Despite their professed concern for climate change, they emit hundreds of times more CO2 than an average American
An Indian American high schooler has exposed the massive carbon footprint of private-jet-loving Silicon Valley billionaires from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg despite their professed concern for climate change.
Seattle schoolboy Akash Shendure hit upon the idea after the scandalous ban of Elonjet in December. He simply made use of available information and sources and studied compilations created by a network of volunteers.
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Shendure’s calculations took the form of a campaign dubbed the Climate Jets project that listed Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tom Siebel, 70-year-old founder of C3 AI, an Enterprise AI application software company with a net worth of $3.2 billion, as the most flagrant.
He burned 476,898 gallons of jet fuel emitting 4,650 tons of carbon dioxide, shockingly 300 times the size of the average American, who emits a measly 15.52 tons of annually. An average Indian emits just 1.77 tons.
The list also included celebrities like Pitbull, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian and many a tech billionaire. Elon Musk too made it to the list but nowhere near the top spot despite being blamed for 1,699 tons of emissions this past year alone.
Jared Isaacman, the founder of Draken International, a private air force provider with close to 100 fighter jets burned 396,172 gallons of jet fuel emitting 3,862 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to emissions of 248 Americans.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates came next with 313,714 gallons of jet fuel burned emitting 3,058 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to emissions of 197 Americans.
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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg burned 243,271 gallons of jet fuel emitting 2,371 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to emissions of 152 Americans. He burned more than $158,000 worth of jet fuel in less than two months and emitted more carbon than the average American does in 15 years.
“The message that is often given to consumers is that it’s each of our responsibilities to basically inconvenience ourselves in favor of the climate…. But then these, well, very wealthy individuals are not doing that,” Shendure told the New York Times which first reported the story.
In a caveat, the Times said Shendure’s findings have not been independently verified, and it’s possible some of the jets were using sustainable aviation fuel.
Representatives of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos told the newspaper they used sustainable fuel that offset all the emissions from their flights.
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Shendure’s father is a clean energy entrepreneur himself with several start-ups and his mother is an ER doctor. He says climate change is one of the things his family talks about over dinner.
It is also a subject that animates people of his generation who try to lower their own emissions by doing small things like turning off the lights. “But then, those have such minute impacts relative to just taking a flight in a commercial airline relative to a private jet,” he told the Times.