Planes, Trains and Automobiles…on Mars?
Elon Musk is changing the way our culture looks at green science.
Green, clean, natural. These are idyllic words to describe how we want our world to be, but they are also boring and hard to sell. What we really want is something exciting, cutting edge, and fast. Lucky for us, Elon Musk has been listening for the last 25 years, and it looks like he’s figured it out.
When I think about our impact on the environment, I immediately think of fossil fuels. We are so dependent on them now. How could we ever phase them out? But we’ve had the technology for decades. Solar power, electric cars and wind energy were all renewable options, but they weren’t ready yet. We needed more creative minds to figure out how we can actually utilize it, make it fit into our lifestyle and our culture.
Electric cars have been on the market for decades. But they were expensive and inconvenient, especially if you were driving long distances. An electric car isn’t a new idea, the technology has been developing since 1830, when the first electric car was invented. And between 1900 and 1912, electric cars were incredibly popular, controlling over 1/3 of the market. But that all ended when Henry Ford introduced his affordable, gas powered Model T, and America discovered cheap oil in Texas. Then gas powered engines were king. It wasn’t until 1970 when gas prices soared and a new interest in electric technology emerged. For the last 50 years we’ve been grappling with the task of creating an electric car that drives well and is as convenient as a gas powered car.
Musk, CEO of Tesla, has created the “Secret Master Plan” a series of electric cars, from the Model S, a high end sedan, to the Model 3, an affordable car for everyday use. These cars have 5 star safety ratings, go from 0 – 60 in under 6 seconds and they are sleek and attractive. But best of all, they are powered by electricity from either your home, or Tesla charging stations that are popping up all over America and Europe.
His ideas don’t stop there. Which brings me to another one of Musk’s inventions. We see solar panels everywhere. On top of roofs and solar panel farms. But let’s be honest, they are not too attractive. What if solar panels blended into our environment? What if you could have an entire roof made of solar panels, but you couldn’t tell? Well now you can. Musk has recently acquired Solar City. The 2nd largest provider of solar power systems in the United States. And he’s paired Solar City with Tesla to create solar panel roofing tiles. The tiles come in different styles, can power your entire home, your electric car, and have an infinite warranty. The tiles charge a “Power Wall” a small panel on the side of your home for energy storage. This unit powers your home as well as your car, so you can live off the grid.
Musk’s inventions are a game changer for how we can power our planet. But his ultimate goal isn’t to stay here. Musk wants to begin to colonize Mars by 2023. His plan is to make the trips to Mars affordable for those who want to be a part of this mission. He feels by making his space ships reusable, he can create a realistic plan for populating the red planet. He wants the human race to be an interplanetary species. In fact, Musk is famously quoted as saying, “I want to die on Mars, just not on impact”. Whoever said that the sky was the limit, had never met Elon Musk.
Written by Margot Shellgren
The History of the Electric Car, By Rebecca Matulka, September 15, 2014. https://www.energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car