A Cool $25 Million to "Cool" the Earth?

Okay, so I’m a Richard Branson fan – ever since I watched his reality show, and how he lived life and viewed business. I have been impressed with his abilty to see the big picture, to think big, not small, and to dream. Sometimes he crashes and burns, but he gets right back up and starts all over again…

Virgin Earth Challenge

February 10, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Branson and Gore have created the “Virgin Earth Challenge” based on the X-Prize worth $25 million to create a way to solve the greenhouse gas problem.

Flanked by climate campaigners former US Vice President Al Gore and British ex-diplomat Crispin Tickell, Branson said he hoped the prize would spur innovative and creative thought to save mankind from self-destruction.

The prize will initially only be open for five years, with ideas assesbransongore_wideweb__470×3400.jpgsed by a panel of judges including Branson, Gore and Tickell as well as US climate scientist James Hansen, Briton James Lovelock and Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery.

The winner will have to come up with a way of removing one billion tonnes of carbon gases a year from the atmosphere for 10 years, with $5 million of the prize being paid at the start and the remaining $20 million at the end.

The Ansari X-Prize showed what is possible. It enabled Virgin SpaceShip One and space travel for everybody (atleast those who could afford!). This will hopefully create something similar.

The prize denotes the best things about business. The drive, the incentives, the entrepreneurship, the targets, innovation and the ability to solve the greatest problems facing man.

Branson sometime back announced that he would invest almost $3 billion of his profits from the transportation business into companies like Virgin Fuels which can solve the earth’s problems and make money too.

BBC provides a graphic to show the present options in carbon capture.

Carbon capture options

1. CO2 pumped into disused coal fields displaces methane which can be used as fuel
2. CO2 can be pumped into and stored safely in saline aquifers
3. CO2 pumped into oil fields helps maintain pressure, making extraction easier http://worldisgreen.com/2007/02/10/virgin-earth-challenge/


$25 Million Offered In Climate Challenge

Tycoon Hopes to Spur Milestone Research

By Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, February 10, 2007;

“British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, with former vice president Al Gore at his side, offered a $25 million prize Friday to anyone who can come up with a way to blunt global climate change by removing at least a billion tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Earth’s atmosphere.

Branson, saying that the “survival of our species” is imperiled by current environmental trends, said the prize was similar to cash inducements that led to some of history’s most notable achievements in navigation, exploration and industry. A competition launched in the 17th century, he said, resulted in the creation of a method to accurately estimate longitude.

Britain's Richard Branson has enlisted Al Gore as a judge in contest to find a way to take carbon dioxide out of the air.

Britain’s Richard Branson has enlisted Al Gore as a judge in contest to find a way to take carbon dioxide out of the air. (By Bruno Vincent — Getty Images)

“I believe in our resourcefulness and in our capacity to invent solutions to the problems we have ourselves created,” said Branson, who has pledged to invest $3 billion in profits from his transportation companies, including Virgin Atlantic Airlines and Virgin Trains, to fighting global warming.

“We are now facing a planetary emergency,” said Gore, whose documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has helped him become one of the world’s leading voices on climate change issues.

The former vice president will serve as a judge in the contest, known as the Virgin Earth Challenge. He said he hoped the contest would spur scientific innovation without distracting from more practical steps people can take to battle global warming, from using energy-efficient light bulbs to pressuring politicians to confront “the crisis of our time.”

“It’s a challenge to the moral imagination of humankind,” Gore said at a packed news conference, which several noted climate scientists and authors attended. Others provided videotaped endorsements or appeared by live video link.

Gore and Branson said that although scientists are working on technologies to capture carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at power plants and other industrial sources, no one has developed a strategy to remove gases already released into the atmosphere. Those gases are contributing to a dramatic increase in global temperatures that could have catastrophic results in the coming decades, they said.

The winner of the contest must devise a plan to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere without creating adverse effects. The first $5 million would be paid upfront, and the remainder of the money would be paid only after the program had worked successfully for 10 years.

“We’re nowhere” on technologies to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, Gore said. But he said he hoped innovators might be spurred not simply by the cash prize but also by a passion for working on what he called “a moral issue.”

Other judges in the competition are James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies; British environmentalists and authors James Lovelock and Crispin Tickell; and Australian conservationist and author Tim Flannery.

Gore, Branson and the other panelists referred repeatedly to a study released last week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made up of hundreds of scientists from 113 countries, that concluded that human activity is warming the planet at a potentially disastrous and irreversible rate.

Gore dismissed critics who say the potential effects of climate change have been exaggerated. He said the overwhelming scientific evidence is that “the planet has a fever.” He likened the situation to parents told by a doctor that their child needs medical care; those parents shouldn’t listen to “some science fiction expert who tells you it isn’t real — you listen to the doctor.”

Gore said he believed public interest in climate change was growing in the United States. But asked whether he thought Americans were ready for a presidential campaign in which global warming was the central issue, he said, “We’re not there, yet.”

Branson and Gore said they hoped to ask the governments of the United States, Britain and other countries to add to the prize money, or even match the $25 million pledged by Branson. “I don’t have much influence with this administration,” Gore joked.

Gore, who barely lost the 2000 presidential election to President Bush, has experienced a resurgence in popularity among many Democrats and is still viewed as a potential dark horse candidate in 2008. On Friday, he said he would not categorically rule out another run for public office, but he said he “can’t foresee” any circumstances that would lead him to enter the race.

“I’m involved in a different kind of campaign,” Gore said.

Details on the $25 million competition can be found at http://www.virginearth.com

Special Report

Read complete Post coverage on the science and politics surrounding the threat of human-induced climate change.

IN THE GREENHOUSE: Follow the Post series on the science behind confronting a changing climate.


Now here’s the scoop on the “prize”:


The Virgin Earth Challenge is a prize of $25m for whoever can demonstrate to the judges’ satisfaction a commercially viable design which results in the removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases so as to contribute materially to the stability of Earth’s climate.

