Virgin Group Chief Richard Branson proposed a $25 million prize to anyone who can invent a system for removing "a significant amount" of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere for at least a decade, according to a report from the New Scientist. Branson called it the biggest prize in history.
According to the contest, called the Earth Challenge, system can't emulate technology known as carbon capture and sequestration, which removes emissions from power plants before they reach the atmosphere and stores them underground. Rather, the contest is to create a new system to eliminate more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide already in the earth's atmosphere, according to the story. Branson said the contest was partially inspired by the $10 million X-Prize for private human spaceflight, which was won in 2004.
Branson's Earth Challenge will close February 8, 2010. It will be judged by former vice president Al Gore, director of the NASA Goddard Institute Jim Hansen, the father of the Gaia theory James Lovelock and Crispin Tickell, director of the Policy Foresight Program at Oxford University.
Steve Howard, an adivisor to the judges, said the money might go a long way to help climate change. "For $25 million, people will do extraordinary things," according to the story.