Here’s What I Think About Jeff Bezos’s Announcement

Did you hear the big news? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he will invest $10 billion toward fighting climate change. We don’t know a whole lot about how that will work, but he says he wants to fund anyone who can help. That means the money will probably go to building new technologies that can pull carbon from our atmosphere or get humans off their coal and oil addiction faster.

He wrote on Instagram: “Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals.”

I think this is great.

And I’ve been paying more attention to Bezos. He’s been in hot water because human rights activists hold him responsible for the working conditions in Amazon warehouses. They don’t believe workers are paid enough, and I agree. There are also ongoing concerns about the company’s use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to silence employees who want to shed light on sexual harassment complaints.

But Bezos is also a champion of new technologies that could bring humans closer together and make life better for all of us. Do I believe he should be held accountable for the problems within the companies he built? Definitely! But I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. $10 billion can do a lot of good, and hopefully other super-wealthy individuals and organizations will follow his lead to step forward and contribute.

Bezos owns the company Blue Origin. He wants to get humans out into space. He wants us to move our commercial endeavors off-planet, which should in turn move our polluting factories off-planet as well. That’s a great goal! I can only hope to see it made into a reality in my lifetime.  I miss France sometimes, but a big part of me is proud to live in a company where such big things happen everyday.

Still, Amazon still collaborates with coal and oil companies for business purposes. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said, “As history has taught us, true visionaries stand up against entrenched systems, often at great cost to themselves. We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away.”