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The Earth’s Bright Future
an article by Beth Pearce

The history of human progress in this world is remarkable. Our successful development of complex societies and technologies is impressive, but has it been entirely positive? The legacy of human progress and development has left an indelible mark on our planet, and this negative consequence now threatens the very future of the Earth. The increase we now see in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere is caused by an increase in lethal carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Some assert that this climate change is an inherent quality in the natural evolution of the planet, but most agree that human behavior is largely to blame.

An unlikely source has emerged to combat this problem by offering incentive for others to develop technology to save the planet. British adventurer, businessman, airline tycoon, media mogul Sir Richard Branson has launched The Virgin Earth Challenge, offering a $25 million reward to the scientist (or group of scientists) that develops the technology to remove carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere. In competing for the largest ever science and technology prize in history, our world’s greatest inventors and innovators will not only be financially rewarded, but will potentially save the planet. Sir Richard Branson is trying to ensure that the tremendous achievements of human society are also good for the environment.

Our modern civilization has the capacity for great technological innovation, yet we have not generated a way to turn back the tide of global warming. Scientists who devote their careers to developing technologies that will benefit the future of our planet should be rewarded; that is what this challenge aims to do. It is an important step that may shift the priorities of our brightest minds to the preservation of our planet. Sir Richard Branson believes 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”.

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Question(s) related to this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Latest reader comment:

[responding to CPNN article The film 'Demain', a manifesto?

Yes initiatives from the grassroots are important and necessary which will have a direct impact on the present and the future. But there are governments like India which are conscious of over exploitation of the earth’s resources and are taking suitable policy measures and also taking legal action against the exploiters.

We must emphasize public transportation and reduce our dependence on individual cars even though the auto industry will not like this.

Otherwise it is not demain but aujourdhui — the problems are there for us to see.

This report was posted on March 13, 2007.