10 Podcast Review of the book Just Enough by Azby Brown
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shauna carr

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since Feb 18, 2012
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Recent posts by shauna carr

Amy Gardener wrote:
Healthy sagebrush and four-wing salt bush were also identified as potentially promising locations. Washes and places with signs of run-off collecting from nearby slopes indicate greater moisture under the soil surface. Looking for signs of water awakens my senses and cultivates my own roots in this desert.

thank you for sharing this - really interesting!

I really love the reminder of how much it matters to take a look at what is around us in the area we hope to grow food in, what it's telling us about the conditions there.

Although so interesting about the saltbush. I'm in southern AZ, and in my area, one reason saltbush is a sign of a good site to grow other plants is because it absorbs a lot of salt and calcium (and puts them into the leaves, which can be burned and make a culinary ash that can be eaten ^_^), and that's a good thing for my particular soil type.

I am not sure if it would be possible to grow corn here without irrigation. The heat here is quite a bit higher than up north in the project area, and we get 1-2 inches less rain annually, so it may just be too hot with too little rainfall to manage. But it would be worth exploring how little water could be used, I think.
8 months ago
So, in my own person opinion, I am not sure I have plant ideas that will be much good, but have some thoughts on what to look for.

First, I would not look for good mulch plants that need much water, at this point. Like a lot of places in the SW (including where I live, and my brother is in Albuquerque as well), the water cuts coming this year and the following, from the Colorado river, are likely to up the price of water and lower the availability.

Since some of your fruit trees will require irrigation, you don't want a lot of plants that are going to need a lot more water on top of that, you know?

Second, also related to both the water and the crap soil, if you can find plants that are doing more than one task, that'll help cut down on the irrigation needs while still getting you some help. So, like, mulch and nitrogen fixer and pollinator attractor, as an example.  I have really enjoyed looking to native plants because they tend to bloom at the same times that pollinators are coming out in my area, and they usually do find on the water in the area without extra irrigation needed.

One that I use over in AZ is lupines. I know there are some lupines native to NM, and some that are native to the higher elevations, too, and I believe most varieties are nitrogen fixers. And as they are native, they tend reseed pretty easily. Just need to cut down maybe half of them before they got to seed, chop and drop 'em, basically, and let the rest reseed for the next year. It'll attract pollinators as well.

While melons and such might be nice, they will eat up a lot of water that you may not have to spare. Even mullein out here often needs more water - the local mullein where I am only grows up in the mountains on the edges or even IN the arroyos that have lots of water throughout the year. That's gonna be hard to recreate, I would think.

Another neat little plant that I have with some of my tree guilds, on the edges where they get a little water but not much, is Mexican yellowshow. It's only native to AZ and NM here in the USA. (,%20Mexican%20Yellowshow.html#:~:text=Recorded%20Range%3A%20Very%20rare%20in,in%20extreme%20southwest%20New%20Mexico. )  It only comes out when it is hot, in mid-summer, when the monsoons come. It makes a low level bush that attracts pollinators, and the leaves, the seeds, and a tuber (when you have enough you can dig it up) that are all edible and mild tasting and don't have thorns. Then after the summer, it dies back so completely you can't even tell it's there, which can make it nice for the rest of the year if you want to plant native herbs or something in the same areas. It's been a great companion plant so far -doesn't seem to outcompete anything, just does its little thing for a short period every year.

Climbing tepary beans have been something I've used as well that were pretty good, and do well in our climates.

Sorry I don't have more ideas, though - there are other plants I use but most of them can't quite tolerate the colder temperatures up in Albuquerque

11 months ago
Although you found some other threads, thought i'd pop in with one thing about the terra cotta pot ollas, which was basically that you have to REALLY do research to get that one to work.

