Deserts to Grasslands to Forest

The famous TED Talk by Alan Savoy about changing deserts to grasslands was first on my YouTube watchlist today. This was after I read this wonderful blog post by Sacred Sueños, a darme un the Andes where the forest was burnt down in 1999 to bring in cattle… And afterwards was used for corn and other crops, until the land was unusable anymore and it came into their hands.

The message is this:

After we have brought grazing animals to the land, whether it be desert land that is unusable, or grasslands, if we want it to become forest again or even crop land, we need another step.

We have to give it chance for succession if we want it to be productive again. We need to allow it to feed and for the soil to grow with mulches and leaves from trees and bushes, for the microbes and organisms to live within it.

It really makes sense. There is a wonderful video about a professor from the US going back to his native land in Africa, where the people were struggling to eat from the land, and creating a new biome with water and forest through agroforestry.

The traditional way of agriculture isn’t working for us. It will be our undoing, as it has been for so many cultures before ours. This is the power of history: let us learn from it and not make the same mistakes.

Prickly Joshua Tree Blanket

This is a positive story from Southern California.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/20/joshua-tree-endangered-species-california-opposition

Even as developers and politicians in California attempt to thwart efforts to save Joshua Trees, a few people have begun to show that even though they are protected by needing a permit to cut them down, all 200+ permits passed last year. One person started a bill to protect the tree further, after 42,000 acres burnt down last year. You can see the details in the article.

What is heartening to me is that even though things may seem dark for the tree, there are people who are moving forward doing what they can in their own little ways.

It reminds me of the Bible story of David and Goliath. No matter how big the bully may seem, there must be a way to defeat it. Let us put our hearts and our heads together to move forward in whatever ways we personally find passion in. The world needs us. We may be small, but we are not weak.

Also, strength is not just literal fighting. It is following your joys, what makes you feel happy, while doing something for the world.

Of course, we need to be smart about it. My father told me I couldn’t study Art in university because I wouldn’t be able to make a living off of it as an adult. It was practical advice, and so I chose Biology, and that has been a really good decision I think, throughout my life. I studied two extra years for things that interested me, and was able to study Sumi-E in Japan. I think this helped me in the long run; my grades and my self-esteem were raised by doing things that I was good at while studying difficult subjects… I guess what I want to say is that just because we want to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best thing.

I think we should think carefully about the consequences of not acting right now in certain respects. I hope that my posts make a difference. Getting a Ph.D. was important, but I don’t know that anyone will ever read my dissertation. It’s a shame, because five years went into it, but the most important thing for me was the wisdom I got out of doing it. As I write posts that are related to my research, I think they reach many more people than my studies ever will, unless I get famous. But during those five years of studies, I did a lot that I felt was good. I saved a lot of little animals, I was a volunteer at Kizuna Baby (an orphaned baby massage organization), I helped fellow students, organized community music events, and other social events for students…

But right now, for me, writing blog posts is one of the most powerful things I can do right now, I think. I also think that making videos about edibles and medicinals would be fun and well-appreciated.

What can you do for the world, something that you think you are good at and love to do? I’m sure you are full of treasures. 🌟

Rainforest Burning Investors

Here is a report by Amazon Watch of beneficiaries to the burning of the Amazon Jungle. Yes, folks, it’s happening again.

As a CNN article stated yesterday, Bolsonaro called it lies, but “evidence shows differently.” There is illegal logging and slavery happening. China is the biggest buyer of products from the Amazon… but who buys the end products? The report gives advice for governments on how to deal with the issue, and long lists of companies that are investing in the carnage. Some of ways we can combat it:

1. To write to the companies with which we are investing and express our dismay at their irresponsibility… and if at all possible boycott them if they don’t respond.
2. To reuse and recycle, not buy new furniture.
3. To invest with green investors and companies that are trying to go green.
4. To donate to NGOs like this one, so that we can get more quality information and someone is out there working to stop what is happening.

The Amazon Rainforest provides us with many things that we need — Alive. Not in our kitchens or living rooms.

Click to access 2019-complicity-in-destruction-2.pdf

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/19/americas/brazil-amazon-fires-bolsonaro-intl/index.html

Subdivisions & Ranches

This is a fascinating story on the complicated relationship of the stakeholders in Florida’s wilderness, explaining pretty well the issues faced on all sides. It isn’t a new story, either, as it is a problem in many developing areas. However, as I see it, developers are antiquated in their planning methods. As a planner, I think that the story could change if there were a combination of subsidies for farmers so that they have some support and don’t have to sell their land, and of environmentally conscious developers considering the wildlife corridors and absorptive qualities of the land they buy that triggers water issues when developed. After all, as the population grows (and Americans aren’t into micro cities), people need more places to live. So to design places in such a way as to:

  1. Do no grading or limited grading to retain native plants, microbes, seeds, and mycology.
  2. Create wildlife corridors within suburban complexes to allow for other creatures to exist
  3. Plant only native species in landscaping and avoid classic-style lawns
  4. Create and retain more places for wildlife within subdivisions, and not cut down big trees
  5. Design houses higher above the ground and with less of a footprint, making them higher quality than quantity. For example, getting creative, like using recycled or locally-sourced materials or with designs, like pools and gardens on the rooftops.
  6. Subdivisions with a central area having a small kiosk or shops, community center, and park — basically centrally located places to interact with one’s neighbors in order to improve community, as seen in classic cities such as Barcelona and small towns in Mexico.

