We started this with like the world story is an energy story. The way that we live our modern lifestyle is based on a series of products that are ubiquitous. Like if any of us looks around our rooms or I'm looking at your room and you're looking at my room, and every single thing I see has some contribution to climate change, because it was based on some level of fossil fuels, from clothes to cabinets to everything.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Jonah Goldman: That's in addition to all of the transportation pieces which, of course, add to that, but even just the manufacture of all these. Everything we see in everybody's house all was created with some impact to climate change.

When we think about what the modern lifestyle is based on, it's based on these products and services that we've spent a century, over a century, we've just gone through that, creating really the most efficient markets on the planet to be able to deploy those things that make them really, really cheap. Which if it weren't for fossil fuels, we could pat ourselves on the back and be like look at this incredible innovation that's happened over the course of centuries to be able to allow us to live and talk like we're talking right now.

The purpose of Breakthrough Energy is to say, well, we're not going back to that history, that's just unrealistic, and also, we don't want to. How do we remake all of these products and services? How do we impact these markets and how do we create a network of basically these things that we rely on in a new way?

The way that you do that is through innovation, through market creation, through policy, through new ways of driving these markets, new ways of incentivizing the private sector to act in a way that understands that this thing climate imperative is a critical imperative to the success of their own industries and businesses.

At Breakthrough Energy, why we're designed the way that we are is to either directly commercialize new technologies or to be a model for how you can commercialize new technologies, because we're not going to be able to do it in the way that we did it before. We'd think that that means massive investments in early stage innovation and it means massive investments in deploying current technologies, but it really means shaping market structures, so we can do these things in a way that the whole world can adopt them.

That's the big thing that often gets left out of a lot of climate conversations is that the only way that we're successful is if the whole world does this. If any part of the world decides we don't do it, then we're just not successful. It's a very hard concept, actually, for humans to really totally appreciate, because we don't live in a global world as much as we're more interconnected and we can fly around and things like that.

We live in our own individual worlds and we can see things that are deeply, deeply impactful to our world and then think they are therefore impactful to the whole world. In the climate situation, that's where that gets proven wrong. It's not just about us being able to say how do we get out some more EVs in rich countries or how do we get more solar arrays in sunny parts of Europe. It's how do you transform this for the places on the planet that right now don't have the access to reliable and affordable energy that we take for granted and not stop that progress.

It is altruistic like I want everybody on the planet to live as wonderful life as I have this incredible luck to live. It's also just essential, because they're not going to not do that.

Chris Hayes: Right.

Jonah Goldman: If you see others living a lifestyle that makes sense for you to live, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to do it and you certainly shouldn't be penalized because you weren't the ones who created this problem to begin with.

Chris Hayes: Yes. I want to just take a moment to sort of hang a lantern on an ideological construct here, which I think is important to note and not argue it with you. But just to say that in the broad coalition of people that care about climate change and want to see it addressed, there's kind of roughly two camps and I think I'm oversimplifying a little bit. But This Changes Everything camp, which is a title of a book by Naomi Klein is basically that the fossil fuel problem is essentially the manifestation of the original sin of industrial capitalism and that to fix it you need to fix and reimagine global industrial capitalism. That you need to sort of reconfigure human systems and institutions. That's one way of thinking about the problem.

Another way of thinking about the problem is global industrial capitalism is pretty great, gave it a lot of great stuff, just putting a lot of carbon in the atmosphere, can we keep it going and the kind of development that we've seen in, say, the global south China and India, can we keep it going, but just doing it with technologies that mean that we're not heating the planet. That's very much the framework. The latter one is the one that you're operating out of. I just want to highlight that for anyone that's listening and thinking themselves, they are in another school on this, not to argue that point but just that that's the school that you guys are approaching this out of.

Jonah Goldman: Yes. This is, I think, probably going to be evident through the conversation. Our idea is that there's not a lot of choices when it comes to the things we're doing, like you kind of have to do everything, right?

Chris Hayes: That I agree with.

Jonah Goldman: You also have to be laser focused on the problem you're trying to solve. The critique of modern industrial capitalism and the fact that there are many people who've lost out on the riches that have been bestowed by that structure is a very important and interesting conversation. It's not a climate conversation.

Because under no circumstances would people be excited about a history that doesn't include fossil fuels and the fact that we created a structure over the last century and a half to deploy them very cheaply and to do it in a way that was efficient in like mind-boggling ways until about the '70s was not just good. It was miraculous.

There was no problem with the incentive structure to be able to create that system. You think back to various moments in history when LBJ was forcing power lines across the entire country, those were mostly powered by fossil fuels and thank God he did that because we're much, much better as a country because of it. Despite the fact that we still have to struggle with poverty, and we still have to struggle with local air pollution, we still have to struggle with these very, very real issues, every community is better because there's electrification.

I find it often people were always looking for the evil people. It's always easier to create those dichotomies and then to live within that kind of a structure. The point that I have is that if we're really looking at the villains in the climate conversation, it's all of us. We want to live the lifestyle that we live and we want to have the access to health and the access to the lifestyle that allows us to live much, much longer and much, much healthier, and much happier lives than we ever did before and that is a fossil fuel story, until we decide that we just don't want to do that anymore.

We can villainize companies, we can make other people out to be the villain, but that's not going to help us solve the problem. I don't see how that helps us solve the problem. There's practical problems with that in the sense that those are the companies that understand how to deliver reliable and affordable energy better than anybody else. They've got engineers that know how to do that. They've got investors that know how to do that. They've got technology that knows how to do that and they're the best in the world at it.

