Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, the idea of sending a person to the moon was unfathomable. The moon is over 238,000 miles from Earth! How would anyone ever reach it safely, and more importantly, return to solid ground when the mission was complete?
But people are amazing, industrious creatures, and President John F. Kennedy was determined to make that giant leap. He referred to it as a ‘Moonshot;’ a play on words—a variation of "long shot," describing a monumental effort and a lofty goal—uniting millions of people around an organized mission to put man on the moon. Moonshot catalyzed the development of technology as we know it.
Today, our challenge is more urgent. Humanity faces dire environmental problems requiring bold, groundbreaking solutions like, yesterday. In 2020, His Royal Highness Prince William, inspired by John F. Kennedy’s leadership in inspiring new innovation, launched The Earthshot Prize. He aims to find and grow the solutions that will repair our planet this decade; to regenerate the place we all call home. (Thanks, Prince William!)
The Earthshot Prize is the world’s most prestigious environmental award, involving a 10-month selection process, a panel of global experts, and a £1 million award for each winner to expand and launch their ideas.
“The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests—a decade of action to repair the Earth,” said Prince William.
Fleather, a finalist in Build A Waste-free World
The prize is centered around 5 ‘Earthshots’ which are both simple and ambitious.
Protect and Restore Nature: By 2030, we choose to ensure that, for the first time in human history, the natural world is growing—not shrinking.
Clean Our Air: By 2030, we choose to ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean, healthy air—at World Health Organization standard or better.
Revive Our Oceans: By 2030, we choose to repair and preserve our oceans for future generations.
Build a Waste-free World: By 2030, we choose to build a world where nothing goes to waste, where the leftovers of one process become the raw materials of the next—just like they do in nature.
Fix Our Climate: By 2030, we choose to fix the world’s climate by cutting out carbon. We wish to build a carbon-neutral economy that lets every culture, community, and country thrive.
Out of the more than 1,000 nominations submitted, 3 finalists have been selected from each of the five categories, and the winners of the award (a total of 5, one from each category) is set to be announced at a ceremony in Boston, MA. The solutions and innovations represented by the 15 Finalists for 2022 will help to put the world firmly on a trajectory towards a stable climate.
The Great Bubble Barrier
One finalist in the Revive Our Oceans category is an invention titled “The Great Bubble Barrier,” created by a team of ocean enthusiasts based in The Netherlands. Francis Zoet, Anne Marieke Eveleens, and Philip Ehrhorn have developed an ingenious way to stop harmful plastic from reaching our oceans. Prevention is vital; every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans, traveling in from rivers and canals. Once it enters the ocean, it is nearly impossible to capture and remove.
The Great Bubble Barrier has developed an effective solution designed to intercept plastic waste before it reaches the sea: the Bubble Barrier. The technology is simple: air is pumped through a perforated tube placed diagonally on the riverbed to create a “curtain” of bubbles, which directs plastic up to the surface and into a waste collection system, all without obstructing wildlife or boats. The concept has been used in the past by the oil industry to contain spills, and has now been developed to help local authorities remove debris from our rivers.
To date, the Bubble Barrier has been proven to catch on average 86% of plastic waste. Several Bubble Barriers have been installed in The Netherlands, including in the Westerdok, one of Amsterdam’s famous canals. Each month, Bubble Barrier Amsterdam stops an average of 8,000 pieces of plastic waste from leaving the canal and entering the North Sea. Two new Bubble Barriers will soon be implemented in Germany and Portugal. The team now hopes to scale the technology to reach polluted rivers worldwide.
Another compelling finalist is in the Fix Our Climate category, an Oman-based company known as 44.01. The founder and Carbon General, Talal Hasan, discovered a way to eliminate carbon by turning it into rock, removing it from the atmosphere safely, efficiently, and permanently.
Talal Hasan, founder of 44.01.
“The answers to the problems our planet faces can often be found in the natural world,” said Hasan. “At 44.01, we found a natural process that removes carbon and we’ve accelerated it. We believe this process is replicable globally and can play a key role in helping our planet to heal. Thank you to The Earthshot Prize, for recognising our work.”
In addition to their eligibility for the £1 million prize, all finalists will receive tailored support and resources from the Earthshot Prize Global Alliance members, which is an unprecedented network of private sector businesses from around the world who are committed to healing our planet. The list is lengthy and varied, spanning from Greenpeace to Walmart.
“I am so excited to celebrate these 15 Finalists and see the 5 Winners of The Earthshot Prize announced in Boston – the hometown of President John F. Kennedy, who shared The Earthshot Prize’s belief that seemingly impossible goals are within reach if we only harness the limitless power of innovation, human ingenuity, and urgent optimism,” said Prince William.
The Earthshot Prize awards ceremony will take place on Friday, December 2 at the MGM Music Hall in Boston. It will air around the world on BBC in the UK, PBS in the United States and Multichoice across Africa. The show will also be available globally on YouTube. It will premiere on Sunday, December 4.
For more information about The Earthshot Prize 2022 Finalists, please visit www.earthshotprize.org.
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