The Elon Musk dilemma (The Elon Musk dilemma) — High Country News – Know the West – High Country News

The Elon Musk dilemma (The Elon Musk dilemma) — High Country News – Know the West – High Country News

Elon Musk
When big thinkers think badly.  Back in 2009, nearly three in four Americans believed climate change was real. In the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, Sen. John McCain, a Republican, even had climate action as part of his election platform. After Barack Obama’s election, however, Republicans changed their tune on the climate, to denialism.  When the message changed, the number of those surveyed who believed “global warming is happening” plunged, from 71% in 2009 to around 57% the following year, according to surveys by the Yale Climate Program. Anthony Leiserowitz, who directs the Yale program, told Harvard Business Review recently that the drop was driven by “political elite cues, ” which, he said, “is just a fancy way of saying that when leaders lead, followers follow.” That means we need good leaders, leaders who consider the consequences of their actions and rhetoric. .

Elon Musk, the billionaire businessman, is not that leader. But a look at his rhetoric can help separate big thinking from bad thinking. Musk’s two biggest ideas — electric vehicles and the settlement of Mars — are underpinned with fallacies as specious as those of land speculator Charles Wilber, who claimed in 1881 that the arid West could be colonized because “rain follows the plow.” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks about the challenges of a permanent human settlement on Mars at a 2017 aerospace conference. Mark Brake/Getty Images Consider Musk’s electric vehicles. Musk regards technology as a kind of wonder, citing science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, who said, “A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But tech isn’t magic; it’s material. .

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