November 16th, 2016 by Stephen Hanley
Elon Musk is not your typical human being. The mad genius of Silicon Valley has a towering intellect that shoots sparks off in all directions. He is building the world’s most desirable electric cars, is deeply involved in making batteries to store electricity, is running a space exploration company, lingers at the periphery of the Hyperloop — a far out idea that is sort of like a thousand-mile-long horizontal elevator, and is a dedicated proponent of research into artificial intelligence. Any one of those pursuits would keep most people busy for a lifetime. Musk seems to be able to handle more challenges than most mortals.
Many people misunderstand the mission of Tesla Motors, which is named for Nikola Tesla, a Serbian immigrant who came to work for Thomas Edison in 1884. Edison was a proponent of direct current. Tesla advocated for the benefits of alternating current. Tesla invented the first AC electric motor, which is the motor used by Tesla Motors for its automobiles today. People mistakenly believe that Tesla Motors is a car company that also makes batteries. They have it backwards. Tesla is a battery company that also makes cars.
(Note to Donald Trump: Both Tesla and Musk are immigrants who came to America because they believed it was the best place in the world for their unconventional ideas to flourish. If you had been president when they arrived on these shores, they most likely would have been turned away.)
Everything Elon Musk does is intimately connected with his desire to show the world how to stop using fossil fuels, leave what’s left of them in the ground, and transition to a world powered by clean, renewable energy — especially solar. “There’s a giant fusion reactor in the sky,” he says. It’s called the sun and it can satisfy all the needs for electrical power of all the people on earth for tens of thousands of years.
Because solar power doesn’t add carbon dioxide to the environment, it is one of the only ways mankind can stop filling the skies with pollution and give the environment a chance to shed some of the CO2 already in the atmosphere. Climate scientists like James Hansen say we will need a period of 30 to 50 years with no new carbon emissions at all to get the earth’s environment back to its pre-Industrial Revolution normalcy.
Right now, Tesla is building one of the largest factories on earth outside of Reno, Nevada. Called the Gigafactory, it will have 15,000,000 square feet of manufacturing space when finished. It is there that Tesla will manufacture the batteries for its upcoming Model 3 midsize electric car and for both residential and commercial energy storage customers. In Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest movie entitled Before The Flood, Musk tells the actor that it will take 100 Gigafactories to build all the batteries needed to complete the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
“The fossil fuel industry is the biggest industry in the world,” Musk tells DiCaprio on the factory floor. “They have more money and more influence than any other sector. The more that there can be a sort of popular uprising against that, the better, but I think the scientific fact of the matter is we are unavoidably headed towards some level of harm.”
Musk foresees entire communities in the developing world that are not yet connected to the electrical grid being able to skip the grid entirely and jump straight to a solar and battery system. Electrical grids cost huge amounts of money to construct and maintain. Avoiding those costs entirely would dramatically increase the amount of money available to invest in renewable resources like solar and wind power.
Musk was in Paris at this time last year to attend the COP21 climate change summit. While there, he gave a talk at the Sorbonne on the dangers of climate change. In 12 minutes, he lays out clearly and concisely why too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hazardous to life on earth and what we can do about it.
If you can make time in your busy life to watch it, please do so. It gives viewers the understanding they need to be able to talk to others intelligently about the problem. The more people understand the danger we are in, the closer we will be to finding a solution to it.
Source: Forbes | Image Credit: Tesla Motors
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