Science & Technology

Jeff Bezos eyes space as a new ‘sacrifice zone’

After Jeff Bezos’ temporary escape from Earth yesterday, the founding father of retail big Amazon had an thought. “We have to take all heavy trade, all polluting trade, and transfer it into space and maintain Earth as this lovely gem of a planet that it’s,” he stated in an interview with NBC News. “That’s going to take many years to attain, however it’s a must to begin. And large issues begin with small steps.”

Huge issues do begin with small steps, however this explicit thought is a large step backward. Jetting as much as space to fabricate stuff in zero gravity is a logistical nightmare with astronomical costs, to say the least. And it’s not truly a very revolutionary plan. Sticking undesirable stuff in a place that’s seemingly out of sight, out of thoughts is a drained thought. It’s the identical outdated mindset that has dumped industrial waste on colonized peoples and neighborhoods of colour for hundreds of years.

Lengthy earlier than wealthy, white males had been catapulting themselves into space, they approached no matter was the “frontier” on the time with greenback indicators of their eyes and destruction of their wake. As a end result as we speak, land sacred to the Shoshone and Paiute tribes was designated a nuclear dump site in Nevada. A rural stretch of land alongside the Mississippi River, the place previously enslaved individuals and their descendants made their properties, grew to become Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” after greater than 150 refineries and petrochemical services moved in.

Their land and houses grew to become “sacrifice zones” for trade and Western growth, environmental justice advocates typically say. As Amazon’s founder, Bezos is liable for the creation of new “sacrifice zones” for his retail empire’s warehouses. These nonetheless should be addressed — perhaps he might begin there, earlier than creating any new ones in space?

Talking personally, Amazon now has a enormous footprint within the area the place I grew up, California’s “Inland Empire.” After I was a child there, the place was nonetheless type of the badlands of Los Angeles — a potential pitstop for metropolis and seaside city dwellers on their drive via the desert to Las Vegas. It was a place that was out of sight and out of thoughts for the Bezoses of the world.

Now the region is increasingly dominated by retail warehouses that butt up in opposition to peoples’ homes and are magnets for polluting vehicles and planes. The Inland Empire has a number of the worst air pollution in the nation. Amazon is its largest non-public employer within the area, and it’s confronted strain from residents and its personal employees to wash up its act.

“Each time I see a kind of [Amazon] vehicles with a smiley face on it, it feels prefer it’s taunting individuals,” says Adrian Martinez, a senior lawyer with the nonprofit group Earthjustice. Earthjustice at present represents environmental teams which have filed go well with in opposition to the developer of a new air cargo logistics middle within the Inland Empire that houses Amazon.

Amazon and Bezos have each made splashy pledges to combat climate change. However the residents Martinez represents are still breathing in Amazon’s pollution. “That’s what they’re, they’re pledges. And I feel I’ll really feel a lot extra assured after I see zero emission vehicles rolling via the neighborhoods of my purchasers,” Martinez says.

Individuals like Martinez aren’t asking Bezos, Amazon, or different company polluters to maneuver their air pollution into space. They’re asking for issues like extra electric delivery vehicles on the highway, a a lot lighter raise than determining the way to develop trade in space. They’re asking for the air pollution to cease within the first place, and for billionaires to cease engineering new “sacrifice zones.”

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