Ph. by Anna Rapisarda. Wind turbines in northern Germany
by Davide La Salvia | Water Nursery
Natural philosopher of “The Company of Thinkers”
“We do not live in an era of change but a change of era”.
The theme of Orticolario 2023 is very current, but extremely complex due to the infinite facets, implications and declinations.
It’s all the fault of…
Water is life and where life was born, and our body is composed largely of water. It is therefore an element belonging to our essence.
On the other hand, we see more and more often that its lack or its excess can cause disasters, deaths or famines in vast parts of the planet.
The fault, as we hear every day, lies with the climate change and man’s thoughtless actions.
But is it all true? All correct?
Climate change and the passing of time
The climate is changing and some extremely strong and disastrous natural phenomena are taking place: floods, sea storms, tornadoes, avalanches.
Why is nature so “angry”, so much as to appear in all its destructive power?
We often forget that, however long a man’s life may be, it is not even comparable to the times of nature and the Universe. Let’s think, for example, of millenary trees or, even more, of geological times.
Events must therefore also be observed for what historically has already occurred.
It is well known that in the Danish language Grønland means “green land”, where vines were once grown. In different geological eras, in the land where I live (the Circeo) glaciations have alternated with periods of great heat. Here, in fact, the remains of hyenas, lions, mammoths etc. have been found.
In summary, since he has been on earth, man has always had to deal with climate change. The fact that he is still alive and well suggests that the difficulties have been the driving force behind changes and not always in a negative sense.
Therefore, climate change is not new, nor are the theories of the “green prophets of doom”.
Over the centuries theorists have followed one another with the thought of an overpopulated Earth, which could not have fed everyone. Hence the theory of a happy decrease and a return to nature.
But things are not so obvious and simple.
The good deeds
The use of state-of-the-art technologies and increasingly broader knowledge have led to an exponential increase in the income per hectare of land, allowing to feed many more people.
The application of biotechnology and in some cases of GMOs, has brought various advantages, including the salvation of some of our typical products, such as, for example, the San Marzano tomato.
What is the horizon that should never be lost sight of?
One of my guidelines in life as a lover and student of nature is the famous phrase of Albert Einstein: “Everything you can imagine, nature has already created”.
Specifically: nature must be observed, understood and, for a growth of knowledge, it is necessary to treasure all the experience, successes and mistakes of our ancestors.
Today, pharmaceutical companies, seeing that many medicines are less effective and often cause more side effects than advantages, are increasingly oriented towards the use/experimentation of phytoremediation. Nature already has everything we need, but unfortunately we have often relapsed into illiteracy.
In water management
Immersing ourselves in the water again, we can state that, in most cases, the problems (and not only for this precious element) are due to mismanagement and, to a lesser extent, to the lack itself.
Here is an example. In the nursery we have reservoirs for collecting rainwater: in the so-called dry years, we were able to ascertain that the mm of rain that fell were certainly adequate.
So if there was water, why are we facing both drought and floods? Quite simply because of bad or no management.
In the past, near the rivers, in the event of floods, expansion reservoirs flooded to allow the water to flow out later.
The elimination of most of the ancient and modern hydraulic systems, of the windbreaks, and the construction of buildings in buffer zones generate the hydrogeological instability in which we regularly find ourselves.
Maps of the territory and critical issues exist and are surveyed, just as there are funds for prevention interventions, which, however, remain almost always unused.
Why? Because unfortunately we always intervene only afterwards, without investing in the prevention and recovery of the territory.
In the garden
For years I have been talking about the Rain garden, the invisible reservoirs of very simple construction (it can be the bottom of a garden), used in many cities around the world.
In Italy we timidly start talking about them, but without realizing them
Why? Because novelty is frightening, a “novelty” which, in this case, dates back 3000 years.
In the rain and in the middle of the desert
Let’s go back to water and its management: we are well aware that in Italy rain often falls heavily at different times of the year, unlike in countries such as Jordan and above all Israel, where it happens very rarely. There, every drop is precious and for this reason they try to preserve it and use it very sparingly.
Hence in the desert reservoirs are made for collecting rainwater, drip irrigation is practiced to give the plants the opportunity to absorb, and soil probes are used for a balanced supply, only when needed.
Energy crisis and alternative energies
Given that there are oil and gas deposits in Italy, those that lead to not using them are purely political choices (despite the fact that our neighbours draw from the same deposit).
There are clean and cheap energies, such as geothermal, which we are turning to in this last period. The road is still long, despite the fact that the journey, albeit in a very limited area of the national territory, began more than two hundred years ago. In many cases and at negligible cost, a few pipes in the garden would be enough to have hot water without gas, without oil, without coal.
Travelling towards solutions between sun and wind
Going back to Israel we discover (and are positively surprised) that in homes hot water is obtained through boilers heated by the sun.
Heading then to Germany, which instead enjoys little sun, we see how full the country is of photovoltaic panels, while in the windswept north, on the border with Denmark, the landscape is dotted with wind turbines that do not disturb the genius loci.
A few years ago, a friend, who is an executive of important private and public companies in the energy sector, told me: “dear Davide, the next wars will not be for oil, but for water and energy. Whoever holds them, is the master of the world”.
I really think he was right.