By Bernie Bell
I was reading a collection of short stories by Arthur C. Clarke called ‘Of Time and Stars’, with a foreword by the man himself. He gives a brief introduction to each story, and says…..
“The idea behind ‘Green Fingers’ may seem a little fantastic, but one of the interesting discoveries made with the Apollo 11 ‘moon-dirt’ makes it now more plausible than when it was written in 1957. It has been found that traces of lunar soil apparently increase the growth rate of various plants; there is still no good explanation of this odd fact. Before the end of this century we will have gardens on the Moon – though I hope we do not cultivate them for the reasons described in ‘If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth…..”
This, and the fact that on the 20th of July, it was fifty years since the moon landing, got me thinking about the ‘greening’ planets argument. The idea of each planet having a ‘character’, and how this can influence us, isn’t new! it’s the basis of Astrology, but……………when we come to the idea of us, humans, going out into space, and changing other planets, ‘greening’ them – that’s another matter.
If a bit of moon-dirt, encourages growth in Earth plants, what would happen if Earth-dirt, was taken to the Moon, and used to grow plants? Or, if Earth-dirt to Mars, or Moon-dirt to Mars, etc? Something about the presence of the Moon-dirt, where it was, in space, on the Moon, gave it a property which means that it can have an effect on Earth plants – but what is that effect? Who knows, or maybe someone has worked it out, by now. This raises all sorts of questions. If we transport material from one planet to another, to use as a growing medium, we have no idea what it might do, with the material, being grown. Do we chance it? And he says ‘various plants’ – why some plants, and not others? What are the properties of the plants which it does effect, and the properties of those it doesn’t? If we try using soil from other planets, to grow things, or grow ‘our’ plants, on other planets, we don’t know the effect it will have, on the plants. The difference in the surroundings, the soil, the air, the levels of waves in the air, all that makes each place, exactly what it is, could have any kind of effect on the plants, and/or the planets. The stuff of science-fiction! Remember the Star Trek films which featured Project Genesis? https://intl.startrek.com/database_article/project-genesis
I mentioned this to my chum, Fred Turner https://frederickturnerpoet.com/ who replied……….. “Disney is growing crops in a dome in Disney World on soil that replicates that of Mars.”
‘Replicates’ though…………….What interests me, one of the things which interests me, is…….would it be something to do with the very fact of it actually being Moon-dirt, that matters? As in, would it be something about the very fact of that ‘dirt’ having been, exactly there, in that place in space. Would that be, or contribute to, why it might have an interesting effect on the Earth plants? That’s one of the things about doing stuff with other planets, which concerns me. If, as I believe to be the case, each planet has its own ‘character’, way of being, essential way, and these inter-act with each other, very specifically – then, if we interfere with how a planet is, what will that produce? What happens when we change that inter-action and balance? Possibly in-balance. Mars is Mars, and will have its influence, as Mars, until it changes itself in some way, over the years, then it will have its influence, as what it will be then.
Replicating the soil of Mars, is a very different thing, to the soil of Mars.
How often is it the case, that a replication, however good, and however precise, just ISN’T what the original is? There’s an essential something, which makes each thing, what it is, its essence, if you like, which, mostly, can’t be replicated. Maybe it would be possible to replicate a person, but would the replicant have what the original has? I’m going into ‘Blade Runner’ territory here! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner
Still, I’m interested to find that Disney (DISNEY!?), are doing this.
And also, why do that anyway? We have plenty of good earth, right here. I’m looking at a lot of it, outside my window. More to the point, is to conserve what we have, feed it and let it do its work. We’re messing it up, to some extent, but it’s still there – the land, the times of year and the changes in the land. Again, it’s essential, in both meanings of the word – of the essence of – and also necessary. That’s a much deeper thing, than just getting some soil, from anywhere, and seeing what you can grow in it. What I’m going to say next, could be seen as complete folklore. I was taught by my Dad, that, when you move a plant, take a bit of the soil from where it was growing, and put that in with it, when you re-plant it, and it’ll thrive. That would be called folklore, but, as far as I can see, it works! And, it even makes sense, vaguely scientifically, as, it’s not such a shock for the plant, when it’s moved, to have a bit of ‘home’ soil with it, as we like to take a bit of home with us, when we go away, or, I do, anyway.
A lot of things are connected with this idea, going off in all kinds of directions, including, I’d say, that soil isn’t just a growing medium, there’s more to it, than that. So, that takes me back to the idea that it may be something to do with, very specifically, the effect of where it is, on the moon-dirt, or dirt from anywhere else. Something to do with what’s happening around it, out there, where it comes from – making it more than the sum of its parts.
And, maybe, something to do with the soul of the soil.
We have all we need, here on Earth, if we’d just use it properly – try and look after this planet, and make things as good as we can, here, before looking to go else-where. Tho’ a lot of the land, is covered, and spoiled, there’s plenty left, which is good land. Though the air isn’t fit to breathe in places, most of it still is, etc. So, why go elsewhere? We could be said to be a naturally migratory species, which I counter with, usually, we migrated, because conditions changed. That’s a whole other area, which I won’t head off into, here!
The planets will change, anyway, as Earth has changed over the millennia, but that is in the natural order of things. We, or other factors, may influence this change, and if that happens, again, in the natural order of things, fair enough, but a conscious changing of other planets, to ‘green’ them, and, in effect, make them like Earth, is something I can’t agree with or see the point of. Also, we’ve got Earth, and we’re making a fair old mess of her, so why go out to other planets and mess them up, too?
They influence each other, but it’s best if they maintain their individuality. Like people. We are each individuals, with some characteristics in common, and others, very, very different. That’s how, and why, human society works – when it works! Just my opinion, and not that my opinion on that, will make the slightest bit of difference, to what happens!
If we take it as being the case, that each planet has its own, essential character, each is, what it is, change that, move that, and is it still, what it is? If we go to another planet, and change that essential character, by making it fit for us to live there, what will that do? The planets all affect each other, they influence each other’s orbits, etc. The Moon, and the Earth – there it is – influence, in action.
If we change a planet, what else are we changing? That’s my big argument. We don’t know what we might be doing. And, how many times, have humans already done that, taken something to somewhere where it wasn’t, and messed up the balance, by that introduction? Plenty – don’t need to list them.
Steve Drury, in his ‘Earth-logs’ http://earthlogs.org/, cites a good example of the connection between the planets, and…us.
Michael Ward’s book, ‘Planet Narnia’, comes to mind https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/01/28/a-different-perspective-on-the-narnia-books-of-c-s-lewis/
In the Narnia books, there are worlds which are dying, and worlds being born, and, creatures and beings from other worlds, effect each other’s, worlds, usually by accident, but the only conscious, on-purpose influence, is when Aslan wakes up Narnia. Which is how it should be. Aslan is allowed to do that.
Personally, I’d just prefer if we made this planet a fairer, more wholesome place for what’s here, and otherwise, let sleeping planets, lie!
But that’s only my opinion!