Voices for 100% Renewable Energy Spotlight
One leader’s take on the benefits of going big on clean energy
As most Americans are keenly aware, transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy can protect the planet and ensure a livable world for generations to come.
But this won’t be easy. Today we still get 90 percent of our energy from dirty fossil fuel sources. We’re talking about nothing less than a major transformation of how we produce and consume energy.
To make this sort of systemic change takes a lot of people, and that’s why we started our Voices for 100% Renewable Energy initiative. We’re lifting up the voices of people all across the country and sharing their vision of a future powered by one hundred percent renewable energy.
Each of our Voices for 100% Renewable Energy provides thoughtful and inspiring perspectives. Over the coming month, I’ll dig a little deeper with select Voices to find out more about why they are so passionate about this issue. First up: is one of our newest Voices, our very own Senior Director of the Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy Johanna Neumann. Check out the full video here.
We hope you enjoy our conversation and, if you’re on board with 100%, please consider joining our 1 Million for 100 Percent community.
Why is renewable energy important to you?
Johanna: “Renewable energy is important because it is an absolute game changer to addressing some of our most fundamental and entrenched environmental problems. You know, when I look at the impact that mining and drilling has on our landscape and on our water, renewable energy solves a lot of those problems. When I look at the impact burning fossil fuels has on our air quality and on our climate, renewable energy solves a lot of those problems. When I look at health problems caused by dirty energy, shifting to renewable energy solves those problems. And so, I just think it’s an incredibly transformative way to solve environmental problems that have been plaguing us, really, since the industrial revolution, and that’s why it’s important to me.”
How would transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy affect your life?
Johanna: “Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy would affect us personally because, like all Americans, we would see the benefits of renewable energy. And, you know, our family has been aware of those benefits for a while, and we’ve actually started the transformation locally, so I’m actually standing in front of a ground-mount solar array that our family invested in about five years ago that powers all the electrical needs of our house and then some. And, we’re not alone in this! Increasingly in America, we are getting more and more of our energy from clean, renewable sources. It’s about ten percent of our energy mix right now, which is up from just a tiny sliver when I first started working on this issue about 20 years ago. And so the progress that we’ve seen to date just gives me incredible confidence that we can keep going and move towards a future where not just our electric sector but really every aspect of our lives is powered by clean, renewable energy.”
What’s the No. 1 reason you think we should be investing in 100 percent renewable energy?
Johanna: “There are many reasons why we should be investing in 100 percent renewable energy, but for me my No. 1 reason is the very real and tangible impact that it has on people’s health. My youngest son, who is 7 years old now, had a respiratory disease when he was little, and it means that he now suffers disproportionately from bad air quality. I pay close attention to the air quality days here where I live in western Massachusetts to make sure that it’s safe for him to go out and play on the trampoline or go kick a soccer ball around with his friends. In a world powered by 100 percent renewable energy, parents like me wouldn’t have to worry about air quality because we wouldn’t have dirty emissions coming out of tailpipes from cars, and we wouldn’t have dirty emissions coming out of smoke stacks from power plants. Instead, we would get our energy from the rays of the sun, and the power of the wind, and the warmth of the earth, and that to me is as profound a reason as any why we need to be moving towards one hundred percent renewable energy.”
What would you tell somebody who isn’t sure that 100 percent renewable energy is the right path for us?
Johanna: “There’s no doubt that it takes a little bit of a leap of the imagination to imagine every aspect of our lives powered by clean renewable energy. For people who are still grappling with how that transition might happen or whether it’s worth pursuing, I would encourage them to look at the past 20 years, and how clean energy has grown, and how it has replaced dirty energy sources that degrade our air, that degrade our soil, that pollute our water. And to show that, over the course of those 20 years that we’ve really seen renewables take off, we have seen the costs of those technologies come down. A classic example of this are LED light bulbs. When I was a kid you couldn’t buy an LED light bulb. Ten years ago, you still had to think long and hard about whether you wanted to invest forty dollars in an LED light bulb that, granted, would be around for about 10 years and would have much lower costs in terms of operating and lighting your home, so it was still an investment that made sense but gosh it felt like an investment. Now, for just a couple of bucks you can buy an LED light bulb at a hardware store. And so, for people who are skeptical about whether we can move towards 100 percent renewable energy, the past 10 years should give us the confidence to strive for this vision. As we see clean energy grow, the costs come down, and it truly makes it within the reach for every single person in America.”
Here’s more of a fun question for you: If you were a form of renewable energy, what do you think you would be?
Johanna: “Gosh, if I personally were a form of renewable energy, I think I would be geothermal energy. I think I’m a by-and-large pretty warm person, and the fact that the warmth of the Earth can actually create energy to heat our homes kind of feels like you’re giving it a big hug, and I’m a big hugger, so I would be geothermal energy if I was a form of renewable energy.”
To aspiring young people who are working on this issue, what would you say to them?
Johanna: “For any young people, who are trying to advance a vision powered by 100 percent renewable energy, my biggest advice is to keep the vision in mind and then work in bite sized chunks in whatever way that you can in your lives to advance that vision. So, if you’re a fifth grader who believes that you want a future powered by 100 percent renewable energy, talk to your parents about what you can do to reduce energy use in your house. If you’re a high schooler that believes in the vision for 100 percent renewable energy, get together with other students who share that vision and work to convince the administration to put solar on your school. If you are a college student, talk with the leadership at your campus. Organize and get your administration to commit to 100 percent renewable energy. And as a citizen in your society, by all means vote, and recognize that all those little steps if we take them together can help create a tidal wave that will help propel our country and the world towards 100 percent renewable energy.
And that is why I’m a Voice for 100 percent.”