Opinion: Musk – Making Austin an Eco-Heaven: It’s Time for Tesla to Lead the Green Charge in Austin – Chronicles

Like many Austinians, I was excited when I learned that Tesla was moving its headquarters to Texas. As a practicing physician and Climate Health Equity Fellow, I was especially pleased to learn that Tesla founder Elon Musk promised the new factory would be an “ecological paradise.”

Musk’s promise seems limited to the shore of the Colorado River where his factory is located, and he has yet to honor it. But why stop there? Musk, the richest person in the world, could help turn all of Austin into an eco-friendly paradise. Indeed, with Musk’s help, Austin could show how cities can enjoy robust growth while protecting people and ecosystems. The challenge is real. Climate change is already impacting our daily lives, in Austin and around the world.

Our carbon emissions — mostly from burning fossil fuels — have warmed the planet by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit; we could reach 3 degrees by 2050. As a result, we are seeing an increase in extreme weather conditions like heat waves, storms and floods.

And climate change affects our health. For example, carbon emissions act like a growth serum – allergens like pollen and mold grow faster when exposed to carbon dioxide. I treat far more cases of severe allergies, recurrent sinus infections, and asthma exacerbations in my family practice practice, and the patients are miserable. At the same time, we are seeing new waterborne diseases that haven’t appeared in the United States for a very long time. And extreme heat – the deadliest impact of climate change – is increasingly taking a toll on life and health.

These health impacts also have an economic impact. More severe allergies and asthma mean more emergency room visits, greater use of emergency care, and higher drug costs. The average cost of a bottle of allergy shots is $600, and daily use of allergy and asthma medication can cost thousands of dollars a year. Overall, the health costs of air pollution and climate change already far exceed $800 billion a year in the United States

As our city grows (Austin is now the number one relocation destination in the United States), our carbon emissions will only increase, with more severe climate and health impacts. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And this is where Elon Musk can make a real difference.

Tesla’s electric cars are a great way to cut emissions, but most people can’t afford them. The cheapest Tesla starts at around $45,000, or more than 60% of the average annual income of Austinites. To remedy this, Tesla could offer deep incentives and discounts for its own workers and neighbors to buy electric vehicles.

Second, Tesla could play a bigger role in ensuring Austin has funds to go “green” with increased access to bike lanes, parks, electric vehicle charging stations and public transit options. electric.

Finally, Tesla must be transparent about its factory’s carbon emissions and deploy a plan to reduce them over time.

That’s not a lot to ask. Tesla received millions in state and county tax credits for setting up its factory here in Austin. And, unlike some heads of state, Elon Musk has publicly stated that “climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity this century…” It’s time for Tesla to address this threat and to bring us closer to “ecological paradise” by protecting the climate and human health in the community on which it depends.

Dr. Jessica Edwards is a second-generation Certified Osteopathic Family Physician. His prevention-focused primary care practice is located in Austin, Texas. She is a 2019-2020 American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Health Policy Fellow and is currently completing a Climate Health Equity Fellowship through the Medical Consortium for Climate Health. She has received numerous awards and honours.

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