There's a fascinating article in today's NYT about what happens when you mess with the environment.
In Australia, where a fence built to keep rabbits out of farmland clearly divides crops from native vegetation, scientists have observed a strange phenomenon: above the native vegetation, the sky is rich in rain-producing clouds. But the sky on the farmland side is clear.
Researchers led by Tom Lyons of Murdoch University in Australia and Udaysankar S. Nair of the University of Alabama in Huntsville have come up with three possible explanations for this difference in cloudiness.
One theory is that the dark native vegetation absorbs and releases more heat into the atmosphere than the light-colored crops. These native plants release heat that combines with water vapor from the lower atmosphere, resulting in cloud formation.
Another hypothesis is that the warmer air on the native scrubland rises, creating a vacuum in the lower atmosphere that is then filled by cooler air from cropland across the fence. As a result, clouds form on the scrubland side.
A third idea is that a high concentration of aerosols — particles suspended in the atmosphere — on the agricultural side results in small water droplets and a decrease in the probability of rainfall. On the native landscape, the concentration of aerosols is lower, translating into larger droplets and more rainfall.
My theory is that the fairies and devas of the native vegetation call the rain clouds and, when you destroy the native vegetation, you chase them away, as well. But that's probably just a more complete and complex way of saying that all of the scientists' theories probably play some role in this phenomenon without explaining the gestalt of it. This study has huge implications for issues such as biofuels (bad) and the level of sustainable human population that this planet can manage.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."