Tesla and SolarCity Merge?

og-sc-logo    In my last blog, I wrote about Elon Musk and the development of how the Gigafactory can lead to a more sustainable future. Not to long ago, Elon Musk made an important leap for the development of clean energy. He recently acquired a merge with Tesla and a solar energy company called SolarCity. I wasn’t very familiar with what the company was or how it will improve our future, so I wanted to write this final blog to uncover some information for myself, as well as those who also don’t have much of an understanding.

According to their website (link below) SolarCity is, “America’s #1 full-service solar provider.” Makes sense. This is a company that services homeowners and businesses through the distribution of solar energy. They also market to schools, non-profits, and government organizations. Their website also states that their customers, “Include hundreds of thousands of homeowners… and well-known corporate clients, including eBay, HP, Intel…” This is clearly a company that means business, so how have I completely missed it? Well, it was established in 2006, and the technology is still developing. But how is Elon Musk’s involvement with the company going to create a better industry?

Well, it’s even more simple than I thought. Elon Musk merged Tesla with SolarCity for a step towards his ultimate goal of creating a solar-powered car. The lithium ion batteries that are already fueling Tesla vehicles are some of the most advanced technology in moving towards more efficient vehicles, but having a completely solar-powered car could be the future of the company. Not only will the SolarCity merge be a step towards completely sustainable cars, it will also lead to a more sustainable lifestyle. As we learned in class, Elon Musk is pushing for even cheaper solar energy, and has now developed solar shingles that are somewhat cheaper than the average shingle (with some correction in price based on the information given in class). So the take from this blog is that the SolarCity merge with Tesla will work a massive amount of wonders in our future, and it will lead to an even cleaner society.

Andrew Ebding

Links:

http://www.solarcity.com/company

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Is Tesla Our Future?

gigafactory     When we watched Leonardo Dicaprio’s documentary in class last Thursday, one of the many parts of the movie that caught my eye was the scene where Leonardo interviewed Elon Musk. Tesla is one of those companies that engineers, environmentalists, and health workers all tend to be drooling over. The more I see Elon Musk on the internet, the more involved I seem to get in the company. Tesla is a company that is driving technology forward, and promotes a safer environment for our future generations. When Leonardo and Elon started to discuss the idea of a gigafactory, I was really interested in what a gigafactory had to offer.

For those of us who missed what Tesla’s Gigafactory is, it’s a physical factory dedicated to transitioning their products into using sustainable energy, supplying enough batteries to be used for every single vehicle they produce. The batteries that the Gigafactory produces are lithium ion, and according to Tesla’s website (link below), “will produce batteries for significantly less cost using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing under one roof.” This is a huge step in the direction for sustainable energy, and it’s exactly how vehicles need to be produced. Tesla has a goal to produce zero net energy from producing vehicles and running the factory.

The energy used to produce itself comes from solar, geothermal, and wind energy, making it a self sustainable factory. Because of this ability to self sustain, Tesla is reducing the cost of their electric battery packs by 30%, and enables Tesla to produce roughly 1,500,000 cars in a year. Elon Musk states in Dicaprio’s film that, “it would take 100 Gigafactories,” in order to provide the entire world with sustainable energy. 100 Gigafactories! Tesla has taken only three years to produce the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, and I can imagine that the success will bring production to more factories. The only problem is money. Hopefully, the success of the Gigafactory 1 will bring in incredible revenue once the Model 3 and Model S cars are being shipped to the masses. But, right now we have to rely on just one Gigafactory, because other vehicle production companies aren’t currently willing to spend the money to produce sustainable factories. So, Tesla’s Gigafactory will be a huge step in the right direction towards a sustainable future, but will we have enough time to mass produce them before it’s too late?

Andrew Ebding

 

Links:

https://www.tesla.com/gigafactory

Video:

https://electrek.co/2016/10/27/leonardo-dicaprio-tours-tesla-gigafactory-elon-musk-new-video/

Is Fiji Fake?

fiji

Last week in class we were given the prompt to evaluate a product advertisement or a news report on its ability to claim that it is actually a “green” product. Many of the advertisements that we see on television fall under the category as a greenwashed product. This is a product that misleads consumers into thinking that the product that they see in the advertisement has some sort of environmental benefit. Yes, these products may appear as though they are doing good for the environment, but that’s typically only because of the way that the commercial is made to appear in front of their target audience. In class, we watched an advertisement for a Dasani water bottle, and how the bottle was meant to be “environmentally friendly” with the use of a new plastic bottle. I came across an advertisement for another water bottle company that uses greenwashing as a prominent technique for selling their water.

