Growing up on a rural farm, Jonathan Scott was raised to respect the environment and understand the importance of preserving it. It’s a commitment he’s carried into adulthood. The Property Brothers star and co-host of Climate Reality’s upcoming 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality is a vocal supporter of renewable energy, particularly home-based solar, which he often incorporates into the homes he designs.
Jonathan, who is currently at work on a documentary about solar and the energy landscape in North America, is particularly attuned to the many myths about renewables spread by climate deniers and fossil fuel proponents. He discussed this and much more while chatting recently with Climate Reality. Read on to discover why Jonathan got involved in the movement for climate solutions, why he’s excited for 24 Hours of Reality, what he’d like to say to climate deniers, and why now is the time to take climate action.
Climate Reality: You’re so passionate and vocal about taking climate action – what first inspired you to take on this cause?
Jonathan Scott: I grew up on a ranch and my parents raised us to always be very cognizant of our impact on the environment and the animals around us. That was just part of growing up in the forest, basically. So there was always a commitment to the environment that way.
When I started getting into construction and I went to school for construction design, it was really when the LEED certification programs were really coming around, and environmentally responsible construction was on the upswing. I started to learn about a lot of the latest practices, and not having been biased from any of the older practices, I think it gave me a fresh perspective on everything.
Then, taking it up a notch, my own home in Vegas – when I was converting it over to solar – all of the sudden I found myself stuck in this fight between the utilities and the government and the demand for renewable energy. That’s when I started investigating how much misinformation there was out there – and it was actually maddening. I got mad when I started to see how a lot of big business was intentionally trying to misinform the public because of corporate greed. So that’s when I really dove in on my own, put together my own research team, and we started to discover everything and anything that was working, things that were not working, and really how passionate everybody was. Everybody I’ve ever spoken to has said that given the right opportunity and the right information they would love to do something that is environmentally sustainable.
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You’ve spoken out in particular in support of rooftop solar as a doable solution for most folks. What makes it such a viable solution?
You know, it’s incredible. When you look at the problems with how we currently create energy, a lot of people say, “Well it’s a jobs thing. Right now coal manufacturing for energy is a job creator.” Well, it’s been proven that solar and renewables creates far more jobs now than coal, and it doesn’t have the side effects. You don’t have the pollution in the atmosphere.
If you look in China, for example, in Beijing, how much pollution there is. So even if someone is a climate denier and they don’t believe that the greenhouse gases we’re putting into the environment are causing a change in the climate – well, take all of that out of it and just look at the pollution alone and the effect it has on humans.
So that’s why something like solar, it’s a readily available resource [that] costs nothing from a health perspective, you know, as a byproduct, and it’s creating jobs. So financially it’s a good decision too.
That’s why I think that if we can get the right information out there it’s important for people to understand there is really no downside other than the fact that the technology, traditionally, has been too expensive. Well now, that’s changing too. Now, it’s actually on par with the cost of other forms of energy.
Have you ever encountered a homeowner who wasn’t sure about rooftop solar? And if so, what did you say to change their mind?
Absolutely. And again, I can completely understand where people are coming from. A lot of people want to do the right thing, but they’re dealing with real-world budgets. People don’t have unlimited funds to try and do things. So traditionally the biggest thing that would prevent people from doing solar was the cost of putting the panels in up front.
But now there’re companies where you can sign a contract with them [and] they’ll provide all of the installation, they’ll provide the maintenance of the panels, and they’ll even put in the panels themselves at no cost to you. So that takes that out of the equation. Now, people can do the right thing. In fact, they can guarantee their energy bills will be a little bit lower than they were before – but they’re doing the right thing, which is most important.
The demand needs to increase to a point where all the sudden the government recognizes the power of solar. More businesses are looking at investing in solar. And then there will be a swing, a heavy, heavy swing, to clean energy.
You’re devoting time to creating a documentary series. Can you tell us a little about it? What sparked this interest?
It’s exactly this stand that I take. It’s difficult having a government in power where at the top they do not recognize that there’s is a problem, even though just last week their own internal review reported that it is in fact humans [who] are the cause of the most drastic change in climate.
It’s hard to have this many people who are deniers who are in places of power and then mix that in with a lot of the corporate greed – you know, people who are just looking at profits and not looking at the environment or the consumer and their health. That’s why I wrote the documentary: I think it’s time for somebody that just has a no bullsh*t, straightforward answer as to what exactly is happening and where we are.