… And I’m sure there are a lot more ideas we could all come up with if we tried.

What I do know is that for a long time, everywhere in the world, developers have been in it for the money, and it’s time that changed. They should be put to the bar as responsible for the futures of communities and areas (in this case wildlife areas), and as Spider-Man said, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/raising-nature-florida-ranchlands?suppress=true&utm_source=greenlife&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

Rainforest Commons

Happy birthday to me.

The last of the Amazon Rainforest is being torn down and scorched to ashes. I can feel it. It is a horrible. It is a classic example of the Tragedy of the Commons. The Rainforest has no physical owners… That anyone with power RESPECTS anyway. They are too wise for their own good in this small-minded modern world, and instead call themselves “Guardians of the Forest”. Also, they have no money, and in this story, people with money are greedy assholes who want more. So with guns, bulldozers, and flamethrowers, they take it. It’s not hard. Because to be a guardian is to understand that nothing in the world is yours. Not your children or your spouse. Nor your pet or your house. Philosophically speaking, we own nothing. We are born with nothing, and we die with nothing. Ownership is an illusion formed by society so that we can create rules and systems… But the rainforest does not work inside our little boxes.

The sad thing is that, we are so obsessed with what we have and what we want, that we have forgotten that what is shared is our greatest treasure. Our greatest moments of humanity are spent when we are together in some way, sharing an experience. A concert, an exhibit, an awestriking view, a traditional family dinner, an anniversary, a trip to the park. It is when we give to each other. When we forget “this person is MINE” and instead stare in wonder at the person we love after they have done something that strikes us at the depths of our souls… The sad thing is, the Rainforest and its Indigenous inhabitants are a gift to us all. Like the artists at an exhibit, or the band at the concert, or our loved-one who is not ours but is there for us out of simply being there. We could have sat at dinner with the Rainforest and enjoyed her wonders, and instead we rape her and steal and burn. So that we can have a steak dinner with our loved ones who we know so much better. We don’t need the steak dinner… because just like too much sugar, the loss of the forest is going to kill us. Because we are so small, in our little societal boxes, we fail to see that this is going to be our undoing. Our individual greed translates to a colossal demon that is ripping the forests out, vomiting on the oceans, and creating agricultural deserts of nothing but “green”, because it is something inedible that does not contribute to the global ecosystem — meaning no one else can use it except for us. At the same time we increasingly commit atrocities within the social system, underneath our own noses and behind closed doors in the name of “science” for the next LD50 or to test the physical testicular load on rats so that we can see the best supplement for testosterone production. Ridiculous!!! What a joke. The Tragedy of the Commons is no less ridiculous than it was when first coined, and no less deadly. Because whatever is not owned by someone more powerful than anyone else, is going to be abused and destroyed in the name of…. Whatever anyone feels like saying!! “We are going to test on all sorts of little animals, because, well, they aren’t human.” So WHAT?! “We need more cows, so uh, we’re just going to build this farm right here where thousands of species are living now but will disappear.” What if it were OUR SPECIES?!

What.If.It.Were.Our.Family?

The Indigenous people’s religions in the USA and Mexico were misconstrued 450 years ago. They did not believe in this Father Sun God or that Mother Rain God. They believe that actually, the rain is their family member, the plants are their family members also. Because they are. Even in the Bible it says that man is to be steward; that means a guardian, not an abusive owner.

And if humanity is able to survive the next hundred and fifty years, it will be because we were somehow able to move past our little boxes, into a wider philosophy that protects the Commons, we found some sort of protection for the Commons, or we lost everything we had and somehow from the garbage left over from our ancestors, we built a new philosophy. One about being sisters and brothers with everything around us, because in the end, that is the only way we can maintain the world “for seven generations” after our own. And the land we stole, we took from the wise who had lived here 20,000 years already, and would live indefinitely, in their family of man and sky and land, enjoying concerts, exhibits, traditional family dinners, and trips to the park, had we not come.

Indigenous Lives are at stake… by our own hands. Please be conscious of your purchases, buy reused goods, eat more vegetables and fruit, and breathe in the moment. “This is OUR Earth, most friendly Earth and fair, daily her sea and shore, through sun and shadow, faithful she turns robed in her azure air…”

Grazing that Stimulates Growth

I was taught as a bio major that certain grazers feeding on plants stimulate them to grow more.

I never suspected that it could extend into the insect family!!

ススメガの幼虫がクチナシを食べる。 Sphyngidae “Hawk Moth” feeding on gardenia

For several years, I have been growing two gardenias. They are native to Japan, but due to my lack of fertilization, perhaps, they have been scraggly since sprouting about four years ago.

