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Elon Musk says he's donating $100 million for carbon-capture tech prize

 SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and the SpaceX team are recognized by Vice President Mike Pence at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center following the launch of the company’s Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station on May 30, 2020.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and the SpaceX team are recognized by Vice President Mike Pence at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center following the launch of the company’s Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station on May 30, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Elon Musk is putting a big chunk of change into the fight against climate change.

"Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon-capture technology," the SpaceX and Tesla chief announced on Twitter Thursday (Jan. 21). "Details next week," he added in another tweet.

Carbon-capture tech, as its name suggests, is designed to snag heat-trapping carbon dioxide before it can wreak more climate havoc in Earth's atmosphere. Such equipment is already in use at some high-emission "point sources," such as power plants that burn fossil fuels. 

Related: What is climate change, and how is it affecting Earth?

It's no big surprise that Musk wants to improve and extend such tech. The billionaire entrepreneur has long warned about the dangers of climate change, calling humanity's heavy reliance on greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels "the dumbest experiment in human history." And, after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate pact in 2017, Musk resigned from several presidential advisory councils in protest. (The U.S. just got back in the Paris agreement, thanks to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.) 

Musk also has a dog in the climate-change fight, economically speaking. Tesla is an electric-car maker, after all, and it has a solar-power company (SolarCity) as a subsidiary.

Musk can certainly afford to make investments on the $100 million scale as well. He recently displaced Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos as the world's richest person. Thanks in large part to Tesla's soaring stock price, Musk is currently worth more than $185 billion, according to media reports.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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