Ng and Design Should Help To Heal the Planet

vc the other precepts for future design that we have enumerated -. • >ne that follows is more guideline or mindset than rule. The »1 working with the living world and taking one's cue from the ;:-cernible there is the circuitous and overlapping yet incomplete hat one is able to perceive of its being. Processes, structure, and

- interwoven; everything is recycled to be born again. All is mo-« dux. Nor is everything entirely predictable. Mutations appear. -.r> are born, others die and are gone forever. Gary Snyder once

- greatest fear for the future was the irreversible diminution of

- •! -that vast resource bank of living material which gives Gaia ~ of resiliency and adaptability. In attempting to formulate

:< >r thinking about the kind of design that will evolve harmoni-

- n the natural continuum there is a factor that has been little con-•v nr in the past. It now has become possible to reverse the path i destruction of the natural world which, although old or older :.-.wn of agriculture, in our time has been proceeding at an unpre-

: -ate. We are now capable of affecting a reversal of the millennia-of the planetary fabric. We have acquired the knowledge of c technology, and the potential partnership in coevolution with uorld to begin a process of planetary healing, ixanetary healing we mean what the folksinger Pete Seeger said ~ alh w hen he wished for a golden thread with which he could ; oiis sorry world—with hand and heart and mind."- We are con-'.a: die equivalent of such a thread now exists in the form of some ii:o.i and interacting disciplines such as biology, ecology, and >:s. and as a result of advances in materials sciences and technol-r^e large-scale restoration possible. We argue this knowing that the industrialized countries continue, as is evident in their policies and ac tion, to behave as though they do not believe that we are all ultimately di pendent on the unimpaired functioning natural world for surviv; Acknowledging that, because of this, the political and sociological hurdl appear close to insurmountable, the need for such work is all the moi pressing and obvious in terms of an intrinsic obligation to the natural world. It is also our duty, our obligation to provide for present and future human generations. We have elected through our work in its various forms to attempt to do so.

There are countless small precedents for such an attempt and a few major ones. The small ones are as numerous as there are well tended gardens and fields, or conscientious environmentalists and nature lovers—anyone who acts to protect and preserve any form of living species. A favorite story in ecological circles is of The Man Who Planted Trees. The man, El-zeard Bouffier, was a shepherd who lived in southern France. Starting before the first World War, when death and destruction was the norm for so much of the world, he followed his solitary path, planting trees as he went. In his wake, where hillsides had been barren, they slowly returned to forest. Springs found their way back to the surface of the ground and the trees attracted the rains again. Then people began to drift back and settle in areas they had previously had to abandon and the region again came back to life. Elzeard Bouffier managed to reverse a process so common that we tend to see it as inevitable. Instead of deforestation followed by erosion and desertification, through the efforts of one single-minded man, a range of hills in southern France was transformed from barren lands to a series of green hills that created a habitat for a rich reservoir of life forms, all contributing in the way to the overall functioning of Gaia.

Richard St. Barbe Baker was another man who planted trees. In the ninety-two years of his life (he died in 1982) he fought to save California's remaining virgin Redwoods, a campaign that was crowned with the establishment of Redwood National Park. He wrote more than thirty books, campaigned and educated tirelessly on the beauty and importance of trees, and founded a society called "Men of the Trees" to extend the work. He was convinced, as we are, that many currently deserted areas were once forested and in 1952 found evidence that much of the Sahara had once been a tropical forest. He believed that the Sahara could be reforested to support one-hundred million people. A lifelong pacifist, he believed that the world's armies should be turned to planting trees.

Wendy Campbell Purdy is a woman who plants trees. Inspired by i- of Richard St. Barbe Baker she began her work more than twenty ¿j"i planting trees in Morocco. According to the publication Manas, —rs after she had established her first planting, the trees were twelve ih and she was able to grow wheat in the shelter which had been : v die trees due to increasing surface humidity.3 She had a similar on a larger scale, in Algeria. She subsequently founded a trust r.c "Tree of Life" to continue her work. Building on her already •projects, Tree of Life plans to plant a thousand mile protective ^ -all" right across Algeria in the shelter of which grains, orchards, rotables will be planted. Work such as this is healing the planet in -c .-e-an ongoing process by which the innate abilities of the human r^anic worlds are inextricably interwoven and mutually enriching.

- a - the life support of hundreds of millions of people is threatened e "i Id's expanding deserts. That this is not inevitable has been

- die work of these dedicated tree people.

