Jeff Bezos a Global Influencer I didn’t Vote for

In the public interest.

The concentration of wealth means influence. The public does not get to vote in these individuals yet they change our lives and the future of billions. He who owns the gold rules the world. Is that wise?

Jeff Bezos

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American engineer, entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Inc.
Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos at Amazon Spheres Grand Opening in Seattle - 2018 (39074799225) (cropped).jpg
Born
Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen

(1964-01-12) January 12, 1964 (age 56)
Education Princeton University (BS)
Occupation
  • Businessman
  • Media proprietor
  • Investor
  • Computer engineer
Years active 1986–present
Known for Founder of Amazon and Blue Origin
Net worth US$151.6 billion (May 2020)[1]
Title CEO and President of Amazon
Spouse(s)
MacKenzie Tuttle
(m. 1993; div. 2019)
Children 4

Jeffrey Preston Bezos (/ˈbzs/;[a][2]Jorgensen; born January 12, 1964) is an American industrialist, media proprietor, and investor. He is best known as the founder, CEO, and president of the online retail company Amazon. The first centi-billionaire on the Forbes wealth index, Bezos has been the world’s richest person since 2017 and was named the “richest man in modern history” after his net worth increased to $150 billion in July 2018.[3] In September 2018, Forbes described him as “far richer than anyone else on the planet” as he added $1.8 billion to his net worth when Amazon became the second company in history to reach a market cap of $1 trillion.

Born in Albuquerque and raised in Houston and later Miami, Bezos graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. He worked on Wall Street in a variety of related fields from 1986 to early 1994. He founded Amazon in late 1994 on a cross-country road trip from New York City to Seattle. The company began as an online bookstore and has since expanded to a wide variety of other e-commerce products and services, including video and audio streaming, cloud computing, and AI. It is currently the world’s largest online sales company, the largest Internet company by revenue, and the world’s largest provider of virtual assistants[4] and cloud infrastructure services through its Amazon Web Services branch.

Bezos founded the aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company Blue Origin in 2000. A Blue Origin test flight successfully first reached space in 2015, and the company has upcoming plans to begin commercial suborbital human spaceflight.[5] He also purchased the major American newspaper The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million in cash, and manages many other investments through his Bezos Expeditions venture capital firm.

Early life

Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 12, 1964, the son of Jacklyn (née Gise) and Ted Jorgensen.[6] At the time of his birth, his mother was a 17-year-old high school student and his father was a bike shop owner.[7] After his parents divorced, his mother married Cuban immigrant Miguel “Mike” Bezos in April 1968.[8] Shortly after the wedding, Mike adopted four-year-old Jorgensen, whose surname was then changed to Bezos.[9] The family moved to Houston, Texas, where Mike worked as an engineer for Exxon after he received a degree from the University of New Mexico.[10] Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary School in Houston from fourth to sixth grade.[11] Bezos’ maternal grandfather was Lawrence Preston Gise, a regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in Albuquerque.[12] Gise retired early to his family’s ranch near Cotulla, Texas, where Bezos would spend many summers in his youth.[10] Bezos would later purchase this ranch and expand it from 25,000 acres (10,117 ha) to 300,000 acres (121,406 ha).[13][14] His maternal grandmother was Mattie Louise Gise (née Strait), through whom he is a cousin of country singer George Strait.[15]

Bezos often displayed scientific interests and technological proficiency, and he once rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room.[16][17] The family moved to Miami, Florida, where Bezos attended Miami Palmetto High School in nearby Pinecrest, Florida.[18][19] While Bezos was in high school, he worked at McDonald’s as a short-order line cook during the breakfast shift.[20] He attended the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida. He was high school valedictorian, a National Merit Scholar,[21][22] and a Silver Knight Award winner in 1982.[21] In his graduation speech, Bezos told the audience he dreamed of the day when mankind would colonize space. A local newspaper quoted his intention “to get all people off the earth and see it turned into a huge national park”.[23] In 1986, he graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a 4.2 GPA and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) in electrical engineering and computer science; he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[24][25] In addition, he was elected to Tau Beta Pi and was the president of the Princeton chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).[26][27]

Business career

Early career

After Bezos graduated from Princeton University in 1986, he was offered jobs at Intel, Bell Labs, and Andersen Consulting, among others.[28] He first worked at Fitel, a fintech telecommunications start-up, where he was tasked with building a network for international trade.[29] Bezos was promoted to head of development and director of customer service thereafter.[30] He transitioned into the banking industry when he became a product manager at Bankers Trust. He worked there from 1988 to 1990.[30] He then joined D. E. Shaw & Co, a newly-founded hedge fund with a strong emphasis on mathematical modelling in 1990 and worked there until 1994. Bezos became D. E. Shaw’s fourth senior vice-president at the age of 30.[30][28]

Amazon

 
Bezos (center) at a cooperative for robotics in 2005

In late 1993, Bezos decided to establish an online bookstore.[31] He left his job at D. E. Shaw and founded Amazon in his garage on July 5, 1994, after writing its business plan on a cross-country drive from New York City to Seattle.[32][33] Bezos initially named his new company Cadabra but later changed the name to Amazon after the Amazon River in South America, in part because the name begins with the letter A, which is at the beginning of the alphabet.[34] He accepted an estimated $300,000 from his parents and invested in Amazon.[33] He warned many early investors that there was a 70% chance that Amazon would fail or go bankrupt.[35] Although Amazon was originally an online bookstore, Bezos had always planned to expand to other products.[30][34] Three years after Bezos founded Amazon, he took it public with an initial public offering (IPO).[36] In response to critical reports from Fortune and Barron’s, Bezos maintained that the growth of the Internet would overtake competition from larger book retailers such as Borders and Barnes & Noble.[34]

Bezos receives the James Smithson Bicentennial medal in 2016 for his work with Amazon.

