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Letters: Let’s Help Jeff Bezos Spend His Billions

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To the Editor:

What a stunning shame that space tourism is the best thing Jeff Bezos can think of doing with his billions! Urgent humanitarian needs here on Earth are so much more deserving of the Amazon magnate’s riches, as Harold Pollack rightly points out (“Better Ways to Spend $131 Billion,” Op-Ed, May 10).

In an era when our country’s political leadership has jettisoned its compassion for those facing hardship and discrimination at home and abroad, people who inhabit our financial stratosphere have an especially important role to play.

Bill and Melinda Gates are just one shining example, with their commitment to eradicating a host of deadly and debilitating tropical diseases and their support for voluntary family planning in the world’s poorest countries.

Andrew Carnegie set the pace in the late 1800s with his public lending libraries; Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford, took up the mantle in 1936 by creating a foundation that today is a leader in the fight for affordable housing, sustainable communities and the rights of indigenous peoples.

Take your pick, Mr. Bezos. The causes crying out for civic-minded vision are legion. Blasting adventure tourists into space is not one of them.

PHILIP WARBURG, NEWTON, MASS.

The writer is a nonresident senior fellow at Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy.

To the Editor:

Harold Pollack argues that by allocating his vast fortune to space, Jeff Bezos is squandering an opportunity to serve humanity. As Professor Pollack illustrates, there are many areas of dire human need that desperately require resources. Yet, arguably, Mr. Bezos’s space endeavors are likely to contribute to the area of greatest human impact: the preservation of the species itself.

There are compelling reasons to suppose that we have now reached a point of irreversible catastrophe on Earth. The International Energy Agency warned back in 2011 that without a significant change in our energy infrastructure, we would reach the point of irreversible climate change by 2017.

Even in the unlikely scenario that the most comprehensive efforts possible are undertaken from here on out, there is a strong likelihood that terrestrial life on Earth is already doomed to extinction at some point in the future.

Therefore we as a species should be very grateful to Mr. Bezos for prioritizing the humanization of space, and in the process ensuring the preservation of the human species.

LOUIS BRENNAN, DUBLIN

The writer is co-author of the forthcoming book “Above and Beyond: Exploring the Business of Space.”

To the Editor:

Prof. Harold Pollack has suggestions

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