I’m riding in a red Tesla Model S, the stunning all-electric vehicle from PayPal founder Elon Musk, and realize that this is less a car than a piece of philosophy. In a world beset by environmental pessimism, where many believe we must lower our expectations, downsize our lives, and adjust to the notion that tomorrow will be worse off than today, Tesla offers a rip-roaring, 120-mph riposte. It turns out we can have it all.
Automobiles have been praised and cursed as everything from a manifestation of freedom and individual choice to the source of community destruction and the shredding of social bonds. But one thing is certain: The internal combustion engines that power them consume gasoline or diesel, and for every gallon they consume, about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates transportation is responsible for 29 percent of all manmade CO2 emissions. Magically eliminate that, and you’d go an awful long way to solving the problem of global climate change.