#96 June 1996
Section 184.108.40.206.096.of the Artemis Data Book
Peter KokhA GREEN SECURITY BLANKET - Against the Overwhelming Barrenness of the Moonscape
Relevant Readings from Back Issues of MMM
MMM # 8 SEP '87, "Parkway"; "Animal Life"
MMM # 50 NOV '91, pp 8-9. "Trees"
MMM # 53 MAR '92, p 6 "Xititech III. Cellular Rhythm"
MMM # 54 APR '92, pp 5-6 "Xitiplans"
MMM # 76 JUN '94, p 1 "Windows, in with a new cliche"
Some of us are house plant nuts, some of us are hobby gardening enthusiasts. But perhaps most of us don't give vegetation, indoors or out, much thought. We don't have to. Given the general luxuriant feel of the outdoors, we get enough of a green-fix automatically without having to concern ourselves much about it. And that remains generally true, even in this era in which the health of the host environment is in question, and living nature under siege from selfishness, greed, and simple carelessness.
On the Moon life is not a given. There is none of that comforting green
stuff maintaining itself on automatic. The outdoors is lifeless, barren,
sterile - relentlessly so - assertively so - threateningly so. Greenery
within the protected confines of the mini-biosphere will become a
preoccupation of all but the most soulless personalities.
That a healthy abundance of plants contributes significantly and noticeably to air quality and freshness will be a reinforcing motivation. (NASA-funded studies have shown that the right mix of houseplants can be quite effective in reducing household airborne pollutants.) But we suspect that for most Lunans, the real driver will be the need to use plant life as a security blanket, a psychological filter against the out-vac's life-quenching sterility, much as for smokers, a cigarette makes the world a friendlier place (no, I am not one).
If lunar homes and offices and schools have windows affording moonscape views, inside window box planters of houseplants will take the edge off the life=threat of that magnificent but deadly desolation. But we will find many other nooks and crannies to put plants. Greenery and foliage will become the mainstay of interior decoration. Everything else will play but a supporting role.
A much higher percentage of Lunans are likely to be home gardeners. They will be aggressive in finding opportunities to add plants. Quite possibly a solar-lit atrium space will become the organizing focus of choice in purchaser chosen home plans. Such a space will afford vegetable and herb gardens or a mini-orchard to help with the food budget and menu variety, maybe a tad of entrepreneurial canning. But it could also be devoted to purely decorative plantings of variegated foliage and flowering plants, song birds, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Or it could become a more mystical place, a Japanese style sand and stone garden. For despite the general preoccupation with plant life, there will still be a big range of personal sensitivities, and of lifestyle needs.
Architects in general will look for ways to build-in planters and other cubbyholes for plants, providing also for their illumination. Vegetation will be a new design parameter.
Out in the "middoors" too, every opportunity to tuck in vegetation will be aggressively pursued by architects and users. Middoor streets and passageways, intersections and squares, are likely to become as verdant as they are busy. This can be the concern of the xity administration, or, more healthfully, of rival neighbor-hood, and street merchant associations, or other stretch-"adopting" clubs.
While green will be the dominant color thus inserted into settlement life (architects and decorators will be motivated to find ways to introduce ambiently lit sky blue ceilings and open space sky blue vaults), settlers may rely on plant life to provide other colors as well. The early lunar art pallet (water-glass-based metal oxide "paints" and ceramics) will be one of generally subdued colors. As helpful as such additions will be, the thirst of the more vivid coloration of flowers (and perhaps birds and butterflies) will be strong.
It is likely that flowering plants will be staggered so that at least something is in bloom every sunth (the lunar dayspan / nightspan cycle). Will flowering plants grow taller on their own in sixthweight? Or can they be coaxed to grow taller? If so, Lunans may be able to savor the delight of floral "forests". These would provide a must-see tourist draw.
Trees are likely to be of the dwarf variety (many fruit-bearing dwarf hybrids are already marketed), more bush-like in size, at least until the cost of imported nitrogen makes econo-mically feasible the construction of higher-vaulted middoor spaces. In the meantime, to fill the void, individuals and clubs may take strongly to the cultivation of bonsai trees, even to the point of growing bonsai forests, again a tourist must see.
The first parks may be interim floral and grassy meadow refuges within agricultural areas. Even if the farm units are highly mechanized assemblages of trays and racks and LED lighting arrays, the sight of so much greenery (and the freshness of the air) will make any kind of food-producing area a mecca for those living or working nearby.
In the previous article, we mentioned that mini-biospheres will guarantee the reintegration of city and farm, the overdue return to farm village roots and a more nature-harmonious lifestyle-paradigm. Already in this century here on Earth, most developed cities have thinned out greatly in density, giving much more space to greenery (even if still more to pavement, in homage to the great god Auto).
Also on Earth, we have seen a general increase in urban and especially suburban wildlife, a welcome turnaround, led by post-human species, species that have learned to thrive in human-dominated environments. We can hope that Lunans will indulge in the luxury (to bean counter eyes) of urban wildlife. We've mentioned birds and butterflies. Surely bees, ducks, swans, flamingos, squirrels, even deer, and more.
In our cities, pockets of life are seen as a concession to nature. In the off planet xity, pockets of humanity will be the concession. Vegetation will play the host. The Xity will be an exercise in symbiosis, man and Gaia reunited. MMM
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto