February 12, 2007
Other related coverage
Climate change key issue for federal poll: Flannery
By announcing a $25 million prize for the first person to come up with a way
of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, Sir Richard Branson has
inadvertently drawn attention to the solution to many of the planet's global
As the airline kingpin threw balls into the air and exchanged notes on hair
management with Al Gore on Saturday at the press conference to announce the
prize, one thing became clear: the single greatest source of noxious hot air
in the world is Branson himself. As with many aspects of global warming, the
science is complex, but it is estimated that on average, 100 Inuits will be
displaced each time Branson holds a press conference. His recent
announcement of a plan to allow the Ashes to stay in Australia, for
instance, released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that in future
it will come to be seen as the single biggest reason for the disappearance
Press conferences about Branson's passion for ballooning have been
particularly damaging, combining the hot air of his words with the hot air
of the balloon to create a lethal emissions cocktail. If we are serious
about helping the Earth with its gas problem, it is clear we must first
abolish Sir Richard Branson.
The next step on the road to making the Earth cool again is to get Al Gore
making more documentaries. An Inconvenient Truth was a stunning
demonstration of the enduring pedagogical value of wall charts. But the
documentary also had a very practical impact on the reduction of greenhouse
emissions, by keeping people indoors. Humans - who release carbon dioxide
into the air through respiration - can only emit as long as there is an
atmosphere for them to emit into. Keep them in the darkened non-atmosphere
of a cinema and, sure, they'll keep on emitting, but the emissions will stay
behind closed doors.
Just as "No taxation without representation" and "No blood for oil" were the
slogans that defined, respectively, the Boston Tea Party and that bit of the
early 1990s where Australia started exporting barrels of crude human blood
in return for Iraqi oil, so our era will come to be known by its own
catchcry: "Keep emitters in cinemas."
The final two steps are more simple. First, we must get the Earth more
sinks. Carbon sinks are best, but aluminium ones will do. Second, we must
divest the planet of Siberia and all other useless sub-Arctic land masses.
I'm not exactly sure why, but it just seems like a good idea.
Sir Richard, your cheque please.