Crisis calls us to step out of our status quo mindset and meet the needs of the moment with compassion, courage and forward thinking. The communities devastated by September 2017’s monster hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are among the latest examples of this call. One of the most significant responses comes in the form of Tesla’s solar energy.
Hurricane Irma edged past the tiny American island territory of Puerto Rico, leaving a million people without power, but leaving the island functional enough to serve as a base for relief efforts to other harder-hit islands in the vicinity. Then, two weeks later, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico directly at just below Category 5 intensity, destroying much of the island’s infrastructure and leaving the entire population without electricity.
The effect has been catastrophic and is still unfolding, as relief efforts scramble to get food, water, fuel and supplies to people cut off by washed-out roads. Hospitals and nursing homes barely manage to keep the lights on with gas-powered generators to deliver the most essential care. Many lives are at risk from the heat, and from waterborne diseases such as cholera. The situation is dire.
Rebuilding the electrical grid will take months. Until roads are rebuilt, many areas will not even be accessible for electrical workers. Conventional solutions are too slow to address the urgent need.
That’s where Tesla has stepped in. In the short term, this maker of electric cars, batteries and solar panels is bringing in hundreds of its Powerwall batteries to the island. These batteries are built to store solar power for homes. Tesla also has workers on the island to repair or install solar panels. With this, people do not need to wait for the electrical grid to be rebuilt. They can start immediately to regain power to their homes.
In the long term, Tesla has extended the offer to rebuild Puerto Rico’s entire electrical grid for solar. It has already built solar infrastructure for other smaller islands such as Samoa, and the governor of Puerto Rico has responded to Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk with “@elonMusk Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.”
There can be no minimizing the devastation that Puerto Rico faces or its urgent need for assistance. The situation is simply so dire that “leapfrog” solutions such as a total solar rebuild become even more feasible than any attempt to restore the status quo.
Similarly, our global situation is dire. Natural disasters are on the rise. As the polar ice melts, the oceans are heating up, fueling hurricanes. Monstrous storms like Irma and Maria will become increasingly common and leave devastation in their wake, until we take action. That is why Parvati.org is committed to the realization of the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS). MAPS establishes all ocean waters north of the Arctic Circle as a marine protected area, free from oil drilling and all other exploitation. It safeguards the polar ice, that keeps our weather patterns balanced, and compels a shift to sustainable energy.
“We need to think on much bigger scales and much more ambitious timelines to keep our planet safe and healthy,” says Parvati.org founder Parvati. “We no longer have the luxury to work incrementally towards urgently needed protection. MAPS is not an end goal, but a baseline necessity. Thank you Elon Musk for your forward thinking vision, and for what you are doing for Puerto Rico and the planet. May the world be inspired to swiftly make the essential pivot to renewables.”