We can either say, "No, you should stay on the sidelines and we're going to start this all over." That's going to delay us by decades or centuries. Or we can be like, "Do you want to be part of the solution?" If you want to be part of the problem, there are things we can do to make sure that is a much harder thing to do to be part of the problem. But I don't know, I feel like there's not, at least my assessment of this situation, there are the whole lot of people. We can be like, "No, thanks." You go and do your own thing. It's too big a problem.

Chris Hayes: Let's talk about how to frame the problem. It's an energy problem. Most of the energy that the world uses creates carbon pollution and we have to get to a point where we're net zero by 2050 is your goal.

Jonah Goldman: Yes.

Chris Hayes: What's the best way to start thinking about that or breaking that up? I know there's a million different ways. There's different pie charts people do, there's the wedges, there's different ways people visualize it. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. How do you conceptualize it?

Jonah Goldman: Yes. The way that Breakthrough Energy is organized is around a threshold construct and then a sectoral construct. Our threshold construct is that we're only really interested in commercializing technologies that are able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half a giga ton a year, approximately a percent of what we do every year. The reason why we do that is because it's easy to get seduced into sort of small solutions in this problem that is never going to end up scaling, so that's the first thing.

Then the second thing is that then you have to look at where are the emission is coming from. We think about five grand challenges, people think about four sectors, it doesn't really matter. How you break it down is basically like everything we do. It's like how we live, how we move, how we eat, how we make things, those are the kinds of things that we need to change.

At that point, what we really look at is where are the best intervention, so where are you going to have the most impact, electricity, for example, changing electricity generation, huge impact, because it's about a quarter of emissions right now, but it has the potential to solve a lot more than a quarter of the problem, because we can electrify a whole bunch of things, so that's a really important thing. Let's make sure that we're doing that.

We're not doing nearly enough with that right now. We're not deploying wind and solar. There's this very, what I think is a misguided and antiquated conversation about nuclear, which is right now producing more greenhouse gas-free energy than any other type of generation in the U.S., there is transmission problems.

You really have to look at each of those things, break it down and say, if you're going to deal with the everything, you can't just go and say, I'm dealing with the everything, right?

Chris Hayes: Right.

Jonah Goldman: You have to say a percent is a meaningful amount of this stuff, how do we go and execute against something that's going to get us a percent, how are we going to get 5%, how are we going to get 7% and then go and do it in a really meaningful way and recognize that you either have to participate in structures that were created for other types of technologies.

That's really hard, because the whole system is incentivized through a level of innovation, and then capital return, and more innovation and then higher capital return. Oftentimes, we're not going to be able to live that linear path of growth through this type of issue. Then you have to say, well, what are the ways that you address that.

Now, there's market structures, there's policy structures, there's innovation, there's leap frogging that you can occasionally do, and you just basically have to say, "What are the problems?" "What is the solution for that particular problem?" "Where is the technology and what needs to happen next?" But you need to do that with everything and that's hard, but it's not impossible.

You can look at it as the most pessimistic thing in the world, which is the likelihood of us being able to reshape the everything that we do in a short period of time. It seems nearly impossible, and it might be. But the opportunities for innovation is everywhere.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Jonah Goldman: Yes, it's incredible.

Chris Hayes: This is the thing that's very exciting to me. I've been thinking a lot about this. This relates to another project I'm working on. I think we are in a moment that our future vision is very dystopian and utopian thinking just doesn't exist. Like if people ask what's a utopia, we don't have our version of 1920s Metropolis, 1896 Columbian Exposition, 1892 I guess it was, Star Trek.

Star Trek, and Metropolis and the Columbian Exposition; these are moments of sort of a lot of techno optimism, a huge amount of development, 1890s, 1920s, 1960s. All we have are like dystopian vision of the future. It's all we got, which I think is actually toxic, and innervating, and bad and dangerous to solving the problem.

The thing that's exciting to me here is the transformation of human life in the planet to essentially a zero-cost energy world. A cheap plentiful energy, which is basically what we're going to have to get to, which seems impossible, maybe not, but like even starting in the electricity question.

The stuff that's been happening in solar, particularly in wind, is really exciting and feels like it's happening faster than like a lot of people thought it would happen. The trajectories there have outpaced expectations in a way that I think there's like a little bit of an encouraging story to tell in that universe.

Jonah Goldman: Yes. We have to make sure that we don't suffer from unproductive pessimism or unproductive exuberance. The truth is that the solar story is a 60-year story. The solar story was very, very hard. It was a huge amount of investment. It was an enormous amount of false starts and failures and we still end up having an intermittent energy source that's hugely powerful.

Solar, I think, in the last assessment was somewhere in around 3% in the U.S. The U.S. is blessed with incredible solar resources. We have the Southwest that is really amazing. You got sunlight for a long time. It's a lot of sunlight. It's a lot of space where people don't live and you're not interrupting society and yet we're nowhere near where we should be with solar, same thing with wind. But we can build solar and wind and then we still have another problem with electricity, which is like, how do you make that reliable, and that's really hard.

But great, yes, the solar and wind journey should be an optimistic journey, but we shouldn't think that everything is going to follow that. If you ask anybody what's the magic of climate-smart technology. They'll say solar, they'll say wind and they'll say EVs. You'll say, "Then what's the fourth thing?" And it's silence.

It's not been people working on these things, but like who is the one who's going to tell you, "Oh, cement," or, "Steel," or the fundamental building blocks of how we build everything that we build in the modern cities and nobody is going to give you a really good answer of solar or wind or EVs.

