Fun Fact #1: “According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.” – NASA, Earth Observatory
Fun Fact #2: “Atmospheric CO2 concentration started to increase at the time of the Industrial Revolution and has been increasing rapidly since 1900. This increase is in proportion to the usage of fossil fuels. Therefore, reducing consumption of fossil fuels in order to reduce CO2 emissions has become a crucial countermeasure for global warming.” – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Fun Fact #3: In 2011/13, China had 78 million cars. In 2014, there were 154 million cars in China. By 2015, that number had risen to 172 million. A year later, another 28.3 million were sold, taking the figure to around 200.3 million private cars. By 2050, the estimated number of private vehicles in China is estimated to be between 464.9 to 557.7 million.
Fun Fact #4: “The global number of cars on the road and kilometers flown in planes will nearly double by 2040 […] Cars are projected to reach the two billion mark by 2040.” – World Economic Forum
Fun Fact #5: “A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.” – US Environmental Protection Agency
Musk’s appointment to this Forum on 14 December last year joined the likes of;
- Stephen A. Schwarzman (Forum Chairman), Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone;
- Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission;
- Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors;
- Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic;
- Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co;
- Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock;
- Travis Kalanick, CEO and Co-founder, Uber Technologies;
- Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company;
- Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group;
- Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.;
- Jim McNerney, Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing;
- Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo;
- Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners;
- Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM;
- Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System;
- Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY;
- Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric;
- Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit;
A formidable Who’s Who of American capitalism’s “Captain’s of Industry”.
Trump’s propaganda website, “Great Again” stated;
Members of the Forum will be charged with providing their individual views to the President — informed by their unique vantage points in the private sector — on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation and productivity. The Forum is designed to provide direct input to the President from many of the best and brightest in the business world in a frank, non-bureaucratic and non-partisan manner.
Trump was more effusive;
“ You’re doing well right now and I’m very honored by the bounce. They’re all talking about the bounce … Anything we can do to help this go along, and we’re going to be there for you. And you’ll call my people, you’ll call me. It doesn’t make any difference. We have no formal chain of command around here.”
Musk’s appointment to the Forum had been unforeseen, as he had voiced criticisms of Trump and his victory at the elections;
The announcement came as a big surprise to many, considering Musk has been very critical of Donald Trump before and after the election. Before Trump became President-elect, Musk said in an interview with CNBC that the Republican nominee was “not the right man for the job” and that “he doesn’t seem to have the character that reflects well on the States.” After the business tycoon won more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton, Musk also lamented that the outcome “not the finest moment in our democracy in general.”
Before the election took place, Musk also stated that Hillary Clinton’s economic and environmental policies were better. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Musk has made much of his fortune from harnessing renewable energy. He’s also a proud advocate of environmental sustainability. Trump, on the other hand, believes climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese.
Musk holds strong views regarding human civilisation’s impact on the planet’s environment;
“ We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere … can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.” – 17 April 2013
“ We are going to exit the fossil fuel era. It is inevitable. Right now we have an incentive structure that is designed to slow it down [transition from fossil fuels]. If countries decide to do a carbon tax or cap and trade, and it is real and not watered-down and weak, I think we can see a transition that is in the 15 to 20 years time frame as supposed to 40 to 50 years time frame. By putting a price on carbon, we are fixing a pricing error in the market. Any price will be better than the close to zero we have right now. ” – 2 December 2015
“ Burning oil is like taking furniture from your house and setting it on fire for heat.” – 1 July 2016
“By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.” – 20 July 2016
“ CO2 isn’t exactly pollution, but it does cause warming and slight acidification of water if very large quantities are dug from deep underground and added to the surface cycle. The problem is the age-old tragedy of the commons. The common good being consumed is atmospheric and oceanic carbon capacity, which currently has a price of zero. This results in an error in market signals and far more CO2 is generated than should be. We won’t ever go to zero CO2, but the rate over time should be dropped far below what it is today.” – 26 January 2017
Musk’s views are clear. They are also in direct stark contrast to Trump’s own, stated belief, that global warming was a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hobble American industry“. By participating in Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, Musk appears to be an optimistic believer in being inside the enemy’s tent pissing out, rather than vice versa.
At best, it was a naive belief.
On 27 May, Trump used his favourite medium to announce that he was going to… make an announcement;
On 28 May, rumours began to circulate that Trump had already made up his mind and was going to make good on his threat to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord;
President Trump has privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change, according to three sources with direct knowledge.
