In 2011, writer and director Josh Fox and activist actor Mark Ruffalo were on a mission to stop fracking in New York State. Ruffalo had read that in 2009, Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobsen had proposed the feasibility of a nationwide transition to one hundred per cent renewable energy. Financier Marco Krapels brokered a meeting between them and The Solutions Project began. They use scientific research, financial proposals and celebrity power to get the word out that all fifty US states can be one hundred per cent renewable-powered. Parvati Magazine caught up with co-founder Professor Mark Z. Jacobson to find out the latest.
Parvati Magazine: In testament to the power of solar as a source of electricity, your co-founder Marco Krapels recently went to Puerto Rico to help install solar systems after the hurricanes wiped out much of the island’s infrastructure. It seems that any location vulnerable to extreme weather would be wise to turn to renewable energies for a quicker recovery after disaster.
Mark Z Jacobson: Yes. In fact, most places in the world are subject to weather extremes of some kind or another these days. More important, though, one hundred per cent clean, renewable energy creates jobs, is sustainable in the long term, eliminates health and climate problems, eliminates the environmental impacts of coal, gas, and oil mining, reduces catastrophic risk and international conflicts over energy, and reduces costs to consumers.
PMAG: How is The Solutions Project spreading the word about renewables?
MZJ: The mandate for The Solutions Project is to: engage communities that might not otherwise have clean, renewable energy as their top priority, provide small grants to people or groups who have great ideas on how to help the hundred per cent transition, and amplify the science, business, and cultural arguments around hundred per cent clean, renewable energy. Take a look at the Facebook page to see our latest activity.
PMAG: What experiences have made you passionate about saving the planet?
MZJ: I used to play tennis and when I traveled to Los Angeles and San Diego as a teenager, the air was often horrible. I thought to myself, why should anyone live like this? At that point, I realized I wanted to solve this and larger problems related to the atmosphere.
PMAG: What gives you hope for the climate?
MZJ: We have the technologies and the costs have come down substantially. Also, most people really want a transition. A new poll says 82 per cent of the people (26,000) polled in 13 countries want hundred per cent renewable energy.
Mark Z. Jacobson is Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment and of the Precourt Institute for Energy. He is the co-founder of the Solutions project, thesolutionsproject.org.