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How Are Solar Power, Electric Cars and Space Related?

Updated on April 7, 2018
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Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Jack has worked at IBM for over 28 years.

Introduction

If you have been paying attention last few years, you would know the answer is Elon Musk. He is the man behind all three technologies. He is the CEO of Tesla the electric car company which is also the parent company of SolarCity. In addition, He is also the founder and CEO of SpaceX, the private company that launches rockets into space and carry payloads to the space station.

- Apr. 2018

Background

Solar panels and electric cars are some of the proposed solutions to reducing our carbon usage and reducing air polution. It seems like the perfect combination to reduce human caused climate change. Solar power is a renewable energy source. Solar farms can generate electricity and in turn charge the electric batteries to run the electric cars. How is SpaceX related?

According to Elon Musk, it is his long term goal to conquer space and eventually colonize Mars. His thinking is that we cannot survive as a species on earth. Eventually, either by our own doing, or a natural disaster like an asteroid strilke, our human habitat will be extinct. The only solution is to relocate to another planet. Mars is a perfect candidate. It is close enough and with some geoengineering, it may be shaped to be acceptible for human habitat. This is an ambitious undertaking. To send a space ship to Mars will take years. It is expected to be a one way trip for those who sign up. The challenges of survival in a harsh planet will be many. The key to this plan is to find water. Without it, life as we know it cannot exist.

An Insurance Policy...

For Elon Musk and others who think this, it makes total sense. They see what is going on here on earth. We have wars, terrorism, plagues, over population and potential for nuclear annihilation by rogue states. It makes sense to find an alternative avenue for those with resources to escape to another location. The human race will be saved at least for an extended period. It is as if we have this insurance policy just in case things go wrong.

It is part of our human psyche to want to explore and push the envelop. To advance technology to eventually control our environment totally. This obsession is almost build into our DNA.

What can go wrong?

Climate Change May Not Be So Dire...

If the justification for solar power and electric cars was to reduce our carbon foot print, what if the prediction for climate change is not so dire? What if our continuing use of fossil fuel is not as detrimental to our environment? What if it takes hundreds of years for the earth to heat up by the increased CO2 greenhouse effect?

In that scenario, there would be little incentive for governments to provide tax credits to subsidize renewable energy souces such as solar and wind power. Also, there would be no need to subsidize electric automobiles. They would be adopted if the cost came down and be competitive to gasoline powered cars.

What would happen to Solar City and Tesla? Will they be able to compete on an even playing field once the tax incentives ended?

Climate Change Cycles

Mars May Already Be Claimed...

The reports of UFO sightings has been around since the 1950s. What if there are advanced civilizations monitoring our progress? They may be using Mars or our own moon as base stations. They may not allow us to change Mars to be more earth like. Will we create an incident that may lead to galactic warfare?

In the fictional universe of Star Trek, the Prime Directive (also known as Starfleet General Order 1 or General Order 1[1]) is a guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets prohibiting the protagonists from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations. The Prime Directive has been used in five of the six Star Trek-based series. This conceptual law applies particularly to civilizations which are below a certain threshold of technological, scientific and cultural development; preventing starship crews from using their superior technology to impose their own values or ideals on them.

What if there is a Prime Directive imposed by a superior alien race?

Mars Rover

Colonizing Mars May Be Harder Than Anticipated...

Finally, even if there are no aliens, the task of colonizing another planet may just be too hard. The resources needed will be too great or too expensive. This idea was tested in a small scale back in the 1980s called Biosphere 2. It ended after two attempts to create a self sustaining environment. Both failed to reach its objective. Creating a closed eco system that will provide enough food and energy while maintaining a balanced system was just too hard.

Biosphere 2

Summary

In this essay, I tried to anticipate some possible future outcomes. I could be wrong and things could go as planned. Elon Musk might be the Iron Man like the movie‘s hero Tony Stark. He could also be a failure like Nikola Tesla, the inventor that Musk honored with the name of his car company. Tesla was a genius and invented AC current and many other advanced technologies, but he was not a good businessman and died broke.

© 2018 Jack Lee

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