The following are some interesting paraphrased quotes from Elon Musk on the Joe Rogan Experience in September, 2018 (check the full interview for the full accuracy of these paraphrased quotes):
Electric cars are important, solar energy is important, stationary storage of energy is important
It’s important that we accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. That’s why electric cars matter, whether electric cars happen sooner or later
We’re really playing a crazy game here with the atmosphere and the oceans. We’re taking vast amounts of carbon from deep underground, and putting this in the atmosphere – this is crazy! We should not do this. It’s very dangerous
The bizarre thing is that we are going to run out of oil long term. There’s only so much oil we can mine and burn. We must have a sustainable energy transport and infrastructure in the long term – we know that’s the end point. We know that. So, why run this crazy experiment, where we take trillions of tonnes of carbon from underground, and put it in the atmosphere and oceans. This is an insane experiment. This is the dumbest experiment in human history. Why are we doing this…it’s crazy!
The thing is – oil, coal, gas…it’s easy money.
It’s very difficult to put C02 back in the ground, it doesn’t like being in solid form, it takes a lot of energy [in answer to Joe Rogan’s questioning about clean coal].
The more carbon we take out of the ground, and it gets added to the atmosphere, and a lot of it gets permeated into the oceans, the more dangerous it is. I think we are OK right now…we can probably even add some more. But, the momentum towards sustainable energy is too slow.
There’s a vast base of industry, vast transportation industry. There’s 2.5 billion cars and trucks in the world. And new car and truck production – if it was 100% electric, that’s only about 100 million per year [new cars and trucks produced]. So, if you could snap your fingers, and turn all cars and trucks electric, it would still take 25 years, to change the transport base to electric. Make sense? Because how long does it take for a car or truck to go into the junk yard and get crushed? About 20-25 years.
[Joe asks – is there a way to accelerate the electric vehicle transition process – via subsidies, or encouragement from the government for example] Elon says – the thing is, what is going on now is there is an inherent subsidy in any oil burning device, any power plant or car, is fundamentally consuming the carbon capacity of the oceans and atmosphere…or just say atmosphere for short.
So, you can say there is a certain probability of something bad happening past a certain carbon concentration in the atmosphere. And, so there’s some uncertain number where if we put too much carbon in the atmosphere, things overheat, oceans warm up, ice caps melt, ocean real estate becomes a lot less valuable…because it’s underwater. It’s not clear what that number is, but the scientific consensus is overwhelming.
I don’t know any serious scientist, in fact, quite literally zero, that don’t think that there’s a quite serious climate risk that we’re facing
There’s fundamentally a subsidy occurring with every fossil fuel burning thing – power plants, aircrafts, cars, even rockets.
With cars there’s definitely a better way – with electric cars, to generate the energy with photovoltaics. Because, we’ve got a giant thermonuclear reactor in the sky called the Sun – it’s great, it shows up every day, it’s very reliable. You can generate energy with solar panels, store it with batteries 24 hours a day. And then you can send it to the Poles, to the North, with high voltage lines. The Northern parts of the world tend to have a lot of hydropower as well.
Anyway, all fossil fuel powered things have an inherent subsidy, which is their consumption of the carbon capacity of the atmosphere, and oceans.
People tend to think – why should electric vehicles have a subsidy? But, they aren’t taking into account that all fossil fuel burning vehicles have a subsidy which is the environmental cost to earth…but, nobody is paying for it. We will all pay for it in the future though eventually. It’s just not paid for now.
[Joe asks what the bottleneck is with electric cars – is it battery capacity?] Elon says we have to scale up production, we have to make the car compelling, make it better than gasoline or diesel cars, make it go far enough, make it go fast.
[Joe asks what Elon sees when he thinks about the future of his companies – what he sees as bottlenecks to holding back innovation] Elon says that’s a good question, but he wishes politicians were better at science – that would help a lot. [Joe says that’s a problem – there’s no incentive for them to be good at science]. Elon agrees but says they are pretty good at science in China. The mayor of Beijing he believes has an environmental engineering degree and the deputy mayor has a physics degree. The mayor of Shanghai is really smart.