To encourage a viable technology which will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least ten years without countervailing harmful effects.

Today, Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore announced the setting up of a new Global science and technology prize – The Virgin Earth Challenge – in the belief that history has shown that prizes of this nature encourage technological advancements for the good of mankind. The Virgin Earth Challenge will award $25 million to the individual or group who are able to demonstrate a commercially viable design which will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least ten 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 also announced that he would be joined in the adjudication of the Prize by a panel of five judges – all world authorities in their respective fields: Al Gore, Sir Crispin Tickell, Tim Flannery, Jim Hansen and James Lovelock. 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 (see Editors notes for biographies).

The timing of the announcement of the Virgin Earth Challenge was particularly apt given the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes, which last week announced that temperatures on earth could increase by as much as 6.4C by the end of this Century.

The report, the most comprehensive to date from a UN Agency detailed the catastrophe results which even seemingly small temperature raises could have on our planet: at + 2.4C coral reefs around the world would become extinct; + 3.4C would result in the rain forests becoming deserts; an increase of + 4.4C would result in the ice caps melting and severe heat waves across the globe displacing millions; the IPCC further predicted that sea levels could rise by 5 metres if temperatures reached + 5.4C which would result in ten of millions of climate refugees.

For the first time ever a 6.4C raise was mentioned within UN predictions. If this were to occur it would result in most of life on our planet being exterminated.

Sir Richard Branson commented: “We all now know that something radical has got to be done to turn back the tide of global warming. By launching the $25 million Virgin Earth Challenge, the largest ever science and technology prize to be offered in history, we want to encourage scientists and individuals from around the world to come up with a way of removing lethal carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere. By competing for this prize they will follow in the footsteps of many of history’s greatest inventors and innovators. But in this case potentially save the planet. It is our hope and belief that the winner of The Virgin Earth Challenge will help to reverse the collision course our beautiful world is currently on. They will not only make history but preserve history for many, many generations to come.

However, it is important to remember that there is a real possibility that no one will win this prize. Governments, and their people, must continue to use every effort to radically reduce CO2 emissions. “

The Virgin Earth Challenge will initially be open for five years; the judges will meet annually to determine whether a design has been submitted during the previous year that in their view should win the prize and, if so, they may award the prize without waiting for the five year period to elapse. If no winner has been selected at the end of five years, the judges may decide to roll the prize forward for a further period on the same.

Al Gore commented at today’s Press Conference: “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.”

James Lovelock continued: “To escape the consequences of global heating we need far more than Kyoto, far more than renewable energy and sustainable development. What we need is a near miracle to undo the harm that we have done. Sir Richard Branson’s hugely generous prize could sow the seeds for a miraculous invention that would let us make a sustainable retreat to that lush and comfortable world we once knew. We have all spent far too long sleepwalking towards extinction.”

Sir Crispin Tickell: “We need a significant, lasting and harmless reduction in the volume of green house gases in the atmosphere. To this technology can make an important contribution. This Prize is a marvellous encouragement to all who have bright and practical ideas on how best to tackle one of the major problems of our time.”

Dr James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies: “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.”

Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers, gave a stark warning on the cost of inaction: “If we continue as we are, humanity will so pollute our atmosphere this century that we will create another world, the likes of which has not been seen for 50 million years. And we will destroy human civilisation in the process.”

Sir Richard Branson concluded: “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, 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 dollar Clinton Initiative pledge of September 2006.

Editor’s Notes:

Sir Richard Branson comments on the use of Prizes to fuel innovation: “History has shown that Technology Prizes have been invaluable in encouraging technological advancements and innovation in many, many areas of science and industry. From the very first recorded prize offered by the British government in 1714, offering three financial incentives to the inventor who developed a device capable of measuring longitude within a given degree of accuracy. The Prize, which has been immortalised in the book Longitude, was won by John Harrison, a self-educated clock maker. Harrison was awarded £20,000 in 1773 for devising an accurate and durable chronometer.

But prizes were not just the domain of the British; in the 18th Century the French also used Prizes as an incentive to fuel innovation. In 1775 a 100,000 franc prize was offered to the individual who could produce an artificial form of alkali – the wining of this prize was to form the basis of the French chemical industry. Today, vacuum packed food in our fridges and cupboards is nothing remarkable, but it may surprise some to know that it was actually a Prize offered by Napoleon in 1810 which led to Nicolas Appert coming up with a method of vacuum packing cooked food in glass bottles – it took him 15 years of experiments but in the end won him 12,000 francs!

It wasn’t long before newspapers and private sector companies became involved in setting up Prizes to encourage development in many areas. The American automobile industry was encouraged to grow through inducements to win prizes by competing in races set up by newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune in the late 19 th Century. Aviation and the development of long distance flying were greatly encouraged by similar prizes to those offered in America for the fledgling automobile industry. The Daily Mail prize for example, for the first flight across the Channel, was won byLouis Bleriot in 1909; and ten years later, Alcock and Brown won the Mail prize for crossing the Atlantic. Lindebergh was competing for a prize when he flew in the Spirit of St Louis, non-stop from New York to Paris in 1927. The Spitfire was the result of the Schneider trophy, which was a series of prizes for technological development.

The most recent technological Prize was awarded in the area of space travel, and is one that I have come to know very well – the Ansari X Prize – a $10 million dollar Prize set up by Peter Diamandis and funded by the Ansari family. The Ansari X Prize was won in 2004 by Paul Allen, Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites when they successfully flew SpaceShipOne to space and back twice within two weeks. The technological feat of SpaceShipOne resulted in the Virgin Group licensing that technology to build five space ships and two White Knight carrier crafts and has given birth to a commercially viable space tourism industry for the future. Using the latest technology in hybrid rocket motors and next generation turbo fan engines SS2 and WK2 will be environmentally benign.”

