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Posted: April 9, 2016

This could be a game-changer if there ever was one

Gerry WarnerPerceptions by Gerry Warner

Who is the most important person in the world today, the one with the most potential to change the course of civilization? Or even save civilization? I’ll give you a hint. He’s half Canadian!

O.K., now you know it’s a man, but I don’t think that will help you very much. And it’s not Stephen Hawking, Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Pope Francis or Justin Trudeau, who, after all, is a full Canadian.

He was born June 28, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. His mother was a model from Regina, Saskatchewan and his father a South African electro-mechanical engineer. He’s a regular at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada every year, he’s the largest shareholder in Solar City, he wants to establish a colony on Mars and after a recent block-buster announcement, he’s being compared to Henry Ford.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk

Yes, he’s Elon Musk, 44, and if his launch two weeks ago of the Tesla Model 3, the world’s first affordable (US $35,000) electric car is a success in a decade we could all be driving electric vehicles. And that would change the world and our civilization in more ways than we can imagine.

For starters, good-bye King Oil. Good-bye the need to build anymore pipelines. Good-bye giant oil tankers cruising the world’s coast lines. Good-bye fracking and good-bye a world economy based almost completely on the price of a barrel of oil. Wouldn’t that be a good thing? In fact, if would be a great thing! And we all know it.

Do I detect a sense of skepticism among you? Well, consider this. Since the Tesla Model 3 launch March 26, which has been called “the week that electric vehicles went mainstream” and the most successful product launch in history, some 325,000 pre-orders worth US $14 billion flooded into Telsa’s coffers the first week. The first week! Those are impressive numbers for a car that won’t be available until late next year.

But what a car! It will do zero to 60 MPH in less than six seconds and travel 215 miles (344 km) – not kilometres – between charges, which is enough to drive from Cranbrook to Calgary or Spokane. That should do a lot to reduce so-called “range anxiety,” which is the biggest criticism of electric vehicles and it should only be a matter of time that a Tesla vehicle could drive from Cranbrook to Vancouver.

Who would own a gas-guzzling SUV when an electric vehicle could do that? And they will sooner than we think. But the electric vehicle isn’t the only way Musk wants to revolutionize our world and other worlds too.

In 2001, Musk launched “Space X,” a project to establish a human colony on Mars, which Musk believes to be critical for a backup to civilization on Earth in case of nuclear Armageddon or if our home planet was threatened by a comet or modern day Bubonic Plague. Using greenhouse technology on the red planet and super battery power similar to what goes in the Tesla vehicles, Musk hopes to have a Martian colony established within 20 years if ISIS doesn’t get us first.

He initially approached the Russians to supply rockets for the venture, but when the Russians didn’t take him seriously he decided to build a rocket of his own and within seven years launched a family of Falcon launch vehicles that were the first privately-funded rockets to put a satellite in orbit and are now being used by NASA to supply the International Space Station orbiting the earth. We’re not talking about a dreamer here or a writer of science fiction. Musk walks the talk.

In fact, Musk believes mankind should become a “true space-faring civilization” and he’s working feverishly to accomplish just that.

Will he make it? Of course, no one can say for sure, but based on past performance Musk can’t be counted out and if anyone could extend our civilization to other planets, and even the stars, it’s probably him.

Not bad for a half-Canadian, eh!

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and was science fiction fan in his youth and is leaning that way again.

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