This year I found a cute little caterpillar near my plants. And another one. I tried to see which ones they would eat by putting them on different plants, because, you see, caterpillars turn into beautiful flying creatures that pollinate our flowers and fruits. So I didn’t want them to die. I found that they liked my gardenias, and knowing it was early spring and they would grow their few leaves back, I put the little guys to graze on them. They chose only the tenderest sprouting greens, and we’re quite picky… They turned out to be SuzumeGa (Hawk Moth, or Sphyngidae, Larvae), who eat pretty much only gardenias. They are lovely, huge moths with a shape like an arrow that hover while sipping nectar from flower to flower. I hope they survived because I haven’t seen many gardenias around here.

The Hawk Moth baby likes only the tenderest leaves… That will soon grow back much fuller!
The gardenia before consumption on the far right in the tall pot. Isn’t it scraggly? I think I could probably count the leaves on it, and they are evergreens!
A Hawk Moth in the Sphyngidae family. I didn’t take this amazing photo (I got it from the free pile) but I wish I had!

Gardenias, by the way, come in two types. The horticultural variety, with many petals, and the native to Japan, with only five. That being said, the one with only five petals, also called Kuchinashi (meaning “No Mouth”) produces an orange, almost flavorless fruit. This fruit is used as a natural coloring agent, and rather than using carcinogenic Yellow Five, the Japanese use Kuchinashi to color everything edible from candy to everyday packaged foods.

Where did the petals go? Rather, where did the seeds go… The seeds were turned into petals over time, as in many flowers, by gardeners who wanted more elaborate flowers. And the seeds disappeared, meaning that all of those plants have to be propagated vegetatively by cuttings, and cannot have their own babies. They can flower but not fruit. So of we plant them rather than the ones that can seed, they can never make their own… Well, that’s another story for another time.

Gardenia, the many-petaled Kuchinashi
Kuchinashi – the Gardenia that fruits

Anyway, lo and behold two months later, the places that were chomped on my Kuchinashis by those colorful babies are now full of leaves!! The moths, I believe, stimulated the leaves to produce more in response. Maybe it is similar to the technique that is being studied for stimulating crop production (see one of my earlier posts); bumblebees bite leaves to stimulate flowering earlier than normal. Anyway, food for thought. Don’t let your friends kill the caterpillars! Especially the cool-looking ones!!

Major companies, permanent work-from-home, and the future of humanity

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/01/major-companies-talking-about-permanent-work-from-home-positions.html

Yes. Let’s fast forward about 10 years. Because there are less people in cities, there is less chance for people to spread disease. Also, with more people in localized areas, local business flourishes again. Small businesses, mom and pop shops, and true pride through craftsmanship are given a new beginning. We also find space (in my wholesome and imagined future) for public edible landscape where everyone can meet their neighbors and chat while picking the red raspberries. Because people can get out more freely, there are more local social networks, and there’s also a deeper relationship with the landscape, as well as the inhabitants of it, the birds, the butterflies, and the bees. We move forward into another, more mature stage of humanity.

Leading the CoVID-19 World

What an amazing, surprising world we live in. If only we always held such fresh viewpoints, like those in this article, we would not be in the environmental and strained political situations we tend to be in.

For us to find endless sustainability, I believe it behooves us to adopt a system that is changeable depending on necessity. Linear only in bite-size chunks. True Test-Driven Development.

We, as the leaders of our world, are doing a horrible job. It is time to reflect our realities in Wabi-sabi rather than the Western ideal of taking all at once. And CoVID-19 is giving us that opportunity.

Opportunity to breathe, take chances in ways we would never have, and begin afresh. Let’s do this and keep a curious puppy viewpoint!

https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/1887745/dogs-being-trained-to-sniff-out-covid-19

Look at the little cow I found in the bathroom!!

I found the cutest tiny cow in the bathroom!! Just kidding! He was a bat, but from the front, he looks just like a little cow to me!!

Bina, my kitty, had been acting funny all evening, looking at the ceiling and pacing, but I couldn’t find anything unusual. Then, as I was getting ready for bed, I went into the bathroom and she jumped on the toilet to try to get to something at the top corner of the window… It was a little bat! I grabbed her, and as I did, it swooped down on us, and then fell on the floor, apparently in deep shock. I put Bina in a room, got a towel, and picked him up ever so gently. He was so light, his little body giving off heat, and breathing heavily. I put him outside in the plants, lightly wrapped for warmth, and went to see what to do about a bat in winter. I found that bats hybernate in the winter. But he had come awake, so I was worried. I tried to make a makeshift bat house for him on the fly, but by the time I got back outside, he had flown off. I hope he’s okay. He was a dear little thing.

Now I have to go out and get some materials to make a bat house. After all the videos and websites I found last night, I realized that they aren’t hard to make, and I already provide water for the birds, so they would have water to drink. With that, and a safe place to put it, where it will get plenty of sun (because they need warmth), the bats will have a nice place to live (not our walls — so that was what we were hearing a month ago all through the house!) and will keep the mosquitoes away in the summer.

How and Why to make a bat house by the National Wildlife Federation