In 1998, Bezos diversified into the online sale of music and video, and by the end of the year he had expanded the company’s products to include a variety of other consumer goods.[34] Bezos used the $54 million raised during the company’s 1997 equity offering to finance aggressive acquisition of smaller competitors.[34] In 2000, Bezos borrowed $2 billion from banks, as its cash balances dipped to only $350 million.[37] In 2002, Bezos led Amazon to launch Amazon Web Services, which compiled data from weather channels and website traffic.[34] In late 2002, rapid spending from Amazon caused it financial distress when revenues stagnated.[38] After the company nearly went bankrupt, he closed distribution centers and laid off 14% of the Amazon workforce.[37] In 2003, Amazon rebounded from financial instability and turned a profit of $400 million.[39] In November 2007, Bezos launched the Amazon Kindle.[40] According to a 2008 Time profile, Bezos wished to create a device that allowed a “flow state” in reading similar to the experience of video games.[41] In 2013, Bezos secured a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on behalf of Amazon Web Services.[42] In October of that year, Amazon was recognized as the largest online shopping retailer in the world.[43]

In May 2016, Bezos sold slightly more than one million shares of his holdings in the company for $671 million, the largest sum he had ever raised from selling some of his Amazon stock.[44] On August 4, 2016, Bezos sold another million of his shares for $756.7 million.[45] A year later, Bezos took on 130,000 new employees when he ramped up hiring at company distribution centers.[46] By January 19, 2018, his Amazon stock holdings had appreciated to slightly over $109 billion; months later he began to sell stock to raise cash for other enterprises, in particular, Blue Origin.[47] On January 29, 2018, he was featured in Amazon’s Super Bowl commercial.[48] On February 1, 2018, Amazon reported its highest ever profit with quarterly earnings of $2 billion.[49] Due to the growth of Alibaba in China, Bezos has often expressed interest in expanding Amazon into India.[50] On July 27, 2017, Bezos momentarily became the world’s wealthiest person over Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates when his estimated net worth increased to just over $90 billion. His wealth surpassed $100 billion for the first time on November 24, 2017, and he was formally designated the wealthiest person in the world by Forbes on March 6, 2018, with a net worth of $112 billion.[51]

 
Bezos in 2010

In March 2018, Bezos dispatched Amit Agarwal, Amazon’s global senior vice president, to India with $5.5 billion to localize operations throughout the company’s supply chain routes.[52] Later in the month, U.S. President Donald Trump accused Amazon–and Bezos, specifically–of sales tax avoidance, misusing postal routes, and anti-competitive business practices.[53] Amazon’s share price fell by 9% in response to the President’s negative comments; this reduced Bezos’s personal wealth by $10.7 billion.[54] Weeks later, Bezos recouped his losses when academic reports out of Stanford University indicated that Trump could do little to regulate Amazon in any meaningful way.[55] During July 2018, a number of members of the U.S. Congress called on Bezos to detail the applications of Amazon’s face recognition software, Rekognition.[56] Additionally, statements by the Trump administration, in favor of overturning the antitrust law known as the Paramount Decree, have been predicted to help Amazon acquire the Landmark Theaters chain.[57]

Criticism of Amazon’s business practices continued in September 2018 when Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act and accused Amazon of receiving corporate welfare.[58] This followed revelations by the non-profit group New Food Economy which found that one third of Amazon workers in Arizona, and one tenth of Amazon workers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, relied on food stamps.[59] While preparing to introduce the bill, Sanders opined: “Instead of attempting to explore Mars or go to the moon, how about Jeff Bezos pays his workers a living wage?”[60] He later said: “Bezos could play a profound role. If he said today, nobody who is employed at Amazon will receive less than a living wage, it would send a message to every corporation in America.”[61] Sanders’s efforts elicited a response from Amazon which pointed to the 130,000 jobs it created in 2017 and called the $28,446 figure for its median salary “misleading” as it included part-time workers.[62] However, Sanders countered that the companies targeted by his proposal have placed an increased focus on part-time workers to escape benefit obligations.[63] On October 2, 2018, Bezos announced a company-wide wage increase, which Sanders applauded.[64] The American workers who were being paid the minimum wage had this increased to $15 per hour – a decision that was interpreted as support for the Fight for $15 movement.[65]

Blue Origin

Bezos giving NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver (fourth from left) a tour of Blue Origin’s crew capsule in 2011.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter meets with Bezos in 2016 at The Pentagon.

In September 2000, Bezos founded Blue Origin, a human spaceflight startup company.[66] Bezos has long expressed an interest in space travel and the development of human life in the solar system.[22] He was the valedictorian when he graduated from high school in 1982. His speech was followed up with a Miami Herald interview in which he expressed an interest to build and develop hotels, amusement parks, and colonies for human beings who were in orbit.[67] The 18-year-old Bezos stated that he wanted to preserve Earth from overuse through resource depletion.[68]

After its founding, Blue Origin maintained a low profile until 2006, when it purchased a large tract of land in West Texas for a launch and test facility.[69] After the company gained the public’s attention during the late 2000s, Bezos additionally indicated his interest in reducing the cost of space travel for humans while also increasing the safety of extraterrestrial travel.[70] In September 2011, one of the company’s unmanned prototype vehicles crashed during a short-hop test flight. Although the crash was viewed as a setback, news outlets noted how far the company went from its founding-to-date in advancing spaceflight.[71] In May 2013, Bezos met with Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Galactic, to discuss commercial spaceflight opportunities and strategies.[72] He has been compared to Branson and Elon Musk as all three are billionaires who prioritize spaceflight among their business interests.[73]

In 2015, Bezos announced that a new orbital launch vehicle was under development and would make its first flight in the late-2010s.[74] Later in November, Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully rocketed into space and reached its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a vertical landing back at the launch site in West Texas. In 2016, Bezos allowed select journalists to visit, tour, and photograph his facility.[75] He has repeatedly called for increased inter-space energy and industrial manufacturing to decrease the negative costs associated with business-related pollution.[76]

In December 2017, New Shepard successfully flew and landed dummy passengers, amending and pushing its human space travel start date into late 2018.[77] To execute this program, Blue Origin built six of the vehicles to support all phases of testing and operations: no-passenger test flights, flights with test passengers, and commercial-passenger weekly operations.[78] Since 2016, Bezos has spoken more freely about his hopes to colonize the solar system, and has been selling $1 billion in Amazon stock each year to capitalize Blue Origin in an effort to support this endeavor.[79][80] In May 2018, Bezos maintained that the primary goal of Blue Origin is to preserve the natural resources of Earth by making the human species multi-planetary.[81] He announced that New Shepard would begin transporting humans into sub-orbital space by November 2018.[81] In July 2018, it was announced that Bezos had priced commercial spaceflight tickets from $200,000 to $300,000 per person.[82]

The Washington Post

On August 5, 2013, Bezos announced his purchase of The Washington Post for $250 million in cash.[83] To execute the sale, he established Nash Holdings, a limited liability holding company that legally owns the paper.[84] The sale closed on October 1, 2013, and Nash Holdings took control.[85] In March 2014, Bezos made his first significant change at The Washington Post and lifted the online paywall for subscribers of a number of U.S. local newspapers in Texas, Hawaii, and Minnesota.[86] In January 2016, Bezos set out to reinvent the newspaper as a media and technology company by reconstructing its digital media, mobile platforms, and analytics software.[87] Throughout the early years of ownership, Bezos was accused of having a potential conflict of interest with the paper.[88] Bezos and the newspaper’s editorial board have dismissed accusations that he unfairly controlled the paper’s content and Bezos maintains the paper’s independence.[89][90] After a surge in online readership in 2016, the paper was profitable for the first time since Bezos made the purchase in 2013.[90]

Bezos Expeditions

Bezos makes personal investments through his venture capital vehicle, Bezos Expeditions.[91] He was one of the first shareholders in Google, when he invested $250,000 in 1998. That $250,000 investment resulted in 3.3 million shares of Google stock, worth about $3.1 billion in 2017.[92][93] He also invested in Unity Biotechnology, a life-extension research firm hoping to slow or stop the process of aging.[94] Bezos is involved in the healthcare sector, which includes investments in Unity Biotechnology, Grail, Juno Therapeutics, and ZocDoc.[95] In January 2018, an announcement was made concerning Bezos’s role within a new, unnamed healthcare company. This venture, later named Haven, is expected to be a partnership between Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway.[96][97]

Bezos also supports philanthropic efforts through direct donations and non-profit projects funded by Bezos Expeditions.[98] Bezos used Bezos Expeditions to fund several philanthropic projects, including an Innovation center at the Seattle Museum of History and Industry and the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics at Princeton Neuroscience Institute.[99][100] In 2013, Bezos Expeditions funded the recovery of two Saturn V first-stage Rocketdyne F-1 engines from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.[101] They were positively identified as belonging to the Apollo 11 mission’s S-1C stage from July 1969.[102][103] The engine is currently on display at the Seattle Museum of Flight.[104][105]

Public image

Journalist Nellie Bowles of The New York Times has described the public persona and personality of Bezos as that of “a brilliant but mysterious and coldblooded corporate titan”.[106] During the 1990s, Bezos earned a reputation for relentlessly pushing Amazon forward, often at the expense of public charity and social welfare.[106][107] His business practices projected a public image of prudence and parsimony with his own wealth and that of Amazon. Bezos was a multi-billionaire who hung his clothes on a rack in his Amazon headquarters office and drove a 1996 Honda Accord.[108] Throughout the early 2000s, he was perceived to be geeky or nerdy.[109][110][111]

Bezos was seen by some as needlessly quantitative and data-driven.[112][113] This perception was detailed by Alan Deutschman who described him as “talking in lists” and “[enumerating] the criteria, in order of importance, for every decision he has made.”[109] Select accounts of his persona have drawn controversy and public attention. Notably, journalist Brad Stone wrote an unauthorized book that described Bezos as a demanding boss as well as hyper-competitive.[107][112] Bezos has been characterized as a notoriously opportunistic CEO who operates with little concern for obstacles and externalities.[114][115]

During the early 2010s, Bezos solidified his reputation for aggressive business practices, and his public image began to shift. Bezos started to wear tailored clothing; he weight trained, pursued a regimented diet and began to freely spend his money.[116] His physical transformation has been compared to the transformation of Amazon; he is often referred to as the metonym of the company.[117][118] His physical appearance increased the public’s perception of him as a symbolically dominant figure in business and in popular culture, wherein he has been parodied as an enterprising super villain.[119][120][121] Since 2017, he has been portrayed by Kyle Mooney and Steve Carell on Saturday Night Live, usually as an undercutting, domineering figure.[122] Bezos eats exotic foods, such as octopus and roasted iguana.[123][124][125] In May 2014, the International Trade Union Confederation named Bezos the “World’s Worst Boss”, with its general secretary Sharan Burrow saying: “Jeff Bezos represents the inhumanity of employers who are promoting the North American corporate model.”[126] During the late 2010s, Bezos reversed his reputation for being reluctant to spend money on non-business-related expenses.[13] His relative lack of philanthropy compared to other billionaires has drawn a negative response from the public since 2016.[127][13] Bezos has been known to publicly contest claims made in critical articles, as exemplified in 2015 when he sent a memo to employees denouncing a New York Times piece.[128][129]

Leadership style

“Day 1” Management Philosophy
Day 1: start up
Day 2: stasis
Day 3: irrelevance
Day 4: “excruciating, painful decline”
Day 5: death

Bezos has stated “it is always Day 1” to describe his growth mindset.[130][131]

Bezos used what he called a “regret-minimization framework” while he worked at D. E. Shaw and again during the early years of Amazon.[132] He described this life philosophy by stating: “When I’m 80, am I going to regret leaving Wall Street? No. Will I regret missing the beginning of the Internet? Yes.”[132] During the 1990s and early 2000s at Amazon, he was characterized as trying to quantify all aspects of running the company, often listing employees on spreadsheets and basing executive decisions on data.[133] To push Amazon forward, Bezos developed the mantra “Get Big Fast”, which spoke to the company’s need to scale its operations and establish market dominance.[34] He favored diverting Amazon profits back into the company in lieu of allocating it amongst shareholders in the form of dividends.[109]

Bezos uses the term “work–life harmony” instead of the more standard work–life balance because he believes balance implies that you can have one and not the other.[134] He believes that work and home life are interconnected, informing and calibrating each other.[134] Journalist Walt Mossberg dubbed the idea that someone who cannot tolerate criticism or critique shouldn’t do anything new or interesting “The Bezos Principle“.[135] Bezos does not schedule early morning meetings and enforces a two-pizza rule–a preference for meetings to be small enough to where two pizzas can feed everyone in the board room.[136] When interviewing candidates for jobs at Amazon he has stated he considers three inquiries: can he admire the person, can the person raise the common standard, and under what circumstances could the person become exemplary.[137]

He meets with Amazon investors for a total of only six hours a year.[136] Instead of using PowerPoints, Bezos requires high-level employees to present information with six-page narratives.[138] Starting in 1998, Bezos publishes an annual letter for Amazon shareholders wherein he frequently refers to five principles: focus on customers not competitors, take risks for market leadership, facilitate staff morale, build a company culture, and empower people.[139][140] Bezos maintains the email address “jeff@amazon.com” as an outlet for customers to reach out to him and the company.[141] Although he does not respond to the emails, he forwards some of them with a question mark in the subject line to executives who attempt to address the issues.[141] Bezos has cited Warren Buffett (of Berkshire Hathaway), Jamie Dimon (of JPMorgan Chase), and Bob Iger (of Walt Disney) as major influences on his leadership style.[142]