Now for the Judges:

Once you know Richard you understand why his company is called Virgin (and recognised as such throughout the world in numerous sectors). He is a pioneer of many famous world-wide business ventures – including Virgin Music Group and Virgin Atlantic (with a multitude of first-time achievements to boot); he is also the founder of a company that has been the saviour of Britain’s two most run-down rail-franchises as well as putting its considerable financial and personnel weight behind several worldwide charities facing some of the toughest challenges ever today. This incredibly revolutionary approach to life has also led to his involvement in many epic and famous world record-breaking sea, air and land ventures. In 2004 his dream of opening the world’s first ever commercial Space Tourism business was realised with the launch of Virgin Galactic. Richard Branson is a committed crusader and ambassador of crucial and urgent social as well as environmental issues – a fantastic proof of this was him being awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Millennium New Year’s honours list for “Services to Entrepreneurship”.

Is known throughout the world as the Former Vice President of the USA. He is also (amongst others) Co-Founder of Generation Investment Management – a company committed to the new approach to Sustainable Investing. He is also an active and respected member of the Board of Directors for both Apple and Google. He is the author of “An Inconvenient Truth” – a best selling book and documentary about the history of the world. During the past 30 years he has been the leading advocate for confronting the threat of global warming.

An independent scientist for more than forty years as well as an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Green College, University of Oxford. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1974 and was made a Companion of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003. In addition, he has received ten international awards for his work as an environmentalist; these included the Blue Planet Prize, Volvo Prize and Wollaston Medal from the Geological Society in London.
James Lovelock’s most notable scientific work is the Gaia theory, now generally accepted under the name Earth System Science, and the discovery in l972 of the CFCs in the atmosphere and their subsequent global monitoring. He is the inventor of the electron capture detector (ECD), which first alerted us to the ubiquitous distribution of pesticides and PCBs. He has throughout his career as an environmental scientist supported nuclear energy as a preferred supplier of electricity. He is the author of five books and over 200 scientific papers.

Is an internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer, conservationist and author lauded by David Attenborough and Redmond O’Hanlon respectively as one of the world’s greatest explorers and having “… discovered more new species than Charles Darwin.” He is also Recipient of Centenary of Federation medal for his service to science and in 2002 became the first environmentalist to deliver the Australia Day address to the nation. His voice is familiar world-wide through radio and is also well-known to Documentary Channel viewers as writer/presenter on numerous ground-breaking series of the past 10 years. Tim was recently honoured as Australian Humanist of the Year as well as Australian of the Year.

Professor in Columbia University Earth Institute and also Heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in NYC. In addition, Dr Hansen’s research has contributed to incredible identification of the properties of clouds of Venus as sulfuric acid. He has worked on understanding the human impact on global climate for nearly 40 years and is universally famous for bringing world-wide awareness of the global warming issue in 1980’s.

Sir Crispin Tickell is the Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization at Oxford University. He is associated with other British universities as well as universities in the United States. His main interests are in the field of the environment and international affairs.
His interests as well as his unparalleled achievements in business, charities, climate and the Earth say all there is to say about this man and his imperative role in our ecological Earth group challenge.

Virgin Earth Challenge Guidelines

1. Purpose and overview
The purpose of the Virgin Earth Challenge is to encourage the development of commercially viable new technology, processes and methods to remove anthropogenic greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to improve the stability of the Earth’s climate.

Entrants must submit a commercially viable design (the “Design”) to achieve the net removal of significant volumes of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least 10 years without countervailing harmful effects (the “Removal Target”). The removal achieved by the Design must have long term benefits (measured over say 1,000 years) and must contribute materially to the stability of the Earth’s climate.

The prize fund will be awarded to (or shared amongst) any entrants whose Design (in the opinion of the judges) achieves or appears capable of achieving the Removal Target and other criteria set out in paragraph 7 and which in the opinion of the judges makes an outstanding contribution by way of innovation in the fields of engineering or the other physical technologies or in the application of the physical sciences, which is or will be for the benefit of the Earth’s climate.

Virgin invites all interested individuals or teams to complete an Entry Form to register to participate in the Virgin Earth Challenge. There’s an entry form HERE.

2. Guidelines and Participation Agreement

These Guidelines (and the Participation Agreement (see below)) form the basis of the rules that will govern the Virgin Earth Challenge. However, the Virgin Earth Challenge will be subject to more detailed rules, terms and conditions. The full rules, terms and conditions will be adopted within 60 days following the official launch of the Virgin Earth Challenge on 9 February 2007. Such full rules, terms and conditions will constitute a Participation Agreement to be signed by all registered entrants who wish to compete in the Virgin Earth Challenge.

3. Publicity

Virgin reserves the right to publish details of the entrants and/or winners of a cash award (“Winners”) and any Design(s) on the virgin.com website and in other promotional and publicity material as it considers appropriate, including (without limitation) for the purpose of promoting the Virgin group…

4. How to enter the Virgin Earth Challenge

In order to register to enter the Virgin Earth Challenge, each entrant must submit a completed copy of the Entry Form (signed by all members of the team)…

5. Submission of a Design

Only Designs received from registered entrants who have signed a Participation Agreement will be considered for entry into the Virgin Earth Challenge.

Entrants must submit each Design entry in writing by post or by hand…

The Virgin Earth Challenge is free to enter but each entrant shall bear the costs if any of researching, preparing and submitting his/her Design(s).

The number of Design entries per entrant is not limited.

The Design submission should be sufficiently detailed and clear to enable the judges to analyse properly and to form a view on all elements of the Design including the method and any possible side effects of exploitation of the Design.

6. Entries

Entries will not be returned.

By entering, each entrant confirms that the submitted Design is original, is the entrant’s own work, is not in breach of any obligation of confidence, is not in violation of any applicable laws, does not infringe any other third party rights of whatever nature and that the entrant has all rights and permissions necessary to submit the Design to the Virgin Earth Challenge and to exploit (or grant rights to exploit) the Design anywhere in the World. Each entrant hereby indemnifies Virgin and the judges against any and all loss, damages or liability which they might incur by reason of any breach or alleged breach of this paragraph or these Guidelines.

