Nature and Nurture

February 21, 2023, Sierra Vista- The day began, nicely enough, though it was raining in Superior. The rain continued, off and on, while I was taking in Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the town’s crown jewel. I have been here, three times before, but never under cloudy skies or when rain alternated between drenching shower and light drizzle. I was no worse for the wear; nor were any of the seventy or so others, including 57 fourth-and fifth-grade students, who did not let the weather get between them and the bountiful flora-with collections from various arid and semiarid areas around the globe. Starting with our own Sonoran Desert, the park takes in the neighbouring Chihuahuan, the Kalahari, western Sahara, the Mediterranean Rim, the deserts of Asia, of Australia and of South America.

Here are six scenes of nature, taking in its nutrients, on this mid-winter day.

East face of Picketpost Mountain, Boyce Thompson Arboretum
East face of Picketpost Mountain, as the fog is lifting.
Teddy Bear Cholla, rejoicing in the moisture.
Early blossoming camellias
A cardinal looks for food.
A pair of stone watchmen, east face of Picketpost Mountain.

There is much for me to visit, still, the next time I come this way: The Asian and South American desert gardens and Picketpost House, most specifically.

Next up was Biosphere II, the site of an experiment in enclosed living and recreation of natural environments, within that enclosed space. Two teams, each managing a separate mission, worked the space between 1991-1994. The space is presently owned and operated by the University of Arizona, which maintains the site in a good faith synergy with the original vision of Ed Bass and John P. Allen, who themselves were inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s “Spaceship Earth” project.

The site remains the largest closed ecological system ever created. Here are several photographs of the site, taken by my trusty camera, until it ran out of battery.

Staff residences and common building (right foreground), Biosphere II.
Overview of Main Campus, Biosphere II.
View of garden, Central Commons building
Freight Farm-the buildings in which hydroponic farming produces what is needed for the residents to live.
The Lung-which regulates air pressure, within the glass enclosure.
Fog-laden desert scape. This is one of many environments, created and maintained, within the glass-enclosed laboratory. Others include both High and Low Savanna, Rain Forest and Ocean.

Biosphere II was a noble effort, laid low by power-seeking and by human conflict. Nonetheless, the University of Arizona is giving the basic mission of the site its best shot. I am at a loss to succinctly describe the physics of LEO. This article may explain the concept, by which three landscapes are created on site.

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