Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Branson's Box

In a recent article in the New Yorker. Sir Richard Branson (who has come a long way from promoting Sex Pistols records) offers a $25 million award to anyone who helps impede climate change without seriously disrupting our way of life. This would entail not only a switch to carbon-neutral bio-fuels, but also calls for the invention of some form of technology that would actually reduce the amount of carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere. In other words, a gizmo in a box.

If such a device could be built, say as an engine that catalyzed CO2 into elemental carbon and oxygen, it would be worth far more than $25 million. It would also, by its very nature, disrupt our way of life. A clean source of energy, if it were small enough, would destroy the utilities and oil companies. Everyone would have a "Branson Box" in the basement,in the car, powering grow-lights and communications technology. Mid-east regimes, run on oil profits, would collapse into anarchy. The climate could cool off, hopefully not too cool, and, paradoxically, the earth's population, now showing signs of a Malthusian melt-down (especially in Africa) would rapidly expand at first, as the have-nots embraced the new world order.

Of course, no such box exists. But Sir Richard has proposed this idea, his lucky streak in business always depended on his eye for the next big thing. He has defined the problem and offered an incentive to its solution.

By Professor Batty


Blogger sharon spotbottom said...

I read that like a juicy intrigue novel. sequel please!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A CO2 catalyzing "engine" already exists..in the form of every leafy green plant that ever grew. The solution for every problem we face has already been engineered in nature - we just need to adapt our technology and behavior to re-fit in with the rest of the global ecology. If that means fewer Virgin airliners, so be it. Paradigm shift...1,2,3 everybody move!

Blogger Professor Batty said...

... if you read the entire article, Branson is remarkably aware of, and is planning for, a future of running an airline on biofuels. His more difficult challenge will be to extract the CO2 already in the atmosphere, a task that many ecologists believe is beyond the capability of plants alone to achieve... the global ecology can handle 100 million people quite easily, 5 or 6 billion is another question altogether, at any level of technology.

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