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Jeffrey Preston Bezos, a 57-year-old dad from New Mexico, flew to the edge of space and back again today. He wasn't the only person aboard the rocket, which was the first-ever crewed flight from private space company Blue Origin, but he's the one that camera crews flocked to once the 10-minute trip was done. Maybe they were drawn in by his smile. Maybe they thought he was the winner of a sub-orbital Lex Luthor lookalike contest. Maybe his bulbous, pale cowboy hat caught their eye.
In reality, of course, it was because Bezos is the founder of Blue Origin and Amazon, and considered to be the richest person in the world. This wealth not only gives him the opportunity to build, run and then ride his own rocket ships, but it also makes people really interested in what he has to say, regardless of his relationship to the matter at hand.
When Bezos stepped back onto Earth after spinning around in zero-gravity for a few minutes, the cameras descended and his cowboy hat answered a handful of questions about the experience. The world's richest man shared his thoughts about space, pollution and wage depression, likely just before taking an SUV caravan to his private jet and heading to one of his global luxury estates.
Here are three of the most centibillionaire things Bezos said after his Blue Origin flight today:
“We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space. And keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is.” In this same interview, Bezos discussed his plans to expand Blue Origin's space tourism business over the coming decades, a venture that has the potential to pump massive amounts of carbon and other chemicals into the atmosphere. Unlike ground-based emitters like cars or coal-powered plants, rocket emissions are expelled directly into the upper atmosphere, where they linger for years. Additionally, Amazon has threatened to fire employees for speaking up about the company's support of the oil and gas industries.
"We need unifiers, not vilifiers. When you look out at the planet, there are no borders. There's nothing. It's one planet and we share it and it's fragile." As the CEO of Amazon, for years Bezos fought against company efforts to unionize, even amid credible reports of inhumane, exploitative conditions for Amazon delivery drivers and warehouse workers.
Bezos, who amassed more than $70 billion in personal wealth last year and regularly pays $0 in federal income taxes, then thanked those same Amazon employees for paying for his trip to space. He said, “I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.” That line, at least, is completely accurate.