This article was originally posted on Febuary 11th, 2007 at americanchronicle.com
Mr. Branson, Mr. Gore, I have done it. I have figured out a way to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere after it has been released and convert it to oxygen! I like to call this marvelous technology, the “tree.” It is amazing! This machine is very easy to build. In fact, they reproduce themselves. Take a little thing called a “seed” from a “tree” that already exists and put it in the ground and – violá – a couple months later a small tree appears. Don’t worry, it will grow. “Trees” come in many sizes, but the ones we need get pretty darn tall. These “trees” take carbon dioxide right from the air and once inside them it is converted to energy and oxygen is released. It is my understanding that at one time, perhaps hundreds of millions of years ago, these “trees” covered the Earth, probably as some sort of evolutionary process brought on by an overabundance of carbon dioxide.
Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for inventing the “tree”. Still, I’m sure that with enough of these spread across the planet – and if we take steps to stop producing carbon dioxide – we will be able to overcome this carbon dioxide problem. It is for this reason I am asking you if you will please give me the 25 million dollars anyway for coming up with this idea. If you do, I will make this pledge to you. I will pledge to you that I will not waste your money on fancy gadgets that cost more than they’re worth and don’t do the job they’re supposed to do. I will spend the money on systems that will help mankind overcome his dependency on oil and other fossil fuels and the billionaires who continue to extract these fuels from the Earth causing untold misery and ecological damage just so they can stay billionaires and maintain a certain control over all our lives. I will take one fifth of the prize and open a business selling solar and wind power systems. I will build a house in a busy location opened to the public that will show how well the new systems work. This will not be an ultra modern house or anything unsightly, but a normal looking house off the grid run completely with solar and wind power. Personally, I like Victorian style houses. This house would be open to the public so anyone would be able to walk through to see all the wonderful energy producing products available to modern man as well as the latest in energy efficient lighting products, appliances and climate control products. I would also open a facility on the same plot of land to make available research and development space for product improvements and new products such as zero emissions vehicles, if funding allowed. This facility could also be used to demonstrate how green roofs are being used to save energy and enrich our lives.
I pledge that I would use the rest of the money to buy and maintain land in South America. It seems as if the best “trees” for capturing carbon dioxide cover the areas in lands known as “rain forests”. I would buy land owned by farmers, at a nice profit for them so they could live comfortably, and convert that land back to “rain forest”. There, I would create hundreds of more “trees”. Of course, I probably couldn’t buy that much land back with 20 million, but every little bit helps. It occurs to me that a small facility could be built on this plot of land where scientists could do research on the natural flora and fauna in this reclaimed area and perhaps develop new medicines derived from these. Maybe even some species of plants or animals that are near extinction could be saved inside these few reforested acres. If this project works out, perhaps more people with money would also be interested in buying land for reforestation. What a marvelous thing it would be to see the “rain forests” rebuilt to their former grandeur.
To conclude, Mr. Branson, it is very generous of you to give away so much money for such a worthy cause. I hope you will consider my idea seriously. In the article I read, it was stated that we once had to wait 60 years to obtain a way to accurately measure longitude even though a prize like this was offered. It was also stated that we couldn’t afford to wait another 60 years for this technology. I agree. We should start working now with the technology already available, including the technology supplied by nature, to eliminate the creation of carbon dioxide as well as pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bring our planet back to a more natural state.