The reason why is because those things are even harder than solar, wind and EVs, which are also really hard. Great, because the difference between the way that solar, winds and EVs had to develop, which is they had to develop with a market that question their value to the overall market structure, whereas everything else now that question is largely silenced.

Chris Hayes: Really?

Jonah Goldman: In the U.S., we still have some people who are climate denier, sure, but that is not what you see in private industry. It's not what you see in the vast majority of governments. If you look at recovery funds in 2008 and you look at recovery funds after the pandemic, the idea of a green recovery in 2008 was a joke, like it just didn't happen. Everything went away and then people focused on one failure with Solyndra, which was just like nonsense. The LPO did a great job of picking pretty good investments.

Now, you look at Europe, you look at the infrastructure bill that we passed here. You look at Asia. It is a green recovery that people are counting on. That is a big, big different signal to business. The way that we think about it often at Breakthrough Energy is that transitions only happen in capitalist economies, when something is either better or cheaper and the problem from a climate perspective is what you're talking about is a transition to something that's more expensive and often less good for what it's supposed to be doing.

Coal, as terrible as it is for the environment, is pretty damn good at giving you reliable electricity. Whereas like solar, I'm pretty sure every single day there is going to be hours where solar can't generate electricity, but we have to force that transition. What we're seeing is the capitalist system at least defined by investors, board members, customers, employees, those are very important constituents in any kind of capitalist structure, all of them are saying, it's now better, faster, cheaper and it has to be climate conscious and that is a new thing. That's a brand new thing.

Chris Hayes: How new? When is that?

Jonah Goldman: I'll say I've been doing this Breakthrough Energy thing, I've been involved with it since Bill started it in 2015. If you look at COP in 2015, so COP 21 versus COP 26 or COP 27 and as we move to COP 27, it's a world of difference. There's plenty of places for us to be disappointed and we need to be inspired by that disappointment, because we need to push everything further.

But you're talking about a situation where CEOs of major companies with a significant amount of capital understand what their climate plans are. We should talk about the value of individual climate plans, but they know what they are, and they have to report that to their boards. That was not at all the case when we were in Paris in 2015.

It's a short period of time, but there's a durability to it because of the fact that these recovery funds, those are real dollars, appropriated dollars and that's how we think about it here. They're budgeted dollars in other parts of the world. They're real dollars going to real projects that are going to really build the infrastructure for this kind of stuff.

Then, you have companies that are making real commitments to their boards and real commitments from their supply chains and other things that are going to have significant impact. So if you're an innovator in 2014 who cares about climate, you're kind of looking at a wasteland, whereas if you're an innovator in 2022 and you're looking at climate, I mean, there is more capital available for you than you could ever imagine in a different situation.

Chris Hayes: That's interesting. It's interesting that when you talk about solar, wind and EVs like this sort of places where the technology is fairly mature, fairly deployable and we're just like way behind what we should be deploying. This is the thing that drives me insane about that part of the equation. I'll speak here from personal experiences that we have a house upstate that we put a huge solar array in.

We're moving now on doing geothermal this spring, so we got wood stove which is carbon free. We're taking the trees that fell down. We're going to get to pretty close to net zero for that house through these various investments. The thing that's fascinating to me is these are off the shelf, I'm not doing anything, this is all consumer technology. I'm just purchasing it. There are people that can do it.

Now the thing about it is, it's expensive. Like the idea that it's like paying for itself, it's not actually. This is essentially a choice by me, someone who is lucky enough to have the disposable income to do it and because I believe in it. It doesn't really pencil out.

What's maddening to me about that is that there's a lot of money in the world. Like if that's the problem, that's a solvable problem. That's what drives me crazy about this particular moment on those technologies. There's other stuff that isn't solved, but on the technologies that are there it's like, "Yes, they're too expensive, so just pay for them," like there's lots of money around.

Jonah Goldman: But Chris, that's not the problem. That's not the problem, it's not. It's a part of the problem.

Chris Hayes: But it is the problem.

Jonah Goldman: No, no, no, because the question that you should ask about that, all of that investment that you've put into that is what is the value from a climate perspective. The value is not you being net zero. That's meaningless from a climate perspective. Because you personally being net zero doesn't matter. Because like you said, unless every single person can do it, it's meaningless. It's hugely meaningful as a market signal. You're actually going and buying products that are on the shelf that now someone has to restock that shelf.

Chris Hayes: Right. Which is why I'm doing it like I'm aware enough to know that.

Jonah Goldman: Yes, which is great. That's great. That's great.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Jonah Goldman: The idea that you could then make that into a network effect and we can now build what you have on your house upstate everywhere is you run into a ton of other issues in order to try to extrapolate that to a city, a state, a country or the world. Some of those things are eminently solvable problems, super actually relatively easily solvable problems, it's a mindset shift, and some of those things are not that.

Chris Hayes: Scaling technologies that are commercially available and a little more expensive, they should be just that, a little slice of the problem, just scaling that.

Jonah Goldman: Sure, yes. Sometimes that is a money question and some of that capital is flowing now that wasn't like flowing before.

Chris Hayes: Right, totally.

Jonah Goldman: Just an example, there is a lot of hydropower in Quebec.

Chris Hayes: I always say that about Quebec. I always say that's a land of lots of hydropower.

Jonah Goldman: Yes, I know. When I think about Quebec, I think about hydropower. I think about the fact that they were able to give Washington, D.C. a baseball team. Those are the kinds of things I think about. I don't know if I think about anything else when I think about Quebec. Now I think about truckers.

