Jeff Bezos says space travel is essential because we are ‘in the process of destroying this planet’

Jeff Bezos told CBS about his space-exploration ambitions. CBS/YouTube
  • In a recent interview, Jeff Bezos said humanity needed space travel if it wanted to continue to have a “thriving civilisation” because humans were “destroying this planet.”
  • Bezos thinks that rather than abandon Earth in favour of another planet, humans could use space as a resource.
  • Bezos has taken this line in the past, in contrast to his fellow tech mogul Elon Musk.
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Jeff Bezos says humans need space travel because they are “destroying this planet.” He doesn’t mean that humanity will have to evacuate a dying Earth, however, but rather that we could outsource our more destructive behaviours to space.

Speaking with the CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell, Bezos, whose space-exploration company, Blue Origin, hopes to put people back on the moon as soon as 2024 courtesy of its Blue Moon lunar lander, seemed pessimistic about the effect humans were having on Earth.

“We humans have to go to space if we are going to continue to have a thriving civilisation,” he said. “We have become big as a population, as a species, and this planet is relatively small. We see it in things like climate change and pollution and heavy industry. We are in the process of destroying this planet.”

Yet despite this he emphasised that Earth was the best place for us. “We have sent robotic probes to every planet in the solar system – this is the good one,” he said. Rather than advocate resettlement, Bezos said humankind could preserve Earth “using the resources of space.”

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Specifically, Bezos hypothesized that we could move high-polluting industries like manufacturing out to space. “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.”

Bezos said he thought this kind of advancement was hundreds of years down the line, but he didn’t rule out some humans leaving Earth behind altogether. “People are going to want to live on Earth and they’re going to want to live off Earth – there are going to be very nice places to live off Earth as well,” he said. “People will make that choice.”

In the past, Bezos has been dismissive of fatalistic visions of space colonization as a “plan B” to planet Earth, which are more typified in the rhetoric of his fellow tech mogul turned space-exploration enthusiast Elon Musk.

You can watch Jeff Bezos’ interview, alongside Caroline Kennedy, the former US ambassador to Japan whose father, President John F. Kennedy, pushed for the 1960s US mission to land on the moon, here: