A burgeoning space tourism industry is gearing up for significant expansion. Critics believe that increasing space flights would be detrimental to the climate.
In the past year, two billionaire-backed companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, have completed successful test flights of their space tourism vehicles.
And last week, SpaceX, the company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, announced that it had raised $1 billion from investors to help fund the development of its space tourism vehicle.
Let's find out how retail space flights will impact the climate.
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The scoop: Overpopulation is a myth... because Jack Ma and Elon Musk said so. On a more serious note, a population collapse is more likely than an overpopulated planet.
Some talking points for the dinner table:
- Overcrowded cities ≠ overcrowded planet. The entire world population can fit in the state of Texas with the same population density as Manhattan.
- Lopsided populations will inevitably occur in modern advanced nations. That means young workers will be unable to support aging populations, causing natural population declines.
- 'Malthusian traps' refer to inevitable food shortages as populations grow. Either Malthus was right and some of us go hungry (as in we don't need to artificially halt population growth), or he's wrong and the population keeps growing sustainably through innovation.
Bottom line: The Earth has plenty to offer for 9 billion mouths. And a sustained population decline due to lower fertility rates is already becoming a realistic outcome. We just need to spread out more.
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Founder story: Elon Musk (co-founder) is a controversial figure with a complicated history. But he is a forward-thinker that can help drive a more sustainable future.
Industry standards: Automakers have a history of poor environmental standards. The manufacturing process requires loads of resources, equipment and infrastructure. Tesla has a $500bn+ market cap, so we understand that complete sustainability is difficult to accomplish.
Materials: Modern cars use metals (aluminum in common), silica, rubber, plastic, rubber, soy, wheat, rice… to name a few. In terms of sustainability, the lithium ion battery is most concerning.
Tesla's current battery uses cobalt... linked to human rights violations in the Congo. Cobalt also makes the vehicle more expensive. Tesla is currently working to remove cobalt from their supply chain.
Ethics: To hit ambitious production goals, Tesla overworked domestic workers in a pretty ugly way. That adds to their controversy in the Congo. Not a good look when a billionaire does so well and you find out workers were unhappy.
Bottom line: Tesla has sustainability tied to its mission, and they are doing awesome things in the solar energy space. Still, their current business model is not sustainable. Wait until Tesla removes cobalt, improves worker conditions and reduces vehicle prices to make an ethical purchase.
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What's happening Neuralink, a neural tech company owned by Elon Musk, is hosting a public event this Friday, August 28th. The event will feature a live demo of the innovative new technology.
What is Neuralink? The four by four millimeter chip sits in a sealed cylinder where it is inserted in the back of your head. Made up of 1,024 electrodes, the N1 works with your brain's neurons to solve neurological mysteries.
Musk believes the micro-chip will be able to solve any neurological disorder from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's.
Why it matters The technological prospects of solving neurological mysteries is fascinating and worthy of covering.
This emerging new era in the human timeline will make or break the human future, and quite possibly the natural world.
Some talking points
- Philosophical questions: Humans are flawed. That makes us human. If Neuralink makes our brains perfect, free of mistakes and failures, what does that world look like?
- Hacking: Technology is advancing faster than laws and regulations. Legal and compliance frameworks just can’t keep up. How can we safely stop hackers from entering our brains?
- Global inequality: When Neuralink inevitably matures into a product for convenience rather than desperation, rich kids who can afford neural chips will advance even faster beyond less-privileged peers.
Bottom line When do we take it 'too far'? Will we ever?
Let's learn the lessons of our past, and put reasonable pressure on innovative new technologies before they get too big to fail. That way we can ensure that the innovation is serving the best interest and will of the people, rather than exacerbating our greatest problems.
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