At least in the USA, there are a lot of 'terra cotta' pots that aren't actually fully terra cotta. They are terra cotta with a cement inner core, and that core ends up preventing the water from getting through, basically. I've had more than one business that I asked about their terra cotta pots, they assured me up and down were 'real' terra cotta. I tried them, didn't really see much benefit and ended up digging them up, and then a big windstorm came by and blew them over, shattering them, and they all had cement in the middle of the terra cotta. :-/

I know there are real terra cotta pots out there, but a lot of places don't really mean much by the term except that the outside is terra cotta, best I can tell.
1 year ago
re: the saltbush and creosote folks have talked about...

while it can be good for other animals, if you have the right variety of saltbush, you can eat it yourself, instead. With the higher mineral and salinity content, in some cases saltbush leaves are burned and the ash is used as something called a culinary ash, and added to food (Hopi Piki bread is one well known food using this near my area - mentioned briefly here )

However, saltbush can also be really helpful in areas that are now going to be having a lot more water than normal, if there is any build up of minerals or salinity, so if any grow near areas where you may be having any increased water storage, it might be worth leaving it there for a while and seeing how salinity levels are, perhaps?

creosote - I literally make a suntea out of the leaves and use it as a slightly anti-bacterial cleaning liquid for my counters and floors, if necessary, and just rinse it off. This stuff is great.

But also, re: saltbush and creosote and keeping grass away. Honestly...I have not seen evidence of this (edit: in terms of allelopathic issues and the like, I mean).

Most of the research I've seen that seemed reliable indicates that while they have seen evidence that while some chemicals that exist in the plants could be problematic, they are not seeing evidence of this being a problem when actually examined in the real world - grass grows beneath creosote just fine, basically, in many case (including my own yard).

That's not to say creosote or saltbush don't outcompete grass sometimes, obviously.  

What I see more often around me is the fact that creosote and saltbush can grow in some areas that are very difficult for other plants, including grass, to survive in - too hot, too dry, too poor a soil. So when the other plants are weakened or struggling, the creosote or saltbush outcompetes them and the other plants don't survive.

But in areas where there's a bit more rain, or a bit better soil...I'm seeing grass grow among the saltbush or creosote much more reliably, and I can only assume it's because it's because the area is better for the grass so the advantage by the creosote or saltbush is not as great, if that makes sense?

So if you don't have ANY grass beneath the creosote and saltbush, it might be more a case of the area not being very hospitable for it, potentially. It may be hospitable enough for grass to survive if there is not creosote or saltbush, admittedly, but...guess I"m just mentioning this to say that it's probably not an automatic thing that grass will come back/grow well once creosote and saltbush are gone, is maybe the best way to say it?

But congrats on getting the water to stay on your land!  That's fantastic, and I hope you can get your land set up just perfect for what you want.
1 year ago
I grew up in NM, now live in So. AZ, near a pecan orchard, actually. So, my thoughts on this project are based on that.

1. Are you planning on irrigating from another water source? If not, the variety of your pecans may matter significantly more. I am unsure about all varieties, but in my area, at least, the pecans seem to require irrigation, mostly because they need consistent watering (even in very good soil). So the monsoon pattern of water, or water that falls and soaks into the ground but doesn't come again for a while, doesn't work well for them. I know the Las Cruces pecan growers do a lot of irrigating as well.

I don't know if it's required for the trees to survive, period, or more for the trees to have enough resources to produce nuts for a crop, however.

2. Do you know if you have javalinas near your property? I believe it's within their range but wasn't sure if they happen be specifically there or not. They are murder on plants as well, but a bit more hefty than deer, etc... and can dig up plants quite a bit more. There are plants they don't like, tend to avoid more, that can work like deterrents (native desert plants). This link mentions them:

These little guys will literally eat prickly pear cactus - not just the fruit, but the actual thorn filled pads. They are tough little guys.

3. pollination - you may want to double check that you have good wind levels in the area when you need them to be pollinated. Likely it'd be fine, but I've had a few plants that need wind pollination and ended up having to hand pollinate because we seem to get almost no wind during the time of year they are producing pollen. :-/

4. Critters - down in this area, critters are going to be drawn as much by water as by food, so if you have any area with standing water, due to the swales, that's likely to draw in critters. They will often dig up damp earth to try and find a source of water, during the hot months, which can be murder on seedlings. I'd had small trees completely dug out by animals as small as packrats and ground squirrels, just trying to get at the water in the ground after a good rain, when the dirt stayed damp for longer. Even larger birds like quail will do this.

re: protecting the seedlings/trees - For a few years, small critters will be as much of a concern as large. I have a lime tree that is about 6 feet tall, now. Most branches on it are thin, 1/2 inch at the most, in the upper areas. More than once, I have come out and little round tailed ground squirrels had climbed the tree and chewed through the branches entirely to drag them back to their nests. Literally destroyed over half the tree. I have had a pinyon seedling 4 feet tall that they chewed through at the base and killed entirely.