7. Criteria

Entries will be judged according to the following criteria:

(a) ability of the Design to achieve the Removal Target;

(b) technical viability;

(c) commercial viability;

(d) effectiveness and efficiency;

(e) scalability;

(f) harmful effects and/or other incidental consequences of the solution;

(g) other contributions to the reduction in environmental greenhouse gases;

(h) longevity of effects; and

(i) any other criteria which the judges decide in their discretion are relevant.

Entrants may be required to provide further information to assist the judges in assessing the Design and each entrant agrees to fully co-operate with the judges. Information which is not in the public domain and is marked by the entrant as confidential shall be treated as confidential by Virgin and the judges.

Any cash awards (“Awards”) will be awarded at the discretion of the judges. The decision of the judges shall be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

8. Judges

Judging of all submitted Designs will be conducted by a panel of judges comprising Sir Richard Branson, Sir Crispin Tickell, Al Gore, James Lovelock, Jim Hansen and Tim Flannery (provided that if any judge shall be unable to judge the entries, such judge(s) may be replaced by an alternate judge(s) selected by agreement of the remaining judges).

The judges reserve the right to take external advice and guidance from The Climate Group and/or such other experts as they consider appropriate.

9. Challenge duration

The Virgin Earth Challenge will open on 9 February 2007 (the “Opening Date”).

The Virgin Earth Challenge shall be open for an initial period of 3 years from the Opening Date and the deadline for submissions shall be 8 February 2010 (the “Closing Date”).

Within 180 days after the Closing Date, the judges shall judge the entries submitted by the Closing Date.

If the judges consider that the criteria have been met and that one or more entries should win some or all of the prize pool, Awards will be awarded and the Winners will be announced by Virgin in accordance with these Guidelines.

If some or all of the prize pool has not been awarded following judging of the submissions, the Virgin Earth Challenge shall re-open for a further period and the “Closing Date” shall be extended accordingly to 8 February 2011. The judges shall repeat the judging process in accordance with paragraphs 9.3 and 9.4….

10. The Award

The total prize pool is US$25million.

The judges may elect to award the entire prize pool funds to one Winner or to share the prize pool funds (as the judges think fit) between two or more Winners totalling US$25million in aggregate. The judges shall not be obliged to award all or any of the total prize pool funds if in the judges’ absolute discretion the criteria and Removal Target are not met.

The Winner(s) will receive 20% of his/her Award upon the judges’ decision to make the Award in respect of his/her Design (a “Winning Design”). The Winner(s) will receive the remaining 80% of his/her Award upon satisfactory achievement by his/her Design of the Removal Target for at least 10 consecutive years and provided all other criteria continue to be met at that time. (The intervening period between such payments shall be the “Post-Award Period”.) Accordingly, if there is a single Winner of the total prize pool fund that Winner would receive US$5 million upon the judges’ decision to make the Award and the remaining US$20 million following achievement of the Removal Target and other criteria for 10 years.

11. Award Winner announcement

Winners will be notified in writing to the address given in the Entry Form as soon as possible and in any event as soon as reasonably possibly following the expiry of 180 days following the relevant Closing Date.

12. Eligibility

The Virgin Earth Challenge is open to entrants resident in any nation anywhere on Earth, save for any nations the laws of which provide that entry in to the Virgin Earth Challenge is illegal. Designs may be submitted by any individual or individuals, independent team or teams or any team or teams working for a firm, company or other organisation of any nature.


So what’s up? What’s happening in response to the challenge? See these articles for a glimpse:

2nd Australian International Green Build & Renewable
Energy Exhibition and Conference

Friday 1 June – Sunday 3 June, 2007, Australian Technology Park, Sydney

International Green Build Renewable Energy Exhibition and Conference

Conference – Topic Overview [one pertinent example]

OCEAN NOURISHMENT – A Climate Change Solution
John Ridley
Executive Director ONC

This Seminar will review – the need for carbon sequestration, The Ocean Nourishment technology, environmental and social benefits of Ocean Nourishment
Professor Jones and his Ocean Nourishment team’s technology mimics the natural process of macro-nutrient upwelling from deep ocean sites . This upwelling occurs naturally in about 70 per cent of the world’s oceans, which means the Ocean Nourishment process is potentially far more reaching than any other solution yet proposed. The technology is therefore capable of removing significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via photosynthesis and storing carbon in plant matter which falls to the ocean floor..
The Ocean Nourishment team assembled to take part in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge represents a “who’s who” of climate change, engineering, environmental and scientific expertise. The team aims to complete its submission to the Virgin Earth Challenge within the next year
Key members of the Ocean Nourishment team (and their respective contributions) include:
Professor Ian S F Jones (Champion)
Ocean Nourishment Corporation (Commercialisation)
Earth Ocean and Space (Inventors of Ocean Nourishment technology)
Ocean Technology Group, University of Sydney
Note: In response to intense media attention following the recent screening of the BBC2 documentary “Five Ways To Save The World”, Professor Ian S F Jones and Mr John Ridley provide more details on the Ocean Nourishment technology featured. A team led by Professor Jones will use this technology in its proposed entry in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge. The Ocean Nourishment team welcomes enquiries from corporate sponsor organisations interested in becoming partners in the Challenge. The Challenge represents an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on the earth’s most challenging issue and to work in collaboration with leading thinkers on stabilisation of dangerous levels of climate change.


And from the Miami Independent Media Center :


GLOBAL WARMING SOULTION: Will it make it through the bureaucracy to the upper atmosphere?

by Peter Graves-Goodman Apr. 13, 2007

My friend Joe Fox, who is a molecular microbiologist, invented a modality to absorb CO2 in the atmosphere and reverse the global warming problem in days.

