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Elon Musk's Tesla Launches All-Vegan Car

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Elon Musk's Tesla Launches All-Vegan Car

When PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), a Tesla Motors shareholder, spoke at Tesla’s 2015 annual meeting to urge the company to offer only vegan leather for its car interiors, CEO Elon Musk said he would “absolutely” consider it. Since then, PETA has been working with Tesla and this month, the electric-car leader launched Model X—its highly anticipated SUV—which is available with a fully vegan interior, including seats, steering wheel and gear shift.

In its discussions with the company, PETA pointed out that Tesla could reduce its carbon footprint by using only vegan leather. Turning animal skins into leather requires 130 different chemicals, including cyanide and people who work in and live near tanneries suffer from exposure to these toxic chemicals. Leather production also squanders valuable natural resources, including up to 15,000 gallons of water per ton of hides and produces massive amounts of the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. And, of course, cows killed for leather endure branding, tail-docking, dehorning and castration—all without painkillers.

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Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

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Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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