Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and Blue Origin CEO, has defended his celestial spending habits. In an interview on Thursday, he responded to criticism that billionaires spend too much money on space travel and not enough on targeting Earth’s climate issues.
“We need to do both,” he told the Ignatius Forum event in Washington, D.C., adding that “that the two things are deeply connected.”
In fact, Bezos claims to be spending more money on the Bezos Earth Fund – his philanthropic project to combat climate change – than he is on space travel. The fund, announced in February 2020, aims to spend $10 billion “explor[ing] new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.”
Earlier this year, Bezos announced the venture’s first steps – $1 billion to be dedicated to conservation efforts in the tropical Andes, the Congo Basin, and the Pacific Ocean.
While acknowledging the “tremendous amount to be done” on Earth, Bezos continued to tell Harvard Business Review editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius that this should not be at the expense of space travel.
“We need to look to the future.”
“This planet is so small, if we want to keep growing as a civilization, using more energy as a civilization, most of that in the future needs to be done off-planet," he added.
However, while Bezos's pivot to environmentalism is certainly welcome, Amazon’s last three years with Bezos at the helm saw the company’s annual carbon emissions grow to nearly 61 million metric tons – nearly as much as the entire country of Belarus. When global carbon emissions dropped by 7 percent last year, Amazon’s rose by nearly one-fifth.
It's true, we need to do both — conserve delicate ecosystems in some of the most biodiverse regions of the world and drastically cut carbon emissions.