Like two sides of a coin (yeah, a corny analogy), people have reacted in two opposite ways to Jeff Bezos' gift to tackle climate change. He announced on February 17, Monday, that he would put out $10 billion of his money for an initiative called the Bezos Earth Fund to "explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share."
And while he still stays the richest man on earth, his philanthropy move has still been called "hypocritical". Why? Because activists believe, the company he runs, Amazon, is itself the one that is polluting the environment and that his $10 billion donation initiative isn't sufficient to cover its own cost. Some have even questioned his move, finding no statements of how the money would be spent.
$10 billion is the largest amount anyone has ever donated in a move against climate change, and it's undeniably important. But not everything about it pleases people. Greenpeace and a group of Amazon employees called the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice recently issued their statement on his actions. A pretty strong one at that.
We applaud Jeff Bezos' philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away. When will Amazon take responsibility for the lungs of children near its warehouses by moving from diesel to all-electric trucking?
Bezos' current move comes after 357 Amazon employees called for net-zero emissions by 2030 from the company earlier this year, which followed his statement in September about going carbon neutral by 2040 and that Amazon would have 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030.
There have been plenty of positive reviews of his announcement as well. UW's Climate Impacts Group's senior scientist Meade Krosby says climate change is really not a one-person job and commended Bezos for his actions rather than people not doing anything at all.
This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. ... $10 billion is better than no billion dollars and we know that we’ll need hundreds of billions of dollars ultimately by the middle and end of the century.
It's a sensitive topic to juggle. While there hasn't been a climate change endeavor as costly as this one, some believe tackling climate change would be a cheaper task if Amazon itself stops using non-renewable energy sources to run its operation. A VOX article has reviewed the scenarios.
In terms of money, Bezos still stays on top of the billionaire chart with over $130 million net worth. Despite the strange 75-25 divorce settlement with now ex-wife Mackenzie Bezos, he's still striding forward, apart from a momentary dip in the Amazon stock market in 2019.
Billionaire Philanthropy is not new. Mackenzie herself announced to sign the Giving Pledge, which the two richest behind Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, have signed. Accordingly, they would give at least half of their wealth to charity. And they have tried. But, of course, there have been criticisms either way.
As for Bezos' charity against climate change, there are many things that could be done with it, apart from cleaning up Amazon itself. The Verge has some ways the $10 billion donations could be used. Whether we agree or not, the way people are striding on with energy, it's not entirely possible to be 100% carbon neutral, even despite Bhutan showing us that we can.
The thing is Bhutan is not entirely dependent on oil and gas as the big countries of the world are. So it is obviously going to take time for people to get used to less of those non-replenishable resources. Meanwhile, these donations are important now more than ever. The primary hope, in this case, is that the amount is used to first clean up Amazon itself, which is obviously a big leap forward with companies like these. And if a part of it could be used to resolve problems completely unrelated to Amazon but huge with respect to the people involved, even better.
There are more stories to come up on Celeb$fortune. Stay tuned for the updates.