Jeff Bezos Vision  Humanity  Space Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos’ Sweeping Vision for Humanity in Space
Artist Daniel Moussa, (high-res version)

I’m someone who’s highly skeptical of Jeff Bezos’ greater aspirations for his space travel startup, Blue Origin. While frequently described as space tourism for rich people, his contemporary comments strive much higher:

“I’m in the process of converting my Amazon lottery winnings into a much lower price of admission so we can go explore the solar system.”

Bloomberg, March 2018

“In at least a few hundred years…all of our heavy industry will be moved off-planet. Earth will be zoned residential and light industrial.”

Recode, June 2016

“We will have to leave this planet… We’re going to leave it, and it’s going to make this planet better. We’ll come and go, and the people who want to stay will stay.”

GeekWire, May 2018

This week, I recruited Venezuelan artist Daniel Moussa to illustrate a vision I had that reflects Bezos’ primary ambition … to provide him an alternate reality to the oncoming destruction of earth’s climate and ecosystem.

Moussa created the image at top in two days. He’s a talented artist and a skilled collaborator. We had a blast working together and I hope to work with him again.

The title for the image is taken from this headline at ArsTechnica, “Jeff Bezos unveils his sweeping vision for humanity’s future in space.

Why I Distrust Bezos

I’ve witnessed firsthand Seattle’s homeless population grow from 6,900 people when Blue Origin was founded in 2000 to 11,199 in 2019.

Last year, I watched Bezos intimidate the Seattle city council into repealing a small head tax on employees that would have accelerated social support and housing for this vulnerable community.

And, I believe his moderate but ultimately token investments in local shelter, Mary’s Place serve primarily to distract from the direct impact Amazon’s rapid expansion has on the growth of Seattle’s homeless population.

And of course, I’ve read about how Bezos treats his employees and women and warehouse workers.

Certainly, he is brilliant and a phenomenally successful capitalist, but Bezos is someone who doesn’t mind compartmentalizing the suffering of others and his own negative impacts on our greater community to focus on his own priorities.

So, no, I don’t believe Bezos is focused on Blue Origin for the betterment of mankind. If push comes to shove, most of us will be left behind, just as he’s left Seattle’s homeless in the streets.

Of course, I’m not the only Bezos skeptic. Yesterday, Robin Streichler wrote a timely essay for Pasadena Weekly:

This idea, suggested as a means to save our planet, is coming from the same man who in September purchased 20,000 diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz Sprinter delivery vans — not one electric vehicle among them — in stark contrast to companies like UPS, which is expanding its electric fleet and using best practices to reduce their environmental impact.

In fact, environmental leadership at Amazon is so bad that over 4,500 employees are pushing Bezos to stop peddling technology that aids in oil and gas exploration and to take a real stand to reduce the company’s massive carbon footprint.

Seen in this light, does Bezos’ seemingly magnanimous rationale for his space company’s contribution toward saving Earth still sound right to anyone?

“How realistic is it to suggest that we can just hop on a spaceship to another planet without trying to save our own?” asks Streichler.

Just last month, Bezos acknowledged to CBS Evening News that, “We are in the process of destroying this planet.” He just left out that Amazon’s environmental footprint is a notable part of the problem.

About the Artist

Daniel Moussa is a Venezuelan-based illustrator, character designer and painter who mainly switched to digital arts after finishing his degree. He has worked on games, books, movies, and also exhibited many works of applied and fine arts, such as, paintings, graphics, models and other.

Here’s the sketch I shared with Moussa to get started. Within 24 hours he had the basic components of the top image and we messaged back and forth to refine his work.

Concept sketch of Bezos on Mars, Blue Origin

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Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. Check out Portland Wild, a visual map-driven guide to Portland's public art, its Heritage Trees and its Little Free Libraries.

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