17 February 2009

Plant, Krauss, and ... Toth.

Whoa! Cool video. Maybe the world can still make cool music.

More importantly, here's another lurch toward saving the world with O.R.: my smart colleague Sandor Toth at University of Washington won the "Best Presentation" prize in forestry for "Optimal Reserve Selection Subject to Contiguous Habitat Requirements." The work aims to find the best way to connect plots of land into larger contiguous regions in order to improve ecological functions. Hard stuff - graph theory, economics, computer programming, algorithms, but this work and similar research will eventually show us how to improve ecology on a continental scale, and at least cost.

Here we are, nerds plodding along with our computers and algorithms, and few people see the impending revolution in the environment. Engineers and scientists don't get the visibility of the rock stars. Saving the world won't be easy, and undoing all the environmental damage we've done will take the best talent we can find to solve these problems, and political will, too. These problems are solvable, and the political will is starting to be there. But, again, we do need talented folk to help us. Then we have to raise the profile of these solutions sufficiently high that society can buy into them.

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