Recognition

Wealth

Annual estimates of Jeff Bezos’s net worth[b]
Year Billions Change Year Billions Change
1999 10.1 Steady 0.0% 2009 6.8 Decrease 17.7%
2000 6.1 Decrease 40.5% 2010 12.6 Increase 85.2%
2001 2.0 Decrease 66.6% 2011 18.1 Increase 43.6%
2002 1.5 Decrease 25.0% 2012 23.2 Increase 28.2%
2003 2.5 Increase 66.6% 2013 28.9 Increase 24.5%
2004 5.1 Increase 104.0% 2014 30.5 Increase 5.5%
2005 4.1 Decrease 5.8% 2015 50.3 Increase 60.9%
2006 4.3 Decrease 10.4% 2016 45.2 Decrease 10.1%
2007 8.7 Increase 102.3% 2017 72.8 Increase 61.6%
2008 8.2 Decrease 5.7% 2018 112.0 Increase 53.8%
Main data source: Forbes World’s Billionaires Estimates
Additional reference(s): Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Bezos first became a millionaire in 1997 after raising $54 million through Amazon’s initial public offering (IPO).[156] He was first included on the Forbes World’s Billionaires list in 1999 with a registered net worth of $10.1 billion.[157] His net worth decreased to $6.1 billion a year later, a 40.5% drop.[158] His wealth plummeted even more the following year, dropping 66.6% to $2.0 billion.[159] He lost $500 million the following year, which brought his net worth down to $1.5 billion.[160] The following year, his net worth increased by 104% to $2.5 billion.[161] From 2005 to 2007, he quadrupled his net worth to $8.7 billion.[162] After the financial crisis and succeeding economic recession, his net worth would decrease to $6.8 billion—a 17.7% drop.[163][164] His wealth rose by 85.2% in 2010, leaving him with $12.6 billion. This percentage increase ascended him to the 43rd spot on the ranking from 68th.[163][165]

After a rumor broke out that Amazon was developing a smartphone, Bezos’s net worth rose to $30.5 billion in 2014.[166][167] A year later, Bezos entered the top ten when he increased his net worth to a total of $50.3 billion.[168] Bezos rose to be the 5th richest person in the world hours before market close; he gained $7 billion in one hour.[168] By the time the Forbes list was calculated in March 2016, his net worth was registered at $45.2 billion.[169] However, just months later in October 2016, his wealth increased by $16.2 billion to $66.5 billion unofficially ranking him the third richest person in the world behind Warren Buffett.[170] After sporadic jumps in Amazon’s share price, in July 2017 he briefly unseated Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates as the wealthiest person in the world.[171]

 
The net worth of Jeff Bezos from 1999 to 2018 as estimated by Forbes magazine, in the nominal U.S. dollar. His net worth is calculated in the billions by March of each year.

Bezos would continue to sporadically surpass Gates throughout the month of October 2017 after Amazon’s share price fluctuated.[172] His net worth surpassed $100 billion for the first time on November 24, 2017, after Amazon’s share price increased by more than 2.5%.[173] When the 2017 list was issued, Bezos’s net worth was registered at $72.8 billion, adding $27.6 billion from the previous year.[174] Bezos was officially ranked as the third wealthiest person in the world up from the 5th spot in 2016.[174] His wealth’s rapid growth from 2016 to 2017 sparked a variety of assessments about how much money Bezos earned on a controlled, reduced time scale. On October 10, 2017, he made an estimated $6.24 billion in 5 minutes, slightly less than the annual Gross Domestic Product of Kyrgyzstan.[175]

On March 6, 2018, Bezos was officially designated the wealthiest person in the world with a registered net worth of $112 billion.[176] He unseated Bill Gates ($90 billion) who was $6 billion ahead of Warren Buffett ($84 billion), ranked third.[177] He is considered the first registered centi-billionaire (not adjusted for inflation).[c]

His wealth, in 2017–18 terms, equaled that of 2.7 million Americans.[183] Bezos’s net worth increased by $33.6 billion from January 2017 to January 2018. This increase outstripped the economic development (in GDP terms) of more than 96 countries around the world.[184] During March 9, Bezos earned $230,000 every 60 seconds.[185] The Motley Fool estimated that if Bezos had not sold any of his shares from its original public offering in 1997, his net worth would sit at $181 billion in 2018.[186] According to Quartz, his net worth of $150 billion in July 2018 was enough to purchase the entire stock markets of Nigeria, Hungary, Egypt, Luxembourg, and Iran.[187] Following the report by Quartz, Amazon workers in Poland, (Germany), and Spain participated in demonstrations and labor strikes to draw attention to his growing wealth and the lack of compensation, labor rights, and satisfactory working conditions of select Amazon workers.[188] On July 17, 2018 he was designated the “wealthiest person in modern history”[d] by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index,[191] Fortune,[192] MarketWatch,[193] The Wall Street Journal,[194] and Forbes.[190]

In 2019, Bezos’s wealth was reduced by his divorce from his wife MacKenzie Bezos.[195][196] According to Forbes, had the Washington state common law applied to their divorce without a prenuptial agreement, Bezos’s wealth could have been equitably divided with his ex-wife,[197][198] however she eventually received 25% of Bezos’s Amazon shares, valued at approximately $36 billion, making her the third richest woman in the world. Bezos retained his interest in The Washington Post and Blue Origin, as well as voting control of the shares received by his ex-wife.[199]

In June 2019, Bezos purchased three adjoining apartments overlooking Madison Square Park in Manhattan, including a penthouse, for a combined total of US$80 million, making this one of the most expensive real estate purchases within New York City in 2019.[200]

In February 2020, Bezos purchased the Warner Estate from David Geffen for $165 million,[201][202] a record price paid for a residence in the Los Angeles area. The previous record high price of $150 million was paid by Lachlan Murdoch.[201] During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reported that Bezos’ fortune had grown by $24bn, citing a surge in demand from households on lockdown shopping on Amazon.[203]

Personal life

In 1992, Bezos was working for D. E. Shaw in Manhattan when he met novelist MacKenzie Tuttle, who was a research associate at the firm; the couple married a year later.[30][204] In 1994, they moved across the country to Seattle, Washington, where Bezos founded Amazon.[205] Bezos and his now ex-wife MacKenzie are the parents of four children: three sons, and one daughter adopted from China.[68][206]

In March 2003, Bezos was one of three passengers in a helicopter that crashed in West Texas after the craft’s tail boom hit a tree.[207] Bezos sustained minor injuries and was discharged from a local hospital the same day.[25]

In 2016, Bezos played a Starfleet official in the movie Star Trek Beyond, and joined the cast and crew at a San Diego Comic-Con screening.[208] He had lobbied Paramount for the role and apropos of Alexa and his personal/professional interest in speech recognition. His one line consisted of a response to an alien in distress: “Speak Normally.” In his initial discussion of the project which became Alexa with his technical advisor Greg Hart in 2011, Bezos told him that the goal was to create “the Star Trek computer.” [209]

On January 9, 2019, Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announced on Twitter their intent to divorce after a “long period” of separation.[210][211][212] On April 4, 2019, the divorce was finalized, with Bezos keeping 75% of the couple’s Amazon stock and MacKenzie getting the remaining 25% ($35.6 billion) in Amazon stock. However, Bezos would keep all of the couple’s voting rights.[213]

