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From China To Michigan, Elon Musk Rules The Twittersphere

After Elon Musk concluded a deal to build a manufacturing plant in Shanghai this week, he flew to Beijing to talk with Chinese leaders about weightier matters — things like peaceful coexistence, the future of humanity, and preventing an environmental catastrophe. Afterward he tweeted, “Excellent meetings with senior leaders in China. Very thoughtful about the long-term future.”

After Elon Musk concluded a deal to build a manufacturing plant in Shanghai this week, he flew to Beijing to talk with Chinese leaders about weightier matters — things like peaceful coexistence, the future of humanity, and preventing an environmental catastrophe. Afterward he tweeted, “Excellent meetings with senior leaders in China. Very thoughtful about the long-term future.”

Musk always seems to find himself at one of history’s inflection points. While the US and China are gearing up for a bruising trade war designed to expand The Donald’s already hyper-inflated ego, Musk is on the ground, sleeping with the enemy as it were, talking to people and building bridges to the future.

If America is looking for qualified leaders, it would do well to consider amending the Constitution to allow people like Elon Musk to run for president. After all, who should be able to do the job better, a man who has failed at every business he ever tried — from steaks to airlines to universities — or a man who has built a succession of successful businesses, taught rockets to fly backwards, and singlehandedly transformed both the transportation and the utility industries? The choice should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.

Musk And Flint, Michigan

Even while he was meeting with Chinese leaders, Elon was taking on yet another challenge, this time the polluted water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Twitter user Baby D sent a tweet to Elon about the ongoing water problem in that city. Within minutes, Elon responded.

Karen Weaver, the mayor of Flint, then reached out to Elon. “Mr. Musk, I am the Mayor of Flint. I would like to have a conversation with you about Flint’s specific needs.” There is some debate about what those needs might be. Here is some thoughtful information from Twitter user Sonaar:

“Not sure how familiar you are with water quality or testing for it (I work in water quality), but most of the testing being done is only looking for a handful of contaminants among potentially thousands that present public health threats. Most of the public data available is focused entirely on lead and copper — which obviously matter, but as @haydentiff pointed out, Legionnaires killed 9 people in 2014-2015, which means the water wasn’t even being treated to EPA or Michigan standards.

“Challenge is that if you’re testing positive for Legionnaires, Lead & Copper you probably have hundreds of other contaminants — and you can’t choose the right water treatment technology if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Michigan has been sending out in-sink activated charcoal filtration units that are NSF certified for lead removal, but they are not safe for removing bacteria, and most people aren’t being told that they only work with cold water.

“The bottom line is you can’t start with the assumption that a test itself tells you enough to know how safe people are. That approach works really well when you start with a known water supply and known infrastructure because you only have to account for deviations from the norm. There’s a real opportunity here to rethink this in Flint, because figuring it out will benefit every other public water system — not to mention prepare us for bigger problems on the horizon with climate change. I’ll email details of how we’re thinking about it and our approach.”

A federal judge in Michigan said this week she will rule soon on motions filed by governor Rick Snyder, the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, and several other defendants to dismiss a torrent of lawsuits filed against them by Flint residents who claim the water in Flint has made them ill. Part of their claim is that the decision years ago to switch the city water supply to the Flint River was based in part on racial considerations. Flint, which is largely populated by minorities, got the less expensive water solution while nearby white communities got a more expensive system.

That lead to a totally bizarre argument by Sheldon Klein, an attorney for the city, who told the judge there was no equal protection issue because everyone in Flint was poisoned. “This (water crisis) affects all people in the city of Flint equally; there was no different treatment,” Klein said according to a report in the Detroit News. When the judge asked Levy, “Is your argument that everyone in Flint was poisoned equally?” he replied, “Yes.” Klein’s parents must be very proud of their progeny.

As Sonaar points out, there are a whole lot of things in drinking water that can make people sick. It seems that he is intent in doing more in one week on this topic than the state of Michigan has done in 4 years.

Here’s more on what Elon has planned or is considering:

And Elon will have a call with the Mayor of Flint tomorrow:

 
 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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