Can we Plant More Efficiently to Fight Climate Change?



When we think of how to fight climate change, specifically our own impact, we think of common strategies such as installing solar panels on homes, reducing the use of electricity and water, and, for some businesses and homes, maybe even planting more trees. This last topic was of particular interest to me and I began wondering whether or not companies or families should be putting more effort not just into planting more but into what exactly it is they are planting. I wondered how much impact it would have if we could find a method of determining a most effective species or a group of more effective species at reducing the effects of climate change. My project was making an extremely simplified yet perhaps partially effective way of tackling this problem through the use of two concepts that were covered in Game Theory this year: Utility and Linear Programming. A quick definition of each is that utility is a method of quantifying something which is qualitative, a method of assigning something a value, while linear programming is a method of achieving the best outcome in a mathematical model whose requirements are represented by linear relationships. By actually looking at the math and calculating the tree’s carbon impact compared to others, we could theoretically plant much more efficiently.

What You Need To Know

Ever since the industrial revolution, the world’s carbon dioxide emissions have continually risen at incredible rates. However, it is quite interesting that it is now, during the period when we are accelerating at some of the fastest rates we have seen, is while we are all trying to fight it. Thinking of this, I wondered what methods were being used to counteract this from complex methods like new energy sources and solar panel roads, to small simple things such as being more self-conscious of what we eat and how much water or electricity we use. However, one method of counteracting its effects that rarely sees any progress is through planting trees. As a method of counteracting climate change, trees get plenty of attention from the world as can be seen by the global reaction to the Amazon fire and a YouTuber’s – successful – challenge to raise 20 million dollars for the ArborDay Foundation, a plant-focused organization, to plant 20 million trees. This initiative saw donations from world leaders such as Marc Benioff, Verizon, Elon Musk, and the CEOs of Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook. NFL player Tyrell Crosby even whore customized shoes to help spread awareness. However, as stated earlier, while significant advancements have been made in the technology behind other climate change fighting methods, planting trees has always stayed just at planting trees. However, what if we took into account climate, total carbon sequestration, price, etc. and found a species or group of species of trees that was best at fighting climate change in each region of the world. By turning the ideology of simply planting a tree into this focus on maximization, the effects of its implementation would undoubtedly make a difference in the fight for our planet.

My Response

Now, there isn’t much data available on the different carbon sequestrations of different plants, however, certain studies have shown that there are species who are better than others. Therefore, in order to roughly estimate a species’ average total carbon sequestration, I looked into what determines the tree’s carbon intake. Essentially, a tree stores the carbon in itself and so the trees with the highest capacity are those who grow to be the largest, who grow to that size the fastest, and who live the longest. Now, as there is no value for total carbon sequestration, I used the defining features in order to form a utility value to estimate a species’s sequestration in relation to another’s. Then, by comparing the species’ comparative estimated sequestration to the amount of area it would take up and to its price, it became possible to use linear programming to maximize the total sequestration in a specific area for a specific budget. In other words, I estimated two different species of tree’s carbon capacities, I estimated the amount of space they’d take up, and then used linear programming to estimate how many of each should be used to efficiently maximize the total carbon sequestration in a specific place. It is clearly a lot of estimating and I wouldn’t even consider it a tentative method of finding a solution, but the actual method I used isn’t the point of this project; This was meant as a theory or an idea behind a possible method of changing how we think of planting trees. And I wonder how big an effect, if any, this could have in the fight for our planet.

My Question To You

What do you think? Is it realistic to believe that there is an actual method of determining the best species of trees for a specific region? Would it even have much of an effect on the world’s carbon emissions levels?

Works Consulted

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