Elon Musk’s Insane Partnership With Microsoft: You may know that the relations between Elon Musk and Bill Gates have been less than friendly for the most part, the only change being very recent. So, this obviously makes any notion of partnership impossible, right? You might want to rethink that reservation cause Elon Musk and Microsoft’s insane partnership is about to change everything.
Musk vs Gates While the Microsoft billionaire and the Tesla and SpaceX titan have never had a decent relationship, things have heated up recently as the two have openly fought about everything from electric vehicles to the coronavirus.
The two moguls are among the world’s wealthiest. While their public spats may not always be serious, they do appear to fundamentally disagree about the coronavirus, and as major players in virus treatment and the vaccine to protect against it, their clashes carry even more weight.
In February 2020, Gates said during a meeting with the YouTuber Marques Brownlee that while Tesla had assisted with driving development and reception of electric vehicles, he as of late purchased a Porsche Taycan. It appears he isn’t an aficionado of Tesla’s contributions.
In a meeting on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Gates criticized Musk’s remarks on the infection and inferred that Musk shouldn’t be talking about the pandemic by any means. “Elon’s positioning is to maintain a high level of outrageous comments,” Gates said.
“He’s not much involved in vaccines. He makes a great electric car. And his rockets work well. So he’s allowed to say these things. I hope that he doesn’t confuse areas he’s not involved in too much.”
Gates and Musk were and still are involved in fighting the coronavirus, with Gates pledging $100 million to fight the virus via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Musk redirecting Tesla resources to source and produce ventilators and teaming up with the German biotech firm CureVac, in which Gates is an investor, to make a device to aid in vaccine production. But since March 2020, Musk has frequently downplayed the severity of the virus and strongly criticized stay-at-home orders.
He had promoted the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus and falsely said that children are immune to it. This was what Gates was primarily criticizing. In August 2020, Gates wrote a blog post about electric vehicles that questioned whether it was practical to make vehicles like 18-wheelers and heavy-duty trucks fully electric.
Though he didn’t mention Tesla, the company does produce a semi-truck. A few weeks later, a Twitter user asked Musk about his opinion of Gates’ comments, to which Musk replied, “He has no clue.” Musk himself would escalate the confrontation by outright calling him a knucklehead.
Yes, he really did! During a podcast interview published in September, The New York Times’ Kara Swisher asked Musk about his feelings about the virus, including whether he planned to get vaccinated. Musk defended himself against Gates’ comments, saying he’d spent time with Harvard University epidemiologists “doing antibody studies” and noting Tesla’s work with CureVac.
“Gates said something about me not knowing what I was doing,” Musk told Swisher. “It’s like, ‘Hey, knucklehead, we actually make the vaccine machines for CureVac, that company you’re invested in.”
The most serious escalation came when Musk tweeted, then deleted, an anti-vaccine political cartoon about Gates. The cartoon, originally created by conservative artist Ben Garrison, depicted Gates as the mastermind of a coronavirus response plan that included making people afraid, locking the country down, and then launching a “Mandatory Vaccine Rollout.”
In Musk’s version, which wasn’t sanctioned by Garrison, the last stage of the plan is a “Zune relaunch,” in reference to Microsoft’s discontinued MP3 player. Musk captioned the image: “Soon u will feel a strange desire for Zune …” He deleted the tweet roughly two hours later.
We can imagine PR advisors urging him to immediately delete the tweet, it was admittedly a bit too childish even for Musk’s tweeting standards. The Cooldown “Direct air capture” (DAC), an industrial process that removes carbon dioxide from ambient air so it can be locked away underground (or recycled into products like synthetic fuels) sounds like science fiction.
However, the technology to vacuum clean the skies already exists; it just has not been fully industrialized yet. It is a climate insurance policy we should not ignore. Why are we talking about this? Because Bill Gates and Elon Musk both are writing large checks to support carbon removal.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. Swiss Re AG, Stripe Inc., and Shopify Inc. are among companies paying to sequester carbon this way. Gates also praised Musk recently for his contributions towards the fight against climate change by making electric passenger cars.
He said “underestimating Elon Musk is not a good idea”, adding he has made important contributions with Tesla in the fight against climate change. He further added that while Tesla was doing some important stuff, it is not sufficient to tackle climate change, which would require focus from other industries as well. “He’s contributed in many ways,” Gates told “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell; “The Tesla’s a strong product.
It’s forced all the car companies to look at, can they match what he’s done there. He’s also recently put out a challenge for what’s called direct air capture that will be a part of the solution. He was willing to entertain wild ideas. We need hundreds of Elon Musks and that’s how we’ll get this done.”
Gates has encouraged the switch to electric cars, saying the world has about three decades to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and prevent a catastrophic rise in temperatures Room for Partnership Integrating direct air capture with nuclear power is one option.
Another is using geothermal power, which is what the largest DAC facility yet constructed does. Built by a Swiss company called Climeworks AG, the Iceland plant has dozens of fans that suck air into a collector where the CO2 binds to a filter. After applying heat, the gas is then dissolved in water and pumped underground, where it gradually turns into stone.
While impressive, the Climeworks’ facility will capture just 4,000 tons of CO2 a year, an amount that HSBC analysts note is equivalent to the pollution caused by just a few hundred cars. And the cost to remove a ton of carbon is around 10 times the equivalent cost of polluting in Europe’s carbon market.
Carbon Engineering Ltd., a Canadian rival, is developing a 1 million tons a year plant in the U.S. Permian basin in partnership with Occidental Petroleum Corp., and another in northeast Scotland in conjunction with British firm Storegga.
Even these are still several orders of magnitude too small to make a real dent in global emissions: We release about 39 billion tons of CO2 yearly. However, by starting small, the industry thinks it will learn how to construct much larger plants at a lower cost.
There is no physical reason why “[we] will not be able to take a ton of CO2 out of the air for around $100 in the next ten to 20 years,” Jan Wurzbacher, co-chief executive of Climeworks, told a DAC conference in September. Some environmentalists fear carbon removal will distract from the important task of eradicating fossil fuel use; they note there are many other cheaper methods to lower emissions.
They are wary that several oil companies are investing in the technology, and at least one wants to use captured CO2 to extract yet more oil. DAC is not a silver bullet. Think of it as a “safety valve” or “backstop” that complements the other important actions we must take, Julio Friedmann, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy said.
This is probably where one could best foresee or even expect the two to collaborate and come to an understanding as far as technological advancements and investments are considered, and the motivations for both are strong. Come to think of it, both EVs and personal computers, the respective domains of Musk and Gates were considered to be flukes, simply useless.
That’s how many view carbon capture technology today and investing together wholeheartedly in this tech gives them another chance to break new boundaries and truly revolutionize our understanding of pollution. While neither Musk nor Gates has officially said anything to bring this closer to reality, it’s not out of the question to predict it in the future.
It simply seems to be the logical next step as both are quite thoughtful of pro-environment technologies. Even if the energy transition is swift and successful, there will be some sectors, like airlines, where emissions will be difficult to fully eradicate, in part because they cannot be captured at the source.
We will need to remove billions of tons of carbon yearly to reach climate neutrality and DAC can help reverse the damage we have done to the climate already. Speaking of airlines, that’s yet another industry that can be upended by Tesla’s electric propulsion technologies in the future. Only time will tell what the future has in store for us, we could really be surprised.
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