He is submitting his plan to http://www.VirginEarth.com. The Virgin Earth Challenge (Richard Branson-Al Gore) is a prize of $25m for whoever can demonstrate to the judges’ satisfaction a commercially viable design which results in the removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases so as to contribute materially to the stability of Earth’s climate. The only problem is that it will be 3 years before they look at all the plans and judge who will receive the prize money.

Global Warming Solut...
greenhouse_warming.jpg, image/jpeg, 342×250

Here is Joe Fox’s solution to the global warming process:

Using a cloud seeding bacteria that eats CO2, it grows to a tremendous cloud in hours, then so full of carbon fibers inside unexcreted and heavily fattened, the bacteria will drop dead to the ground in about a day of gluttony eating CO2 to make carbon fibers inside itself unexcreted and releasing O2, like plants, taking the CO2 out of the atmosphere and dropping it to the ground, leaving a clean atmosphere behind, in about a day, since bacteria grows, like, well, bacteria, to a huge cloud in 2 to 4 hours.

The gene to do these functions is already commercially available from cDNA suppliers like INVITROGEN, INCITE, GENOMICS, CELERA, and others extracted from plant cells that make bark by absorbing CO2 from the air, then making carbon fibers with it and releasing Oxygen. This is a well known safe gene you eat every day in salads or fruits, that plants have and that can be inserted into bacteria. Another gene to be inserted into the bacteria, chlorophyll, etc., would be used to allow bacteria to absorb UV and heat energy, to also cool the planet, and to power the bacteria to eat much more CO2, much faster with this energy.

The bacteria I am proposing, is a perfectly safe, simple, readily available in the supermarket and even nutritious bacteria: Lactobacillus Acidophilus, (Yogurt), which is perfectly compatible with humans and animals, since it is a prehistoric bacteria, which all species have inside their guts, skin, and bodies. It has lived on this planet for billions of years, so everyone is compatible with it and all its nutritious effects.

You can take a bath in yogurt and it would actually be good for your skin, as Acidophilus is a normal inhabitant of the skin and gut of humans, animals, fish and plans alike. And when our bacteria rains down dead from the sky, it would only look like yogurt/wood dust. The CO2 would have been FIXED into carbon fibers inside the bacteria (the carbon part) and Oxygen released to the atmosphere. And the bacteria will be short lived due to the fact that the carbon fibers would eventually kill the bacteria of too much carbon fiber, eliminating the bacteria after its job is done (one gene for many functions).

This is the most elegant modality of removing tons and tons of CO2 in HOURS, (NOT DECADES) from the atmosphere, since bacteria grows in hours, not months or years like plants.

I have proposed a test of my bacteria, using a clear 5 gallon water bottle tank filled with air and CO2 pumped into the tank and then spray some bacteria in the tank and watch as the CO2 gauge drop rapidly to zero.

So, here is a Global Warming Solution. Will it make it through the bureaucracy to the upper atmosphere? http://miami.indymedia.org/news/2007/04/8108.php

And from Scientific American:


Special Report: Inspired by Ancient Amazonians, a Plan to Convert Trash into Environmental Treasure

New bill in U.S. Senate will advocate adoption of “agrichar” method that could lessen our dependence on fossil fuel and help avert global warming

By Anne Casselman , May 15, 2007

CHARCOAL like that created by ancient Amazonians or in a modern process called pyrolysis, could be used as a carbon-negative source of fuel and fertilizer.

When Desmond Radlein heard about Richard Branson and Al Gore’s Virgin Earth Challenge, a contest in which the first person who can sequester one billion tons of carbon dioxide a year wins $25 million, he got out his pencil and began figuring whether or not his company was up to the task.

Radlein is on the board of directors at Dynamotive Energy Systems, an energy solutions provider based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that is one of several companies pioneering the use of pyrolysis, a process in which biomass is burned at a high temperature in the absence of oxygen. The process yields both a charcoal by-product that can be used as a fertilizer, and bio-oil, which is a mix of oxygenated hydrocarbons that can be used to generate heat or electricity.

Because the charcoal by-product, or “agrichar,” does not readily break down, it could sequester for thousands of years nearly all the carbon it contains, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Along the way, it would boost agricultural productivity through its ability to retain nutrients and moisture.

“I developed this rough back-of-the-envelope calculation of what it would require if one were to [attempt the Virgin Earth Challenge] with the agrichar concept,” Radlein explains. “One would need about 7,000 plants each processing 500 tons of biomass per day, which is a large number, but it’s not outside the bounds of possibility.” Such facilities would produce four parts bio-oil to one part carbon sequestered, so it would rake in money as well as carbon.

An International Movement
Radlein is not alone in his belief in this technology—last week in Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia, the newly formed International Agrichar Initiative held its first ever conference, which included 135 attendees from every corner of the globe. According to Debbie Reed, an environmental policy expert who organized the conference, keynote speaker Mike Mason of the carbon offset company Climate Care urged attendees to unify in an effort to apply for the Virgin Earth Challenge. He also encouraged them to submit their method to the United Nations’s Clean Development Mechanism program, which is designed to transfer clean technology from the developed to the developing world.

Although no officials from the U.S. government attended the conference, there is a nascent stateside movement pushing for adoption of agrichar. “[Democratic Senator] Ken Salazar of Colorado is drafting a stand-alone bill on this, and he may also promote it as part of the Farm Bill,” notes Reed. The Farm Bill, whose terms are decided every year, determines what agricultural initiatives can be funded by the U.S. government. Inclusion in the Farm Bill would virtually guarantee subsidies for research and application of the agrichar process.

A Technology with a (Potentially) Huge Upside
In 2100, if pyrolysis met the entire projected demand for renewable fuels, the process would sequester enough carbon (9.5 billion tons a year) to offset current fossil fuel emissions, which stand at 5.4 billion tons a year, and then some. “Even if only a third of the bioenergy in 2100 uses pyrolysis, we still would make a huge splash with this technology,” remarks Johannes Lehmann, a soil biogeochemist at Cornell University and one of the organizers of the agrichar conference.

