Prep Day 3 – Trees vs New York City Rebuild

Planting trees to fight global carbon emissions: is it that “simple”?


A new “New Deal”–not unlike the recovery strategy used by FDR 7-8 years after The Great Depression (wait…when was the 2008 financial crisis again…?) successfully stimulated the economy through a variety of public works programs, not wholly dissimilar to what I referred to yesterday: planting treesen masse.

But what would it take?

Well, considering that the U.S. represents about 10% of the yearly global carbon emissions, and considering the liberal guesstimate previously made of what it would cost to plant enough trees yearly to offset our emissions, it follows that paying ten times as much for ten times as many tree planters to do the work would theoretically zero out excess global carbon emissions (yes, that’s based on a whole lot of grand suppositions, but follow it through for a moment…)

In other words, it would cost about $125.58 billion per year (assuming the trees were allowed 40 years to do their work.) Interestingly, by holding our carbon emissions constant (which is doubtful as developing countries begin to produce more…) 40 years of following such a strategy would culminate in a long reprieve from more planting (considering that trees live for a good deal longer than 40 years when properly cared for, and each of the several billion trees planted by then would be sequestering about 48 pounds per year of carbon for many years after their requisite 40.)

What does this mean? Well, it sort of means that our quite expensive visions of technology that seeks to ‘scrub’ greenhouse gases from factory emissions before they leave the proverbial smokestack and then burying the resultant waste in the ground are essentially dreams of re-inventing the wheel. Trees can do it if we’d just stop cutting so damn many of them down and start planting some. One at a time.

But then, it would cost about $5 trillion over the next forty years to use such a strategy. I wonder if it’s worth it to spend that much, considering that failing that we can always just rebuild New York City (total real estate value ~ $880 billion) a little further uphill, relocate Miami (<$880 billion) in a similar fashion, and let the Indian government worry about Calcutta. Japan is likely to lose 30% of its land mass, but then the Japanese are experts at packing themselves into coffin-style hotel rooms from what I’ve heard.

Wait, the Maldives will be underwater too…that will require an Atlantis-style Glassdome…probably Lexan actually, perhaps 6 inches thick…what’s the price per unit volume of Lexan again? Drat, I’ve forgotten the formula for the volume of a half dome shell. It couldn’t be that pricey to cover a land area of 115.2 square miles with a 6″ thick dome, could it?

Hmmm…this is getting expensive, maybe we should just cut our consumption of carbon-intensive food products, improve our utilization of renewal energy, work on packing our bags for Mars or…oh, I don’t know…plant some trees?


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