By Igor Volsky and Victoria Fleischer
During his trip to the United Staes, Pope Francis is expected to press Americans to fight climate change by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. Francis will make his moral case for sustainability just as scientists argue that all 50 states already possess the technology necessary to power their entire energy infrastructure — their electricity, transportation, heating, and cooling systems — with wind, water and sunlight by 2050.
IGOR VOLSKY: As the pope urges america to fight climate change by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, he is hoping to inspire more places like this, the Florida Avenue Baptist Church in Washington D.C. Christian theology has encouraged the church to go green.
REV. DR. EARL D. TRENT JR., Florida Avenue Baptist Church: One of the tenets of our faith is, we have to take care of creation. That’s early on in the book, the first book, the Book of Genesis and so we’ve taken that kind of seriously.
IGOR VOLSKY: In fact, some religious scholars point to biblical passages such as Numbers 35:34: “You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell.”
REV. DR. EARL D. TRENT JR.: It’s raised our whole consciousness about sustainability. We’ve had people in the church who’ve gone solar in their homes.
IGOR VOLSKY: Scientists say this change can happen on a national scale.
MARK Z. JACOBSON, Stanford University: The conventional fuels are actually costing twice as much because of the health and climate costs on top of that.
IGOR VOLSKY: Mark Jacobson, a scientist at Stanford University, believes the United States can go completely green in 35 years. His idea would look like this:
In 2013, 81% of the power we generated came from fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas and coal.The remaining 19% was sourced from nuclear, hydropower, solar, wind, and biomass. Under Jacobson’s plan, all 50 states would power their entire infrastructure — their electricity, transportation, heating and cooling systems — with wind, water and sunlight by 2050. 80% of that conversion would take place by 2030.
MARK Z. JACOBSON: Most people aren’t aware of what’s technically and economically possible. Wind/water/solar is really the cheapest. It’s the cheapest, it’s the healthiest, it’s the cleanest and it’s existing technology. We can do it right now.
IGOR VOLSKY: In fact, three American cities have already become fully sustainable, Hawaii has pledged to use 100% renewable electricity by 2045, and California passed a bill ensuring that renewable energy makes up half of all electricity sold in the state by 2030. So as these panels become more ubiquitous, they’ll help ensure that since “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of eden to work it,” that we could actually “keep it.”