We just started filming. I’m doing 17 projects for Property Brothers right now as well, so it’s a lot of back and forth. We’ll be filming me at 24 Hours of Reality – my crew will also be there with the 24 Hours of Reality crew. And then starting in the first and second quarter of next year, we go across the country to a lot of the sunniest states.
The funny thing is, [some of] the sunniest states in the country are the ones where it’s hardest to get solar, because of all the legislative ridiculousness that is going on right now. A lot of the utilities have been really leaning on government to make legislation that makes it almost impossible for these solar companies to operate.
That’s the kind of thing [where] we’re basically going in and we’re going to shine a light on anything that we feel has been misrepresented to the public, any opportunities that have been missed, and any innovation that is being stifled.
It shouldn’t be that complicated. If we have something that’s good for the economy, great for the environment, and it is the way that energy is going to go, I think people should have the right to choose if they want clean energy or if they want dirty energy.
24 Hours of Reality 2017: Be the Voice of Reality
With fossil fuels driving a climate crisis around the world, it’s time to speak up as one planet. On December 4-5, join former Vice President Al Gore, Climate Reality, and an all-star cast of artists, thought leaders, business visionaries, politicians, musicians, and more for the global broadcast event 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality, celebrating the climate activism happening all around the planet and calling on each of us to make a difference.Posted by Climate Reality on Wednesday, November 15, 2017
What one thing do you wish you could convey to climate deniers?
The big thing I would say to people is, step back from all the stuff that is being hurled at you from special interest groups and from big business and all that, step back and think to yourself, What’s the most important thing to me? Is it that you want to have a healthy environment for your children to grow up in? Is it that you don’t want to pollute the environment? You see the effects of climate change?
Think about what’s important to you, and try to understand why somebody would want to misinform you about what’s available out there today and what advancements there have been in energy. There’s going to be an energy revolution very very soon. Stop letting other people tell you what to think. Stop and think for yourself why people would want to misinform you, and it very quickly becomes clear that it’s a profit-based decision. When any of these people are misleading, it’s because they are trying to get as much money out of oil and coal as they possibly can before that goes away.
You’ve been such a fantastic supporter of Climate Reality and 24 Hours of Reality. What made you want to get involved with Climate Reality and the broadcast?
For me, when I started discovering everything that was going on while installing the solar on my place in Vegas – and this was many years ago – I didn’t know Climate Reality. I didn’t know there was this organized group of individuals who were that passionate. I remember that I met somebody who had been involved, and I thought to myself, “This is amazing.” I’d been saying, there needs to be some sort of organized grassroots approach that comes from concerned individuals.
I wanted to see people organize who were everyday people, in everyday careers, spanning the globe. That’s the only way to really make change. So when I came across Climate Reality, I realized that’s exactly what you are doing. I started reading more and more about it; I started reading your literature and looking at how much time and how many resources you were putting into getting the facts out there – and it was a natural alignment.
And every single person I’ve met at Climate Reality and 24 Hours of Reality have been incredible.
Are you excited for this year’s show? You’re hosting, right?
Last year I hosted as well, and it was an unbelievable experience. I think I did four hours last year of the 24 hours, and then a couple of cameos on some of the other hours. I’ll be more involved this year; I’ll be there for the whole thing.
I love the fact that we’re showcasing that this is not just a US problem, this is not just a Canadian problem or a Chinese problem or an Indian problem – this is a global problem. And it’s also something that will have a global solution. You know, there’s going to always be infighting between governments, and there’s going to be disputes over approaches to these solutions. But at the end of the day, I would like to think that as human beings we all have one goal, and it would be that we have a safe future for the generations to come. I would like to think that’s a goal we all have in common.
So it’s nice to see people from around the globe working together. And 24 Hours of Reality, of course, hits every major nation around the world. It’s a great way for people to see those similarities and what’s working in other places.
Why do you think taking action right now is so important?
Every time someone says, “Well, maybe I’ll just look at that next year,” when you look at how fast the problem is escalating – the greenhouse gases and the way they are tracking, the impact that it’s having on the environment – that’s why you cannot just wait until next year to do something. Everybody can do something.
People can use their voice. That’s the easiest thing that someone can do and it doesn’t cost them a penny.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jonathan Scott has clearly found his voice – and so can you.
Be sure to watch Jonathan, former US Vice President Al Gore, and many more on the global broadcast event, 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality, on December 4-5.
Be the Voice of Reality will travel the globe for 24 straight hours with thought-provoking conversations, rousing musical performances, and inspiring stories highlighting the activists fighting for solutions everywhere from city streets to City Hall, showing how we can all find our voice and all make a difference. Right here. Right now. Right when it matters.