There are other perks: Increasing production of bio-oil could decrease a country’s dependence on foreign oil. In the tropics, boosting soil productivity increases the number of growing seasons per year, which could help alleviate the pressure to deforest biodiversity hot spots. The new markets for agricultural crops, which would in effect become sources of fuel, could boost rural economies worldwide, just as the demand for ethanol has bolstered the price of corn.


Critics have judged Branson harshly for his gas-guzzling airlines and space rockets:


Branson defends space trips at eco-prize launch

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Saturday, 10 February 2007

Sir Richard Branson yesterday defended his plans to offer £100,000 trips into space while at the same time setting up a £12.8m prize for scientists to devise a way of absorbing carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere.

He was speaking at the launch of the Virgin Earth Challenge, which offers a $25m reward for the invention that most successfully removes significant quantities of carbon dioxide over a period of 10 years without harming the environment.

Sir Richard was asked how he could justify such a prize when he owns an airline and has set up a separate space tourism company. “Let’s confront the airline question,” he said. “I have an airline. I can afford to ground that airline today. My family have got businesses in mobile phones and other businesses, but if we do ground that airline today, British Airways will just take up the space. So what we are doing is making sure we acquire the most carbon dioxide-friendly planes. We’re making sure that 100 per cent of profits we make from our transportation businesses are put back into things like the prize.”

Virgin Galactic, his space-tourism company, will use hybrid rocket motors and turbo-fan engines that will be “almost” environmentally benign, he said, and the cost of a space ride could come down to the price of an economy-class ticket.

Flanked by Al Gore, the former American vice president, he said he was offering the biggest scientific prize in history to stimulate interest in the technology of capturing and storing millions of tonnes of man-made carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas…. He said he had no idea whether the prize would ever be won but that unless we could devise a way of curbing carbon dioxide levels we faced a major extinction of life.

“We will lose half of all species on Earth, including the polar bear and the walrus, we will lose the coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, 100 million people will be displaced due to rising sea levels, farmlands will become deserts, rainforests wastelands,” Sir Richard said.

Mr Gore said the prize should not deflect from other attempts at curbing emissions. “It should not be seen as a substitute for, or distraction from, the main aim, which is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide ,” Mr Gore said. “We are now facing a planetary emergency and things that would not have been considered in the past ought now to be considered.”

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, welcomed the initiative but warned that more should be done to encourage more environmentally friendly forms of travel. “Many of the ways of tackling climate change, such as energy efficiency and renewables, already exist, and it is essential that these are implemented as soon as possible. We cannot afford to wait for futuristic solutions which may never materialise,” Mr Juniper said.

“Sir Richard must also look at his business activities and the contribution they make to climate change. The world will find it very difficult to tackle climate change if air travel continues to expand and space tourism is developed,” he added.


Here is his response:


(FORTUNE Magazine)

By Eugenia Levenson, March 16, 2007

The Virgin king is set on saving the planet. Since the fall, Branson has pledged profits from his gas-guzzling airline businesses to alternative-fuels research and launched an eco-equivalent of the X Prize. His Virgin Earth Challenge, announced in February, offers a $25 million reward for a winning plan to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. (For other business responses, see our “Green Is Good” package.) On a recent visit to the UN to promote another worthy cause, blindness-prevention charity ORBIS, Branson spoke to FORTUNE’s Eugenia Levenson about his new crusade.

Who or what turned you green?

The Muppets!

So you wanted to prove Kermit wrong–that it is easy to be green?

Well, I read a lot of books, including Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers and James Lovelock’s Gaia. I also met Al Gore, Ted Turner, and other people who were passionate about it. In the end, I realized the world has a serious problem, and if we carry on putting too much carbon and methane into the earth’s atmosphere, we’re going to snuff out the people and all the world’s species.

Gore is a judge for the Virgin Earth Challenge. How did you meet the former U.S. veep?

He came to my house a year and a half ago and said, “I want to spend two hours and try to convince you to tackle this problem.” By the end of those two hours, he’d got me thinking. A few months later I came up with the idea that since we had a dirty business in our airlines, if we put all our profits toward tackling global warming, it would be a good signal.

But Virgin Atlantic planes are still flying and producing emissions. Why not quit a dirty business altogether?

What we need to do is get our own house in order and reduce our carbon output. We’re experimenting with towing planes to and from runways rather than turning on engines before pushback, and we’re trying to buy lighter, more fuel-efficient planes. If we pull out, someone else will step in. Instead, we decided to reinvest all profits from our transportation businesses into trying to discover clean fuels.

The Earth Challenge is initially open for three years. Have you had any entries yet?

We’ve had over 15,000 submissions in the first month, so we’re wading through them at the moment. There’s one or two that the judges are [happy] about. They’re complicated but could be quite exciting.

You now own two private islands in the British Virgin Islands, and you’ve said they’ll be carbon neutral. How does that work?

We’ll have windmills for wind energy and solar [panels] for solar energy as well as for when the wind’s not blowing. We may have a little bit of wave power as well. No petrol on the islands is the plan. Hopefully we’ll get there.

From the April 2, 2007 issue, Fortune


From the Virgin Blue:


Our Inflight Magazine


venturing into virgin territory

From a student paper to one of the world’s ‘mega-brands’ and a foray into space, Sir Richard Branson has seen it all. And he’s still got time to save the world, writes Catherine McCormack.

Richard Banson’s can-do attitude, sharp business acumen and grand spirit of adventure have paved his successes in life. From the fledgling record mail-order business run from the basement of the London flat he lived in as a 16-year-old, he has transformed Virgin into a global empire with 350 individual companies, 45,000 employees and an annual profit of around US$250 million (A$290 million).

Now the 57-year-old billionaire ‘multipreneur’ can add passionate environmentalist to the list. And, possibly very soon, astronaut.

