A Solar Battery for the Vatican?

by Andrew Meyer
August 8, 2015
Sustainability

The web is full of blogs and news publications urging us to clean up our act when it comes to environmental issues, but this time the charge comes from an unlikely, but arguably more powerful source: The Pope.

While presenting to the United Nations, Pope Francis targeted both lay people and powerful decision-makers alike, urging everyone to listen to “the cry of the Earth.”

Such a strong stand on environmental issues is long overdue, but with the Pope now taking up the cause of a struggling planet, people are looking for practical ways to participate in the clean energy movement; now a pressing moral and ethical issue.

Discourse Backed by Data

New information released on Thursday supports Pope Francis’ concerns. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that 2015 has been the hottest year on record, resulting in thousands of deaths. Because of the burning of fossil fuels, the concentration of greenhouse gas continues to intensify. The need for alternative energy solutions is more desperate than ever.

But data like this has been available and widely spread for decades, with limited and unimpressive responsive action from the general public and the key leaders of our country. The Pope’s appeal to the emotional, rather than rational, side of humans may provoke a crucial turning point. Historically, humans can have the facts available to them, but it takes a deeper, more emotional connection, even to the point of personal crisis, for our species to act, and affect change. This is where the Pope comes in. Pope Francis expertly, and quite genuinely, appeals to this deep emotional side of his audience, urging them that the time to save our planet, and ourselves, is now.

In order to take steps to remedy the greenhouse gas crisis, change needs to start at home. Capturing clean energy (like solar energy) and storing it in energy storage systems like home batteries can effectively cause a drastic reduction in household emissions. Solar-plus-storage, when implemented to its fullest extent, can reduce the carbon footprint of any household down to zero (not only that, but the sun’s energy is, and always will be, completely free.) According to the Pope, living off the grid is not only economical, but ethical.

Faith and Fuel Sources

Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech climate scientist thinks that environmental action and moral values are more closely linked than they seem. “We need leaders who speak to values, connecting the dots between values and climate change.”

There are many ways that households worldwide work to integrate their values of compassion and conservation into their daily lifestyle, but not everyone considers fuel sources as a part of this equation. Kindness toward the public and the planet are not values upheld by only evangelical Christians – they are widespread principles that supersede religion, race, and class. It’s now easier than ever to put this passion into practical action by considering alternative power sources.

The crisis our world faces can be overcome by a motivated and convicted public. Most households in the United States are just a few simple steps away from clean energy usage right at home. Acquiring a home battery could be one way to participate in the “restoration of nature,” a deed that Pope Francis upholds as an act of justice. Acting justly in the eyes of the Pope also has practical benefits. Solar panel installation, when coupled with energy storage like home batteries, sets households up to never experience a blackout ever again. Even when the energy grid fails, home batteries provide the back-up power needed to keep your electricity turned on.

“Boundless Thirst”

In a particular moment of raw criticism, the Pope accused the United States, one of the world’s most powerful nations, of indulging a “selfish and boundless thirst” for power and money at the expense of our earth’s rich natural resources. The Pope rightly reminded the audience that this process hurts everyone, nature and human nature included.

But this doesn’t mean people have to get rid of their gadgets. Our planet offers clean power sources that can be harnessed without abuse, manipulation, or harmful pollution. The sun gives us a clean, free energy source, one that can be efficiently transformed into electricity for your home with the installation of solar panels. When used along with energy storage, like home batteries, you’re looking at a zero-emission solution standing in stark contrast to current home power sources.

Based on the national average, the typical annual CO2 emission per household exceeds a whopping 8,000 pounds. Compare this to a household with solar photovoltaics and an energy storage system, which boast absolutely no carbon emissions at all. A home energy storage system that relies on solar panels can save the earth’s natural resources, without sacrificing the lifestyle you’re going for. Definitely a win-win.

Standing Against Adversity

The Pope acknowledged that moving toward a greener lifestyle is not always easy, and mentioned that until we are unified in this Earth-saving work, our greatest and strongest enemy will be ourselves.

The Pope describes our nation as a car-collecting, comfort-obsessed, waste-mongering society, still clinging to the archaic “more is more” lifestyle. The Pope confronted these habits directly, shunning air conditioners and gated communities, and calling for revolutionary change in the area of carpooling and recycling.

“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he stated, willing to openly and bluntly lay our current reality out on the table. The picture he paints isn’t pretty. In order to turn things around, the Pope calls our nation to unite around practical, clean-energy initiatives.

Our country is already more united in encouraging greener lifestyles than it was a decade or two ago. Energy-efficiency has pervaded the industries from light-bulbs to appliances, and many homes are now built with easily programmable thermostats (and even models you can control with your smartphone.) Solar energy storage and the use of home batteries are also quickly turning into a normal expectation for modern households. Home battery technology is making astounding breakthroughs, and installation is simpler than ever.

More and more companies are switching their focus to greener technologies, as popularity and demand continue to rise across a variety of markets. When it comes to taking steps toward being green and clean, the auto industry is no exception.

A Symbolic Fiat

When the Pope chose a black Fiat 500L for his tour of the US, the news spread quickly.

The Fiat fits with the Pope’s wish to connect and be close to the people, a desire he has made clear since the start of his papacy. But it’s probable that humility isn’t the only reason for his not-so-surprising choice.

Fiat has been working toward greener, more environmentally friendly automobile models for years, with the upcoming Fiat 500e electric car boasting zero emissions. Lowering the CO2 emissions of automobiles is an important step in the right direction, as they account for a huge portion of the fossil fuels burned in the US.

Another source is likely hooked right up to your home. If even a small percentage of Americans considered “cutting the cord” and getting their own household off the grid with the use of a home battery, our country would be closer to restoring more green to the blue planet. As Elon Musk announced earlier this year, if 160 million households and business installed the Tesla Powerwall, the entire United States could be transitioned to renewable energy.

Onward and Upward

Environmental issues have been a central theme of the Pope’s work during his trip to the United States, and he shows no sign of laying off the topic anytime soon. Though he has been called a “Pope of the People,” he spoke Friday that the environment, too, has rights that mankind has no authority to abuse.

The destruction of the earth has become second-nature with the rise of electricity-hungry technology, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Change can be as easy as getting off the grid with the installation of solar panels in conjunction with storage in the form of a home battery.

Each time the Pope speaks, he ignites his audience with conviction and passion, urging them to leave his presence with a renewed motivation to live compassionately, wisely, and responsibly. This time, the United States is left with a responsibility to use natural resources wisely, and to direct compassion toward our planet.

Before the words of Pope Francis slowly fade out of memories and newsfeeds, consider ethically enhancing your household with a solar home battery, quenching your “boundless thirst” for electricity with a clean, guilt-free power source.