Publicly, Trump’s position is that he has not made up his mind and when we asked the White House about these private comments, Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks said, “I think his tweet was clear. He will make a decision this week.”
The same report claimed that “… the EPA staff are quietly working with outside supporters to place op eds favoring withdrawal from Paris“. Evidently, the more unpopular/unreasonable a political decision is, the more ‘spin’ is required to ‘massage the message’ and lull the masses back to sleep.
Trump’s appointee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and fellow climate-change denier, Scott Pruitt, had been advocating since April for the US to withdraw from the Paris Accords;
Scott Pruitt, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has said that the US should back out of its commitment to the Paris climate agreement, the landmark plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to limit global warming to below 2˚C.
This follows President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to cancel the agreement, with a decision on whether he will do so expected within the next month.
“It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt told cable news show Fox & Friends last week. “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”
Pruitt was being willfully disingenuous (ie; lying his head off);
“That statement is either deliberately misleading or woefully uninformed about what the Paris agreement is and what it does,” says Alden Meyer at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
China and India have already taken action to reach the goals they set for 2030, and China has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by a higher percentage than US commitments. “Pruitt is really off the mark here,” Meyer says. “It’s very clear that China is going to overachieve its Paris objectives.”Han Chen of the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York says that China implemented its first mandatory national cap on coal consumption last year and added three times as much wind capacity as the US in 2016.
“China already suspended over 100 planned or under-construction coal projects last year,” says Chen. “Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants policies that favor highly polluting fossil fuels. It’s no question which country is more ambitious on climate action at the moment.”
On 31 May, just days before Trump was due to officially announce what the entire world already knew, Elon Musk issued his own announcement;
Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened Wednesday to stop advising President Donald Trump if the White House withdraws from the Paris climate accords.
Asked on Twitter what he would do if Trump pulled out of the landmark global deal to curb emissions, Musk said…
Musk, who also founded SpaceX, is on Trump’s manufacturing jobs council, his strategic and policy forum, and his infrastructure council. Musk has defended his role advising Trump in the face of some criticism from anti-Trump activists, arguing that they should want his voice in the discussions to offer views that differ from those of the president’s other advisors.
Sure enough, on 2 June (New Zealand time), Trump did not fail to disappoint an entire planet of 7.3 billion humans;
Without any hint of self-awareness of irony, Trump stated;
“ The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”
Trump’s arrogance was such that even the North Korean leadership (who are also a signatory to the Paris Accord) was moved to say the right thing at the right time;
A spokesman for the North Korean government described the move as the “height of egotism and moral vacuum seeking only their well-being even at the cost of the entire planet, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“[The US] is ignorant of the fact that the protection of the global environment is in their own interests,” the spokesman added.
“The selfish act of the US does not only have grave consequences for the international efforts to protect the environment, but poses great danger to other areas as well.”
Following on from Trump’s announcement, Elon Musk made good on his warning that he would not be a collaborator to any undermining of the Paris Accord;
Musk further tweeted;
Under Paris deal, China committed to produce as much clean electricity by 2030 as the US does from all sources today
Musk was correct. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, declared China’s intention to persevere with the Paris Accord;
“ Climate change is a global challenge. No county can place itself outside of this. At the same time, we will continue to resolutely be a protector and promoter of the global climate system process, proactively participating in the multilateral climate change process. We are willing to work with all sides to jointly protect the Paris agreement process, promote the actual rules and regulations of the agreement in follow-up talks and effectively enact them, and promote global green, low carbon, sustainable development.”
China has strong motivation to reduce atmospheric pollution generated by human industrial activity;
China had fought previous attempts by foreign governments to limit carbon emissions, claiming it should be allowed the same space to develop and pollute that industrialized nations had.
But with its capital often choked by smog and its people angry about the environmental degradation that rapid development has wrought across the country, Beijing has become a strong proponent of efforts to halt global warming.
The consequences of runaway climate change could be devastating for China, it’s people, and it’s economy. According to Climate Scientist, Benjamin Strauss;
“ Roughly a quarter of the world’s people who live on land at risk from 4C warming are living in China. That is more that twice as many as who live on vulnerable land in Europe and the US combined. The Shanghai region by itself has more than 20 million people living on land that could be lost. ”
Spokesman for the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, added his country’s voice to endorsing the Paris Accord;
“ President Vladimir Putin signed this convention when he was in Paris. Russia attaches great significance to it. At the same time, it goes without saying that the effectiveness of this convention is likely to be reduced without its key participants.”