I have a lot of growth and native plants around both trees, but it wasn't enough. For whatever reason, they wanted THESE trees, specifically. Although I have had some success in keeping critters away from plants, with native plants, but in these cases, I literally have to surround and 'hide' the protected plants with a horde of native ones, ones that hide visually AND with strong scents. I have haven't tried to do it for anything that's not an annual, though, so I don't know how well it would work in a longer term sense.

I do not know what little critters you will have, but they have been harder to control for here than the larger animals, at least until any trees are much larger. They can climb over or dig under fencing, so you literally may have to keep things enclosed to keep them out, or have some, say, sacrificial pecan trees that are easier to access (if these trees seem to be targeted by the critters)

Making the area a snake friendly habitat can help with keeping the little rodent population down, but you have to plan for that when trying to harvest pecans eventually, as well.

Although it may be helpful to explore a bit about what helps things break down in the soil in that area, before making plans to try to keep critters too far out, at least initially.

I don't know if it's like my own area, but after living here, one thing that I found out is how significantly different things function here, in terms of plant matter breaking down and enriching the soil, due to the temp, the lower rainfall, and the low humidity. Here, it's too dry - even deep in a swale - for plant matter to break down very quickly. Outside of rain events and a little after, the plant matter will just kinda sit there, and termites and packrats and other burrowing critters are actually the main way the soil gets broken down and water and nutrients get into the soil. Mushrooms and other things that require damp to break things down have much less of an impact around here.

Things DO break down,  don't get me wrong, it's just much slower than in other areas, which means planning for a longer period of time needed to have soil nice enough for planting the pecan trees.

If one is irrigating, the plant matter can break down a lot more quickly, and that may be needed to start things off well for the first few years, but yeah...having critters involved in helping enrich the soil, at first, might be something to consider as part of the plan, for an inexpensive and hands free approach, as it were.

Also, if you are irrigating, anything that the critters can chew through is in danger - again, they go for water pretty hard core. Have to have things buried or made of metal, etc... if you aren't able to keep a close eye on things regularly.

5. pioneer plants - mesquite does often readily reseed, yes. I have this happen all the time in my yard, so you'll likely run into it. I don't really know of anything that keeps that from happening except something to eat them down, or pulling them out. They have VERY long roots - taproots can be extremely long, and they can spread out their roots 2-5 times the diameter of the drip line of the tree, so it can be a bit of a process to get 'em out. But they do provide a lot of food, the wood is good for smoking, it is food safe, and it is also a hard wood so can be used for soap making, as well.

There are some native lupines that are popular enough that you can get seeds for them, that are also nitrogen fixers, so that can be a nice plant to add to the mix. I think there are a few other native nitrogen fixers as well, but can't recall the names off hand.

It looks like a really nice property. Hope you can make something awesome there.
1 year ago

Dave de Basque wrote:
The figures mentioned for rainfall in Saudi Arabia (Al Baydha project, ~50km south of Makkah) threw me for a little bit of a loop, I think there must  be some confusion between metric and imperial measurements or something.

You are absolutely right - I screwed up. Don't know how, but accidentally mixed up my figures for the Asir Mountains with the Hijaz mountains. *head desk*  You know, only picking the highest rainfall in all of Saudi Arabia to mess up with, LOL. Thank you for catching that!  I'm curious to go explore it more.

