Prince William has criticised billionaires involved in the space tourism race and suggested that the focus needs to be on fixing the environmental problems here on Earth.
The usually diplomatic royal made the uncharacteristic comments in a BBC interview aired Thursday, shortly after Star Trek star William Shatner’s highly publicised space flight aboard billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space shuttle.
Prince William called for the problems on Earth to be the focus and “not trying to find the next place to go and live”. “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet,” he said. “I think that ultimately is what sold it for me – that really it is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space, to try to think of solutions for the future.”
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) October 14, 2021
His comments come amid increasing competition between entrepreneurial figures such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who are dominating the newly emerging space tourism industry.
Blue Origin founder Bezos recently commented on his commitment to the environment and how his space travel ventures are linked to addressing climate change. In an interview with MSNBC shortly after his famous first visit to space he told reporters, “We live on this beautiful planet. You can’t imagine how thin the atmosphere is when you see it from space,” he said.
“We live in it, and it looks so big. It feels like, you know, this atmosphere is huge and we can disregard it and treat it poorly. When you get up there and you see it, you see how tiny it is and how fragile it is. Travelling to space reinforces my commitment to climate change, to the environment.”
The Duke of Cambridge has been outspoken lately on issues related to the environment, following in the footsteps of his father Prince Charles, who has for decades called for action on climate change, often being met with criticism.
Prince William’s own response to tackling the climate crisis is the creation of the Earthshot Prize, which aims to find solutions through new technologies and policies to the planet’s biggest environmental problems.