Meanwhile, many Trump supporters; alt. right purveyors of lies and conspiracy-theories such as ‘Infowars‘ and ‘Brietbart‘; and assorted right-wing conservatives like Anne Coulter and Mark Levin were falling over each other in their scramble to praise their Dear Leader for taking the planet closer to ecological melt-down. The American Right seem to be the only ones supporting Trump.
Ironically, big corporations have parted company with Trump and the American Right, siding instead with the science community;
Major U.S. corporations and leading business figures are raising an eleventh-hour appeal to President Donald Trump, urging him to not pull the country out of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tweeted Wednesday an image of an earlier joint open letter from over 20 top companies based in the U.S. or having business stateside, in which they made a business case that the U.S. should remain a part of the accord.
In the face of an intransigent anti-science cabal that now occupies the White House, aided by Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the rest of Planet Earth has no choice but carry working to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane).
People of influence such as Elon Musk must now reassess their options.
By fortuitous coincidence, one option is already available to Musk and is stated on his Tesla website;
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.
Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.
We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.
Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.
Musk has given away his electric car patents, promising “not [to] initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.“
He has indeed joined the Open Source movement. Open Source is described as “a decentralized development model that encourages open collaboration“. There is an element of socialist co-operative behaviour with OS.
However, simply stating that Musk will not stand in the way of anyone who “wants to use [Tesla] technology” is not enough. This is an opportunity for Musk to counter Trump’s refusal to act decisively on climate change. This is Musk’s opportunity to show leadership where Trump – and other Republicans and conservatives – will not.
This is the proposal I have sent to Elon Musk, via Twitter;
New Zealand/Aotearoa – @fmacskasy
Kia Ora Mr Musk,
I wish to congratulate you on your principled decision to withdraw from Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Withdrawing the United States from the Paris Accord on climate change shows a disturbing lack of understanding by Trump and a refusal to understand the science behind climate change, and it’s impact on Planet Earth.
By rejecting the science and claiming that climate change is a “Chinese orchestrated hoax” implies that the Chinese government has exercised full-spectrum dominance and control over NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Meteorological Society, American Physical Society, Geological Society of America, and many others. This is patently laughable.
Mr Musk, you are in a unique position to take a measure of leadership on this critical problem confronting humanity and the entire planet.
On your Tesla website, you have stated that you intend to allow people to use your electric car technology without any impediments created by patent-rights;
“Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
Your generosity in removing patents to Tesla technology is the seed to which the Paris Accord can move forward with a giant leap.
Instead of just allowing access to Tesla technology, I propose that you engage with the Chinese government to set up Tesla car-manufacturing plants throughout the Chinese People’s Republic. You could stipulate that the only two provisos would be;
1. Each plant must be powered by renewable energy. No fossil fuel energy sources to be used.
2. All electric vehicles will be for domestic consumption only (if you so wish).
With the number of private vehicles in China estimated to each 464.9 to 557.7 million by 2050 (ref: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/251560842Modeling_future_vehicle_sales_and_stock_in_China) and with each typical car emitting approximately 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (ref: https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle-0), it does not take much maths to work out how much extra CO2 will be pumped into the atmosphere by just one nation alone.
Your leadership on this problem would rival that of your SpaceX programme and ambitions for Mars.
You can achieve what Trump has failed in such a dismal fashion.
This would be a spectacular act of international co-operation with the future of the entire planet and our species at stake.
Mr Musk, you can be the visionary. If China is to have 557.7 million cars by 2050, let them be electric. Let them all be Teslas.
Solving the crisis of climate change will take a titanic, collective effort from us all.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: History of Fossil Fuel Usage since the Industrial Revolution
Wall Street Journal: China Soon to Have Almost as Many Drivers as U.S. Has People
South China Morning Post: China 2016 car sales surge at fastest rate in three years
Researchgate: Modeling future vehicle sales and stock in China (p26)
US Environmental Protection Agency: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle
World Economic Forum: The number of cars worldwide is set to double by 2040
Wikipedia: Elon Musk
The Guardian: The Minute – Trump promises Silicon Valley ‘bounce’
Twitter: Elon Musk – burning fossil fuel
Tesla: Master Plan, Part Deux
Scientific American: Ahead of Trump Decision, China Says It Will Stick to Paris Climate Deal
China Dialogue: Chinese cities most at risk from rising sea levels
Wikipedia: Open Source Model
Twitter: Frank Macskasy – sharing Tesla
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