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Save the Trees or I’ll Break Your Knees: Teslas are not the environmental statement Musk wants buyers to think

The transportation sector may be one of the most difficult areas to make a widespread conversion to clean energy along with being one of the greatest emitters of greenhouse gasses due to the cost of greener vehicles. While recent technology has made great strides in electric vehicles, they are only really available to the ultra wealthy, and thus are not a sustainable solution to rely on.

Accounting for 29% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, the transportation sector produces the most of any other American sector, such as the electricity and energy sectors who follow close behind in emissions. Light-duty vehicles are the main contributors of greenhouse gasses, making up 58% of all emissions from the transportation sector, with the average passenger vehicle emitting about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. 

One of the more disheartening developments in the production of environmentally friendly cars is that the industry has already been monopolized by billionaire and second wealthiest man in the world, Elon Musk. 

While Musk has become somewhat of a joke online, his development of the Tesla electric car was groundbreaking. However, his technological developments are overshadowed by the unethicality by which he runs his business to feed his already immense wealth. Instead of using his resources to utilize sustainable methods of cultivating affordable electric vehicles, he is trying to suck as much profit out of Tesla as possible.

The first major issue with the Tesla is its production. Although they are made in California, Musk has faced scrutiny from human rights activists for his use of cobalt in Tesla car batteries. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produces 70% of the world’s cobalt. Corruption in cobalt mining is widespread, with miners working in extremely dangerous conditions, often mining by hand and evening utilizing child labor. Many mines are also run by government militia groups with their own long list of human rights abuses.

The second and likely most prominent problem with Tesla is the price of the cars, costing upwards of $30 thousand. With a net worth of $218.3 billion and enough wiggle room to launch SpaceX and literally catapult himself into space, Musk could easily bring the price down to a somewhat more affordable range and thus provide more access to sustainable vehicles to a larger portion of the population.

Ultimately, Musk’s Tesla is a revolutionary advancement in green technology that came into the worst of hands. He did not create the Tesla as a means to help the environment, but as a marketing ploy: he can sell his ultra-expensive cars to other, mostly ultra-wealthy individuals so they can feel like they are doing something good and impactful when really, their resources would be better spent elsewhere on aspects of environmentalism not quite as glamorous.

Meg Diehl is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Meg by tweeting her at @irlbugte.


Meg Diehl

Assistant Opinion Editor

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