When you think about Quebec, there's a lot of hydropower. There's a large part of New England that needs renewable energy in order to satisfy its climate goals. For over a decade, there was this brilliant solution, bring all of that hydropower, which isn't being used in Quebec and give it to the people in New England who desperately need it. The reason why they couldn't do it is because you can't run power line, you can't run transmission from Quebec to Massachusetts without going through either Maine or New Hampshire.

Maine and New Hampshire were like, well, we don't get anything from it. All the power is going to Massachusetts, so we're not going to allow you to permit this line. That's what we're talking about when we're talking about getting from your house to the world and it's ridiculous.

Chris Hayes: Didn't they just vote this down? Didn't they just have an actual ballot initiative on it?

Jonah Goldman: They did in Maine. Yes, yes, yes, but that was like the third thing they tried to do. They're now going to bring it down to New York, so they're going to figure out a way to sell Quebec hydros.

Chris Hayes: But now you're making me depressed again. See, I was hopeful and now I'm depressed again.

Jonah Goldman: I'm going to make you happy--

Chris Hayes: No.

Jonah Goldman: --ultimately, Chris. I promise.

Chris Hayes: I don't know if that's true. No. Wait, I want to tell you this, because this is a good point. We're going to take a quick break and then I'm going to give you the pandemic lesson on this.

Jonah Goldman: Okay, Chris.

Chris Hayes: Which I think is interesting.

We'll be right back with more of our future of energy conversation after we take this quick break.


Chris Hayes: Okay. To me, I think about the pandemic and climate related a lot, because there's a certain parallels. It's a global problem, it's a collective problem, it requires both policy and innovation. It's the intersection of economics, and behavior, and governing and policy. It's got all these things and the whole world trying to solve it together with varying degrees of success.

To me the most amazingly American thing about our pandemic experience, which is like sort of depressing about how I think about climate is American innovation in producing a vaccine was the most incredible story of innovation ever. It wasn't just American, obviously, it was happening across the world, but it was also minds from other places in the world, because we're a country that's cosmopolitan and open to immigrants. All these brilliant people come here and they do incredible things. We created this. They sequenced it in like a few weeks in freaking February. We got it to market and we tested it. Then there's like a bunch of people who were just like, goddamn it, I won't take the goddamn vaccine.

We have the lowest vaccination rate in the OECD among wealthy countries, the highest death toll. People are dying by the thousands every day from a goddamn preventable death, because they won't put a freaking shot in their arm, because their brains have been eaten up by the virus propaganda and misinformation. Then I think about that and I'm like to get back to your question about the questions we're going to encounter at scaling energy are hard ones, like put the vaccine in your arm is an easy one and we can't do that one.

When I think about climate, I'm like, oh my god. Oh my god, we can't get people to take this shot that is free, and safe, and effective and it will protect them from hospitalization and severe illness. How are we going to solve climate? Now make me feel better.

Jonah Goldman: Yes. Okay. Well, first of all, because we have a shot in less than a year, we have a shot that prevents this thing, I mean, feel good, man.

Chris Hayes: Right. Yes, about that. I agree. I agree about that.

Jonah Goldman: Like you are really, really well-protected because you've decided to believe in the magic of science and you've done it and it's worked for you.

Chris Hayes: Yes. No, I agree with that.

Jonah Goldman: We have a very, very small snapshot in time about what this truly would look like.

Chris Hayes: What would look like?

Jonah Goldman: What a need for long-term vaccination for coronavirus would look like. We have other examples. Yes, there's anti-vaxxers on the right or the left who've been there for a long time and have been wrong for a long, long time. But it's not nearly as big as the swath of vaccine skeptics who are out there right now for the coronavirus vaccine.

We do have some indication that people are willing to change their tune. Yes, it seems crazy if what you believe is all of the information you're getting, all of your community is supporting. It seems crazy to not have that. But the truth is that we don't all live in those communities. We don't all get that information, so there you go. Like that is pessimistic. Again, like climate, that's not a coronavirus problem. We've done an amazing job at coronavirus problem, right?

Chris Hayes: No, no, that's right. No, that's sociological, that's human institutions--

Jonah Goldman: Yes, it's a human institution problem. Who knows what it'll looks like five years from now when it's likely that we're going to have to have coronavirus boosters for a while and that's going to keep us safe. Hopefully the better wisdom of our lives are going to be able to convince people who are skeptical. If we look at the climate scenario, there's going to be those things and the question is like how beaten down do we get from those kinds of things or how excited do we get from the fact that we need a shot in a year, that prevents a disease that we never had a shot for.

Chris Hayes: No. Right. But the parallel here is like a dam is an incredible thing. If you're ever been to a hydroelectric dam.

Jonah Goldman: It's amazing.

Chris Hayes: It's an awe-inspiring thing.

Jonah Goldman: It's amazing. Yes, yes, yes.

Chris Hayes: I just went to three gorgeous dams in China and looked at their control room, which is like kind of the Bond film. In fact, the control room is behind opaque glass if they hit a button it becomes clear and there's all these people, the functionaries who are running them like that is awe-inspiring technology.

To me, the corollary here is the awe-inspiring technology of a hydro dam and the voters in Maine being like, don't you dare run that transmission line through my state. It's like that's the core of the contradiction we have to overcome.

Jonah Goldman: Yes. Then the question is what is the solution to the problem with the transmission line. The solution there is that was actually that sort of what people call NIMBYism. That's something that's been around in power distribution forever and it didn't really matter, because just like fossil fuels, wherever you want it pretty much. If you can cite fossil fuel extraction, you can deliver things.

Let's be clear, these things are amazing, amazing substances. Coal is dirty and terrible, and also amazing. Gasoline, there is nothing that has the energy density of gasoline. Like we are not going to ever fly around the world in electric planes because of how heavy batteries are compared to how light liquid fuels are. These things are magical. It's amazing, right?

