|The Anti-Environmentalism of Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk|
|Thursday, 14 June 2012 10:00 | Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary|
In August of 2009, The New Yorker published an article about Elon Musk that immediately began bothering me.
Musk, the one-time PayPal owner (his shares sold for $160 million) turned rocket scientist (his privately built spaceship/space company called Space X won the contract for ferrying supplies and eventually US astronauts to the Space Station), has gotten into the electric car business.
His company, Tesla Motors, has produced a nifty little electric sports car that goes zero-to-60 in under four seconds and has a range of almost 250 miles.
Pretty impressive, but here’s what’s not so impressive.
Musk has been very vocal about all the green reasons why we need electric cars and I agree with all of them.
I agree we’re running out of oil. I agree that rampant climate change must be stopped. I agree that finding a less invasive way of moving people from point A to point B would be great. I agree that more ordinary citizens need to stand up and take action.
I agree, agree, agree and agree—but here’s what I don’t agree with: Musk has five sons and—according to the article—plans for more.
Let me be blunt—if you have five children and plans for more you don’t give a shit about this planet.
Ask any expert around: the largest problem facing the planet today is population. There are almost seven billion people and, as I’ve written before, the figure most scientists use for our planet’s carrying capacity (that’s how many people can live here sustainably) comes out at two billion.
This means that already, without the help from guys like Musk, we are 4.4 billion people too many.
So why can’t you have a lot of kids and still care about the planet?
Simple. According to the Population Media Center, “The expansion of human activity and the associated loss of habitat are the leading causes of the unprecedented extinction of plants and animals species worldwide.”
This is a polite way of saying, since our resources are finite, every child born steals from the future to pay for the present.
Worse, Americans do more of this than other nations.
“Ecological footprint” is a term used to measure an individual’s impact on the planet. As computed by the Global Footprint Network, the average American has a footprint equivalent to 9.4 global hectares (23.3 acres) or roughly 17 football fields. The average Haitian, by comparison, uses .5 global hectares—or 1.5 acres—to survive.
This is why exporting American culture and lifestyles is problematic. If the rest of the world wants to live like we do, then we need five planets worth of resources to make that happen.
So let me ask the obvious question: Do you think Musk’s kids even live as we do?
\Are they going to use 23.3 American acres or—since this is a very rich man we’re talking about—do you think he’s spending less on his kids than the rest of us?
That would be, um, unusual.
He is most likely doing what most parents do—spending about all he can afford on his kids. And since he can outspend the rest of us…. well, you do the math.
Musk can sell all the electric cars he wants, but don’t believe the hype.
A) An idiot—meaning he got into green business without knowing the first thing about green living. Seriously, population issues are Green Living 101. They are the absolute basics. So if he’s this dumb and building something as tricky to build (and sell) as an electric car…well, let’s just say, I wouldn’t have much faith in his cars.
B) A hypocrite—meaning he knows the truth but thinks talking a good green game is enough.
So when the time comes for me to buy an electric car, I’ll be looking in every direction besides Tesla Motors.
Help the Earth, Spread the Word: Share this article with family and friends by clicking on the "Email This" or "Share This" links below right. Then see TODAY'S TOP STORIES.