New Environmental Prize

From the New York Times:

LONDON — Prince William on Thursday announced the establishment of an environmental prize worth 50 million pounds, or $65 million, that will reward climate change solutions over the next 10 years, saying it was an effort to “turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism.”

Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist behind dozens of documentaries chronicling the planet’s biodiversity, has joined a council overseeing the prize and helped promote its launch through promotional videos and joint interviews with Prince William.

Prince William said the “Earthshot Prize” was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s launch in 1961 of a decade-long research program, “Moonshot,” to send the first person to the moon.

It will comprise five awards of £1 million each for each of the next 10 years, centered on “earthshots,” or goals — fixing the climate, cleaning the air, protecting and restoring nature, reviving oceans, and tackling waste.

Innovation, obviously, is good.  More efficient solar and wind are important developments, though perhaps less so than advanced nuclear.  We seem to be right around the corner from advanced fission, using thorium.  We’re also on the cusp of advanced fission, where the most promising technology looks like the aneutronic fission of hydrogen and boron to make three alpha particles (helium nuclei).

But what do phrases like “right around the corner” actually mean?  People have been saying “we’re 20 years away from …. (some energy Holy Grail)” every year since I was a little boy 60 years ago.  It seems that the boy may  have cried “Wolf!” too many times to be taken seriously.

In any case, hooray for Prince William.  His heart and his money are in the right place.