Dave de Basque wrote:
I'm interested in the idea that the CCC projects in Arizona had any deleterious effects, have you got any more info? I can't imagine how swales and check dams, allowing the water to slow down and soak in, and even allow some streams to run much of the year where they hadn't before, could be anything but beneficial for those downstream. Do I just have my rose-colored glasses on? Honestly interested in hearing more about this.

re: the ccc projects...maybe a little rose colored glasses? This one is near and dear to my heart, because this is in the part of the world where I live now, and close to where I grew up as well, so I feel more informed about it.

I guess the first thing would be briefly discuss what kind of waterways we have here.

Aside from a few rare areas, the majority of this desert (including where the CCC made their swales) contains ephemeral streams (or arroyos). These are only fed by rain fall, as opposed to underground water sources, and water runs in them for mere hours to a few days after a precipitation event. The vast majority of these rain events happen during a 2-3 month period.

So the majority of this area has no running water during the year aside from rainfall (the only one we used to have was just one year round river, from an underground springs source, and a business group, early on when Europeans came to the area, sunk in wells at the source and the river ran dry in just a few years as a result).

So there really aren't any streams that would run more of the year...heck, our ephemeral streams running even a full week, let alone a month, seems very unlikely.  It's just not how this environment works, even without any human interference.

Now, can I say that I've seen the evidence first hand of the damage from the CCC swales? Yes and no.
I have seen no research on it, or any of the other CCC projects in this area. Not really an area the government much cares about right now, ya know?

But I can speculate on what I see elsewhere in this same environment, and even what I've seen in that area (it's a place I can drive to and hike around fairly easily).   And from what I've seen, the swales like the CCC one cause problems because of the size of our rain events, and the frequency.

Something that slows down the water a LITTLE is not bad. We have periods of erosion and alluviation in our arroyo systems, but these are sometimes problematic with human habitation and avoiding damage, so yeah, we've got to do something to help slow down erosion, if nothing else.  Give the water a teeny bit more time to soak in just a little here and there can help with that, help a certain area. Get a few more plants in the area, a few more animals there.

But while we get a couple months with some LARGE rain events, the rest of the year, it's not uncommon to only have small rain events, and the plants and animals need to get every last ounce of that water to help them survive.  Water from just one missed rain event can mean the difference between life and death, at the wrong time of year.

These non-monsoon rain events are often small enough that even a moderate swale and check dam don't slow down the water, they just stop it completely (placement and size matter, obviously). And because the next rain event may not be for weeks, or even months, a lot of the plants and animals downstream can't survive the loss in expected water, so it lowers the biodiversity downstream, even if you get an uptick in plant and animal life at the swales/catch dams.

We even run into this with mulch - many rain events here aren't heavy enough to fully soak into the mulch, so inches-deep mulch with no irrigation can result in the mulch getting a bit of rain, absorbing it, and releasing it back into the air without the plant even getting any water.

So in areas where I have seen the water blocked by something that was too large for the water to fill and flow over during average rain events (which the CCC swales most definitely are), it does more harm than good for life trying to survive downstream from it. At least in my experience.

Hope that makes sense...bit sleep deprived today, so I'll have to go over this later and make sure I'm coherent.
1 year ago
Just re: the hook (bottom picture, second from the left) - I know the hook might be an orifice hook, but I thought I'd mention another possiblity.

I inherited a few hooks that look just like this from my great grandmother. They turned out to be vintage buttonhooks, used for clothing (or shoes) where there were a lot, and often much tighter fitting, buttons to close. (I've seen Victorian era and Edwardian era that look similar, but the one I have isn't nearly as old).

They look very similar to orifice hooks, with just some slight differences, but the hook you have looks nearly identical to one of the ones I inherited from my Nana.

(here's some Edwardian ones for sale for an example of how they look: )

I'm not sure how one can tell the orifice hooks apart from buttonhooks, honestly, but maybe someone else does?

EDIT: I stand corrected on how to tell them apart, LOL.  My eldest kid owns a spinning wheel and tells me that, based on the assumption of the size of the hook compared to a crochet hook, that from what they can tell, the orifice hooks they have seen are usually made of thinner metal/wire (like, not too hard to bend it by hand), and the curve for this is common for buttonhooks, but seem to be less common for an orifice hook (in their experience - they are not an expert in spinning), and the orifice hooks they have seen usually have a longer shaft before it hits the handle.

