The Viridian Design Movement


Viridian Note 00489: Contests and Prizes

Key concepts:
morale-building amusements for a world ankle-deep in climate crisis; Richard Branson, Digital Earth Grand Challenge
Attention Conservation Notice:
you probably won't win these contests or these prizes. Might be pretty fun to watch, though.

Khosla's building a cellulosic plant to turn wood into fuel. That'll bear watching.

Go Green, get rich: the motto of Corporate Green.

Monster rock'n'roll global warming world concert. Hey dude, sex drugs and global warming; I gotta pirate the MP3 of that and run it on my anti-DRM Apple iPod.

(((These are boom times in green awareness. That boom will slow. The longer-term challenge will be keeping up the morale of the human race once everybody realizes that the heat is on and blow after blow after shocking, sudden, unexpected blow keeps pounding global society. Alan AtKisson has some wise things to say here, I think.)))


"A number of my professional friends are not celebrating this sudden emergence of climate change onto the world stage and even the big screen. Instead, they express a wide range of emotions, from puzzlement about what to do next (now that major world leaders and institutions have gotten in the game, some of the early thought-leaders will effectively be pushed to the margins), to a kind of sadness that has always been there under the surface but which, in the press of the fight, rarely could be expressed. The latter is all too easy to explain: being proven 'right' about an issue that threatens an impoverished and dangerous future for both our children and our ecosystems alike is hardly reason for jubilation."

(((So, yeah, there's the dent to the ego which comes from being right, but right too early, in the wrong way, and for suspicious reasons. That's annoying, but adults will get over that. The worse part is realizing that one is settling right into that state of a lasting, impoverished danger, not just for a couple of undergraduate semesters but for decades on end. It's not a matter of putting a shine on your shoes and a melody in your heart – the secret to survival under such circumstances is, pretty much, keeping busy. Just failing to learn helplessness. Open new options. Do things. It keeps despair at bay.)))

(((So, here's the planet's richest hippie, Richard Branson, offering 25 million to suck carbon and methane out of the sky. I know this sounds facile and ridiculous: like, what's with the gaudy showboat humbug here, especially from a guy who runs airlines? But you know what: gestures like this are going to keep some people from opening their wrists with razors. Besides, a contest can't do much harm and might do some good. The climate crisis is exceedingly grave, but we don't know every aspect of the problem, and a shiny fishing-lure like Branson's might pull some unexpected factor out from under a log.)))

Source: (((and about a million other sources, because Richard Branson knows how to grab headlines.)))

"Branson puts up cash for clean air

Saturday February 10, 2007

"Virgin Airlines boss Sir Richard Branson has announced a multi-million pound prize for the best way of removing thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

"The prize – around L10 million ($28.5 million) – will go to the most convincing invention for actively absorbing and storing the globally warming gas in the atmosphere. (((At least he's attacking a true problem – it's not enough to "reduce emissions," we've got to cease emissions entirely and remove the emissions already up there. I know that sounds impossible, but it isn't. Blandly watching capital cities sink underwater while major rivers run dry, that's what's impossible.)))

"Sir Richard has drawn up a distinguished panel of judges to oversee the prize, including James Lovelock, the inventor of the Gaia theory; James Hansen, the Nasa researcher who first warned the US Government of climate change; and Tim Flannery, the acclaimed Australian zoologist and explorer. (((Those are some greenhouse guys who've been sidelined consistently, now at least they get to eat smoked almonds and sip champagne in first class while they're flying to Branson contest judging gigs. Hey, being right about the greenhouse can't be all bad.)))

"Last September, Sir Richard announced at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York that he would invest all his profits from his five airlines and train companies – which he estimated to be US$3 billion over 10 years – into ways of developing energy sources that do not contribute to global warming. (((Okay, fine, the guy's "Corporate Green," but name somebody else who's done something that effective. Exxon-Mobil only dropped a mere 16 million to logjam the Senate, and that minor sum was spent since Kyoto was invented, years ago.)))

"'Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful world from our parents and they from their parents. It is in our hands whether our children and their children inherit the same world. We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment,' Sir Richard said at the time. (((Boomers. Man, they sure love themselves, don't they? You'd think the guy had never heard of Ford, Rockefeller, and Edison, not to mention James Watt. Boomers inherited a world that had just suffered World War II and was crazily fomenting a breakneck nuclear arms race – you can't blame Boomers for everything. Never mind, carry on, Sir Richard.)))

"Sources close to the new environment prize say Sir Richard is serious about trying to encourage ideas that bring down concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or at least slow down the rate of growth expected over the coming century.

"The technology is called 'carbon capture and sequestration' and it involves absorbing carbon dioxide gas by, for example, chemically combining it with minerals to produce an inert substance that could then be buried either underground or in deep-sea deposits where it would remain for 1000 years or more. (((I don't think that cheesy stopgap will impress Judges Hanson and Lovelock much. Contestants had better think harder.)))

"The idea is already being used to develop ways of capturing carbon dioxide emitted from power stations but Sir Richard's prize will concentrate on stimulating ways of capturing carbon dioxide from the general atmosphere, a much harder task because the gas will be in lower concentrations compared with the emissions from a power station chimney. (((It's a hard task, but a humble dandelion can do it every day.)))