Restoration is also possible and worthwhile and rewarding on a scale r modest than in the magnificent work of the three legends cited The valley below our house on Cape Cod has evolved through a <r- t phases. It is the inland end of what is a salt marsh half a mile the sea. The area conservation officer tells us that he can re-- v. hen it was pasture for cows. When we first moved here in 1970 it "artile of underbrush. We installed goats for milk for our children i -:t i the period they were growing up the valley was managed by the ■ were fairly indiscriminate and generous in their pruning • > When we retired the goats we found that the plant range had ■r: .:ced to not much more than monocrop goldenrod. We have since t?-: small vegetable, herb, and flower garden, extensively fortified e omnipresent and omnivorous woodchuck population. Outside t rtt fence we are inoculating almost at random, various meadow ^ i wild flowers. If weeds like mullein or daisies appear in the gar-transplant them. We have transplanted rose mallow from the tang marsh in the wetter areas. The greatest determinant of what

- s of course, whether or not the woodchuck finds it appetizing, r small and almost sporadic efforts we have made so far in en-

¡£- ^ plant diversity, however, have been more than rewarded by the _ .1 number of birds that have been attracted. Far greater than in > « 't the neighboring woods, there are times, in all season, when the tcrallv hums with the movement and sound of birds. -ach an experience can be replicated on a far greater scale.

Although there are few areas in the world where the primal ecological tegrity has not been violated, it is our hypothesis that there is a chance the ancient ecology lives on, but in scattered forms-in bits and piec various parts of the world-where it is available to be reassembled. Ta as an example the depleted shores and waters of the Mediterranean, envisioning how magnificent they must have been before the area fell to its destiny as the cradle of our civilization—there are other environm around the globe analogous to that of the Mediterranean. Some of species differ somewhat but similar life forms with comparable struct relationships exist in parts of California, Chile, Australia, Africa, and Indian subcontinent. It might be possible that organisms gathered fr such areas combined with those in the Mediterranean itself contain, aggregate, a sufficient array of species from which to restore or recreate ancient ecological integrity of the region. We have drawn up a pilot proj to begin to tackle a project of such vast proportions, one that integrates o experience in biotechnology and the replanting ideas of Bouffier, St. Bar Baker, and Wendy Purdy Smith.

The first step would be to create salt marshes in low-lying valleys. T do so we would install New Alchemy sail-wing windmills to pump sea wat into low-lying coastal valleys. The sea water would flow by gravity back the sea, the windmills providing a technological analogue of tidal action. The newly created salt marshes would then be planted with a variety of organisms and seeded with marine creatures collected from relic Mediterranean marshes. At this juncture ecologically-based mariculture could be undertaken to provide the restoration process with an economic base.

As the salt marsh becomes established the plan would be to plant brackish-water-tolerant plants, including the commercially important carob tree, around the edges. Many of these salt-tolerant plants would serve as an ecological beachhead for less tolerant plants on adjacent ground above. As the salt marshes start to act as catch basins for seasonal rains, this process will speed up. The marsh would begin to host a wide diversity of life forms, moving outward from the center, which in turn could trigger a more ecologically complex restoration cycle. The marsh complex would have the additional benefit of enhancing nearby marine life by acting as a nursery for many organisms that spend much of their adult lives in the sea.

We have mapped out a further restorative strategy that is more technological and would be particularly applicable to arid or impoverished areas. Bioshelters would be constructed for distilling sea water with the ie intention of nurturing young forests. The bioshelters would be r vmately fifty feet in diameter and use New Alchemy's pillow dome

- About a dozen would be pitched in a circle, like an Indian en-c Inside the central zone of each structure would be the translu-

- .ar tanks or solar-algae ponds to grow fish and to heat and cool build-J" .;ring the day, relatively cool sea water would be pumped into them. Temperature differential between the water in the ponds and the air

«: r-e enough to cause the tanks to sweat fresh water down their sides r e ground. At night the air would loose its heat to the atmosphere :r.~ moisture-laden air within would condense on the inside of the r -,:er skin and "rain" down onto the ground inside the periphery of : .. .ding. Trees and other plants would be planted in the wet zones i r r bv the "weeping" of the bioshelter. Once their roots were estab-

- : and compost rich soils created, the protective embryo of the bioshel- be lifted off and taken to a new site to repeat the process, leaving ~ .i the newly liberated ecosystem. Hardy trees could be planted adja-. this nucleus to further diversify the restoration process. Each r r/.er might be in place for two or three years before being moved to

- :\t locale. There are many possible variations on the salt marsh and r eker schemes and a number of intermediate approaches. Taken to-■er. they add up to an assembly of biotechnologies which can serve the ration process-early catalysts in the coevolutionary process of planet-

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Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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