Jeff Bezos, Residential Earth, and The Quest to Pollute the Solar System
“Eventually it will be much cheaper and simpler to make really complicated things like microprocessors … in space and then send those highly complex manufactured objects back down to Earth so that we don’t have the big factories and pollution-generating industries that make those things now,” he said, adding, “Earth can be zoned residential.”
~Jeff Bezos, July 2019
It’s rare when a titan of business admits that the process of his business is actually killing the planet, but this is essentially what Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos admitted this week during his interview on CBS Evening News. In a celebration of our first moon landing, Mr. Bezos gave several insights into why he’s spending his billions to try and get human activity into space — because we’re destroying our planet and there’s no stopping it. Rather than suggest that perhaps industry needs to change, or the mining of minerals for our future needs to be managed in a more sustainable way, Bezos feels his billions are better spent finding ways to bring our polluting economy to our planetary neighbors, allowing us to continue to consume the moon’s minerals, burn our garbage on Mars and perhaps run our manufacturing plants on Venus. This idea clearly shows that our most powerful have no interest in changing the way things are, just moving the worst of us off site.
This isn’t a new idea. America long ago realized that heavy industry was polluting our waterways and air, so we outsourced it to China. Besides, those folks worked for so little. We put our garbage in their backyards and left many American towns without employment and abandoned factories they had to figure out how to clean up. But now the Chinese would like clean air and water, and gasp, wages, so businessmen like Bezos need new ways to continue to make more than 80% of the population — enter in automation and space. It’s an intoxicating partnership, automate away human labor so we don’t need to pay them, and move our heavy industry and mining to the moon, where robots can work twenty-four hours a day without any needs other than a power source, given their lack of lungs and other organic organs that are dependent on the atmosphere. It’s a Utopian dream that only the likes of Bezos and Musk have the luxury to imagine, because they have the luxury to afford to do so.
Hey bros, why not spend those billions here on Earth, and transform our society into a new age? Why invest in technologies to spill our filth across the solar system, while zoning Earth residential for a humanity you’ve automated out of your business equation? What sort of infrastructure will we need here, on the planet our bodies prefer, if all our work is shipped to space? On one hand it sounds cleaner, but we’d still have agriculture here on this planet, and that industry is a huge polluter, right up there with heavy industry and mining and just as responsible for the poisoning of our water and soil.
I get it, space is cool, but the truth is the consumer economy is finally killing this planet, and maybe, just maybe, those billions could be used to make some fundamental changes to the way humans interact, live and behave on Earth, our home planet.
Here are a few things those billions could be used for to create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible***:
- Converting all our current packaging manufacturing facilities from the plastic pellets currently used to make packaging for most things you buy on Amazon Prime to use biodegradable packaging solutions instead. It will mean changing out equipment, dies, and design, but hell, I’m sure it will cost less than mining lithium on the moon.
- Pay all those in the fishing industry their wages and benefits for three years while also putting a hard stop to all fishing during that time. This will allow our oceans to recover from the brutal beating we’ve given them and grant fish species time to replenish themselves. We don’t do this now is because the fishing industry lobbies won’t let us. I get it, you need to eat during this transition, so Mr. Bezos, you feed their workers for three years if you care so much about the destruction of the planet.
- Put solar panels on all houses in the sunniest states and build a national smart grid that many local energy producers can link into, including those individual houses.
- Pay farmers to move to more sustainable processes, again taking care of any losses as they convert from conventional farming and pesticides to organic, sustainable animal and food production. Check out “The Biggest Little Farm” for some ideas of how farming could be made into the job of the future, rather than something only 1% of us work in. If they’re going to replace us with machines, we might as well find other ways to work in this world, and interest in farming is on the rise among Millennials and iGen.
- Buy land and build tiny housing communities for those who have been displaced already by our economy. Connect these projects to the local farming projects.
- Pay people a living wage and benefits to clean up those landscapes and waterways we’ve already destroyed. Form an Army Corps of Planet Caregivers dedicated to healing the scars we’ve created across our precious Earth. After all, Bezos said in the interview,”We have sent robotic probes to every planet in the solar system — this is the good one.” So, let’s take care of the good one, eh?
There are so many other things we can do, this is just a start. I’m not against going back to the moon, nor probing space. Space exploration makes sense and it our nature as a species to keep pushing ourselves in this way. However, I do think that before we go and mine the heart out of the moon, we could pool these resources into feeding and sheltering the folks on this planet, while creating an economy more focused on people and planet than profits.
Because if the most brilliant among us can figure out how to build a robotic micro-controller factory on Mars, you’d think they could figure out how to deal with the worst problems here on Earth, right?
***stole this from Charles Eisenstein’s wonderful book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.”
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