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COP28: Miss America 2023, the nuclear rock star came to defend atomic energy in Dubai

Dressed in a green suit, in a nod to ecology, with a badge around her neck and high heels.

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COP28: Miss America 2023, the nuclear rock star came to defend atomic energy in Dubai

Dressed in a green suit, in a nod to ecology, with a badge around her neck and high heels... Grace Stanke, Miss America 2023, continues the climate conferences in Dubai, where the currently COP28. On her Instagram account, the 21-year-old young woman films the meetings and seminars in which she participates. The appearance of a beauty pageant winner at such an event is not usual, and yet Grace Stanke came for a very specific purpose: to promote nuclear energy.

This tall blonde born in the state of Wisconsin, in the Great Lakes region, announced her coming to the United Arab Emirates on X, on December 4, before the “25 hours of flight”. “Let’s talk nuclear at COP28!!”, she wrote, very enthusiastically.

The winner of the competition for the most beautiful woman in America, also a violinist and professional water skier, is a fervent activist for atomic energy. An engineer specializing in nuclear combustion by profession, she advocates nuclear power as a solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “At the start, I was mainly interested in nuclear power to contradict my father [also an engineer, Editor's note] who did not see a future in this sector,” confides the person concerned to the newspaper L'Express.

Her scientific studies, carried out at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, showed her “the importance of this energy which produces 20% of electricity in the United States and 10% in the world,” she explains to French media, before asking: “Why don’t we capitalize more on this technology? It is safe, reliable and effective.”

Grace Stanke regrets that this energy does not benefit from greater popularity. Americans remain divided on the subject. Certainly, 57% of them today say they are in favor of the construction of new power plants (compared to 43% in 2020), according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, cited by L'Express. But the population remains clearly more favorable to wind and solar energy than to nuclear power. This reluctance is partly explained by the accident at the Three Mile Island power station, which occurred in 1979.

To fight against this “negative image”, the young woman leads a crusade on television sets, schools and international conferences. Since September, Miss America has traveled across Europe, like a rock star on tour. First in London for the annual conference of the World Nuclear Association, then in Vienna for that of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), passing through Paris twice, including one for the World Nuclear Expo , to Japan to visit several installations...

Also read At COP28, the great revenge of nuclear energy

The beauty queen would even make nuclear power and its technicalities cool and trendy on social networks. Between his podium posts, photo shoots and crowns, his Instagram account is full of explanatory videos of how a nuclear power plant works, for example.

She made it her trademark. So much so that some American media, like the Hindustan Times, nicknamed her “Barbenheimer”, the perfect combination between Barbie and Oppenheimer.

“I think Barbie is an incredible role model for young girls. It shows that you can be anything you want. [...] And Oppenheimer is one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. He was the father of the atomic bomb. [...] He faced many moral dilemmas. And I think that's something that I can relate to as a nuclear engineer," she commented during an interview on CNN, wearing her scarf and her sparkling crown proudly placed on her head.

At the end of her mandate as Miss, the young woman will join Constellations Energy, an American energy production and distribution company, in Baltimore in the United States, informs Le Parisien. She will be in charge of technical issues on the one hand, and on the other hand, advocacy aimed at the general public.

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