#1070 Tesla Motors throws down the sustainability gauntlet at gas guzzlers


Tesla brings the rainbows; photo by Steve Jurveston, via Flickr Creative Commons

Kudos to Tesla Motors. On June 12, 2014 the manufacturer of electric cars made an unusual announcement: They went open source. That means any company acting in good faith can have free access to their proprietary technology.

Announcing the decision, which applies to both existing and future patents, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said:

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

The move puts Tesla ahead of the automotive pack in terms of walking the sustainability talk. It is also smart marketing, likely to appeal to electric-car buyers. Making their technology open source challenges hide-bound, fossil-fuel-guzzling, car manufacturers to step up the the plate and act on behalf of the planet.

Take that, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. All five states have been in the forefront of the ban-the-Tesla movement. Other states are also trying to put on the brakes, including Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and North Carolina. Their heads are stuck firmly in the proverbial sand if they think consumers are willing to be forever chained to the gas pump. Climate change, environmental degradation and peak oil make those anti-Tesla actions look not just silly but downright criminal.

So good on you, Tesla. You not only made a smart marketing move. You made a corporate step in the right direction and threw down the gauntlet to the automotive industry. That gives me hope.

Now…let’s have a chat about real sustainability and actual affordability, Tesla. Electric cars should be available for those of us without deep pockets. If the company really wants to make a difference in terms of sustainable transportation, it can’t make cars only for the well-heeled. It also has to look beyond cars and to ways of moving people around with less of a drag on the planet. Maybe even look at why we are so hungry for the new and different that we are reluctant to take a look at the impact of our restlessness on the environment.

So really, what gives me hope with Tesla’s announcement is that a major corporation is opening its secret vaults, inviting the competition to make changes. I am a fan of the open-source movement, the sharing of what we learn, the generosity of the Web community. Together we can come up with alternatives to the consumer society Tesla markets to, alternatives to the endless hunger for New and Better, alternatives that remind us that real wealth is in each other, not more stuff.

You can follow Tesla Motors on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and Google+

Tesla Motors Sizzle Reel from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.


#1066 This goat was sliding toward death until he was reunited with his beloved burro

Jellybean and Mr G

Touching reunion of Jellybean and Mr. G; photo from Animal Place Facebook page

During my stint as a reluctant farmer, I witnessed a lot of interspecies friendships, but none as moving as this one. A goat named Mr. G and a burro called Jellybean were rescued from a hoarder. According to Animal Place the woman “could barely care for herself, let alone the dozens of dogs she hoarded and three barnyard animals.”

Animal Place Rescue Ranch offered to take in the goat. Another sanctuary took the burro. After a tiring, 8-hour drive, Mr. G settled into his new home. There he sank into deep mourning, refusing food and only leaving his corner of the barn when staff literally moved him.

The home he shared with Jellybean may have been substandard, but at least he was with his beloved friend. Separated from the burro, Mr. G was inconsolable.

From my own experience with animal friendships, I have no doubt Mr. G would have died of a broken heart had Animal Place not decided to bring Jellybean to him. You’ll see in the video that Mr. G could hardly believe his senses when his beloved friend appeared. In short order he was eating again and following his friend around the paddock. Animal Place says the two friends have found their forever home, right there at the sanctuary.

Building and running an animal shelter is an enormous commitment. Heartaches are common. But a story like this makes any amount of work worthwhile. Animal Place gives me – and a lot of animals – hope.

You can follow Animal Place on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.