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Jonah Goldman: But we've created a construct of regulation, of expectation that's been based on this thing that we've had for hundreds of years or hundred something years and now we need to change that. We need to change the policy. We need to change permitting. I mean, like we need to change everything.

But like those things like I can look at that situation with the power line and I can think of different ways and you could think of and a bunch of people could probably think of much better ways. They were much smarter than me, much better ways to do it, but there are ways to solve that problem. We just haven't addressed it yet.

But now let's try to address it and let's be practical about it. Let's not get into a situation where we feel like there's somebody evil in that particular thing, because the evil people in that scenario are people in Maine or New Hampshire who live a particular lifestyle who are like, "Wait, wait, wait, why am I having to deal with this?" That's a completely legitimate question to ask and we should just be able to answer that question in a different way than we ever have really tried to do.

I don't know, I just have a feeling, again, it might be my mother saying tell people they're stupid, like I just feel bad of like--

Chris Hayes: No, totally.

Jonah Goldman: --I don't think that's what it is.

Chris Hayes: Yes. No, I don't believe in telling people they're stupid, I really don't. I'm strongly against that and I think that's not how we do the show.

Jonah Goldman: No, no, I know. I know you don’t.

Chris Hayes: It's not how we feel about the unvaccinated.

Jonah Goldman: Sure. Sure. Sure.

Chris Hayes: I want people to come to this and meet people where they are. I guess the point that I keep getting at is like in a weird way, it's like the tech stuff is really hard and it's easier than the other stuff. It's like the innovation stuff is super difficult. Then even after get that, even after you've solved this very hard problem, which is like how do you get running water to produce electricity at scale or how do you even design high powered transmission lines that can move over long periods of space, that itself is a hard problem.

You solve that and then you run up against these other problems and that's the allegory of the vaccine, which, again, is not a reason to get beaten down, it's just that a lot of different problems are going to have to be solved in a lot of different ways at all times.

Jonah Goldman: Yes, but this is the stuff that you talk about every day. I live in a world that I'm often talking to people in Silicon Valley and like the libertarian streak of innovation and tech development. They are definitely misguided when it comes to the impact of policy, but there is nothing like the impact of policy on this particular problem. Because all of these are the most heavily regulated industries in the world. We want them to be heavily regulated.

Chris Hayes: Exactly.

Jonah Goldman: We don't want people to just be able to build something anywhere they want to with safety precautions.

Chris Hayes: Yes. I have a new nuclear plant I'm putting up in my backyard.

Jonah Goldman: Right. Just to be clear, the nuclear plant is a lot safer than like if people are just like going on being like, oh, we can do whatever we want with an airplane. Like, no, I'd prefer them not to be falling out of the sky. We want these things to be regulated and that is a huge opportunity for us. That regulation and that's the place where, again, I talked to the private sector and I talked to the public sector and you also have done this in your reporting and the way that you run your show.

They don't talk to each other real well, they never have. It's always the other one's fault. The truth is this is a scenario where those conversations have to be in lockstep as possible and they're getting to be that way. They're understanding each other and opportunities in each other in ways that I, at least, have not seen happen before and that's a moment of optimism, anyway.

Like the idea that you can address these issues and if we're able to build these market structures that allow communities to thrive, that allow industries to succeed, that allow products to get on shelves, people are open to that. Regulators are open to it. Companies are open to it. Innovators are open to it. People are open to that future and it is what the opportunity is.

Everything in the political world always sort of devolves to the problem response. Everything is like, oh, there's going to be billions and billions of clean energy jobs and it's like, well, it depends on how you do it. Like there might be, there might not be. In some places, there are going to be fewer jobs. In some places there's probably going to be more jobs, but the point is that it's a huge opportunity for innovation and growth and all these things.

Chris Hayes: Yes. Well, to me the clean energy job is a little bit of a weird label. I think it's effective messaging. But to your point about everything you're seeing in my shot on our Zoom conversation now or Riverside conversation now was produced by fossil fuels. It's like, right, well, everything is a clean energy job in a net zero economy.

Jonah Goldman: That's right. Yes, sure.

Chris Hayes: Because that's what you're doing. That's what the economy is. We just got to figure out how to get everything that way. Just to sort of now circle back, we sort of talked about some of the tech, we talked about some of the mature tech, then our conversation went to the fact that like even if you have pretty mature tech, scalability is a problem, regulation is a problem, like there's all this stuff. Let's wind back to the tech because there's two areas I think that are worth talking about.

This idea of electrify everything and then zero carbon electricity is one sort of place to do this, but then you've got the heavy industry problem. You've got the gasoline, the battery in the plane problem, which is that as a chemical structure, gasoline just is like not replicable, it's just more energy dense than any substance on Earth. The energy density allows you to put a relatively small amount of it to burn at incredible hot rate as you fly over the skies in tons of steel that make modern air travel possible.

The temperature, again, this is not my area of expertise, but the temperature that you can achieve using fossil fuels to melt things or to make steel, for instance, the industrial process that you make for concrete, very hard to replicate without the energy density of fossil fuel. Let's talk a little bit about how to think about the stuff that's really unsolved problem in a tech in a tech sense.

Jonah Goldman: Yes. That's not a single question, it's a thousand different questions.

Chris Hayes: Yes, of course. Yes.

