Our society is at a crossroads: we can continue with business as usual, destroying the planet through resource depletion, environmental devastation; and social inequality, or we can embrace our role as stewards of the land, adopt renewable energy, and integrate all aspects of society into building a healthier world.
This week, Green connected with Patrick Regan, a clean tech leader who empowers change through renewable energy and social reformation. Let’s get to know more about Pat and his exemplary role in building a business that pushes us in the right direction: Crossroads Solar!
Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and your current role:
I am currently the co-founder and president of Crossroads Solar. In my prior incarnation I was a professor of political science and peace studies, most recently at Notre Dame and before that at Binghamton University. After 30 years I left academia to start Crossroads as a vehicle to generate jobs and life opportunities for men and women transitioning from years to decades in prison back into society. We also make high quality solar panels, so we hit buttons on social reform and climate reform.
What is a fun fact about you?
I’m a hobbyist furniture maker and I’ve written a book about the politics of climate change. I guess that is two fun facts but who is counting.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
As I would say to my students, the stability of the planet will not get better in the time I have left, but that might not be true for younger people. If we want to be able to live on the planet as we know it today, we have to act like it. The earth simply doesn’t care if we ruin the ability for human subsistence, only we humans care. The earth is chemistry and physics without emotional bonds, but when we ruin the physical bonds of the earth we risk breaking our emotional and physical bonds to it. The impetus for change has got to come from younger people and be imposed on the older generations because the older generations have less at stake and less understanding of how to stabilize and remediate the planet. If you can imagine the Earth as Mars at some future point, it will be clear why we have to do something. We have to transition off of carbon based energy and we have to reduce our consumption or we make this into an impossible task.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Oh, solar and alternative energy sources will be booming in 10 years and if not, we probably won’t be a good place in 30 years. So I am optimistic about human ability to pivot and the future of the solar industry.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
You can calculate the amount of CO2 you emit from a 10 and 20 minute shower, half of which requires heating the water from room temp to, say 120 deg. Remember a calorie is the amount of energy it takes to heat one gram of H2O one deg C. You can figure out the rest. This is a question of climate policy (low flow shower heads: cut the flow from 2gpm to 1gpm) and behavior. You can also calculate the added CO2 from an SUV versus a small car. Remember Newton taught us that F=MA. The amount of force it takes to move the two different sized cars translates into gas mileage and that into CO2. You can calculate this. And this is a question of policy (CAFE standards) and choice.
The average person can look at their consumption and reduce it. Nobody wants to change their lifestyle but everybody is going to have that forced upon them unless we all individually — and as a polity — make changes to reduce carbon consumption. It is actually straightforward to see the connections across the daily life of an individual.
Green.Org is a television show, podcast, social media, and news platform, hosted by Dylan Welch, that highlights climate change scientists, renewable energy experts, and clean tech entrepreneurs by giving them a voice in the mainstream media. The Green podcast highlights leading experts in cleantech, sustainability, media, finance, and real estate. Tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts. If you are interested in being featured on Green, click HERE.