It’s easy to look at the headlines today and get scared.
We do, after all, have the following issues dominating the news cycle on a regular basis:
- Global Warming
- Nuclear Proliferation
- Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs
- Presidential Tweeting
If Hollywood tells us anything, it’s about time a superhero showed up.
Realistically though, what we now need are visionaries: people who can see a better future and make the changes necessary to achieve it.
And ideally, we need these people to equate doing the smart thing with the cool thing to do. When I was a kid, coolness didn’t exactly walk hand-in-hand with nerdiness. But, somewhere along the way, after the days of Steve Urkel but before the time that humans started worshipping smartphones, those who were technologically savvy leapt up the social ladder. They became our new superheroes.
If you’ve spent any time in my house at all, you might (no, you most definitely) have heard the name “Elon Musk” come up. It’s no secret that my husband follows Musk the way my son follows Harry Potter – with something between rapt attention and obsession.
Why does he do this?
Because Musk’s companies are doing good things. And cool things. Really good and really cool things.
Most recently, Tesla has released – for mass production – the first relatively affordable, long-range electric car: the Model 3. The company has over 500,000 reservations already. The car is cool. Undeniably, unreservedly cool.
But that’s not all.
In order to power these cars, Tesla is also building the largest battery factory in the world. It is also designing batteries to be used in PowerWalls that will ultimately power homes and further reduce humanity’s carbon footprint. The batteries are designed to work with the newly released, and surprisingly attractive, solar roofs by SolarCity (which was recently acquired by Tesla). A small Samoan island (Ta’u – pop. 790) that was used as a pilot project is now run almost entirely on solar energy. Larger-scale projects are under way.
Also, let’s not forget about the first reusable rockets developed at Musk’s SpaceX, or his Hyperloop and Boring projects which could one day provide underground electric mass transit.
Perhaps more important than any of this, Elon Musk is inspiring a movement. His out-of-the-box thinking, and willingness to take extreme financial risks have led to remarkable innovations. Car companies are racing to compete with Tesla. A new generation of engineers is clamouring to work for his companies, or are inspired to start their own and coming up with new and unique solutions.
While Musk himself is reportedly difficult to work with, he is undeniably brilliant, and changing the game in all of these fields, and particularly in sustainable energy. His philosophy can be summarized in this one particular image:
If you ever have the desire to discuss Tesla stock trends or solar power feasibility, please come over and hang out with my husband. (Please? Anyone? Seriously, this guy has the ability to spot a Tesla in his rearview mirror two lanes over and six cars back on a busy highway.)
When we read the scary headlines, we have to remember all the good things that are happening. There are reasons for hope. So, let’s keep an eye on those next top superheroes: the people coming up with solutions that can change the world for the better.
(I dedicate this post to Paul – Happy Birthday!)