Elon Musk “is a visionary”, says environmentalist Fred Krupp


A week after Elon Musk completed his acquisition of social media giant Twitter, Tesla (TSLA) and the CEO of SpaceX have come under fire after apparently starting fire nearly half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees.

Musk’s critics, who fear the platform is being overrun by fanatics and bad-faith actors, criticized the CEO long before he acquired the platform. The tycoon has drawn controversy for various actions ranging from his polarizing tweets at reopen a Tesla factory in violation of public health mandates.

Yet others admire his business accomplishments. For example, Musk recently received praise from Fred Krupp, the CEO of the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization.

“He’s a visionary,” Krupp said during a recent episode of Influencers with Andy Serwer, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. “And I think it’s impossible not to give him credit for demonstrating the fact that electric vehicles can be extremely desirable, again, forgetting the environmental or climate benefits.”

SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a joint T-Mobile and SpaceX event on August 25, 2022 in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. (Photo by Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images)

With a market cap of around $655 billion, Tesla is the world’s most valuable automaker. In addition to being among the first companies to popularize electric vehicles, Tesla has also changed the automotive sector more broadly. For example, Tesla was the first company to offer direct-to-customer sales, an idea adopted by companies like Rivian and more recently BMW. The electric vehicle maker was also the first to allow customers to order their cars online.

“You know, he caused a revolution in the automotive industry,” Krupp said. “There’s no two ways about it.”

Krupp knows Musk not just as an admirer but as a collaborator in the fight against climate change. Musk’s space company, SpaceX, plays a key role in the MethaneSAT mission operated by the New Zealand Space Agency and the Environmental Defense Fund.

In 2023, SpaceX will launch the MethaneSAT satellite with a Falcon 9 rocket. Once in Earth orbit, the satellite will relay greenhouse gas emissions data to the public, allowing it to monitor global methane production in particular.

“A satellite will be able to observe all the major oil and gas installations in the world, several times a week,” Krupp explained. “And so it will give us real-time information that we’re going to make available for free.”

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 5: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft launches from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center for the Crew 5 mission on October 5, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina will travel to the International Space Station for a six-month expedition.  (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft launches from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center for the Crew 5 mission October 5, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Researchers have found that methane poses a serious threat to the environment. The chemical compound is 25 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It also accounts for around 20% of global emissions, which cause climate change.

The oil and gas industry is responsible for the majority of methane emissions, generating 80 million tonnes of methane each year. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, tracking industry emissions typically takes weeks. But once the MethaneSAT reaches orbit, the process will take only a few days.

“I think that kind of transparency and accountability is the best part of the Environmental Defense Fund working with companies we partner with,” Krupp remarked. “We try to inspire them to do better, but we also hold them accountable for the results.”

The Environmental Defense Fund, which was founded in 1967, has 1,000 employees in 19 countries. Fred Krupp has been president of the association since 1984. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in law from the University of Michigan.

Dylan Croll is a journalist and researcher at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @CrollonPatrol.

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