The advertisement is for a Fiji water bottle. The advertisement is titled, “Nature’s Gift” and depicts an outline of a Fiji water bottle. Inside the bottle is a slideshow of different nature backdrops, while the background behind the bottle is a slideshow containing different city views. The nature pictures are typically green, while the city is filtered in blue, to make the connection to the audience that our industrial society can still drink clean water. The narrator states that, “Fiji water is a gift from nature to us,” and that it is also, “Earth’s finest water.” These connections with the audience are to inform them that Fiji water is the world’s best water to get on the market. The techniques used here represent a multitude of the “seven sins” of greenwashing.

The idea that Fiji water is the most natural water to buy is a trade-off that is often overlooked. The audience notices that the water is clean and is probably good water to drink, but it was also mass produced and sold buy to millions in plastic water bottles. Just imagine how much oil and other fossil fuels are used in order to make one bottle of “natural” water. Also, there is no proof in the advertisement that Fiji is the world’s cleanest and most natural water. Not only is there no proof, but the claims for the water being all natural and, “bottled at the source.” But the most questionable part of this advertisement (as well as the whole company) is that they claim that Fiji water is the most natural water to buy, yet the corporation does absolutely nothing to further benefit the environment. Their claim that Fiji water is, “A gift from nature to us…to repay our gift of leaving it completely alone….” and that the water has been, “Untouched by man,” is almost irrelevant when they’re mass producing water at ludicrous prices for consumers to buy. Therefore, this Fiji water advertisement falls under a multitude of greenwashing “sins”.

Andrew Ebding

Link for the advertisement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeF134YMoS0

Garbage Patch: Who’s To Blame?

    garbageI find it humorous how Americans try to appear as eco-friendly as they possibly can, but refuse to put forth an effort to stay clean when called into action. I don’t just mean recycling, but picking up garbage, reusing products, limiting plastic use, etc. What’s even worse is that individuals in society will shame each other for littering or not recycling, but won’t reciprocate and continue to litter when no one is looking. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the sides of the streets around campus. Notice little bits of trash scattered around the curbs of the road? See all those bottles? There’s no way that trash didn’t come out of thin air.

    We learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in class recently. I figured that this couldn’t be a more perfect example of what happens when we refuse to take action against safe waste disposal. The video we watched in class stated that a great amount of the trash came from residents near the Pacific. So much trash has built up in the patch throughout the years, and it’s really starting to take a toll on the aquatic life. What we don’t realize is that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is just an even bigger representation of how we tend to stray away from carrying out our environmental responsibilities.

    A National Geographic Article (link below) states that, “Because the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so far from any country’s coastline, no nation will take responsibility or provide the funding to clean it up.” More information states that Charles Moore, the man who discovered the patch, says that cleaning the patch could even lead to a single country into going bankrupt. The only way to resolve any problem related to this huge patch of garbage is to just keep it from growing. It is currently near impossible to try and clean it on our own as a nation.

    Now obviously the trash and litter are the main contributors to creating this monstrosity of oceanic garbage, but those aren’t the only contributors. The fact is that nobody seems to be doing anything to clean it up, playing the “blame game” against other contributions. This sounds very similar to the concept I mentioned at the beginning of this very blog. We need to stop blaming others and start acting ourselves, because a big change leads to even bigger affects. Maybe if we all stopped littering, the garbage patch would stop growing, but first everyone needs to make a significant environmental change.

Andrew Ebding

Link:

http://nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

 

Leave No Trace

 

The last week in class we discussed the acceptance that as a society we must keep our lawns looking pristine. We even dug a little further and defined what a lawn really is, and how the concept of having and maintaining a lawn is an act that completely relies on human effort. I wanted to look at another landscape that has quite a bit of meaning to myself, and present it as an example of how the disneyfication of a natural landscape can often be harmful. The difference between this landscape and those of our backyards is how they’re both maintained, and how human effects can put these landscapes into danger.

Two summers ago nine of my friends and I took a train from Chicago to Raton, New Mexico for a ten day backpacking trip at a Boy Scouting camp known as Philmont Scout Ranch. Over 1 million Boy Scouts have walked hundreds of miles in trails that span elevations of up to 12,441 feet. My friends and I had an 80 mile trip, landing a stop at the highest point on the ranch known as Mt. Badly. This was a climb that took quite a few hours to make, topping off at an elevation that is a quarter of Mt. Everest’s height. But, just north of the ranch was a landscape known as the Valle Vidal.

