The Future Is Bright—Just Ask Jay Leno
Reversing Climate Change, Ending Poverty and Improving Global Health Will Make for Lots of Happy People
Sometimes, activists and others (like me) working to solve big problems focus on the problems and their implications rather than the solutions and their ramifications.
For instance, Greta Thunberg, whom I admire greatly, isn’t exactly an optimist. Amidst the pandemic, we’ve focused tremendous energy on the number of sick and dying and have underappreciated the drop in other infectious diseases we’ve enjoyed. In my lifetime, the global population living in extreme poverty has dropped from about 60 percent to under 10 percent.
As we work to solve big global problems, the upshot is we are creating a better world. Over time spans measured in decades, we make progress on most fronts. Lifespans are longer, the hole in the ozone is smaller, the proportion of women and girls being educated is rising. Of course, problems remain, and we need to address them, but let’s pause today to think about the world we’re creating.
One of the things I love about the future is electric cars. I drive one now, a Chevy Bolt. Last week, I mentioned I’ve ordered an electric Rivian pick-up truck. I’ve also reserved an Aptera, a car you’re much less likely to have heard about.
This little startup, resurrected in 2019 from bankruptcy, is building a three-wheeled car that will have a range of 1,000 miles, and you can use it for commuting without ever plugging in—it’s covered in solar panels. Last week, Jay Leno took one for a ride.
As you can see in the video, this is not your father’s Oldsmobile. Its radical design looks like it came from an episode of the Jetsons. That spacey design is all about aerodynamics, allowing the car to roll with a fraction of the energy of a traditional vehicle. That’s where the incredible range comes from.
The model featuring 1,000 miles of range has a 100 kWh battery, like the top-of-the-line Tesla Model S. The Aptera’s range is triple the Tesla’s because with superb aerodynamics and lighter weight, it can go farther on the same energy.
Covered in solar panels, it will generate up to 700 watts of electricity, yielding about 4.4 kWh of energy over a sunny day, enough to drive the car 44 miles. If you drive less than 44 miles per day and keep it outside, you never have to plug it in!
As we think about reversing climate change, many fear the future, one without air travel, fast cars or fun. I see an amazing future with electric airplanes, including personal aircraft that will use no fossil fuels and allow greater convenience.
Imagine for a minute a world that is carbon neutral, where no one lives in extreme poverty and lifespans routinely run past 100 years. That doesn’t have to be science fiction. That can be the world we live to see if we use our superpowers to make it happen. Let’s do it!