In some quarters, including the top levels of the Australian government and its opposition, the activities of American space and electric car entrepreneur Elon Musk would be seen as a deadly threat to the NBN and Big Coal.
But there is nothing that can be done to prevent both being destroyed by ‘disruptive’ new ideas and their supporting technologies.
This destruction promises however to come with wealth replacements that Australians are likely to embrace, regardless of the somewhat desperate rhetoric to the contrary from this country’s political leadership as to the ubiquity of the NBN or the noise and unsightliness of wind turbines or the undesirable rise of renewable energy from all sources.
What doesn’t the coalition and Labor get about the inevitability of new ways of doing things?
On the NBN and the impending death of coal, both sound like the boofheads they put up last century to support the retention of the Two Airline Policy, or the arguments as to how we didn’t need domestic jets, or how there wouldn’t be ten million passengers a year at Sydney Airport in our (then) lifetimes.
Well (cough), we still have a two airline duopoly in Australia each with attendant low cost brands, but at least the quality of the bread rolls and the fares each charge aren’t regulated, and there are more than 40 million people flying yearly through the country’s largest airport.
There are more jobs and wealth flowing from liberalized aviation than was ever dreamed of in the protectionist past that some still pine for.
But back to Elon Musk, his rocket company SpaceX, and his electric car company Tesla and his eponymous Solar City enterprise. SpaceX is now targeting the internet and all the silly restrictions people think borders can impose on the communications sector with plans for a constellation of more than 4000 low earth orbit hi-speed broadband delivering satellites.
The Tesla car company has suddenly veered off toward being part of the solar and wind energy high capacity battery storage enterprises which even the conventional power companies are investing in. New battery (or Powerwall tech) is obliterating the economics of poles, wires, and fossil carbon releasing power generation, faster than you can say Alinta, which this last week announced the closure of its Port Augusta coal fired station.
Musk is doing to the cost of manned and unmanned industrial scale orbital space flight what low cost airlines are doing to legacy air travel, although it will be for future generations to complain about the decreasing seat pitch in the hypersonic intercontinental near-space liners that will come into service as a consequence of cheap (and reliable) rocketry being scaled up in coming decades.
Anything as cumbersome and bureaucratic as the NBN or a dying coal fired energy theology has no chance against nimble new ideas, especially those that totally bypass conventional means of transmission or product distribution.
To stop the likes of Musk and his strongly emerging competitors, backwards looking states like Australia will have to restrict scientific innovations and advances, and pull up the drawbridges to keep change away from our sheltered if coal dust soiled walled gardens.
Don’t laugh, that might just become the policy settings of this or any future government.