Bezos pledges $2 Billion to the environment, says flight to space changed view of Earth

At COP26, a climate conference, Jeff Bezos pledged $2 billion of the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund to be dedicated for land restoration and food production. While speaking on the matter he cited how much seeing Earth from space changes the way in which you view the planet.

Back in July, Jeff Bezos flew to space on his company’s New Shepard rocket. This was the first of Blue Origin’s human space flights, with more to come.

On the second flight, Blue Origin flew William Shatner (and others) to space. The experience truly moved Shatner; in an impassioned speech once back on the ground, he said to Bezos, “What you’ve given me is the most profound experience I can imagine.”

I am overwhelmed. I had no idea. You know, we were talking earlier before going: ‘Well, you know, it’s going to be different.’ Whatever that is phrase is that you have, that you have a different view of things? That doesn’t begin to explain, to describe it for me.

William Shatner

Viewing Earth from space totally changed each of their perspectives on Earth. Bezos continues to use a small portion of his immense wealth (as the second wealthiest man on Earth) to make changes to improve Earth. At COP26, Bezos pledged $2 billion from the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund to be dedicated to land restoration and food production.

Each year, forests and landscapes absorb 11 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. As we destroy nature, we reverse this process.

Jeff Bezos

The first billion dollars will target land restoration, with two primary focuses. Partnering with local organizations, the money will fund the planting of trees and the revitalization of grasslands in Africa. Some of this money will also be used in the US, targeting storing carbon and restoring biodiversity in key US landscapes, particularly in underserved communities.

The second billion targets increasing food production while protecting the environment, though very limited details were provided on the specific means to do so. It will include crop management, decreasing food waste, and more.

Space Explored’s take

While giving this massive amount of money to a good cause will certainly result in a net good, there has been widespread criticism of Bezos’ actions compared to his words. Blue Origin has recently been under fire for a multitude of issues, including sexism, widespread harassment, possible safety concerns, and disregard for possible environmental concerns.

He certainly received a lot of criticism during his flight to space, both about the working conditions for workers at Amazon and about the environmental impact of a single, couple-minute flight to space, solely for the purpose of a joy-ride. In the grand scheme of things, rockets have a very small impact on total carbon output, but as spaceflights become more common (especially for tourist trips rather than scientific understanding) the concerns need to be considered.

Hopefully, this is just one of many steps made to counteract the harm we have done to the environment. I hope we find a future where we can explore and live among the stars without killing the Earth to get there. At least this $2 billion from Jeff Bezos seems to be in a lot more good faith than Elon Musk’s promise to donate $6 billion to solve world hunger if the World Food Program Chief describes exactly how the money will be used.

Do you think Bezos and Musk should pony up more of their worth to these issues? Let us know your thoughts below.

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