"Sir Richard is known to have compared the idea of his technology prize to the famous prize established in the 17th century for the first person to devise a method of estimating longitude accurately to prevent ships getting lost at sea.

"The longitude problem was eventually solved by John Harrison, a self-taught Yorkshire clockmaker. – INDEPENDENT"

(((Okay, so maybe there's some self-taught algae geek in the woodwork somewhere who can turn atmospheric methane into artificial diamonds. Can't hurt to trawl the media to get his attention. When you think of it, this Branson effort is exactly like a Viridian Design Contest from eight years ago, only one million times more expensive.)))

(((Now for another odd and intriguing pastime suitable for a Viridian demographic.)))

"Hi Bruce,

"Please feel free to circulate to Viridians if you feel it's appropriate.


Mike Liebhold
Institute for the Future



"How can we better experience this world of ours at the cross roads of human impacts and climate change?

"How can we best communicate these experiences, particularly in light of the major changes Earth now faces, as one world? How can we most compellingly understand and communicate those experiences and processes? What 3D experiences or 3D tools can you share that might encourage the opportunity for a better world? (((Pretty good questions, eh? Especially the geeky, high-tech part that doesn't even require you to leave your desk!)))

"If you think you can do this in a way that demonstrates how people can more easily and effectively communicate, YOU COULD WIN BIG!

"The International Digital Earth 3D Visualization Challenge gives researchers, creative programmers, community leaders, activists, and students this unprecedented opportunity for international visibility of their work. Submit your entry by 1 April 2007 (((No, this is not an April Fools' Joke, despite the odd timing))) to be one of several International Digital Earth Challenge Winners!

"Winners will be flown, (((on a carbon-free Branson jetliner, no wait, okay, maybe))) with all expenses paid, from around the world to San Francisco for the June 5th to June 9th symposium. (((Oh come on, it's worth it just to go to San Francisco in the summer.)))

Six (6) finalists will receive their awards and prize packages at the Gala Awards Dinner on June 7th on the U.C. Berkeley campus. Contest sponsors, including Google, ESRI, and NASA (((hey wait, those are real sponsors with tons of money and credibility, these guys aren't even kidding))) will be attending the awards ceremonies for the International Symposium for Digital Earth awards dinner.

Winners will be afforded the unique opportunity to interview with these industry giants for potential employment opportunities. ((("Google... NASA... NASA... Google... gosh, I can't make up my mind which behemoth should employ my genius!")))

"Runners-up will receive outstanding recognition by the International Society of Digital Earth, and the major geobrowser leaders; ESRI, GeoFusion, Google, and the NASA World Wind team. (((I bet they've got some awesome T-shirts.)))

"Don't delay. Visit the Challenge Contest Rules today at

or on the conference web site at

"Be recognized as a world-class Digital Earth Champion! For the chance of a lifetime, accept the Digital Earth Challenge!!!



  1. Any citizen or class of citizens on the planet Earth may apply. (((Hey, what about us Gray Space Brothers? We've been meticulously mapping your shabby planet for years!)))

"2. Entries must be received in English by 1 April 2007.

  1. Entries must demonstrate unique or innovative applications, tools, or utilities for 3D Visualization.
  2. Entry Forms must be submitted electronically at

  1. Entries must provide a URL for location of their 3D Visualization entry.
  2. URLs must remain active for the duration of the contest (until 9 June 2007).
  3. Only one entry per individual or group may be submitted.
  4. Copyrights and ownership will remain with the author/creator; however, copyright permission to publish the entry and announce the winner's name will be retained by the ISDE5 Secretariat.
  5. If USA Visa restrictions prevent winners from traveling to San Francisco, a cash award will be wired to the contest winner's bank account. ((((Assuming you're allowed to have a bank after being deprived of a visa. This means you, 3-D-savvy Libyans, Cubans and North Koreans!)))


  1. All expenses paid travel, accommodations, and conference fees to the 5th International Symposium on Digital Earth hosted on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. (((Aw come on, who can't like that. You don't have to beat everybody in the world to win this thing: just the other chumps who are likely to sign up.))) 2. Special recognition of the winning entries by invited presentations.
  1. Receipt of Award Plaque and nominal cash prize at the Awards Dinner on 7 June 2007.
  2. Special dinner seating with VIP industry and technology leaders. (((Hey, Larry and Sergey are industry and technology leaders and they don't even have doctorates.))) 5. Technology Prize Package, a collection of valuable gifts including thousands of dollars worth of the leading geobrowser and tessellation software packages. ((("Free tessellation software!?" Wow, hold me back!)))


"A panel of internationally acclaimed judges will evaluate all entries to determine their relative ranking. Categories will include: (1) Applications and (2) Tools & Utilities.

Entries will be judged for:

Effective use of 3D perspectives.

Entries will also be judged for Digital Earth characteristics, including:

Open source
Ability to interoperate

Relationship to the themes of the Digital Earth Vision is important, for example:

Ease of use
Sustainable Development
(((Who can't love a list like that?! I want to live in that civilization even if it rains a storm every other Tuesday!)))


"Challenge contestants may submit their entries electronically to


Full Name (Family Name, First Name, Other Names): Work Place or School; Name and Address:
Home Address:
Contact Phone Number:
Email address:
Entry Description [500 word limit]:
Entry URL Location [Please include any access codes; Confidential for Judges Only]

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