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The Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has hit back at critics for saying he should spend his money fixing problems on Earth rather than going to space.
Formerly the world's richest man before Elon Musk took his throne, Jeff Bezos has been heavily criticised for spending billions of dollars on building a space tourism company when there are lots of issues on Earth such as climate change and famine.
However, Bezos has now hit back at the critics, arguing that billionaires "need to do both, and that the two things are deeply connected" at a conference in New York.
Admitting that Earth has some major problems, Bezos claimed he is spending 'even more money' on climate change than he is on space exploration, via the so-called Bezos Earth Fund.
He said: "We need to conserve what we still have, we need to restore what we've lost, we need to completely transform our food systems and grow what we need to live in a new way that doesn't degrade the Earth.."
"There's a tremendous amount to be done in the here and now and we cannot forget about that. But at the same time, in a deeply connected way, we need to look to the future."
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Bezos believes that, to ultimately solve problems on Earth such as climate change, humanity will need to move manufacturing and polluting industries into outer space.
"This planet is so small that if we want to keep growing as a civilisation using more energy as a civilisation most of that in the future needs to be done off-planet," he said.
Bezos also spoke about taking 90-year-old Star Trek icon William Shatner on a trip to space on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket, in which Shatner became the oldest person to ever travel to space.
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As the person to open the capsule door upon landing, Bezos was the first to witness Shatner's reaction.
"[Shatner] came out of that capsule and he was almost catatonic. He could barely speak or even move. He stood there for a few moments and he sort of collected himself. And when he did start to speak it was one of the most emotional experiences of my life."
"We each gave each other the gift of space. He gave it to me when I was in the fourth grade and I gave it to him when he was 90 years old."
At the time, Bezos was criticised for 'interrupting' Shatner as he tearfully spoke about the experience on camera.
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Just last week, one of the passengers who was aboard Shatner's flight – a tech mogul named Glen de Vries – died in a plane crash aged 49.
Fellow spacefaring billionaire Elon Musk has also attracted a fair amount of criticism for investing in space rather than Earth.
After challenging the UN to outline how it would use a donation to solve world hunger, the UN has finally responded with a budget.
Followers of Musk are waiting with baited breath to see whether he donates as promised.
- Elon Musk
- Jeff Bezos
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