On February 7, 2019, Bezos published an online essay in which he accused American Media, Inc. owner David Pecker of “extortion and blackmail” for threatening to publish intimate photos of Bezos and Lauren Sánchez, if he did not stop his investigation into how his text messages and other photos had been leaked to the National Enquirer.[214][215]

Politics

 
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi presenting the USIBC Global Leadership Award to Bezos, in Washington, D.C. on June 7, 2016

According to public campaign finance records, Bezos supported the electoral campaigns of Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, two Democratic U.S. senators from Washington. He has also supported U.S. representative John Conyers, as well as Patrick Leahy and Spencer Abraham, U.S. senators serving on committees dealing with Internet-related issues.[216] Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos have supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, and in 2012 contributed $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage, a group supporting a yes vote on Washington Referendum 74, which affirmed a same-sex marriage law enacted in the state.[217] Bezos donated $100,000 towards a movement against a Washington state income tax in 2010 for “top earners.” [216] In 2012, he donated to Amazon’s political action committee (PAC),[216] which has given $56,000 and $74,500 to Democrats and Republicans, respectively.[218]

After the 2016 presidential election, Bezos was invited to join Donald Trump‘s Defense Innovation Advisory Board, an advisory council to improve the technology used by the Defense Department. Bezos declined the offer without further comment.[42][219] Trump has repeatedly attacked Bezos via Twitter, accused Bezos of avoiding corporate taxes, gaining undue political influence, and undermining his presidency by spreading “fake news.”[220][221] Bezos has repeatedly joked about using his rocket company to send Donald Trump into outer space.[222][223]

In 2014, Amazon won a bid for a cloud computing contract with the CIA valued at $600 million.[224] A 2018, $10 billion contract known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project, this time with the Pentagon, was allegedly written up in a way that favors Amazon.[225] Controversy over this was raised when General James Mattis accepted a headquarters tour invitation from Bezos and co-ordinated the deal through Sally Donnelly, a lobbyist who previously worked for Amazon.[226] In November 2019, when the contract was awarded to Microsoft instead, Amazon filed a lawsuit with allegations that the bidding process was biased.[227][228] Despite Bezos’s support for an open borders policy towards immigrants, Amazon has actively marketed facial recognition software to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).[229]

In 2019, a political action committee linked to Bezos spent over $1 million in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat activist Kshama Sawant in Seattle’s city council election.[230]

Saudi hacking claim

In March 2018, Bezos met in Seattle with Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, to discuss investment opportunities for Saudi Vision 2030.[231] In March 2019, Bezos’s security consultant accused the Saudi government of hacking Bezos’s phone. According to BBC, Bezos’s top security staffer, Gavin de Becker, “linked the hack to the Washington Post’s coverage of the murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.” Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and dissident was employed as a writer at the Washington Post, owned by Bezos. Khashoggi was killed in late 2018, in Turkey’s Saudi consulate for his critical stance and journalism against the Saudi government and its leader.[232]

On January 2020, The Guardian reported that hack was initiated before the murder but after Khashoggi wrote critically about the crown prince in the Washington Post. Forensic analysis of Bezos’s mobile phone conducted by advisory firm FTI Consulting, concluded it “highly probable” that the hack was achieved using a malicious file hidden in a video sent in a WhatsApp message to Bezos from the personal account of the crown prince on May 1, 2018.[233][234] Saudi Arabia has denied the claim.[235]

Philanthropy

 
Bezos funded the retrieval of these F-1 engine parts from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 2015, eventually donating them to the Seattle Museum of Flight. They are from Apollo 16 (above) and Apollo 12 (below).

Bezos donated to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center several times between 2009 and 2017.[236] In 2013, he pledged $500,000 to Worldreader, a non-profit founded by a former Amazon employee.[237]

In September 2018, Business Insider reported that Bezos was the only one of the top five billionaires in the world who had not signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages wealthy people to give away a majority of their wealth.[238] That same month, Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Foundation Center, was quoted by CNBC as having questions about Bezos’ new fund, including the fund’s structure and how exactly it will be funded.[239]

On May 23, 2017, Bezos gave $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which provides pro bono legal services for American journalists.[240] On June 15, 2017, he posted a message on Twitter asking for ideas for philanthropy: “I’m thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time—working on the long term”.[13] At the time of the post, Bezos’s lifetime spending on charitable causes was estimated to be $100 million.[13] Multiple journalists responded by asking Bezos to pay higher wages to Amazon warehouse workers.[241][242] A year later in June, he tweeted that he would announce two philanthropic foci by the end of summer 2018.[243] Bezos announced in September 2018 that he would commit approximately $2 billion to a fund to deal with American homelessness and establish a network of non-profit preschools for low income communities.[244] As part of this announcement, he committed to establishing the “Day 1 Families Fund” to finance “night shelters and day care centers for homeless families” and the “Day 1 Academies Fund” for early childhood education.[245][246]

In January 2018, Bezos made a $33 million donation to TheDream.US, a college scholarship fund for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors.[247] In June 2018, Bezos donated to Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a private philanthropic fund founded by Bill Gates aimed at promoting emissions-free energy.[248] In September 2018, Bezos donated $10 million to With Honor, a nonpartisan organization that works to increase the number of veterans in political office.[249]

On February 17, 2020, Jeff Bezos pledged $10 billion to combat climate change through the Bezos Earth Fund.[250] Bezos also donated $100 million to food banks through Feeding America during the COVID-19 pandemic; critics pointed out that this represented less than 0.1% of his fortune during a time Amazon was seeing growth in sales.[251][252][253]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ BAY-zohss
  2. ^ All currency figures expressed in the United States dollar (US$) in nominal terms.
  3. ^ Although Bill Gates momentarily surpassed the $100 billion net worth mark in April 1999 before the Dot-com bubble,[178] Bezos was the first to register $100 billion with major wealth indexes and has retained the wealth for longer than Gates’s three weeks.[179][180][181][182]
  4. ^ Many calculations of Bezos’s wealth during the late 2010s were not adjusted for inflation. When he was designated the “world wealthiest person” on March 6, 2018, the Forbes The World’s Billionaires list stipulated that although Bezos was the first centi-billionaire (i.e. +US$100 billion in net worth), it was Bill Gates who had the most money when taken in real terms.[189] In such terms, Gates had $150 billion while Bezos had $100 billion. However, in July 2018, the net worth of Bezos officially surpassed the $150 billion mark, which led most major wealth indexes to label him the wealthiest person in modern history (post-1982).[190]

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  217. ^ Porterfield, Elaine (July 28, 2012). “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, wife, make $2.5 million donation for gay marriage”. Reuters. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
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  221. ^ Stevens, Laura; Nicholas, Peter (April 9, 2018). “Slammed by Trump, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Chooses Silence”. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  222. ^ Kosoff, Maya. “Why Jeff Bezos Is Dumping Cash into Trump’s Swamp”. The Hive. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
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Sources

  • Robinson, Tom (2010). Jeff Bezos: Amazon.com Architect. ABDO Publishing. ISBN 9781604537598.

