Jeff Bezos's $10 billion climate change donation is a boon for the planet—and for billionaires

Over the weekend, Jeff Bezos—founder of Amazon and literally the richest man on Earth—announced on Instagram that he's launching the Bezos Earth Fund to fight climate change. More significantly, he's donating $10 billion to it as a start, stating, "This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world."


Before delving into the pros and cons of this donation, I'd like to acknowledge that Jeff Bezos's $10 billion pledge to tackle climate change is huge. Massively, stupendously huge. Since few of us are able to wrap our minds around how much money that really is, here's a comparison.

If you were to count $10 million at a dollar per second, it would take a little more than 115 days to count.

Change that to $10 billion, and it would take a little more than 115,000 days—or 316 years—to count.

Any time we're talking billions of dollars, we are in unfathomable-amount-of-money territory. By anyone's standards, $10 billion is an incredibly generous donation. As someone who has written about how little Jeff Bezos has given to charity in comparison to his wealth and rolled my eyes at people fawning over donations that are the equivalent of the average American giving pocket change, I give Bezos credit for loosening his giant-sized purse strings and putting his billions to use for humanity. Applause and kudos.

However...

We should all be wary about what the richest man in the world—or any multi-billionaire for that matter—does with unfathomable chunks of cash. The economics of the billionaire class impacts us all. Enormous wealth equals enormous power, so we shouldn't simply giving Bezos a thumbs up because he's offering up billions for a cause we all should care about.

Yes, this donation is historic and worthy of praise. And yes, we should also scrutinize it, unless we all feel comfortable letting a handful of elite billionaires wield their wealth in ways that will impact billions of people who have zero say in it.

THE PROS

Let's start with the positives here, because overall this donation is a good thing.

$10 billion is far more than Jeff Bezos has ever donated to anything, so yay him.

According to Vox, this pledge is approximately 7.5% of Bezos's net worth. Compared to the 0.1% he's donated in the past, this is a big step forward. (And yes, I'm one of those people who thinks billionaires owe the world a significant amount. No one becomes a billionaire without climbing on the shoulders of average people to get there, and

We need powerful people to take the climate crisis seriously, and this donation lends weight to it.

Jeff Bezos could throw $10 billion at any cause—medical research, hunger, education, what have you—but he's chosen climate change. That's a big deal. Not only will it hopefully help scientists and innovators do the research and development needed to solve environmental problems, but it also sends a message to the leaders of the world that this issue is where we need to be investing enormous resources. All of the world's problems will grow exponentially worse if we do not address the climate crisis now.

This amount of money might actually be enough to make a difference.

While it remains to be seen how this money will actually be used, Bezos's description of supporting scientists, activists, and NGOs that have proven to be effective sounds fantastic. Real solutions demand real funding, and $10 billion can go a long way toward innovative problem-solving.

THE CONS

While a generous donation overall a good thing, $10 billion is a powerful amount of money. Looking at it from various angles, there are some issues it brings up that we all should reflect on.

A handful of unelected billionaires shouldn't be in charge of the future of our planet.

I honestly find this donation as terrifying as it is exciting. I happen to be totally on board with mitigating climate change, but what if the world's richest man decided to throw his enormous wealth behind something nefarious? The fact that any one individual can put that much money behind anything that impacts the entire world should give us all pause. And especially on the climate change front, we need global, governmental action, not a single donor swooping in to save us all.

Such donations make it easier for the wealthy to argue against paying their fair share of taxes.

Let's not forget that Amazon itself not only paid $0 taxes in 2018, but actually received a $129 million federal tax refund from the government. Billionaires already pay less in taxes than the working class, and this kind of donation makes it far too easy to say, "See? It's okay for billionaires to not pay their share because they can be more generous with their money that way." Nevermind the fact that we're relying on the generosity of people who have already proven to be money hoarders.

The argument that governments can be inefficient with funds is totally legitimate. But is really better to have unelected individuals who have no responsibility or accountability toward the masses funding our global issues?

A wildly generous donation may tempt us to overlook problematic practices that made him a billionaire to begin with.

Many people have found it ironic that Bezos is putting all this money toward climate change when his own company has greatly contributed to it with its shipping practices. However, to its credit, Amazon has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040, and has started by investing in 100,000 electric delivery vans. Bezos does seem sincere in wanting to tackle this issue.

But that doesn't negate the company's exploitation of its workers or its cutting off of long-standing employee health insurance after acquiring Whole Foods. The image of Amazon as a growing, monopolistic behemoth run by an uber-rich individual whose hundreds of thousands of employees relentlessly toil away, exponentially increasing his personal wealth is objectively accurate. A $10 billion donation doesn't change that.

Let's hope that this pledge really does the good that it has the potential for. But let's also maintain a healthy wariness about celebrating the power that a multibillionaire has to impact the world, for better or for worse.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

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