The buttonhook tool they had, the widest part of the hook part was maybe 1/2" -ish, but the orifice hooks they have were smaller than that, at the widest point of the hook.

But scale is a bit hard to tell from the picture, but if the crochet hook is 'average' size, they are thinking maybe buttonhook as well.
1 year ago
Congrats on your project, it looks like it'll be a lot of fun!

So, most of the info I have that might be of use involves smaller specifics and might be more along the lines of 'might be good to research,' but I hope it can help!

First thing: the saguaros. I would highly recommend that you do not dig in around the saguaros if you can help it, if you want them to survive and thrive. They have a very wide root spread - the roots spread out from the cactus for the same number of feet as their height, in all directions (so a 50 foot cactus has a 100 foot diameter total root spread), but it's only a few inches deep - usually 3-5 inches or so.

And the root system has nearly as slow a growth as the saguaro itself, so if the roots are damaged, it takes an incredibly long time for them to come back. A 4 foot cactus' 8 foot root system usually takes about 55 years to grow, for example. So the cactus will have to cannibalize its own internal supplies to try and survive while its roots recovers, if they are damaged. And as we are in a huge mega drought, and may be for a number of years, this could be disastrous for the saguaro, you know? an aside, this is why so many saguaros in cities, with little to no space around them to grow roots, are sickly and dying.  Modern landscaping is honestly terrible for saguaros. :-/

re: food production. Are you irrigating, or planning to have any gray water? If you are not, you may want to explore whatever information is out there about...I don't know what the official term would be for this, but basically, at what heat, and at what rainfall level, various plants will stop producing.  

I've run into this problem with a lot of desert permaculture plant suggestions before. I get lots of suggestions for what plants will survive a desert climate, but that is NOT the same thing as what plants will still produce food in the same climate. If there is not enough water, your plants will sacrifice making seeds for survival, for the perennials.

Heat can be an issue as well, if you are bringing in any non-native plants - even with shade, some desert plants may struggle with the temperatures + low humidity you are getting out in west Phoenix, if they aren't from a desert that is quite that hot, you know?

re: birds that eat insects - While providing food sources to attract birds sounds good, I would also consider nesting areas and especially shade if you want to attract birds to help keep insects down, as well as a water source if you can manage it, because the drought plus the rising heat, and its impact on plant growth and food sources, is quite literally killing them in AZ.

Small birds have a much lower heat tolerance than we do - the rising temperatures are more dangerous for them. So they were already struggling BEFORE the fire. But with a fire in your area, it's obviously killed off a lot of of the plant life that provided shade and nesting, not to mention food. So they will likely need more support than they might in a typical permaculture site, especially if they have to travel a ways to GET to your site, if the area around you is burnt and doesn't have as much to support them.

(a few brief news stories on the heat and drought problem for birds in AZ-          )

re: the grasshoppers. You mentioned " I heard they only eat plants that are weak, lacking nutrients/ soil life or ph is off. "
Soooo...this information is kind of one of those 'in regular circumstances, this would be true' kind of things.

You aren't in regular circumstances though. One thing I think it's really good to remember is that it's not just your plants that  suffered from a pretty devastating fire - every other living thing in that area is dealing with it as well. Your area's entire ecosystem is going to be out of wack.

This is going to be a pretty unique situation, in terms of what your site is going to experience. Before, it was a permaculture site in an area that had a working ecosystem that your site would have...kind of just plugged right into and used, you know? But now, you don't. The fire trashed it. It''s kind of like moving into a house in a city, vs. moving into a house in a city that just survived a hurricane and has no working infrastructure back up yet.

It can be done, but I guess what I'd say is that your project may be more impacted by this than is obvious at first glance. There may be a lot of situations you run into that aren't going to follow what most permaculture sites are dealing with, which may mean that for conventional wisdom, 'mileage may vary,' as it were.

