The Biosphere Project
In 1991, a project called the Biosphere 2 began in Oracle, Arizona in an effort to make a completely self contained environmental ecosystem. This meant no outside air, soil, or inputs of any kind. Everything within the dome was intended to be recycled creating a continuous symbiotic loop among the plants, bacteria, animals and air. The project aimed to achieve new insights into the nature of different ecologies as well as to act as a primitive template for potential biodomes in space and beyond.
As the project progressed, the researchers involved began to notice a peculiar anomaly occurring with the growth rate of trees within the biosphere. Compared to their natural brethren, the trees within the dome were growing at a much faster pace. Even more strangely, these seemingly healthy trees began to inexplicably fall over. While this initially baffled the researchers involved, further observation uncovered a fascinating culprit behind this puzzling behavior.
In the natural world, and even in ventilated man made buildings and greenhouses, various degrees of wind constantly create a stress on trees and plants. Because the Biosphere was so stringently contained, there was essentially no moving air whatsoever within the isolated areas. This lack of wind prevented the trees from receiving the natural resistance and stress typical in their uninhibited outdoor environments. Without these stressors, the trees were unable to produce reaction bark, and thus unable to even bear their own weight under the most forgiving and protected of environments.
The "Biodome" of Modern Living
Though this discovery had modest implications in the world of arborism, it acts as a rather potent analogy for the ailments common in many peoples of the modern world. The last hundred or so years have seen great change to so much of our lives that it is often hard to even grasp our own parents and grandparents upbringings. For most, modern transportation, offices, indoor climate control, a constant abundance of food and much more have all but bifurcated our connection to the lives of our not so distant ancestors. As we abandon the natural stresses of our ancient world, so too do we abandon the very mechanisms intrinsically linked to our own health and vitality. Only through the active re-creation of these natural stresses can we counteract the detrimental effects of our pampered modern lifestyles.
In my upcoming blogs, I begin to identify the human equivalents to reaction bark and how we can reincorporate them into our daily routines so as to become better suited to the turbulent winds of life.