Jonah Goldman: It's important for it to be a thousand different questions and for us to say how do we create the constructs to allow the thousand different - not to be too maliced about it - but to allow the thousand different flowers to bloom. I think that one of that is the understanding that you're suggesting now, which is that there are some of these things, there is an electrification plan for the world that is very difficult not just because of these permitting and regulatory things. But at some point, if you say, well, let's forget about nuclear, then you need to find all the space for wind and solar and you need to figure out what the reliability aspect of that is and there's a lot of different solutions to that, tons of different solutions.

Chris Hayes: Right. By the way let's put a pin on the nuclear problem and circle back to nuclear as the next thing.

Jonah Goldman: Sure, let's do that. But when you talk about things like steel and cement, and you talk about liquid fuels and liquid fuels are hugely powerful, incredibly important things, then the question is like are there multiple different pathways, what is the impact to those pathways are going to have on ultimate price of these products, because what matters in a lot of ways is like how much is a ton of steel going to cost and how much is a liquid fuel going to cost, because it's not like we don't have the technological pathways to do these things, they're just super, super expensive.

So fuel for planes is a great place to start. There's six or seven different ways that you can create zero GHG, net zero GHG liquid fuels. Some of them are less energy dense than the current kerosene product than most airlines are using, so then you would have to potentially deal with either flying for shorter periods of time or recreating engines or something like that, but they're dropping fuels, so you can use them right now.

Chris Hayes: Oh, really? I don't think I even knew that exist.

Jonah Goldman: Oh, yes, yes, yes. Yes, you can create it. You can create it through biofuels in a way that's net zero. You can create something that's called power to liquids, where you actually create it through power generation, but they're very expensive and they're not scaled, and they're hard to deal with.

That's one of the things that we're trying to do with Breakthrough Energy is to say, okay, so when we think of the success of any of our investments, we think of it through two lenses. One is what Bill called green premiums in the book that he wrote, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, everybody should read it, which is basically the premium between a clean product and a fossil fuel incumbent.

Number one is how you get that to either zero or close to zero, so the whole world can implement it. Then the second is like what is the actual greenhouse gas implications to this particular thing. So right now with sustainable aviation fuel, there's no way to create it at scale where that green premium isn't like astronomically high.

Then the question is like, well, which one of these pathways is going to be most likely to get as close to zero as possible and which one of these pathways is going to be most scalable. Those two things are not necessarily the same thing. For example, right now the way that most of the sustainable aviation fuel is created on the planet is through fat. It's basically through spent vegetable oil and it's then refined into a product that can be dropped into plane engine and the plane can fly. It's amazing. Like that's just amazing.

Chris Hayes: That's cool. That's very cool.

Jonah Goldman: Let's just take a second to say that the stuff that comes out of the fryer at McDonald's can be made into jet fuel.

Chris Hayes: Yes. That's cool. That's very cool.

Jonah Goldman: The thing is that there's not nearly enough of that stuff to fly all the airplanes we want to fly around the world, as much as we love McDonald's.

But you can get that to a relatively affordable product. Then the question is like, well, what's scalable and affordable. Some of these other ways might be that. It might be like taking alcohol, like reliably and sustainably sourced ethanol and making that into jet fuel. Well, that's a great possibility. We just don't know how scalable it is and how much feedstock there is, but let's like really take a shot on goal there and try to build some of that stuff. Get it into the market, see if it works.

People are investing in all of these different things. We're investing in most of these different pathways. No one knows which is going to win, but what we need to do is take all of the shots, because ultimately what we need to do right now is create the market environment for these things to succeed and it's not right now. The market environment is like a euphemism, because it's like hard for largely the private sector to understand what the market environment really means what companies are willing to invest in because of what policy is driving those investments.

There are ways to marry these things up again that are super, super productive and that allows for more products to get into the market and it allows us to figure out which one of these things are going to win. That's just aviation fuel. Then, like if you look at steel, multiple different ways to do that. There's ways to do it through hydrogen production, which like one of our partners, ArcelorMittal, which is one of the biggest steel producers in the world has put like an amazing bet on taking hydrogen and making steel. There's nobody who understands steel better than they do. Well, there's two or three big steel companies.

They know that you can actually take hydrogen, if it's net zero hydrogen, and turn it into steel and have like unbelievable impact on GHG reductions for steel, so that's a different thing. Then there's other methods and other approaches that are super expensive right now, because you can make like one little bar of steel that we need to see whether or not scaling that into a global industry is going to bring those green premiums down enough.

So we're sort of right now, again, it's like you want to be excited, which I want you to come away optimistic from these conversation.

Chris Hayes: That’s my goal as well. Most of what I do during my day is just marinating very optimistic things.

Jonah Goldman: Yes, I know.

Chris Hayes: Just thinking about how great everything is all the time.

Jonah Goldman: How functional our politics is.

Chris Hayes: No, I do. I do both the rational level and also the instrumental level. Because honestly think doom is innervating. No, I'm serious. I actually think this is a very profound and sophisticated part of Don't Look Up which people hammered for being like too simplistic and polemical. But I think the fact that at certain point that Jennifer Lawrence's character when the asteroid is going to come is just like, screw it, and just goes and works in a grocery store. That's what I want to avoid for all of us, because I think to the point that we think that it's coming and there's nothing we can do to stop it and everyone is just like, well, screw it. It's a real problem. It's a real problem. It's a very tangible and real problem.

This stuff is exciting like even just hearing you say, well, yes, of course, there are many, many very smart people with capital behind them working on this very obvious but very difficult problem, which is how to get to net zero steel and net zero airplanes, that's exciting to me.