In the past two years, Virgin has announced three new ventures: Virgin Fuels, a company dedicated to developing environmentally-sound fuel; the Virgin Earth Challenge, a US$25 million (A$29 million) prize for the individual or team who develops technology to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; and Virgin Galactic, a space tourism operator that sends paying customers on a round-trip into outer space.

That these companies and the causes they represent are groundbreaking shouldn’t come as any great surprise. In his 41-year career, Branson has launched everything from Virgin Blue to Virgin Brides, breaking every ‘rule’ of business along the way. He’s thrived on doing the unpredictable, and often achieved the unthinkable.

Yet fame and money are no longer what drive Branson. They’re an incentive, sure, but the grand prize no more. The Englishman’s real passions are to challenge people’s perceptions and make a positive difference to the world, particularly when it comes to the causes he champions, such as world poverty, health and global warming.

Heralding a move away from fossil fuels seems an odd choice for a man whose billion-dollar transport enterprises rely on the stuff. But Branson, who was once described as “capitalistic in business but socially communist”, isn’t at all afraid to put his money, or his business reputation, where his conscience is.

“I’ve always said that I want to build the most respected brand in the world,” Branson said in an interview with Forbes magazine. “If we can send people into space in an environmentally friendly spacecraft that will help enhance our brand. [And] if we can invent an alternative fuel that tackles global warming and can one day be used in airplanes that will enhance our brand and tackle global warming – and enable me to sleep better at night.”

It was former US Vice President and star of the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, who made Branson see how important he could be in global efforts to save the world.

“I was sceptical [about global warming],” Branson said during an interview on US TV show Good Morning America. “But I’ve met a lot of scientists. I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve had Al Gore spend two hours at my home giving me his personal time to convince me and, sadly, I’m now convinced the world has a serious problem.”

Shortly after the two men met, Branson announced, at a Global Initiative organised by former US President Bill Clinton in September 2006, that all of his profits from all of Virgin’s transport companies – including its five airlines – would be invested in developing clean energy sources that do not contribute to global warming. Profits are estimated to be US$3 billion (A$3.5 billion) over the next 10 years.

“Richard’s commitment is groundbreaking not only because of the price tag – which is phenomenal – but also because of the statement that he is making: Clean energy is good for the world, and it’s good for business,” commented Clinton.

Also in September, Branson launched Virgin Fuels, a company which will invest up to US$400 million (A$465 million) over a three-year period to develop earth-friendly biofuels. “It’s a commitment to try and find alternative fuels – for planes, for cars, for all forms of transport – and ultimately, obviously, to take on the oil companies,” he said.

In February this year, the business mogul again teamed up with Gore to launch the Virgin Earth Challenge Prize, a US$25 million (A$29 million) bounty to the individual or team who come up with a commercially viable way to suck massive amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Among the Challenge’s judges is acclaimed scientist, explorer, conservationist and the 2007 Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery.

“Sir Richard Branson is the rare individual who captures and commands attention, and he has the guts to do something bold,” said Gore. “And a lot of people are going to follow his lead.”


And some news on Branson’s environmental investments:


Virgin’s Branson Invests in Cilion

September 11, 2006

Richard Branson invested more than $60 million into Cilion recently, a company that will make bioethanol from corn. Cilion raised a total of $160 million earlier this month.

In total, Virgin Fuels, the subsidiary used for the investment, is investing $400 million in several biofuel companies, The Sunday Times reports (via Free Republic). Virgin Fuels is already working with UK’s government to make it economic for train companies to use biodiesel. Branson is understood to be considering other big investments in a range of other alternative-energy technologies, including wind power, hydro-electric and possibly even small nuclear stations.

Cilion is expected to start work on the first of seven bioethanol plants within a few weeks.



Branson Commits $3B to Renewable Energy

September 21, 2006

branson-commits-3b-68.jpgVirgin Group founder Richard Branson will spend three billion dollars in the next 10 years on a variety of projects to combat global warming and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The announcement was made at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Yahoo News reports.

Branson said Virgin Group will invest all future profits from its airline and train businesses into renewable energy initiatives within the company and in other investments in new biofuel research and other projects to tackle emissions related to global warming. Virgin currently estimates this commitment to be three billion dollars over the next 10 years.

Virgin said the initiative would take the form of investment in new fuel technologies through an investment unit called Virgin Fuels, for which Branson’s group has pledged 400 million dollars in the next three years.

The first investment is in Cilion, which was announced earlier this month.



Branson: Airlines Can Cut CO2 Emissions 25% in 2 Years

December 14, 2006

Even though high fuel prices have cost the Virgin Group and Virgin Atlantic about a billion dollars a year in increased costs because of its trains and planes, Richard Branson prays that fuel prices remain high in order to stir people to take action to address global warming, Grist reports (via MSNBC).

Branson said the airline industry can reduce its CO2 emissions by about 25 percent over the next two years. Branson said he has started towards that goal by towing planes to the runway with an electric tug instead of taxiing planes.

Branson also said that he supports some type of a carbon tax for airlines. “Anything like that that cuts down greenhouse gases I support.”

Earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic pulled out of the UK government’s carbon emission reduction scheme after the air passenger duty was doubled.

Branson said that if there’s an adequate train service covering short-haul routes, people should be going by train, which produces about eight times less CO2 than planes.

“I think it should be government mandated,” Branson said.

In September, Branson announced that Virgin Group will spend three billion dollars in the next 10 years on a variety of projects to combat global warming and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. That announcement followed his investing more than $60 million into Cilion, a company that makes bioethanol from corn.



Virgin Group, NTR Form Virgin Bioverda

January 17, 2007

virgin-group-ntr-685.jpgRichard Branson’s Virgin Group and NTR have formed a joint venture company, VBV LLC (Virgin Bioverda), that will focus on U.S.-based ethanol. VBV’s first deal is an investment in two 100 million gallon corn to ethanol plants – Indiana Bioenergy in Indiana and Ethanol Grain Processors in Tennessee. The total capital investment in these projects will be in the region of $336 million.

