“Does the brainpower of the folks who read DSN have what it takes to save the planet and win a cool 25 M at the same time?”, asks author and “Best of DSN” judge Clark Thompson. “I figure if anyone can get this [carbon sequestration challenge] to work it’s the kind of folks who read DSN. So, get the word out –and if you get the 25M, count me in for a small finders fee ;-}”
The game is afoot to win the new CO2 busting “Earth Challenge” from Virgin (and X-Prize) Founder Richard Branson and former VP Al Gore. Clark Thompson’s fertile mind already contrived a workable theory using fertilized algae, so he’ll be tough to beat. Personally, I am looking to genetic modification to secure the treasure.
See you at the award ceremony. We’ll all take a ride in my new Trilobus.
Gore Seeks Technological Solutions for a Few Inconvenient Truths
By Andrew C. Revkin
Former Vice President Al Gore joined airline tycoon Richard Branson today to announce a $25 million prize to the first person to come up with a way of scrubbing greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere in the battle to beat global warming. Today, he joined Richard Branson, the British magnate, adventurer, and now eco-entrepreneur, in announcing the Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25 million bounty Mr. Branson is offering for any scientist or team who can figure out a way to pull the most significant heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide, directly out of the air.
Mr. Gore said he would be one of five judges helping Mr. Branson choose a winner. An initial $5 million would be awarded to the most promising design. The full award would come once the design proved viable and worked for at least 10 years without harmful secondary environmental effects.
The documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” which documents Al Gore’s global warming campaign, has been nominated for an Oscar.Most climate and energy experts studying the human influence on climate change have concluded that the growth in emissions is inevitable for many decades without big breakthroughs that either would cut costs of non-polluting energy sources like solar panels or allow carbon dioxide to be captured and buried. Public and private investment in basic energy research has been flat or declining for more than 20 years.
There are a handful of projects worldwide capturing small amounts of carbon dioxide from power plants and pumping it as a liquid underground, but those cannot capture the gas released from hundreds of millions of vehicles and other dispersed sources.Scientists have been working on small-scale tests of projects that scrub carbon dioxide directly from the air using chemical processes or by fertilizing the ocean with iron filings in places where a lack of iron prevents algae from growing. Algae can absorb carbon dioxide and then, in certain conditions, sink to the seabed, taking the carbon with them. There are other big prizes handed out each year for advances in environmental science, but none so far targeted specifically at limiting global warming.
The X Prize Foundation, which propelled a quest for entrepreneurs to fly into space, has announced plans for a prize for a super-efficient car, but details have not yet been ironed out. As for Mr. Gore’s new focus on the need for technological breakthroughs, “There’s no shift in thinking,” said a spokeswoman in an e-mail. “There’s just only so much you can put in a 90-minute film!”