Further reading

External links

%MCEPASTEBIN%

The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI), the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines

in the public interest. I have concerns about vaccines for profit.

There are schools of thought who believe our population is too big. In my view the issue is population and who gets to choose who lives who dies?

Paul Ralph Ehrlich (born May 29, 1932) is an American biologist, best known for his warnings about the consequences of population growth and limited resources.[2][3] He is the Bing Professor of Population Studies of the Department of Biology of Stanford University and president of Stanford’s Center for Conservation Biology.

Ehrlich became well known for his controversial 1968 book The Population Bomb, in which he famously stated that “[i]n the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”[4][5] Among the solutions he suggested in that book was population control, including “various forms of coercion” such as eliminating “tax benefits for having additional children,”[6] to be used if voluntary methods were to fail. Ehrlich has been criticized for his opinions; for example, Ronald Bailey termed Ehrlich an “irrepressible doomster”.[7] Ehrlich has acknowledged that some of what he predicted has not occurred, but maintains that his predictions about disease and climate change were essentially correct and that human overpopulation is a major problem.[8

Wel­come

The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI), the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, in Langen near Frankfurt/Main is a senior federal authority reporting to the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG). It is responsible for the research, assessment, and marketing authorisation of biomedicines for human use and immunological veterinary medicinal products. Its remit also includes the authorisation of clinical trials and pharmacovigilance, i.e. recording and evaluation of potential adverse effects.

Entrance of the institute with head of Paul Ehrlich (Source: Morgenroth/Paul-Ehrlich-Institut)

Other duties of the institute include official batch control, scientific advice and inspections. In-house experimental research in the field of biomedicines and life science form an indispensable basis for the manifold tasks performed at the institute.

The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, with its roughly 800 members of staff, also has advisory functions nationally (federal government, federal states (Länder)), and internationally (World Health Organisation, European Medicines Agency, European Commission, Council of Europe etc.).

Updated: 21.11.2019

(Prophylactic) vaccines are medicines that activate the immune system for the protection from infectious diseases.

Vaccines for Human (Source: Witthaya Prasongsin/Cultura/Getty Images)

In Germany, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI) is responsible for vaccines and monitors their quality, efficacy, and safety.

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Coro­n­avirus SARS-CoV-2

Fundamental research, testing and research of viral vaccines, safety of biomedicines – these are tasks of the experts at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut. In this section on the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, you will find an overview of the facts and answers to questions on vaccine development against the virus.

Coronavirus Illustration (SARS-CoV-2) (Source: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS)

NEW | Audio Podcast of the German Federal Government on Vaccine Development with Professor Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, from 05.05.2020 (German only)

Coronavirus - Federal Government Podcast - Professor Klaus Cichutek on the progress in vaccines (Source: Bundespresseamt)

Coronavirus – Federal Government Podcast

Professor Klaus Cichutek on the progress in vaccines (German only)Audio Player00:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.

Professor Klaus Cichutek explains – Coronavirus vaccine

Professor Klaus Cichutek explains

Coronavirus vaccine (German only) (Source: Federal Ministry of Health)Video Player

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Professor Klaus Cichutek explains why a vaccine for combating the coronavirus is so urgently needed and how vaccine development works.

Press Briefing: Authorisation of the first clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine

Recording Press Briefing

Part 1: Presentations (German only)Video Player

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Recording Press Briefing

Part 2: Questions and Answers (German only)Video Player

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Alternative links (Youtube)
Recording Press Briefing 22 April 2020 – Part 1 (German only)
Recording Press Briefing 22 April 2020 – Part 2 (German only)Presentation | Prof. Dr. Klaus Cichutek, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut – Authorisation of the first clinical trial from the perspective of the regulator (22 April 2020)FAQ | Paul-Ehrlich-Institut Press Briefing (22 April 2020)Presentation | Professor Dr Ugur Sahin – BioNTech – BNT162 COVID-19 Vaccines: Development Programme (22 April 2020)

Where can I get information about a participation in the clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine?

In Germany, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, authorises clinical trials of vaccines and approves the trials if the data situation is positive. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut is not involved in the recruitment of study participants. This is the responsibility of the respective applicant, who has the relevant information (e.g. place of performance).

Audio Podcast of the Ärzte Zeitung on Vaccine Development with Professor Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, from 17.03.2020 (German only)

Coronavirus

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Expert Video – In conversation with the virologist Professor Eberhard Hildt

Coronavirus

Expert Video with Professor Dr Eberhard Hildt, Virologist (in German)Video Player

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Background Information about the Novel Coronavirus – Facts and Figures

Download (As of: 06.03.2020)

Coronavirus and Safety of Biomedicines

How safe are blood, blood products and stem cell preparations in the context of SARS-CoV-2?

Based on experience with other coronavirus infections (SARS and MERS) and other viruses that lead to respiratory infections, the risk of transfusion-related transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is considered to be unfounded based on current knowledge. An examination of infected people with and without symptoms confirms this assessment. At the same time, if SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread, there is a risk of a shortage of blood components unless sufficient blood continues to be donated.

The haemotherapy directive, which defines the donor selection criteria, routinely stipulates the measurement of body temperature and an infection-related questioning of those who are willing to donate in order to exclude persons with febrile illnesses from blood donation. Therefore, people with symptoms of infection, even if they are minor, will in any case be deferred from donating blood.

Due to the current situation worldwide, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut is cancelling the recommendation of 10th February 10th 2020, to defer especially returning travelers from China to donate blood, plasma or stem cells. The deferral periods due to other infectious agents such as malaria, chikungunya and WNV remain unchanged. In addition, the recommended deferral periods for SARS-CoV-2 at this time will be adapted according to the current state of knowledge. This means that people willing to donate are deferred for at least 4 weeks after complete recovery for their own protection in accordance with the requirements of the haemotherapy directive.

Persons with a direct contact to SARS-CoV-2 infected as well as to COVID-19 sufferers will be deferred for at least 2 weeks after the last contact. This recommendation is in line with the recommendations of the ECDC for donor selection and with the recommendation of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on home quarantine after contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Exceptions for medical personnel can be made under the responsibility of donor doctors. The donor selection criteria mentioned ensure that blood, plasma and stem cell products of high quality can be obtained.

In order to enable the supply of a sufficient amount of blood components even during the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the PEI expressly points out that people willing to donate who had no contact with SARS-CoV-2 people and with no flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) should continue to donate blood.

As part of its responsibility, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut is available to answer questions regarding safety issues as well as measures to ensure supply of blood, plasma and stem cell products.

