Go with gratitude and stop the attitude — Bezos’ new Earth Fund turns heads

Amanda Salazar

Mother Nature just got a little bit richer. That’s because Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just committed $10 billion to start his new Bezos Earth Fund to fight climate change.

The fund will support scientists, organizations and activists who work on climate change in their efforts to reverse the effects of global warming around the world. 

“Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am launching the Bezos Earth Fund,” Bezos wrote in his Instagram post announcing the new initiative. 

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.”

Despite the sizeable donation, many climate change activists are saying that Bezos hasn’t gone far enough — but is that really a fair call to make?

Bezos’s pledge is one of the largest environmental monetary commitments ever, just behind “a $36 billion commitment by billionaire Warren Buffett in 2006 and an estimated $16.4 billion pledge by Helen Walton, the late wife of Walmart founder Sam Walton, in 2007,” according to an article from CNN.

That makes his donation a huge deal, no matter the unfiltered opinions of his business practices or the fact that Amazon is killing small chain businesses across the country.

Any effort towards saving the planet should be lauded. Whether it’s a private citizen donating $5 to the Sierra Club — a non-profit environmental organization started by John Muir in 1892 — or it’s a multi-billionaire giving some — either way, it’s a great thing to do.

Some activists, including members of the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, which is a coalition of Amazon workers who think their employer needs to do more to help fight climate change, say that Bezos could be and should be doing more. 

For Bezos, $10 billion in not even a full 8% of his $127.7 billion wealth, prompted some to say that he should have given even more money, but that’s not necessarily the right attitude to take. 

Instead of saying, “Oh, but he could have given so much more,” we should be saying, “I’m grateful he gave anything at all and that what he gave is more money than my family line will ever make combined.”

Further than that, the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group has put out a statement that says that while his donation is great, Bezos needs to extract all climate change deniers from the company’s system, and that Amazon needs to use solely electric vehicles for the transportation of its goods.

“We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” the group’s statement read in part. 

“The people of Earth need to know: When is Amazon going to stop helping oil and gas companies ravage Earth with still more oil and gas wells?” 

The statement continued, “When is Amazon going to stop funding climate-denying think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and climate-delaying policy? When will Amazon take responsibility for the lungs of children near its warehouses by moving from diesel to all-electric trucking.”

While the sentiment is shared and the group’s points are definitely important and should be supported, it’s necessary to acknowledge that the climate change community just received a big win.

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice has been trying to get Bezos to step up on climate change for a while now and they finally got him to do something big. 

Why must they then immediately demand more from him, when the Bezos Earth Fund hasn’t even started giving out its grants yet? 

Last May, over 7,600 Amazon employees signed a letter asking Bezos to act on climate change. 

Then in September, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice organized a walk out to protest what they felt was the company’s inaction on climate change.

Keep in mind, the walk out came literally just the day after Bezos announced Amazon’s “Shipment Zero,” an initiative that will make the company carbon neutral by 2040 and that it will use 100,000 electric vans for delivery.

As much as their hearts might be in the right place, these climate change activists who don’t think Bezos is doing his part are looking for too much, too fast.