11 fevereiro 2007

Virgin Offers $25 Million Prize to Defeat Global Warming

LONDON, UK, February 9, 2007 (ENS) - Former Vice President Al Gore and Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson today announced the Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25 million global science and technology prize to encourage a technology that will remove at least one billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere per year.

The Virgin Earth Challenge will award $25 million to the individual or group who demonstrate a commercially viable design which will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least 10 years without countervailing harmful effects.

This removal must have long term effects and contribute materially to the stability of the Earth's climate.

Sir Richard will adjudicate the prize with a panel of five judges - all world authorities in their respective fields - Gore; British diplomat and environmentalist Sir Crispin Tickell; Tim Flannery, author of "The Weather Makers;" Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Dr. James Lovelock, an independent scientist, most famous for his Gaia theory that the planet functions as a superorganism.

The panel of judges will be assisted in their deliberations by The Climate Group and Special Advisor to The Virgin Earth Prize Judges, Steve Howard.

The timing of the announcement of the Virgin Earth Challenge follows the announcement last week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that temperatures on Earth could increase by as much as 6.4 degrees C by the end of this century. If this were to occur, said Sir Richard, it would result in "most of life on our planet being exterminated."

Gore said, "Carbon dioxide levels already are far above anything measured in the prior 650,000 year record, and just last week in Paris scientists gave us their strongest warning yet of the consequences of inaction. So the dangers are clear. But the opportunities, if we take action now, are innumerable, and Sir Richard's initiative to stimulate exploration of this new approach to the climate crisis is important and welcome."

Dr. Hansen said, "I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most. This is why I am supporting the Virgin Earth Challenge as a judge - we must explore all means, both known and unknown, to help alleviate this crisis."

Sir Richard said, "We would also like to call on governments and members of the international community to join us in The Virgin Earth Challenge by matching or adding to the prize pot available to encourage the greatest number of entrants of those who could come up with a solution which could save our planet."

"If the greatest minds in the world today compete, as I'm sure they will, for The Virgin Earth Challenge," Sir Richard said, "I believe that a solution to the C02 problem could hopefully be found - a solution that could save our planet - not only for our children but for all the children yet to come."

The creation of the Virgin Earth Prize is one of a number of initiatives including investment in renewable energy research, development and production as part of Virgin Group's Gaia Capitalism project, and $3 billion Clinton Initiative pledge of September 2006.

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