With so many problems on Earth, many fairly question why billionaires are so keen to get to space—rather than sort out our problems down here.
Now, even the Secretary-General of the United Nations seems to agree, as António Guterres used his opening address to world leaders to slam the likes of Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos for “joyriding to space while millions go hungry on Earth.”
Speaking in front of the likes of Boris Johnson and the U.S. President Joe Biden, Guterres urged leaders to take action on climate change, inequality, and overall, “mistrust” of politicians. He said people see “corruption around them” and “no future at all” while the wealthy jet off to the stars.
The UN chief’s intervention came just days after all-civilian Inspiration4 mission—funded by tech billionaire Jared Isaacman and operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX—splash landed back to Earth.
Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson both took private spaceflights in the summer. These flights cost billions. Jeff Bezos’ flight alone cost $5.5 billion dollars—roughly the same amount that the UK government has put into a rescue package for the NHS.
There has been increased pressure for the world’s wealthiest people to pay their taxes. Boris Johnson says he confronted Jeff Bezos about Amazon’s failure in the UK to pay taxes.
Bezos believes it is the responsibility of government to tax big tech companies efficiently, and that Amazon wouldn’t voluntarily pay more than required by law.
However, the Amazon founder claims he realised just how “fragile” Earth is when he was looking down at it from space, and pledged to donate $1 billion dollars to conservation projects around the world.
“Living down here, the world and the atmosphere seem vast and they seem stable,” He made these remarks at a launch party this week. “But looking back at Earth from there, the atmosphere seems thin and the world finite. Both beautiful, both fragile.”