For example, anything that eats/needs plant matter - leaves, bark, roots, seeds, pollen, you name it - may be dead and gone or could be desperate and potentially on the verge of starvation because their food is, as you noted in how much was burned on your property, GONE. These critters are not just going to eat weak plants; they are going to eat everything, And if you plant a lot of plants, and the area around you is still devastated from the fire? Well, it's going to be like the plant version of the Field of Dreams: if you plant it, they will come.

And the predators of these plant eating critters ALSO got decimated by the fire. They may be too small in number to keep the grasshopper population down at this point.

Or something needed for them to survive/have babies/thrive in your area may no longer exist due to the fire, so they might be living in other areas until your area can support them again and they come back.

So basically, dealing with how messed up the fire has left everything is likely going to be an ongoing issue, because it's going to be added on to the mega drought that was already stressing the animals and plants, plus it's a desert, so it takes animals and plants longer to come back from stressors already.

So for example,  exploring what pollinators are still around may be a good idea. Like, most of our local bees are ground dwelling - how many of them can live through fires? How far do the local bees travel to find pollination sources and is that far enough away that the fire would have still impacted them so you won't be getting local bees for a while? How were bat habitats affected in your area and how will that impact pollination? How were butterflies and moths impacted by the fire? How is the local bird population after the fire - did it hit during nesting season, for example?

I have no idea what the answer to these questions is, obviously, but...yeah, I think it may be really helpful for you to explore that so you know what difficulties you may be facing. They are going to be really distinct, but honestly, I would think that the information you get from this process could be really valuable for others who might be trying to help areas that are also devastated by fires and other natural disasters.

Oh, and re: pests  as well - one thing that may be good to look out for is what trees/bushes you want to put in and how drought stressors impact your plants' natural protections (or impact the critters that provide some protections).

This was an issue in New Mexico about 10-15 years ago and is still a problem. The Pinyon pine there has a bark-beetle that can be a problem, but like with the grasshoppers, typically it was considered to only be a problem with unhealthy trees. However, the defenses healthy trees have to keep the beetle away turned out to be highly impacted by severe drought, and so when the drought started getting really bad in NM, the beetles absolutely decimated the pinyon pine population across the state. Between 40%-80% of the trees died, depending on the area.

And goodness, rereading my post, gotta say sorry; this post comes off a bit doom-and-gloom. I know it's more 'look out for' than 'this is good to try.' Let's just say that I have a lot more 'oops, screwed THAT up' experiences, so I know a lot of what NOT to do, or what to be worried about, and less of what TO do, sometimes.

Good luck with the site, and I look forward to seeing how it's going!!

1 year ago
[quote=Alex Moffitt]
I am wondering why if people just utilised understanding about some of these basic aspects, they do not understand that everything is solvable and no problems should exist. Money is worthless.

The only real issue that exists is ignorance!


I definitely agree that ignorance is an issue, and that a lot of folks don't bother to look at new information to really learn about it, or what it can do. I do agree that problems are solvable. although sometimes the solutions may not be what we like. And I 100% agree that good solutions for global problems may often involved generations of effort. That 'plant a tree that your grandchild will enjoy the shade from' kind of attitude.

But I also think that we, currently, HAVE a lot of ignorance. We know a lot about the natural world, but we also DON'T know a lot about the natural world and how it works. And while I am all for trying to make changes now, even if we don't know everything, making changes for long term futures without acknowledging our ignorance and without funding the thousands of studies we need when we have a LOT of ignorance, is what screws us over, you know?

We need to know a lot more about how the world works to make many long term plans truly successful, so I think we should be researching like mad, along with making plans.

I mean, just a small incident to make my point. I live in an area that is part of the migration path for Monarch butterflies. The milkweed they eat have been killed off a lot by urban environments, so the scientific groups that support these butterflies got together with local botanical groups and found some good milkweeds that were easy to grow, could survive well here, and could help the revitalize this section of the migration corridor.

And instead, it screwed them over worse. Because it turns out that the local milkweed that the butterflies use - which are harder to grow and more expensive to get seeds for - have adapted to this particular environment to die off earlier in the year that other milkweeds do. And THIS is what prompts the monarch butterflies to start migrating further south at just the right time. Now, though, we have a TON of milkweeds that don't die off, and the butterflies stay too long, and then more of them are dying when they finally try to continue their migration.

