By: Noam Gershov  | 

Who Should Fight Global Warming?

The Democratic Party’s fifth presidential debate was held on November 20 in Atlanta, Georgia. Not surprisingly, every candidate on stage agreed that President Donald Trump must be ousted from office in 2020. Another issue that every candidate agreed must be addressed is that of climate change. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for instance, described this crisis as a “national emergency,” and Senator Bernie Sanders coined it “an existential threat to our country and the entire planet.” The proposed solution by most candidates includes a combination of increased taxes on greenhouse gas emissions and an implementation of the ambitious Green New Deal, a plan introduced by Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey that aims to bring carbon emissions to zero and invest in projects that protect the environment. These proposals align with the Democratic ideology of a big, involved government that regulates businesses and spends a lot of money on public problems. 

Across the aisle, Republicans also believe, at least in part, that the climate is changing. A Monmouth University poll suggests that 64% of Republicans believe in global warming, but only 25% think it is a very serious problem. Whether climate change is a pressing issue that needs immediate attention or can be put on the back-burner, conservatives generally oppose a powerful government that intervenes to solve our country’s issues. Instead, Republicans encourage individuals and private industries to pursue efforts at stabilizing the environment. 

A prime example of a private company and specific individual successfully tackling the problem of climate change is Tesla and its founder, Elon Musk. Established in 2003, the mission of Tesla has stayed consistent throughout: “to prove that electric vehicles can be better, quicker, and more fun to drive than gasoline cars,” and simultaneously, that “the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better.” Over the years, Tesla has put its money where its mouth is, and as of the end of the second quarter of 2019, 720,000 electric vehicles have been sold globally. This number is quite staggering and is projected to rise exponentially with the recent announcement of the Tesla Cybertruck, which received 146,000 preorders just two days after its reveal.

To meet the energy demands of its electric vehicles while on the road, Tesla created a vast supercharger network that spans roads, highways, rest stops and malls, so the driver never has to worry about running out of battery. Although Tesla is a for-profit business that wants as many people to buy its vehicles as possible, the company has generously offered to allow other electric car manufacturers to create compatible charging outlets and use the Tesla superchargers. This self-sacrifice demonstrates the company’s genuine drive towards achieving a zero-emission future.

In his spare time, Elon Musk participates in other ventures that also reduce global warming. SolarCity, which Tesla purchased in 2016 for $2.6 billion dollars, manufactures a variety of solar panels that convert sunlight into clean energy. One version of these panels is standard and can be installed directly on top of an existing roof. However, acknowledging that these panels are an eyesore, Tesla recently unveiled its Solarglass Roof, which brilliantly replaces traditional roof shingles with beautiful, seamless solar tiles. The clean energy produced by these panels must be stored, so Tesla provides a Powerwall that mounts to the side of one’s house and keeps the generated power for later use. 

Elon Musk’s incredible inventions have already contributed so much to the environment, and they will surely continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change for years to come. His electric vehicles, supercharger network and solar panels have become the gold standard in sustainable energy technology and innovation. 

Many other private businesses are also innovating in these fields. And not only are these companies not taxing U.S. citizens or placing restrictions on fossil fuel emissions, but they are concurrently creating great products with the positive side effect of fighting global warming. Perhaps the Democratic candidates should observe the success of Tesla and other similar companies and realize that under a free market economic system with the proper incentives in place, individuals and private businesses will do the job of solving climate change better and faster than government ever can. 

Photo caption: Elon Musk’s electric vehicles, supercharger network and solar panels have become the gold standard in sustainable energy technology and innovation
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons