The Global Risks 2014 report from the World Economic Forum assesses 31 of the world’s most important risks that have the potential to cause widespread damage across societies and industries. The third highest risk on the top 10 list was the water crisis. Also on the list was access to high quality foods in developing countries. You can download the full report here.
As a visionary, Elon Musk has a knack for identifying long-term problems and thinking systematically about solutions. With the SolarCity project, Musk’s idea was to install solar panels on people’s roofs for free; customers pay no cost for the equipment, installation, warranty, or maintenance of the panels. SolarCity then sells customers the electricity. It creates a win-win because SolarCity doesn’t need to pay for land or office space to house the panels and customers have lower energy costs. The company has helped drive the demand for solar panels in the United States.
Given Musk’s expertise in the alternative energy space, I challenge him to design a more affordable, compact, and sophisticated solar cooker to help combat the massive global water and food crises that are currently ongoing. A solar cooker is a device which uses the energy of direct sunlight to heat, cook or pasteurize food or drink. In many developing countries, solar cookers have only started to have an impact on controlling food-borne disease and contaminated water. There is still a lot of work to be done, especially in the production of these cookers. A non-profit called Solar Cookers International has helped spread awareness of such products to countries with plentiful sunshine, but has only made a tiny impact. I would love for Musk to develop a more sophisticated solar cooker that can impact millions of lives.
Here’s a short video about the non-profit: