Male billionaires in rockets won't solve the climate emergency

Jun 30, 2021

Apparently people believe that going to space will CHANGE Jeff Bezos.

As you know the Amazon founder is flying to space this month.

“If you see the earth from space, it changes you” Bezos has said.

He is referring to what’s called the “overview effect”.

Many astronauts have reported how seeing the earth as a pale blue dot just hanging there in the infinite darkness TRANSFORMED them. Earth looked fragile. The only home we have ever known in the vast emptiness, protected only by a thin atmosphere…

THIS is what Jeff Bezos wants to experience.

Basically, the richest man in the world is shooting himself out into space in order to experience his own VULNERABILITY (through seeing our collective vulnerability as a species).

Now, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just give Brené Brown a call?

Yes, it would.

(I checked!)

Brené Brown’s speaking fees are 90,000 dollars. Compared to 28 million for a seat on Blue Origin’s rocket that’s a BARGAIN. Bezos could probably hire Brené to talk nonstop at him for 19 days for the price of that 11 minute space flight!

(And if she needed a bathroom break, he could give her one of those bottles that Amazon workers apparently have to urinate in sometimes because of the poor working conditions).

BUT there’s something else going on here.

People are hoping that when Bezos sees earth from space it will indeed CHANGE him.

They have hopes it might make him less inclined to exploit workers and more interested in using his vast wealth to find solutions to the climate emergency.

Now why is that?

It has to do with something I talk about in my book Mother of Invention. Our tendency to see nature as “female” and technology as “male”.

Our notions of womanhood and nature are linked. For centuries we have taught ourselves to think of nature as feminine. “Mother Nature” is a woman.

So is “Mother Earth”.

And what is a woman in a patriarchal society?

Someone subordinated to men!

Today, technology is given precedence over the natural world, in the same way that the qualities we perceive as ‘male’ are given precedence over those we regard as ‘female’.

WHICH IS A PROBLEM!

We have learned to think nature exists for human domination, just as women exist because Adam needed company and could forgo a rib. Then we have built an economy on these assumptions. It has created many problems for us, the climate emergency being the most pressing.

You have all read about the heatwaves, extreme drought, blackouts, buckled roads and wildfires. And that’s just this week! And all this in a part of the world that happens to receive more media attention than the parts of the world who are really struggling the most in the climate emergency.

Now the richest man in the world wants to go to space because “it changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity,” and we are all crossing our fingers hoping that he might be right. But what he is basically saying is that he needs to be able to OBJECTIFY mother earth in order to feel his love and responsibility for her. And that’s honestly a little bit f'*d up, isn’t it?

He wants to be mesmerised by her perfect round beauty as she hangs there in the emptiness. He wants to see her as beautiful and vulnerable, almost helpless, and then maybe he’ll be more inclined to protect her, we hope.

He is projecting his own vulnerability onto her in order to experience it. Now raise your hands all straight women who have been through this in a relationship!

IT IS NOT HEALTHY!

Few things are as tangled up in our ideas about gender as the climate emergency. It has to do with exactly this gendering of nature as “female” and the “female” as something to be subordinated to the “male” forces of technology.

I go into all of this more in my book Mother of Invention, for now let me just answer the question of this newsletter:

-No, Jeff Bezos will not change by going to space.

That’s it.

Happy Thursday!

Katrine

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