This is just a tiny thing, but... animals and insects migrate, and they require certain conditions when they do, and we don't KNOW all the conditions. We don't always know what attracts them or repels them (which matters when we might have migrating pollinators, and potentially even migrating predators of these pollinators, and we want to have 1 acre farms that lay along a migration path for them).  This would be an issue, but it's just a teeny, tiny issue among the whole host of issues that we need to take into consideration to make something as breathtakingly grand as trying to set up a system where no one is hungry and we can have sustainable cities and farms.

We need to know how all our ecosystems work together. We need to know more about how plants are connected and communicate with each other. We need to know how plants and animals and an environment interact, for every environment, to a DEEP level, if we want to be changing things on a grand scale (what pests exist, what keeps them under control, how do the animals and insects alter the current environment and what does it DO for the environment that we may need, how is the bacteria/worms/fungus in a particular soil impacted by different light or plant growth than it usually gets, how does this impact the soil, and on and on).

Otherwise we end up with another monarch butterfly issue, or dung beetle-toad disaster in Australia, or the 'suppress all forest fires' crap that has so damaged a lot of US forests and meadows now.

Truly, I want to see human being do better, but...we have a long way to go before we KNOW enough to know HOW to do better on a large scale. We're working towards it, I truly believe that. I think we just need to remember that our knowledge about how the world works IS still a work in progress, and not a completed one.
1 year ago
I have a few concerns about this, but the main one is this: just because something isn't obviously useful to humansf, doesn't mean that it isn't important, or that we should simply change it to fit our human idea of what we want or like.

A good example is the everglades in florida, over 2 million acres of what humans considered unusable land (coastal marshes and wetlands), so that much was filled in with excess dirt from elsewhere so people could build on it. Only it turned out that these marshlands served the purpose of protecting the inland areas from the rising sea levels, high winds and storm surges that come with the hurricanes that are common there. By making the land more usable for humans, we instead made other land more dangerous for humans.

Natural deserts (as opposed to man-made areas suffering from desertification) have purposes too and I think it is a bad idea to treat deserts as though...well, as though they are an empty lot in a city that we just need to improve and build on.

They are not. Many plants and animals only exist in deserts and would go extinct without them, for example. Basins in deserts also act as significant storehouses for carbon.  There are likely other uses deserts have in the world, but I don't know them... wouldn't be surprised if they haven't been studied all that much. Because we humans are pretty good at NOT studying things we don't see an immediate use for (which is why we didn't take care of the everglades, as we didn't know what they did until they were damaged and weren't doing the job any longer).

But also, in re: to deserts and resources TO green them's just not sustainable.

Yes, many cities dump a LOT of usable resources...which is not sustainable for THEM. If a city is not recycling its water, is not making itself a closed, self-sustaining will run out of resources, you know?  They will not be a sustainable source of water and resources for greening a desert because they aren't a sustainable source, period. And they never will be.

About 1/3 of the entire earth is considered arid land (hyper-arid, arid, or semi-arid). That is 1/3 of the world that does not get enough rainfall to NOT be arid.

The world is a closed system...we are not going to be getting more water here. So the only thing we can do is shuffle the existing water around, which means that we would have to eliminate the high water areas to enable eliminating the low water areas. Or at least, we'd have to if we don't want the cities to turn into man made deserts because they used up all their resources and gave them to natural deserts to turn them green. If we wanted to keep EVERYWHERE somewhat green and usable, we'd have to start taking water from high water areas, like rainforests, and distribute that around, too.

Because again, we cannot change the fact that planet earth does not have enough water to make everywhere green. And eliminating deserts is, IMO, as concerning an idea as eliminating the rainforests would be.

All that said - I DO think that using the waste and water and other items from cities IS a good idea. I think making things sustainable is a good idea. i think trying to fix man made desertification is a good idea. I think helping areas that are dryer than normal due to man-made climate change is a good idea.

I just think we should change the question from 'how can we change things to be better for humans' to 'how can we change things to be better for the world that humans also have to live in.'
1 year ago