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OPINION: An Open Letter to Elon Musk & His Environmental Hypocrisy

Dear Mr. Musk,

We wanted to send you a quick letter of thanks for your innovative spirit and desire to advance humanity. Your vision of electric vehicles for everyone, global Internet made possible by thousands of satellites orbiting the earth, and interstellar SpaceX exploration and travel are truly inspiring.

Each of these projects are exciting, bold, ambitious – and damaging to the environment.

Which is funny, because we all know how you’re committed to sustainability, renewable energy, upcycling, and green initiatives – you even said so in this eco-attack tweet against Bitcoin.

We’re a little confused regarding this environmental shade you tossed at BTC. Can you – or anyone – please share once again that definitive, data-driven, peer-reviewed, scientific-based study that conclusively shows the irrefutable causation of negative climate change from mining Bitcoin?

What’s that you say? It doesn’t exist?

Oh, okay – well when that scientific research is ready, please pass that along because unproven, non-scientific, anecdotal hearsay, and supposition seem inconsistent with your science-driven brand.

Speaking of inconsistent, we assume you’re still accepting Dogecoin payments for SpaceX rocket trips? Phew, that’s good, because last we checked Dogecoin is a mined cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin – but we should give DOGE a pass because that puppy meme is so stinking cute, right Dogefather?

Speaking of rocket trips, don’t your Falcon rockets use enhanced kerosene for fuel? In fact, according to an article at ProVsCon.com, the Tesla Falcon and its Merlin engines use a form of kerosene that:

…produces soot, coking, and polymerization inside the Merlin engine. As a result, after each rocket launch, SpaceX needs to clean its rocket engine thoroughly. This process is costly and prevents SpaceX from reusing their rocket in rapid succession.

Hmmm, that’s too bad that the rockets must be cleaned from soot and carbon buildup after each use. We guess the environment doesn’t have to be cleaned after each rocket use, right? We guess spewing metric tons of soot, ozone-damaging trace gases, and methane into the atmosphere during every launch is fine.

While none of us are as genius as you Mr. Musk, isn’t methane that pesky greenhouse gas that is really, really bad for the environment? At least that’s what the science writers over at Sciencing.com assert:

Methane is a gas that remains in the atmosphere for up to 15 years. This greenhouse gas is produced by many natural and human-influenced sources. Landfills, coal mines and wastewater treatment, natural gas and petroleum facilities are only a few of the sources that emit this gas. It is more than 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. It is, however, an important energy source. Many companies in the United States are trying to reduce emissions of methane through management methods and technologies.

While we’re glad to see many companies “…are trying to reduce emissions…” we’re a bit confused by your environmental posturing because Tesla actually plans to significantly increase its emissions based on your plans to launch 42,000 satellites into orbit in coming years for your Starlink project. While the idea of tens of thousands of satellites in geo-synchronous orbit above the earth to provide worldwide access to the worldwide web is visionary, science says rocket launches have a high carbon footprint.

Call us crazy, but we believe your Starlink aspirations, Mr. Musk, will exponentially expand that carbon footprint – not to mention cluttering the sky with tons of space junk.

Speaking of junk, we were wondering what happens when the hundreds of thousands of lithium-ion batteries that power Tesla’s electric vehicles no longer work properly and don’t hold their charge? The fact is no rechargeable battery lasts forever – anyone with an iPhone knows that.

We certainly applaud efforts to reuse and recycle critical battery components, but it seems that only 60% of lithium-ion battery parts can be recycled – while the rest go into landfills.

But aren’t there serious environmental impacts when you pack landfills with tons of un-recyclable, battery parts? Henry Mann had some interesting perspectives on the topic, over on CruxInvestor.com, writing about Tesla’s battery recycling efforts:

The issue with rechargeable batteries is the toxic metals that are used to make them. Cadmium, lead, and cobalt aren’t kind to the environment, and when rechargeable batteries start to degrade in landfills, they can contaminate the topsoil, groundwater, and air. Not only this, but when the chemical seeping happens, it can risk entering the human supply chain.

While the end-of-life impact of batteries remains to be seen, the truth is that the early-stages of Li-Ion batteries can cause a negative impact on the environment. The metals in the batteries have to be mined, and in the same way as with lead mining, there can be complications.

To be clear Mr. Musk, it seems you can live with the physical mining of cadmium, lead, and cobalt to build your batteries – but virtual Bitcoin mining is unstainable? Thanks for clarifying your confusing-climate-change hypocrisy for us.

Sincerely,

The Entire Cryptocurrency Community

On the Flipside

  • Elon Musk’s tweet announcing that Tesla will stop accepting BTC as payment for electric vehicles caused a 17% flash crash of the cryptocurrency.
  • Back-of-the-napkin math shows that Musk’s tweet forced Tesla to lose $255 million in its Bitcoin holdings, using its $1.5 billion cost basis.

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    This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed to be financial legal or tax advice. Trading Forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs poses a considerable risk of loss

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    Author

    Tor Constantino is a former journalist, consultant and current corporate comms executive with an MBA degree and 25+ years of experience - writing about cryptocurrencies and blockchain since 2017. His writing has appeared across the web on Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, CEOWorld and Yahoo!. Tor's views are his own and do not reflect those of his current employer.