Jeff Bezos pledged to fight climate change, but space tourism could

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descending journey to the edge of space On Tuesday, Jeff Bezos, the richest person on the planet, reiterated his commitment to tackling climate change. “We must build a road to space so that our children and their children can build a future,” he said. told MSNBC.

Mr. Bezos says space tourism is the first step in getting people (and heavy industry) into space. prevent an energy crisis on earth. billionaire space entrepreneurs like him, Richard Branson and Elon Musk have also said that their company is a response to climate change: Mr. colonizing Mars In case we destroy the world.

Critics argue that space tourism will increase emissions rather than save the planet. But the industry still ranks low on the pollutants list.

The global aerospace industry uses less than one-tenth of a percent of propellant than the aerospace industry. What’s more, the amount used for rockets like the rockets that carried Mr. Branson and Mr. Bezos into space is a tiny fraction of that, said Martin Ross, a scientist with The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development center. In last studyMr Ross found that space tourism companies could launch up to 10,000 suborbital flights a year before the impact of their emissions on the atmosphere began to approach that of orbital rockets.

It is not yet fully understood how the increasing number of rocket launches will affect the planet. The space industry is the only direct source of emissions over 20 kilometers into the stratosphere. Particles left behind by rockets can absorb or reflect sunlight, potentially changing the climate of the stratosphere or affecting the ozone layer.

“Now we know it’s not a problem,” said Mr Ross, “but we can’t predict how much of these ups and downs you can get before it becomes a problem.”

As well as whether space tourism will contribute to climate change, there are doubts about space companies’ claims that they can help solve this problem. Some say Mr. Bezos’ vision of colonizing space not possibleand Mr. Bezos himself called it “long range problem.billionaires going to space first consider climate catastrophes around the world, critics argue.

It’s not fair to say that Mr. Bezos is ignoring these issues. Although Amazon is a big pollutantsays he intends to go carbon neutral by 2040 and Mr. Bezos pledged $10 billion from his personal fortune. addressing climate change. But some say there’s a big gap in their approach: Are lunar images just for space?

What do you think? What role can space tourism play in climate change? Let us know: dealbook@nytimes.com. Include your name and location and we can feature your response in a future newsletter.



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