The Valle Vidal is classified as a desert, according to Philmont’s website (link below), but it is more or less a forested desert. Our hike took us into the Valle for about half of the trip, and every camp we visited was expected to be kept under pristine conditions. This is because the land is quite literally too natural to urbanize. It is a perfect location for oil drilling, but the landscape cannot take any deforestation due to a massive forest fire made outside of the territory in 2003 that left many of the trees black and dead. The fire spread from an area outside of the property that had become urbanized locally and slowly became mistreated, and the effects had spread over to pristine land. Keeping the land natural is crucial to the land’s survival, which is why was donated to Boy Scouts and other environmentalists to enjoy and support the growth of the land.

So because of a mistreatment of nature, I beautiful landscape had taken a rough hit. In 2006, an act was approved to keep the land from being drilled. And on top of that, the Scouters and trailblazers who attend follow a strict set of rules for keeping the property safe. The rules mostly revolve around staying away from grass that isn’t worn, and the disposal of waste properly. If we followed these rules at home, imagine how different our landscapes would look.

Links:

http://www.scouting.org/Philmont/~/link.aspx?_id=9959410ADC794299AF696EA004A1D22B&_z=z

http://wilderness.org/sites/default/files/legacy/TWTD-NM-Valle.pdf

 

How Deep?

Last Thursday in class we discussed the spectrum of ideologies and how they all have separate ways of thinking and beliefs. One of those ideological beliefs is the most egocentric, Transformative. Transformative ideological thinking takes many forms, and one that struck my attention was Deep Ecology. This idea is followed by thinking that humans have no right to reduce our diversity in the world, and that we need to decrease our human population in order to better our environment. The human population has become an issue that is harming our environment in many ways.

Our increase in population has affected the environment both directly and indirectly. For example, a growing population requires a large amount of living space. This in turn results in the industrialization of flourishing land, which destroys our earth and harms nature so humans can live comfortably. This industrialization is just one factor in causing climate change, which is an issue for humans everywhere that will only become worse. Climate change can cause a, “loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves,” (Nasa.org, link below). How can we support life on earth when the estimated population growth will increase to 10 billion (link below), and we won’t have space to put that many people?

It’s simple right? We decrease the population. These are where the Deep Ecological views start to come into play. We simply can eradicate billions of people to keep our environment stable. We can’t create a law limiting the amount of children we have, and then just get rid of any extras that aren’t allowed, that’s ethically disturbing. So, we must find alternative solutions in order to decrease our population.

Educating the people will provide knowledge to those who don’t have much background in population growth and the destruction that comes along with it. Also, access to safe contraceptives to both sexes can decrease the amount of children being born. But we must also consider ending gender bias amongst the majority of nations, and follow a more ecofeminist belief that we should not live in a male-centered world with oppressed women. According to Worldwatch.org, “Women who can own, inherit, and manage property; divorce; obtain credit; and participate in civic and political affairs on equal terms with men are more likely to postpone childbearing and to have fewer children compared to women who are deprived of these rights,” (link below). These two Transformative views can often work well together to keep our environment stable.

With the idea of a growing population, we must consider our options and solutions. It’s not easy to think Transformatively, but educating others and changing social views are two necessary steps towards saving our planet.

Andrew Ebding

http://www.worldwatch.org/nine-population-strategies-stop-short-9-billion

https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth/

http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/

Can We Make a Difference?

   Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum cover scientific literacy, and the lack of in America, in Unscientific America. One subject of matter that I found interesting in the readings was how the media plays a significant role in feeding us science. We also went over the percentage of scientific accuracy provided by certain news outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. The accuracy in science that is reported threatens our ability to understand and support science as a nation, and in turn can give scientists a potential bad reputation.

    Not to put the blame for our scare scientific literacy completely on the media, but news broadcasters on television tend to give people what they want to hear. Sadly, what we want to hear isn’t necessarily science anymore. Especially with two candidates running for president this November (who some would even consider questionable). This lack of science in the media is dangerous, as it takes away a large amount of education that could be given to a great amount of people that need it.

    Even with the science that is reported, a heavy amount of it is falsely reported. We learned that only about a third of the information reported on Fox News is accurate. This is scary news to us, considering that we already lack a huge amount of science in the news. What can we do to get accurate and new information? How can we change this society into a more educational, and scientifically appreciative society? It has to come from a change in the people themselves.

    According to an article from phys.org (link at the bottom of the page), 20 million in America have a degree in science and engineering. How can so many people have a decent education, yet still leave America so uneducated? Because we lack a certain amount of scientific freedom in America. Our media gives us false, biased information, with very little exposure to what is scientifically accurate. Therefore, we need to make an act. With this many citizens with educated background in America, we have a duty to expose the media and get the facts that the rest of our nation needs to hear. I want to leave you with a question: how can you individually help change our nation into one that is more scientifically literate?

 

Andrew Ebding

 

Information Referenced:

http://phys.org/news/2016-06-accurate-science-accessible-media.html