Dear Mr. Musk,
I hope this letter finds you well. While reviewing your work over my lunch, I realize the more I read, the more confused my feelings become. I want to like you. You are a billionaire who advocates for eliminating carbon emissions and ensuring a greener future – swoon!
But you keep burning vast amounts of CO2 to send the world’s wealthiest to space – yikes! I pretend for a minute that we’re eating lunch together, we’re on a date; you’d be eating a sandwich from a reusable container and I would be enthralled hearing about your work at Tesla, but as soon as SpaceX is mentioned, I’d back away. But then, I’d remember how you frequently promote hope for the climate crisis, and I’d loop back to you. You’re coming in hot and cold and I can’t keep up.
Let’s start to unpack this with some of your best hits:
- Tesla electric cars
- Tesla Solar Roof
- Donating $100 million to fund a competition to find new ways to remove carbon from air and water to combat climate change.
- Advocating for carbon taxes
These are admirable points in your work. For instance, despite the number of reusable bags, paper straws or locally handmade beeswax wraps I use, my contributions to fight climate change is nothing compared to what you have done. And honestly, THANK YOU for doing so as it is greatly needed.
This feeling of gratitude was reinforced when I watched the ‘Last Warning’ video where you outlined two key points that threaten life on earth: population collapse and CO2 emissions. You discuss how the declining population will leave the younger generation to be overwhelmed with caring for seniors, as birth rates continue to drop. To that note, I would suggest the lack of baby making is tied to CO2 emissions as nothing kills the mood more than the planet’s declining health (heat waves, droughts, forest fires, poor air quality, ocean acidification etc.).
This is the point of the date where we swap stories about the negative impacts of the fossil fuel industry, how environmental issues are intricately tied to social issues and we brainstorm sustainable solutions. We’d eat dessert with our reusable travel utensils and engage in a witty repartee about whether astrology is nonsensical garbage or fantastical insight.
My feelings turn sour when you say one word; SpaceX. With all your efforts to be an exemplienary billionaire in the pursuit of sustainability, it’s hypocritical to encourage commercial space travel. When asked why you are pursuing the colonization of Mars in a TED talk, you said it was because you want to inspire. To me, this is an infuriating reason. You have acknowledged the imperative nature of the climate crisis, and yet you’re still pushing for regular space tourism. During our date, you will defend the project, but I will ask how rockets are manufactured, tested and launched and you will have to admit the consequences:
- Debris left in the ocean.
- Release of hazardous fuels and vapor.
- Noise pollution at the sites in Boca Chica. Disrupting local wildlife due to vibrations and loud noises, light pollution, not to mention the smoke and fire released in explosions. Animals that are particularly impacted are turtles whose beaches become closed off which discourages them to nest and birds whose natural habitats are disrupted with the growing infrastructure of SpaceX.
- Despite the rockets being reusable, the vessel is composed of 95% fuel which burns a lot of carbon dioxide. It’s estimated that one SpaceX launch is equivalent to 395 Transatlantic flights in CO2.
- The growing worry of orbital space debris is of equal concern to atmospheric rocket emissions. With SpaceX’s interest to increase space travel, space debris is becoming an overwhelming problem.
I will realize that these are just a few problems of SpaceX, there are likely more. I’ll point out that such a venture basically dismisses any momentum Tesla garnered to shrink our collective carbon footprint. You will ignore my trepidations because SpaceX is revolutionary and in the next 30 years commercial space travel will be the norm.
I push my dessert away to argue that commercial space travel will only benefit the rich who can afford to leave Earth while the rest of us have to invest in air conditioners due to heat waves, become climate refugees due to rising sea levels and shell out what money we can for medical bills due to poor living conditions.
I’ll show you a post on instagram by ARCC-CDAC that fully encapsulates this reality of the poor suffering on Earth because the wealthiest have deemed our planet worth abandoning:
You will backpedal and insist SpaceX is a project of inspiration and hope, how we all need a reason to get up in the morning and look forward. I will retort that SpaceX is only for the select few who can afford to be inspired. You will sense the date going south, so you will look deep into my eyes and regale me with all the good work you have done to combat climate change:
- Tesla had halted purchases of its vehicles with bitcoin due to concerns over the “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining. – CNBC
- “We’re really playing a crazy game here with the atmosphere and the oceans,” Musk explained during a recent interview. “We’re taking vast amounts of carbon from deep underground and putting this in the atmosphere—this is crazy. We should not do this. It’s very dangerous.” –TerraPass
- ‘Elon Musk Is Building the First Solar-Powered Town in the US’- Changing America
These stories confuse me further as you take one step towards investing in clean energy, but take two steps back to launch a rocket to fulfill, what I assume, a childhood dream to conquer space. As a granola girl, it makes me dizzy trying to keep up with what kind of boyfriend you are. Are you a champion for environmental awareness? Or are you simply saying what I want to hear? Do you genuinely want to inspire or are you willing to keep your dream for space alive no matter the cost others must pay? With the UN calling the climate crisis ‘irreversible’, I don’t have time to analyze what each message means or wonder if you want (more) kids or learn your astrological sign; at the present moment I’m getting toxic boyfriend vibes from all the CO2 you’re spewing.
Call me when you clean up your act.
- Sierra Club: SpaceX Boca Chica Factsheet & Talking Points
- AeroSpace: The Policy and Science of Rocket Emissions
- TerraPass: Who is Elon Musk?