Isabelle Boemeke

Isabelle Boemeke is a social media influencer who has chosen to use her star power as a fashion model to create educational videos and messages for her followers to advocate for nuclear power as a solution to climate change.  Tweeting and posting at Twitter, Instagram and TikTok under the name “Isodope,” Isabelle speaks knowledgeably about energy and, in particular, about the benefits of nuclear energy, to a social media-savvy community that is not usually engaged in discussion of energy technology, science, industry or even climate change. This has required both great courage, talent and commitment, and has revealed the power of Isabelle’s creativity and resourcefulness. Isabelle has been so successful in doing these things, she was invited to present a TED Talk, which was also well received.

Examples of Isodope Social Media Videos (At Twitter: @Isodope, at Instagram (@I_sodope), at TikTok (@Isodope)

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These efforts have had an enormous impact. In 2020, the haute-fashion media outlet, Highsnobiety, ran a cover-story interview with Isabelle which candidly raises the topic of the horrors of the most dangerous energy on earth: fossil fuels.

“Let’s talk about the most dangerous energy source on earth. The World Health Organization blames it for 29 percent of all lung cancers, 24 percent of strokes, a quarter of all heart disease, and 43 percent of chronic lung infections — all of which could be prevented. [It] produces invisible particles that fill up the sky like a bucket, trapping the sun’s heat and choking rivers, plants, and animals like us. The worst of all . . . the companies who burn it are not required to take care of their waste.”

Then, she counters that with a discussion of “what might be the safest power source we have, by many countable metrics,” which, of course, is nuclear energy. Speaking for herself, she claims:

“I think it’s the coolest form of energy. Everything else sucks in comparison. Fossil fuels are obviously bad. It’s just burning stuff like coal, oil, or gas. Solar and wind are fine, but they’re intermittent and very granola. Nuclear is like a technology from the future.”


As impactful as her social media presence has been, Isabelle’s efforts have not been limited to interviews, TikTok videos or even TED Talks. Working with a team under the auspices of the “Save Clean Energy” name, she was the mastermind and powerhouse behind an organized rally that was held in San Luis Obispo in support of saving Diablo Canyon. This rally drew hundreds of people, local politicians and experts, and resulted in a flurry of articles and opinion pieces expressing public support for nuclear energy in California, a place where such views have been in rtreat for decades.

Isabelle Boemeke (holding the sign) is flanked by Save Clean Energy’s organizational partners, Heather Hoff and Kristen Zaitz from Mothers for Nuclear (on the left side), and members of other pronuclear groups.

Then, on February 1, 2022, shortly after that public and well-received rally, Isabelle help organize a group of 79 experts to write and send a letter to Governor Newsom urging him to save Diablo Canyon for the sake of not reversing our climate progress. For the many nuclear professionals and energy experts dispairing about the prospects of saving the state’s sole remaining nuclear power plant, this was an opportunity to address the Governor as scientific and academic experts in energy and climate action.

What happened next is the stuff of actist legend: Governor Newsom listened!  He started to consult his own experts and apparently his own team of energy experts at the CEC, CAISO and elsewhere agreed that shuttering Diablo Canyon would almost certainly cause unnecessarily more severe power outages and likely result in the loss of life. Governor Newsom then began to take the necessary political steps to bring the California legislature around to his point of view.

There were a series of CEC-hosted hearings on Diablo Canyon which invited the public to weigh in. California’s pronuclear community attended these sessions in droves. Newsom himself went out publicly to visit Diablo Canyon and explore the truth about the safety of the plant and wrote articles about it, that got published widely in major newspapers. He then sought out support from PG&E executives and the DOE’s Civilian Nuclear Credit program for the funding to help the plant restart its licensing work. Fortunately, the DOE had just secured $5 billion in funding for the CNC to help “at risk” nuclear power plants through Biden’s Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. There Newsom found a very receptive response, so he was able to avoid having the bulk of the cost of this reversal imposed on the ratepayers. This helped sway the California Legislature to do the right thing. Combined, these actions resulted in the passage of S.B. 468, that laid the authority to save Diablo Canyon.

It seems very clear that the Diablo Canyon rally and the letter from scientists, both of which were organized by Isabelle, provided positive press coverage for the Governor to make his very public about-face on nuclear power. Of course, the fact that two other Democratic Governors, Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Governor Gretchen Witmer of Michigan, both had previously come out in support of their state’s nuclear power and still maintained their political support, gave Newsom the confidence to do the same in California, which probably helped greatly with his political calculus. 

Nevetheless, Newsom’s ability to listen and decide to support Diablo Canyon and nuclear power in general, was an historic political shift for the most overtly progressive and antinuclear state in the union. In doing so, California took the advice of its scientists, distancing itself from Germany, whose politicians were unable to muster the political backbone required to listen to its experts and overrule the antinuclear ideologues (and so shuttered its last nuclear power and now is now sadly razing villages and forests to dig up and burn lignite coal to keep the power on).

Which shows that a single, motivated and talented woman can make a major difference in the fight against emissions.

Brava, Isabelle!

Sources:

Highsnobiety: Isabelle Boemeke Is the Nuclear Influencer the World Needs, April 2021
The San Luis Obispo Tribune: Diablo Canyon supporters rally in SLO to keep nuclear power plant open, by Kaytlyn Leslie and Laura Dickinson, Dec. 4, 2022
The Atlantic, The West’s Nuclear Mistake, by David Frum, Dec. 4, 2022
More about the letter to Governor Newsom at Climate Coalition:  Sign the letter to Governor Newsom to Save Diablo Canyon