On Monday, the world’s richest man used a social network run by the world’s fifth richest man to announce a plan to save the planet.
In an Instagram post, Jeff Bezos announced plans to launch the Bezos Earth Fund, an initiative through which he says he will fund the work of scientists, activists, and NGOs, among others. The fund will begin making grants this summer, according to Bezos. “Earth is the one thing we all have in common,” he wrote. “Let’s protect it, together.”
The announcement makes no mention of Amazon, the company worth over $1 trillion that Bezos founded and runs. In a September 2019 report, the company for the first time disclosed its carbon footprint: 44.4 million metric tons in 2018. That’s larger than the estimated carbon footprint of Angola, a country of 30 million people, but less than 1% of the US’s total footprint (and less than Amazon’s chief competitor Walmart). Amazon says it is targeting carbon neutrality by 2040, more than 20 years from the time of the 2019 report.
Bezos is now worth an estimated $130 billion, according to Bloomberg. When in early 2018, he was asked how he might spend his riches, he had a singularly minded answer. “The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel,” Bezos told Business Insider. “That is basically it.”
But as my colleague Ali Griswold has noted, Bezos has recently found other uses for his wealth, including purchasing three condos in New York City for $80 million, and purchasing two pieces of art for a total $70 million. He is also considering buying a housing in California for $225 million. Bezos now appears to consider saving the Earth from climate change an equally reasonable investment.