The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut will inform the blood donation facilities and the public as soon as new findings regarding the SARS-CoV-2 endemic and blood safety are available.

How safe are tissue preparations in the context of SARS-CoV-2?

A transmission of respiratory viruses by implantation, transplantation, infusion or transfer of human cells or tissues has not yet been described. The potential for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through tissue preparations is currently unknown.

No cases of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via tissue preparations have been reported.

Clinical signs of infection in tissue donors are already being recorded as part of routine screening measures.

In principle, the eligibility for donation is assessed by a doctor (section 3 (1) and section 3 (2) TPG). Specific adjustments to donor screening and the donor eligibility-assessment process, including clinical evaluation and decision-making in specific cases, are at the discretion of the tissue establishment.

As there is currently no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted through the transplantation of tissue preparations, the PEI proposes the following precautionary measures:

  1. Exclusion of potential tissue donors upon contact with people with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection within 14 days before the donation
  2. Exclusion of potential tissue donors with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection within 14 days after completion of the recovery.

Contrary to the updated recommendations of the ECDC on donor selection from April 29, 2020, the recommendations of the PEI remain unchanged.

An obligatory screening test of deceased donors of tissue where no validated pathogen reduction method for enveloped viruses is used is currently not recommended due to the data available, analogous to the procedure for donating blood.
Tissue establishments can establish donor screening at any time that goes beyond the recommendations of the PEI.

Tissue preparations that undergo a validated pathogen reduction process for enveloped viruses are not affected by these precautionary risk-minimizing measures.

Further information on SARS-CoV-2 in relation to blood, blood products and stem cell preparations can be found in the publication by Corman et al, “SARS-CoV-2 asymptomatic and symptomatic patients and risk for transfusion transmission”. The Paul Ehrlich Institute press release “No virus detection in the blood of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 patients” and the SARS-Coronavirus 2 Announcement of the National Advisory Committee Blood (AK Blut) provides details on this.

The PEI continues to monitor the situation and will post updates as new information becomes available.

Updated: 14.05.2020

Bill Gates Dictatorial Digital Biotech

In the public interest.

Vandana Shiva a Physicist. I was somehow lead to this video, I feel it is significant.

I find it interesting when words like ‘conspiracy theorist’ come up when famous people are reframed critically. Do your own research and make your own decision.

This video is entitled ‘Bill Gates is continuing the work of Monsanto’, Vandana Shiva tells FRANCE 24

Vandana Shiva indicates this is a threat to democracy. Perhaps the real digital virus. She is a brave voice is this darkness. I wonder how history will view this period. Perhaps leaders will be seen as the former UK Prime Minister Chamberlain in the era of Hitler. I feel I’ve posted this before. That is a sign.

Will Paris climate promises will reduce temperatures by just 0.05°C in 2100?

In the public interest.

I am going with my gut feel here. It feels right. Apparently this academic was controversial and former University of Western Australia Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson supported this academic, Dr. Bjorn Lomborg.  It would be interesting to understand what the backlash was about in respect of the calculated  ineffectiveness of Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  I sense denial that they do not know how to solve the climate crisis that in my view is partly engineered and party natural.  Our footprint is so out of alignment with natural rebalancing and tipping points.

I believe we have to change fundamentally and consumption drives to the heart of the required change.

http://www.lomborg.com/press-release-research-reveals-negligible-impact-of-paris-climate-promises

Bjorn Lomborg

Get the facts straight

Paris climate promises will reduce temperatures by just 0.05°C in 2100 (Press release)

A new peer-reviewed paper by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg published in the Global Policy journal measures the actual impact of all significant climate promises made ahead of the Paris climate summit.

Governments have publicly outlined their post-2020 climate commitments in the build-up to the December’s meeting. These promises are known as “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs).

Dr. Lomborg’s research reveals:

  • The climate impact of all Paris INDC promises is minuscule: if we measure the impact of every nation fulfilling every promise by 2030, the total temperature reduction will be 0.048°C (0.086°F) by 2100.
  • Even if we assume that these promises would be extended for another 70 years, there is still little impact: if every nation fulfills every promise by 2030, and continues to fulfill these promises faithfully until the end of the century, and there is no ‘CO₂ leakage’ to non-committed nations, the entirety of the Paris promises will reduce temperature rises by just 0.17°C (0.306°F) by 2100.
  • US climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.031°C (0.057°F) by 2100.
  • EU climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.053°C (0.096°F) by 2100.
  • China climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.048°C (0.086°F) by 2100.
  • The rest of the world’s climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.036°C (0.064°F) by 2100.

Overview in Celsius and Fahrenheit by the year 2100

Figure

The global temperature change from pre-industrial, for the Do Nothing (RCP8.5) scenario, for the global promises for Paris and for Paris extended for 70 more years, as run on MAGICC.

Comments from Dr. Bjorn Lomborg

What does this mean for the Paris Summit?

Dr. Lomborg said: “Paris is being sold as the summit where we can help ‘heal the planet’ and ‘save the world’. It is no such thing. If all nations keep all their promises, temperatures will be cut by just 0.05°C (0.09°F). Even if every government on the planet not only keeps every Paris promise, reduces all emissions by 2030, and shifts no emissions to other countries, but also keeps these emission reductions throughout the rest of the century, temperatures will be reduced by just 0.17°C (0.3°F) by the year 2100.

And let’s be clear, that is very optimistic. Consider the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, never ratified by the US, and eventually abandoned by Canada and Russia and Japan. After several renegotiations, the Kyoto Protocol had been weakened to the point that the hot air left from the collapse of the Soviet Union exceeded the entire promised reductions, leaving the treaty essentially toothless.

The only reason Kyoto goals were almost achieved was the global 2008 recession.  Moreover, emissions were shifted from one country to another. The EU, the most climate-engaged bloc, saw an increase in its emission imports from China alone equaling its entire domestic CO₂ reductions. In total, 40% of all emissions were likely shifted away from the areas that made promises.

Negotiators in Paris are trying to tackle global warming in the same way that has failed for 30 years: by making promises that are individually expensive, will have little impact even in a hundred years and that many governments will try to shirk from.

This didn’t work in Kyoto, it didn’t work in Copenhagen, it hasn’t worked in the 18 other climate conferences or countless more international gatherings. The suggestion that it will make a large difference in Paris is wishful thinking.”

What should countries do instead?

Dr. Lomborg said: “Instead of trying to make fossil fuels so expensive that no one wants them – which will never work – we should make green energy so cheap everybody will shift to it.

The Copenhagen Consensus on Climate project gathered 27 of the world’s top climate economists and three Nobel Laureates, who found that the smartest, long-term climate policy is to invest in green R&D, to push down the price of green energy.