Jonah Goldman: Right. Yes. These people are serious, like they're serious people, because it's not just the companies that are making the commitments, it's the engineers who work at those companies who have now every day that's what they do, is that they're trying to figure out how to make sure that we can create steel without killing everything on the planet. You started this by saying that we could go from two to three to four to five to seven to nine degrees, if we get to nine degrees.

No. I mean, because then like you go to cement and there's a bunch of exciting things happening in cement, ton of exciting things happening in cement. They're not scalable right now. They're super expensive. Some of them are on a piece of paper and they're in some brilliant like chemistry undergrad's notebook somewhere.

But people are thinking about this and they've never thought about it so much before. I saw a quote about there's this really unproductive, I think, in fact, potentially like defeating dynamic that happens in the climate conversation, which is like are we supposed to innovate or are we supposed to deploy. The answer is like that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. We're supposed to innovate and deploy. We're supposed to do them both more than we've ever done either of them before and we're supposed to do it faster than we've ever done it before. But the idea that innovation is a threat to deployment, you don't understand how the world works so much.

I saw this thing that was like, well, if science could have figured this problem out, it would have already. It's like that's not how science works. Science works when you put tons of resources into scientific innovation and we're nowhere near putting enough resources, but we're putting real resources into it now and it's amazing. If you talk to somebody who cared about cement and the issues of cement related to climate change five years ago and now, the person is way more optimistic today than five years ago.

Chris Hayes: That's interesting. Let's talk about nuclear and I want to talk about nuclear for a few reasons. One, and I don't know if you've experienced this, but there's a weird thing with people in nuclear, where every time you talk about climate, there's a kind of person who's a nuclear obsessive. It's the strangest subculture. It's also bizarre because every email reads like every other one, but they're not copied and pasted. But all the people who are like nuclear fetishists emailing me exactly the same tone. Maybe listening right now are those people who emailed me. I've read your emails. I'm trying to separate out the facts and the merits of the nuclear argument from the weird obsession that a certain brand person has with it.

My view on nuclear is like the question of new nuclear deployment is a question similar to the questions in other spaces about scalability, safety regulatory. How safely, how feasibly can you build and scale net zero energy using nuclear? The question of removing nuclear seems a no-brainer to me. That it's like idiotic, like massively idiotic. I'm curious how you think through this.

Jonah Goldman: Yes. The people who are emailing you, I'm sure are telling you that there is no greater source of carbon free electricity that's reliable, affordable and that is ready to go right now than nuclear.

Chris Hayes: That's basic, yes. That's one sentence, keep going.

Jonah Goldman: Another sentence is that more people have died from coal production like 5,000 times than nuclear production. All those things are true. It's very true and there are huge problems with the current nuclear fleet. It's actually incredibly expensive to run nuclear plants right now. It's hard to dispose of waste, though it doesn't need to be. We make it harder than it really needs to be. Again, innovation is a place that can help with that. Proliferation is something that's scary. It's scares the hell out of me, so I'm really like it should scare other people if there's proliferation risk.

Chris Hayes: I was morbidly joking with someone the other day. I made this joke, this is like the darkest joke you could possibly make, where I said it would be grimly funny if we end up with a nuclear apocalypse like a retro version of Doom that forestalls us ever getting the climate apocalypse. Like after we had all gone through like, oh, end of the Cold War, like under the desk, like all that stuff and I was like climate, climate, climate and then it's like, oh, wait, we still got thousands and thousands of nuclear warheads sitting around and like that comes back and gets us.

Jonah Goldman: Yes. No, that's true and now, of course, with what's going on--

Chris Hayes: No, that was - yes.

Jonah Goldman:--yes, that's the moment when you think about it and it turns out that they're not unrelated. Part of the reason why there's not a - part of the reason, it's not all the reason - part of the reason why there's not like a unified European voice in opposition to invading Ukraine is because Germany made some pretty - they made some pretty stupid decisions related to nuclear. That's the thing, it goes back to that nuclear, right?

Chris Hayes: Right.

Jonah Goldman: They shut down a bunch of nuclear plants without a real solution because of a completely false idea about what the impact of nuclear is from environmental and climate perspective. But here's the thing, like old nuclear--

Chris Hayes: Oh, I hadn't put that connection together. So they need all that natural gas, they're using that natural gas for electricity.

Jonah Goldman: They're legitimately in an energy crisis right now. The price of energy in Germany is so, so high and the idea of shutting down that pipeline, that's not something that a new German government is as liberal as they are and the greens as necessary as they are to that coalition, they can't do that.

This how I think about nuclear; nuclear fission and nuclear fusion are both remarkable reactions that have incredible potential. The problems with nuclear that we all know; proliferation, waste, cost, just security, so it's not just like a big nuclear explosion, like you don't want a little thing, like you want none of that. Those are problems that innovation can solve.

Bill has invested in a company called TerraPower that is a fourth generation nuclear reactor that was specifically designed to say, okay, let's look at like a big five problems with nuclear, can we solve them, and if we can, can we make it affordable. It certainly seems like. It's an early stage innovation company where we're going to demonstrate this new type of reactor that gets to enable wind and solar and also provide reliable electricity in Wyoming.

But the idea that we would foreclose nuclear, I mean, this is where the word propositions of climate just fall flat on their face.

Chris Hayes: Totally, yes.

Jonah Goldman: Yes, because you need to investigate everything, especially those like super promising ideas that are saying nuclear inherently is not a problem. A nuclear reaction is an amazing thing. It creates byproducts that we don't want to deal with, so let's figure out how to deal with them in a way that works for us and let's go then do that thing.

Like we know how to regulate it effectively. The NRC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is something that people often say is so terrible and overburdensome. They are the gold standard regulator in the world. They know how to regulate these things. So we've got a good regulator, we've got great technologists who are looking at the problem, we've got some real promising innovations in the future.

