America’s desert southwest numbers among the most miraculous places on the planet: sustaining indigenous plant life with truly miraculous healing properties. In fact, with just a little irrigation, America’s southwestern deserts sustain practically everything green. In her 3km. youth, Nature cleverly concealed her fertility in desert sand; how fortunate curious locals unlocked this miracle fecundity, following the simple instructions “just add water.”
Now, however, as we awaken to Mother Earth’s desperate peril, we are slowly realizing that what we grow in the desert and how we grow it will make a great deal of difference in the planet’s survival. California and Arizona have grown more desperately dry year by year, practically minute by minute, for almost a decade; and the states’ bitterest battles loom over rights to precious water from the Colorado River. Meanwhile, however, Californians and their friends in Phoenix persist in growing grass around their homes. Of all the green things Mother Nature might want brought forth upon her fertile surface, grass surely must land just about at the bottom of the list, just above landfill.
if you play it backwards, it says…
Sadly discounted as an urban legend; stories used to claim that Beatles’ and Pink Floyd songs contained hidden lyrics, discoverable only by playing your record backwards. Applying that same logic to time-lapse photographs of greater Phoenix, Palm Springs, and Orange County, California, we could learn a great deal about how to atone for serious environmental mistakes. Rewind the tape ten years and look at all the orange groves in Mesa, Arizona, Irvine, El Toro, and Costa Mesa, California. Rewind the tape another ten years and behold citrus groves stretching for miles in places now paved-over for freeway traffic. Rewind to the days of the Joads and discover why they thought they beheld paradise as they looked out across Los Angeles from the Grapevine Summit. Nothing but palms and citrus trees as far as human eyes could see.
In all three places, developers leveled hundreds of thousands of square acres, building tract homes as close together as the law would allow. In their frenzy, they leveled more than a million citrus trees, which had prospered in ideal desert ecosystems since ambitious Spanish colonizers had surmised, “Yeah, it would grow here, que no?” Now, ambitious homeowners try to grow neat little lawns where citrus trees once prospered. The grass sucks-up water, chemical fertilizers, and money, delivering absolutely nothing: it is not like sheep or cattle are grazing in homeowners’ back yards.
The answer seems frighteningly simple: For the sake of the environment and the domestic economy, happy homeowners should forgo their sod, forget about artificial turf, and invest wisely in restoring the fruit trees. A southern California suburban family can plant a little fruit tree orchard for less than they pay to water the lawn for just a month.