Subsidizing inefficient renewables is expensive and doesn’t work. The IEA estimates that we get 0.4% of our energy from wind and solar PV right now, and even in optimistic scenarios the fraction will only rise to 2.2% by 2040. Over the next 25 years, we’ll spend about $2.5 trillion in subsidies and reduce global warming temperatures by less than 0.02°C.

Copenhagen Consensus has consistently argued for a R&D-driven approach. Fortunately, more people are recognizing that this approach is cheaper and much more likely to succeed –including the Global Apollo Program which includes Sir David King, Lord Nicholas Stern, Lord Adair Turner and Lord John Browne.

You describe a 0.05°C reduction, but the UN Climate Chief, Christina Figueres, said Paris could lead to a 2.7°C rise instead of 4°C or 5°C. Why?

Christiana Figueres quote: “The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated four, five, or more degrees of warming projected by many prior to the INDCs.” 

Dr. Lomborg said: “That entirely misrepresents the world’s options. The 2.7°C comes from the International Energy Agency and essentially assumes that if governments do little in Paris and then right after 2030 embark on incredibly ambitious climate reductions, we could get to 2.7°C.

That way of thinking is similar to telling the deeply indebted Greeks that just making the first repayment on their most pressing loans will put them on an easy pathway to becoming debt-free. It completely misses the point.

Figueres’ own organization estimates the Paris promises will reduce emissions by 33Gt CO₂ in total. To limit rises to 2.7°C, about 3,000Gt CO₂ would need to be reduced – or about 100 times more than the Paris commitments (see figure below). That is not optimism; it is wishful thinking.

Background about the Paper

What does the paper do?

The peer-reviewed paper takes the greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments (INDCs) and runs a climate model with and without them. The paper uses the MAGICC climate model, which has been used across all five IPCC reports and was co-funded by the US EPA. It is run with standard parameters. Sensitivity analysis shows that different assumptions of climate sensitivity, carbon cycle model or scenario do not substantially change the outcome.

The paper uses the same basic methodology of Tom Wigley, who analyzed the Kyoto Protocol in a much-cited paper in 1998. As with Wigley, the approach:

  • Identifies the baseline of emissions
  • Extrapolates the climate policy throughout the 21st century
  • Runs the baseline and emissions through a climate model, evaluating the impact of the climate policy in terms of temperature rise reduction.
  • Performs a sensitivity analysis across models and scenarios.

The Lomborg paper uses the best baselines for the three major emission reducers (China, EU and US makes up almost 80%) and estimates the impact of the rest, including Canada, South Korea, Russia, Japan etc. from Boyd, Turner, and Ward (2015). The UNFCCC says in their summary report that the CO₂ equivalent reductions are between 0 and 7.5Gt with a 3.6Gt best estimate. Almost all models find similar numbers. This paper uses 6.8Gt, which is a very optimistic estimate for Paris.

Where is the paper published?

The peer-reviewed paper is published in the upcoming issue of Global Policy journal (November 2015). You can access the article online here.

Responses to Critiques

Response by Bjorn Lomborg to Bob Ward: Activism Dressed up as Science.
Response by Bjorn Lomborg to Joe Romm: Romm Critique of COP21 Impact Deeply Flawed.

Snowden, Contact Tracing and Architecture of Oppression

In the public interest. As we silently watch the dark clouds ascend rather than upload. It appears we never learn from his-story.

The emergency never ends. It is an endless war that knows not peace. This is not a situation that will improve, we will find more and more problems arising as our civil liberties are removed. This is about authoritarianism, definitely.

This won’t change until there is a change in consciousness. Perhaps the big questions arising may well awaken humanity to the greed of control that is not surveilling for health and wellbeing but potential threats as they have not sufficiently questioned their thinking and their rationale for this fear coupled with control to ensure power.

I note that Home Affairs, which is internal surveillance, is on the Coronavirus Commission. Tracking is a key issue. Tracking for what reason is my question?

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about-us/our-portfolios/emergency-management/about-emergency-management/national-coordination-mechanism

Snowden: Governments Using Pandemic to Build “Architecture of Oppression” Surveillance

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has expressed concerns about the coming surveillance program, calling it the “architecture of oppression.”

In addition to quarantines and lockdowns, some governments like those in China, Taiwan, and South Korea have been using a surveillance strategy called “contact tracing” to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While each country’s contact tracing program has slight variations, all of them are essentially cell phone apps that keep a running record of the user’s heath and the health records of all the people they come into contact with.

If a cell phone comes in close contact with someone who might have the virus, the user receives a text message informing them and then instructing them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

However, the quarantine is not necessarily voluntary, depending on where you live. In some countries, phones have been used as a sort of house arrest ankle-bracelet that will notify authorities if the person being monitored leaves the house for any reason.

These apps are being touted as the way to end the shut down in both Italy and the UK and it appears that officials are going to be taking things in that direction.

At face value, it may appear that this could be a useful strategy in preventing the spread of disease, but privacy advocates and tech experts are concerned that this information could be misused and that the unprecedented surveillance capabilities could be kept and held by corrupt governments long after the pandemic is over.

In a recent interview with Vice, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden expressed his concerns about the coming surveillance program, calling it the “architecture of oppression.”

“Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? That these datasets will not be kept? No matter how it is being used, what’ is being built is the architecture of oppression,” Snowden said.

Snowden recognized that the virus was a serious threat and said that the intelligence community was well aware that it was only a matter of time before a massive pandemic crippled the country, even back when he was working in the NSA.

“There is nothing more foreseeable as a public health crisis in a world where we are just living on top of each other in crowded and polluted cities, than a pandemic. And every academic, every researcher who’s looked at this knew this was coming. And in fact, even intelligence agencies, I can tell you firsthand, because they used to read the reports had been planning for pandemics,” he said.

Snowden questioned the positive numbers that have come out of China in recent weeks and pointed out that the Chinese government has been credited with reducing the spread of the illness because they took such draconian measures during the lockdown.

Perhaps their extreme strategy is not working as well as they say it is, but since the government maintained tight control of any information coming out of the country, it is impossible to say for sure.

“If you’re looking at countries like China, where cases seem to have leveled off, how much can we trust that those numbers are actually true? I don’t think we can. Particularly, we see the Chinese government recently working to expel Western journalists at precisely this moment where we need credible independent warnings in this region,” Snowden said.

In a statement published on Friday, Apple and Google announced that they were teaming up in a rare partnership to develop compatible contact tracing apps, which they claim will work on an “opt-in” basis.

However, according to Bloomberg, the companies are planning to eventually build the contact tracing into the device’s updates.

Apple and Google insist that you will still be able to opt-out of the program if you don’t want to participate, but it is possible that rankings on these apps could be used to gain entry into grocery stores or larger businesses and events once the economy opens up again.