Tesla CEO and world’s richest person Elon Musk on Monday backed additional efforts to drill for natural gas and oil in the short term, in line with his recent change in tune on the use of non-renewable sources like fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
Speaking at a conference in Norway, Musk claimed “civilisation will crumble” if the world halted the use of oil and natural gas and called for continued drilling and exploration of fossil fuel sources, Reuters reported.
The billionaire suggested that the transition to green energy sources will take decades and that fossil fuels will be needed in the meantime.
Last week, Musk—who has previously evangelised renewable energy sources—called for increased nuclear power generation and attacked environmentalists who oppose nuclear plants as “anti-human.”
In a Business Insider interview earlier this year, Musk expressed support for reopening shuttered nuclear power plants across the world, saying they are the “fastest to produce energy” and claiming they pose no risks in areas that are not prone to natural disasters.
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused global crude oil prices to surge, Musk called for an immediate increase in oil and gas output, adding that “sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously” to deal with the shortfall in supply from Russia.
While appearing on a 2015 episode of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s podcast, Musk used language similar to what he used in Norway on Monday to describe the issue with fossil fuel use.
At the time, Musk called fossil fuel usage the “dumbest experiment in history, by far.” He then warned that the economy and society will “come to an end” if the world is not able to find a solution to burning fossil fuels.
Musk, who previously attacked the fossil fuel industry for engaging in false propaganda against him, has softened his stance on oil and gas in recent years. In an interview with the New York Times last year, the billionaire said he felt a “bit bad about hating on the oil and gas industry” as the people who built those companies had no idea about the impact of fossil fuel usage.
Before that, Musk appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast and said “we’re gonna need to burn fossil fuels for a long time,” adding that he was “not in favor of demonising the oil and gas industry.” Instead, the billionaire called for the implementation of a carbon tax to encourage more people to switch over to renewables.
The softening of Musk’s stance on non-renewable energy comes at a time when the billionaire has publicly spoken about switching over his political allegiance to the Republican party—which is more supportive of the continued use and exploration of fossil fuels.
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At the Norway event, Musk said Tesla is planning to get its self-driving system fully operational by the end of this year and is hoping for a wide release in the U.S. and Europe, subject to regulatory approval.
Tesla’s self-driving technology has been the subject of major controversy following multiple accidents. This has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to undertake a detailed probe of Tesla’s “Autopilot” system. (Forbes)