Construction of both plants is to be carried out by Fagen, Inc. and is expected to be completed in 2008. VBV says it is has already identified a number of additional projects for development in 2007/08, and the company intends to look for additional biofuel opportunities in both North America and Europe.

“This is our second venture in the biofuel market in the U.S. since Virgin Fuels formed under the management of Shai Weiss,” said Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.

Richard Branson has pledged to invest up to $3 billion over the next 10 years to combat global warming. In September, Branson invested more than $60 million into, a company that will make bioethanol from corn. The new investments bring Virgin’s total financial commitment to the renewable energy sector to $150 million in the last twelve months.

NTR’s recently announced corporate strategy is to invest up to $3 billion in renewable energy over the next five years.



Virgin To Avoid Buying 4 Engine Planes For Environmental Reasons

September 4, 2007

virgin-to-avoid-3269.jpgRichard Branson says Virgin Atlantic will aim to avoid buying four-engined airplanes in future for both economic and environmental reasons, Reuters reports. Virgin Atlantic’s fleet of 38 planes all have four engines, and it has six four-engined Airbus A380 superjumbos on order.

But in April the airline announced it was buying 15 of Boeing’s new fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner jets with 2 engines.

Virgin is developing biofuels for aircraft alongside Boeing and engine-maker GE Aviation and plans to test them next year.


Related Stories
Boeing and Virgin Announce Environmental Partnership
Virgin Unveils Fuel-Saving Plan
Virgin To Test 747 On Biofuel
Branson: Airlines Can Cut CO2 Emissions 25% in 2 Years
Virgin Launches New Green Fund



Virgin Green Fund has been established to invest in companies in the renewable energy and resource efficiency sectors in the US and Europe. We are a sector-focused, multi-stage investment firm investing primarily in expansion/growth capital opportunities with an allocation to earlier stage venture capital opportunities. We are committed to helping companies at an inflection point of substantial growth and/or disruptive innovation. Diversification is a cornerstone of our strategy, investing across stage, geography and technology in our core sectors

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Virgin Green Fund is uniquely positioned to access attractive investment opportunities, and help portfolio companies maximise value:

  • Our experienced investment team has a demonstrated track record in helping companies to build, shape and accelerate growth
  • Our strong business relationship network and strategic vision help us attract valuable partners to propel our portfolio companies towards value creation
  • Our deep insight on market evolution helps us form a unique position on the risk/return profile of investment opportunities across multiple stages
  • Our brand awareness and affiliation with Sir Richard Branson create unparalleled deal flow and recognition

Investment Approach

At Virgin Green Fund, we seek out opportunities to partner with superior management teams and established businesses seeking to raise expansion or growth capital. In addition, we evaluate disruptive technologies in our core sectors. Our portfolio companies match our investment charter.

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Our investments span across stage, geography and technology in renewable energy and resource efficiency sectors.

We work alongside a number of leading investors on many of our investments.We partner with our portfolio companies as an active lead investor, leveraging our expertise and network, our experience in building great businesses, and our strong relationships with corporations, governments, academic institutions and NGOs.

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Our Investment Charter:

  • Invest in companies whose products and services reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and/or improve management of scarce resources, operate in environmentally and economically sustainable markets, and have a long-term positive impact on their communities and society more broadly
  • Conduct business with our partners in a way that is open, collaborative, based on trust and equitable

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And for ye of little faith:



US: October 16, 2007

BOSTON – British billionaire Richard Branson said on Monday his Virgin Group hopes to produce clean biofuels by around the start of the next decade and early next year will test a jet plane on renewable fuel.

Virgin hopes to provide clean fuel for buses, trains and cars within three or four years, Branson told a Mortgage Bankers Association meeting in Boston.

In the meantime, Virgin will be conducting a test jet flight on renewable fuels. “Early next year we will fly one of our 747s without passengers with one of the fuels that we have developed,” Branson told the annual conference.

Virgin is developing biofuels for aircraft in conjunction with Boeing Co and engine-maker GE Aviation, a unit of General Electric Co. Previously, Branson had said the company would test the fuel sometime next year and that some people had said it would be late in the year.

Air New Zealand has said it plans to test a flight on a combination fuel of biofuel and kerosene in late 2008, but Virgin is trying to beat that airline by testing biofuels first.

Branson pledged last year to spend all the profit over the next 10 years from his 51 percent stake in Virgin’s airline and rail businesses on fighting global warming.

He also created Virgin Fuels, which is investing US$400 million over three years in renewable energy initiatives, as part of the pledge.

Biofuels, at this point mostly ethanol and biodiesel, have witnessed explosive growth this year amid record oil prices and concern about global warming. They are believed to emit less greenhouse gases because they are made from plants like corn and soybeans that absorb carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas, when they grow.

Cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases from transportation sources is more difficult than cutting them from stationary sources like power plants. Power stations can switch from coal, the heaviest greenhouse gas emitter, to cleaner burning natural gas.

On Monday, Branson said jets may have problems using ethanol, the most common biofuel, which is made mainly from corn in the United States and sugar cane in Brazil.

He said ethanol freezes at 15,000 feet (4,600 meters) and that butanol, a fuel similar to gasoline that can be made from biomass, may be a better alternative. It is also less corrosive than ethanol.

Virgin Fuels has invested in a small number of US ethanol projects and hopes eventually to produce branded biofuels, the company’s managing partner said earlier this year.

Separately, Branson said Virgin would name one of its Galactic crafts — planned for use in space tourism — after his friend Steve Fossett, the millionaire adventurer who disappeared in a small private plane in the US West early last month.

Test flights of the Galactic crafts begin next year and passenger service is expected to begin in 2009.

Story by Al Yoon

image http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/44849/story.htm

So, are you are believer yet?


One response to “A Cool $25 Million to "Cool" the Earth?

  1. ”’. — Chord Symbol: Dm. Best Regards.