Posted by: bklunk | February 12, 2007

Super-Empowered Individuals to the Rescue

British tycoon Branson offers $25 million prize to fight climate change

LONDON — British tycoon Sir Richard Branson on Friday announced a $25 million prize for the scientist who comes up with a way of extracting greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.The Virgin Group chairman was joined by former Vice President Al Gore and other leading environment …

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  1. Action like this from Branson is what we need to kick climate change into the next gear. We’re at the point now where more people are realizing there is a legitimate problem while it is consistantly sprouting up in the news media. The environment has become trendy. I’m glad to see this transition, but so far we’re just idling, the US in particular, who is lacking behind other nations in recognizing and dealing with the problem. That’s why I applaud branson, who’s jumping on the Al Gore bandwagon: 2 well-known faces able to affect change. One is doing it through awareness while the other through extreme persoanl benefit. But the potential of the scientific find is tremendous. This should spur action quicker than polics could.


  2. All I have to say is go Richard Branson! Ever since I can remember Richard has been behind some of the most unique and interesting ideas on how to change the world around us. The idea of Richard teaming up with Al Gore is a perfect combination to continue to spread awareness of this critical issue that we all face as citizens of this planet.

    He never ceases to amaze me with all that he attempts to do!

  3. Having scientists come up with ways to extract greenhouse gases is very good, but we also can’t neglect the continued emission of greenhouse gases. We all know Al Gore has been outspoken about global warming and greenhouse gases and it is good to see others get involved. However, along with an incentive program for extraction of greenhouse gases should perhaps be the worldwide adoption of a carbon market. In the past few decades the United States has been quite successful with the slowdown of sulfur emissions, but today’s problems continually point to CO2. Europe has seen some success with a carbon market aimed at lowering CO2 emissions, and this project should become worldwide. An important step in the globalization of a carbon market comes with the US’s acceptance of such a program. With the extraction of greenhouse gases and a program to slow the emission of greenhouse gases, our world can get another step closer to a sustainable environment.

  4. While this action speaks volumes for the evolving global attitude towards the environment, it almost is more significant in its implications on international relations, as a whole. The problem of global warming cannot and will not be “solved” by an individual state, and even if leading polluters were to change their policies, global warming would still exist. So individual states cannot act alone, but it also seems that many Americans, and perhaps others across the world, are growing disillusioned and frustated with the slow pace of action at the United Nations. Because the United Nations is only as strong as its member states will allow it to be, it has not been able to take significant action to counter global warming. In today’s world, individuals (granted, those individuals with enormous amounts of money) are able to have as profound an impact as a small state or United Nations committee. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has accomplished so much in a small amount of time because it is able to act efficiently, without much deliberation. Does the world need to start looking to influential individuals, then, rather than states or international bodies which are bogged down by diplomacy and consensu-buildling, to solve the current problems facing the world?

  5. Richard Branson is promoting more attention to the problem of global climate change and greenhouse gases. However, his search for a scientist that can extract greenhouses gases does not address the more serious problem of the actual emission of them by humans. In particular, the U.S. is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. If we find a scientist to extract carbon dioxide emissions, doesn’t that give us less of an incentive to continue to be environmentally irresponsible? My concern is that we may gain a false sense of security, unless there are also high incentives for decreasing greenhouse emission.

  6. I love the idea, but am skeptical about its potential. It would be very convenient to discover a technical solution to the global warming problem, but I don’t think that any prize offer will be the catalyst. Besides, such an innovative technology would net its developer far more than $25 million.

  7. I have to agree with the above poster, I agree that 25million sounds really nice, but anything that truly does what they are looking for is going to cost more than the reward; so I guess as an incentive the reward is kind of out of place. Other than that I think the idea off offering a “reward” of some type is a really good idea. There are a lot of different companies that have their bottom line tied to the continued sale of fossil fuels and the pollution that comes from them. These companies push their initiatives with money, I think the only truly productive way to counter this is to offer monetary gains for going against those companies purgatives. This is a great start but I am not sure how much it is going to really do in the long run.

  8. While I agree that this is a step in the right direction I also have a few concerns. While a few people above have mentioned the concern that this does not hold us responsible for our actions that degrade the environment, there are a few other concerns that I have. First, where would we store these extracted green house gases? Some green house gases are volatile and can cause massive explosions, such as methane. If we did not want to store these gases we would have to find a way to recycle them so that we can releasse them back into the environment. Second, this also ignores the issue that certain fuels are essentially non-renewable. What about using this money as an incentive to develop a renewable energy source that is safe for the environment and efficient? While I applaud the efforts of Sir Richard Branson, I believe that this money could be used in a different way to be a more effective incentive.

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