Tesla CEO Elon Musk has finally softened his stance on the oil and gas industry. Musk, who is currently running one of the largest electric car makers in the world, has been a sharp critic of oil and gas for the impact that the industry has had on climate.
He has even accused critics of his company and himself of being funded by “Big Oil.” But it seems he’s finally coming around. Speaking to the New York Times, Musk noted that he “felt bad about hating on oil and gas.”
The Tesla CEO added that most workers in the oil and gas industry, especially older ones, didn’t have any idea of the future impact their industry would have on the world’s climate. To him, these were just ordinary Americans doing whatever they could to power the economy. They didn’t anticipate that their actions would have massive effects on the world.
This latest reconciliatory tone from the Tesla CEO is somewhat surprising seeing he has been a sharp critic of the oil industry. At one point, Musk even said that this sole mission is to destroy oil and gas, something that drew criticism from the folks working in this sector. Nonetheless, he still believes that the world needs to transition towards greener forms of energy and electric cars offer the best possible alternative.
Elon Musk critics will, however, argue that Musk’s stance on the oil and gas industry has got nothing to do with the planet but everything to do with his Tesla company. After all, right now much of the global transport is powered by oil and gas.
The industry is probably one of the most profitable sectors on the planet and has powered the global economy for generations. Replacing even a small share of the oil and gas market with rechargeable batteries could mean a huge revenue stream for Tesla.
Musk however feels that it won’t be easy to achieve this transition in the US and other parts of the world. He argues that, even though people can see the damage climate change is causing to the planet, they are still hell-bent on denying reality and science.
The CEO in fact likened the current climate denial to cigarettes. A few decades ago, even though it was clear that smoking had huge health risks, tobacco companies fought tooth and nail to negate the science with the hope of keeping the industry going.
There’s evidence that big oil companies are funding several organizations promoting climate denial. These companies also have big pockets and big lobbyists in Washington. As a result, they have managed to fight any legislative action against the oil and gas industry over the last few years.
But Musk feels that the transition towards cleaner forms of energy is inevitable. During the NYT interview, Musk even remarked that the end of the oil and gas industry is coming faster than we think.