If nuclear wasn't what you said, the dynamic, and because it's on both sides, the anti-nuclear people are also like they will write you the same--

Jonah Goldman: Oh, yeah.

Chris Hayes: --you'll do the same

Chris Hayes: No, it's Israel-Palestine. It's like when you do a segment on it--

Jonah Goldman: Oh, sure.

Chris Hayes: --you get emails and they all have the same cadence talk.

Jonah Goldman: Yeah, exactly.

Chris Hayes: You know what I mean? Which is not to say like to belittle people who are in those fights, it's just that those fights and debates are so well-developed and so intense that everyone's--

Jonah Goldman: It's true.

Chris Hayes: --been through the same dialectical ruts.

Jonah Goldman: It's true. It's hard for me to see the anti-nuclear bent of the climate movement. Because that to me is like such a paradox in and of itself. Like even saying that sentence seems--

Chris Hayes: I agree.

Jonah Goldman: --absurd to say. Like you see like green parties in Europe in particular are like the most adamantly opposed to nuclear and they're the ones who are saying like their top focus is climate and it's like you can't say both of those things.

Chris Hayes: No. Well, particularly if you're taking existing nuclear offline.

Jonah Goldman: Yes.

Chris Hayes: That, to me, is like truly nuts, right?

Jonah Goldman: Well, and you're not investing in innovation and nuclear, because like innovation and nuclear gets to solve a whole bunch of problems. There's huge heat potential with nuclear. There's obviously reliability with nuclear. There's like all these other things and it doesn't take away from meaning to deploy tons of wind and solar. We need to do that, too.

Chris Hayes: Yes. The other thing about it, too, I have to say, I think we all have that Chernobyl moment it was right before the pandemic when the HBO came out and Michael Higginbottom's book on it, which is totally amazing, which I read, I had him on the podcast. I loved the show. It's funny, if you had asked me how many people died in Chernobyl, I would have said like--

Jonah Goldman: Two million.

Chris Hayes: Yes, exactly. I would have said, like, half a million people and it's like thousands. Then, of course, we don't know, afterwards, because there really are enduring effects of radiation. No one is saying that's not the case.

Jonah Goldman: Sure. Yes.

Chris Hayes: The scale of the disaster in human terms is smaller than the scariness of the destruction of an entire sphere of human life and activity, the endurance by which that will last. Like there's all these features of a nuclear disaster that are terrifying rightly so, but in the sheer raw human terms, I mean, this gets back to the point about how many people will died from coal. Like the other forms of energy generation are killing many, many, many, many more people.

Jonah Goldman: Right. You can also look at Chernobyl in a completely different way, because the real way to look at Chernobyl is that there was a bad regulator. There was a really poor product that was built. If you build a car that doesn't have doors, and that doesn't have a reliable engine or breaks, it's probably going to crash and kill somebody and that's really what the story of Chernobyl was, because that was like totally foreseeable.

You look at like what happened after the tsunami in Japan to the nuclear capability there and the question was, well, look at that, that's a modern nuclear disaster and it wasn't a modern nuclear disaster, it was a diesel disaster, because they put the generators below sea level, in a place that had tsunami risk.

Listen, all of those things were done for good reason. Like Russia needed to put out electrons very quickly in order to develop and that was the cheapest way to engineer part of that particular plant in Japan. So, again, it's not like people are dumb when they're making the decisions, but they're foreseeable and they're solvable.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Jonah Goldman: That doesn't mean that we need to say, well, we're not going to do that thing, because, again, there is no path we can't explore right now. We have to explore everything.

Chris Hayes: I think explore everything is a great motto and a great way to think about the future of energy and the built environment, which I actually, again, I have a kind of opposite of Doom perspective I'm holding on to. I have to say, Jonah Goldman, you've been very, very helpful in maintaining that.

Jonah Goldman: Oh, good.

Chris Hayes: This was really a great, great joy. I really enjoyed it.

Jonah Goldman: Oh, me too. Thank you. I hope you're a little bit more optimistic.

Chris Hayes: I am. I genuinely am.

Jonah Goldman: Okay, good. Good, good, good.

Chris Hayes: Once again, my great thanks to Jonah Goldman. That conversation is really, really, really sticking with me. Just talking to someone who's really thinking as intensely as he is about scale, what needs to happen in so many directions, it's sobering and invigorating at the same time. I think it's where I ended on that.

At the top of the episode, I mentioned that we recorded this conversation earlier in the year, since then, of course, there have been major energy shifts since Russia invaded. The U.S. is no longer purchasing Russian oil. Sanctions have been imposed. The pipeline project in Germany that Jonah referenced has halted, which is a huge deal because that pipeline project the source of a lot of controversy.

Also, things may continue to change and evolve in terms of how energy is happening. One way of looking at this as this being the decisive moment accelerates the green energy transition in Europe and I hope that's true.

Also, today is the last of our Future Of mini series. We had a great time. I learned a lot. I hope you enjoyed it as well. But, guess what, we're just back to regular WITHpods in your earholes starting next week. We've got some really amazing ones coming your way. I'm excited to share those with you pretty soon.

"Why Is This Happening?" is presented by MSNBC and NBC News, produced by the All In team and features music by Eddie Cooper. You can see more of our work including links to things we mentioned here by going to

Tweet us with the hashtag #WITHpod, email “Why Is This Happening?” is presented by MSNBC and NBC News, produced by the “All In” team and features music by Eddie Cooper. You can see more of our work, including links to things we mentioned here, by going to