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One Direction and Nuclear Energy: Solving Climate Change One Boy Band at a Time

I’m giving a signal boost to One Direction’s fifth album, “Made in the A.M.,” which at the end of the day is just perfect. (Both puns intended – looking at you, Harry.) You may wonder what this band has to do with nuclear energy. Turns out since they launched the Action 1D campaign this past summer, quite a lot. 
Louis, Niall, Harry and Liam for Action 1D
Louis, Niall, Harry and Liam for Action 1D.
I never went through a boy band phase as a teen, never hung the posters, bought the merchandise or cared about individual members. Sure, I listened to Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, but who didn’t? One Direction has been around since 2010, yet I only discovered Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Liam Payne earlier this year. Zayn Malik too, aka the one that got away. How I got into the fandom was probably not how most of their supporters got there. Belonging to the band’s army of devotees, fittingly dubbed Directioners, is like being in a 24/7 glass case of emotion. I have no regrets, however, and I’m happy to call myself an unabashed fan of these young men.

Woof. Why so serious, Teen Tara?
OTRA Pittsburgh concert, August 3, 2015.
Lesson learned: Boy bands make life better.
Being a fan of One Direction actually is similar to being a fan of nuclear energy. You find yourself hesitating to say it out loud due to misconceptions held by most of the public, but once exposed to the truth you can’t help but lend your support.

For a group born of “The X Factor,” the One Direction guys have remarkable chemistry. They have stayed close to their roots, are reportedly some of the nicest guys in music and seem grounded in reality despite being members of the world’s biggest boy band. Perhaps most admirable is the fact that they are very charitable, lending time and money to various causes. And hand to God, their music is really enjoyable.

Plus, their longstanding appreciation for the role fans have played in their success is a welcome show of humility. In her review of the boys back in February, Elle Hunt of The Guardian made mention of the fan empowerment:
The band’s super fans, called One Directioners, feel they can share in their idols’ success largely because they’re told, repeatedly, that they created it.
Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone had this to say in his review of an August concert:
When 1D blew up, nobody — not even people who liked them — figured they'd be anything more than 16 to 18 months of kicks. What the band and their fans have built over the past five years is unique. If the girls sound cocky and vindicated when they scream, they should. And 1D are brilliant because they know exactly who's in charge.
This acknowledgement of the fandom’s unique power leads me to one of their more recent charitable efforts, Action 1D. In July, the band announced Action 1D as part of the wider Action 2015 campaign to set the global agenda to end poverty, inequality and climate change. Fans were asked to create user-generated videos and photos about these crucial issues. The band then produced a video compilation capturing their contributions and addressed it to world leaders, including those gathering at COP21.

Nuclear energy is a solution to climate change - Action 1D
My sign at the OTRA Pittsburgh concert. Add activist to my resume.
I had been waiting to connect nuclear to these guys for months, and the campaign’s call to tackle climate change was the perfect tie-in. A boy band might not be at the top of your list of influencers, but think again. The power of this band and fandom is immense. So much so that Hillary Clinton associated herself with the campaign. One Direction has sway over a massive fandom made up of young women who are at or reaching voting age, emotionally-driven, passionate about the environment and not weighed down with past biases against nuclear technology. Their actions gain viral traction and regularly get picked up by mainstream media. Can you imagine if we got the band and Directioners talking about the zero-carbon benefits of nuclear? I can. It is a glorious prospect.

I started exploring this concept right after the campaign launched by pairing the #action1D tag with several tweets on climate change. As a result, Directioners gave us our most popular tweet to date:  
The unprecedented engagement with our content simply could be because they support the campaign overall, or because they love the whale photobombing a shot of Diablo Canyon (props to PG&E’s John Lindsey for capturing that). Regardless of the reason, that equates to thousands of new, action-oriented stakeholders from around the globe being exposed to nuclear as the only source of energy that provides always-on, large-scale power without emitting any carbon.

I love zero-carbon nuclear energy

Gaining their support for nuclear energy is especially important as we approach COP21. The band specifically addressed the Action 1D video compilation to those gathering for climate talks in Paris. That means these guys and Directioners are looking for meaningful actions to curb climate change. When the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from energy supply, you don’t get more meaningful than supporting nuclear energy. If world leaders at COP21 are serious about reducing global carbon emissions from the power sector in order to keep temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius of warming, not only do they need to maintain the global nuclear supply, they need to expand it. Several climate experts like Michael Shellenberger, Mark Lynas and James Hansen agree and have become increasingly vocal about their support for nuclear energy as a key player in the solution to climate change. Even the White House is now firmly on board. The Obama Administration had a “coming out” in favor of nuclear as a clean energy and climate mitigation solution last week when it hosted the White House Summit on Nuclear Energy.

The urgency for major solutions to climate change is at its highest level. Now is the time for Directioners to take a “chonce” on nuclear and become advocates for this clean energy source. And for all you pro-nukes who are still skeptical about One Direction’s music, don’t knock it till you try it. Besides, all I’m asking is that you keep an open mind about it, which is all we’re asking Directioners to do about nuclear energy and climate change. 

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