The rumour that Elon Musk, the world’s richest man today, is an “alien” persists, though it borders on the absurd.
An oft-cited reason by people who fan the rumour: Musk’s own words. Dubbed invariably as flamboyant and a modern-day Edison, Musk often makes waves on Twitter, with his 102 million+ followers. In the past, he's landed in trouble with regulators over controversial one-liners on the micro-blogging site.
Sometimes his off-the-cuff comments simply drive Twitterati in a tizzy. In July 2020, Musk tweeted: “Aliens created the pyramids, obv.”
The brain behind Space X and Tesla has been admired as an out-of-this-world operator, having conquered every industry he touched — from software and satellites, to cars and rockets.
As for succession at the EV giant, Musk made a tongue-in-cheek declaration at a recent Cybertruck event: “Tesla will continue to do very well even if I was kidnapped by aliens… or went back to my home planet, maybe.”
There's no doubt that with his influence and the tech he has control over, Musk is today one of the most powerful men to ever walk planet earth.
Love him or hate him, Musk’s issues are firmly set on terra firma. In 2016, when he unveiled the $35,000-a-piece Model 3, he kicked it off with a presentation on global warning.
Flashing a chart showing carbon-dioxide levels and temperatures going through the roof, Musk shared this ultimate concern: We’re living in a planet that is fast becoming less liveable.
Indeed, scientists have been warning that it’s getting hotter these days — faster than it has in millions of years, thanks to the spike in atmospheric CO2.
Sure, temperatures had been hotter in the past, but those changes happened slowly — over eons and millennia. Those same changes now happen in less time in our era.
Climate issue — at a car launch
Musk extensively dwelt on the issue in a business-like sales speech — at the car launch event. A year later, in 2017, Musk did say he “would like to die on Mars, just not on impact”.
He promised to now stop joking about it.
For years now, Space X team have been working on Starship — at least 10 tonnes heavier than the Saturn-Apollo V, the spaceship that took man to the Moon and back. Saturn V had 7.5 million pounds of thrust vs. Starship's 17 million.
His Falcon 9 workhorse, the world's first fast-reuse rocket, now routinely sends people and dozens of satellites to space. Musk now predicts a crewed mission to Mars could realistically happen in 2029, including the 7-month journey across 480 million kilometres to reach the Red Planet.
That’s 3-year delay from his original 2016 prediction for a manned Mars journey by 2026.
Overpromising | underdelivering?
In the past, Musk has been known for overpromising. The Tesla Cybertruck was originally scheduled for release in late 2021, now pushed back to 2023, a two-year delay.
Yet his supporters are unmoved, with 1.5m estimated reservations todate. Meanwhile, Model 3 prices today have jumped (from $35k to $39,490 for the entry-level Standard Range Plus).
Even if he does overpromises and under-delivers, his drive stands solid: start a renewable transport revolution by building high-end cars to fund what’s needed to make cheaper, mass-market electric vehicles (EVs).
Despite major setbacks and brushes with bankruptcy, Musk persisted. Space X has today disrupted space travel, and Tesla is disrupting land transport that even Toyota, once the world’s biggest carmaker by market cap (now overtaken by Tesla), is embracing Musk’s electric dreams. The result: EVs accelerating their way to customers.
In 2021, global EVs sales hit 6.6 million — 8.6% of all new car sold that year (and double its 2020 market share) — from from 0.01% in 2010, according to the International Energy Agency.
Push for renewables
Musk’s push for large grid-scale batteries as “peaker plants” hooked up to wind, hydro, solar farms and other net-zero power plants, could potentially disrupt the $1.6-trillion global power generation industry.
To be sure, many things could still happen between now and 2026, or 2029.
Musk has set an eye out for Mars, while he must keep a keen eye on the ground. Tesla shares plunged 5% on Friday (August 5) after its board approved a 3-to-1 stock split, and Musk doubled down on his recession risk claims.
Behind the real risks and disruptive changes, one thing stays the same: The planet is getting ever hotter and hungrier for energy.
The move towards renewables — transport, power generation, and our overall lifestyle choices — seems to be the only option left to keep the planet from becoming a world alien to us all.