Billionaire Jeff Bezos touted his private space firm Blue Origin as a key player in the climate change battle and pushed back against critics who claim the Amazon founder has not focused his massive fortune to solve problems on Earth.
“Blue Origin’s long-term goal is to move all polluting industries off Earth,” Bezos said in the Oct. 14 speech at the Vatican. “That path is long, and we won’t see its end in my lifetime. Somebody else will have to pick up that torch. But for my part, I would like to do everything that I can to build a road to space. So that whoever comes along next has an easier time than I did.”
Bezos delivered the remarks while accepting the Galileo Prophets of Philanthropy Award at the Vatican. Aside from his work with Blue Origin and Amazon, the billionaire heads up the climate-focused “Bezos Earth Fund.”
Bezos said he has wanted “to build a path to space” since childhood. He also directly addressed those who have criticized his pet project as a waste of resources that could instead help people in need.
“Some people ask me why. Why invest so much into space when there are so many problems to be solved on Earth?” Bezos said.
“We go to space not to abandon our home but to protect it,” Bezos added. “Consider energy. In space, the sun always shines, and we can collect energy in almost unlimited amounts. Energy and other resources can be harvested and used in space without harming the Earth. Earth is a garden that should be tended.”
Bezos is one of several ultra-rich executives who had dabbled in the space sector in recent years. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is also the top boss at privately held SpaceX, while billionaire Richard Branson founded spaceflight firm Virgin Galactic. All three firms have worked as contractors for NASA.
Bezos faced widespread scrutiny — and some mockery — after he personally blasted off on Blue Origin’s first-ever commercial flight last year.
One prominent critic is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who slammed Bezos and Musk in April for allegedly using NASA as “an ATM machine” for their own space ambitions. Sanders argued the private space race threatens to become a “vast boondoggle” that will “open up outer space to corporate greed and exploitation.”
Bezos previously responded to criticism about his space-related efforts last year – acknowledging that critics who say he should be more focused on Earth’s problems were “largely right.”
“We have to do both,” Bezos said in July 2021.
The Blue Origin founder has long argued that space exploration is necessary to the long-term preservation of Earth.
In 2018 remarks at a conference hosted by the National Space Society, Bezos described Blue Origin as “the most important work I am doing” and argued humanity must establish a permanent settlement on the moon.
“We must go back to the moon, and this time to stay,” he said at the time.