Monday, July 31

Plant of the Month: July 2006

Ziziphus spina-christiZiziphus spina-christi
Sidr, Arabian Jujube, Syrian Christ Thorn

There are few plants that transcend religious and cultural boundaries as ubiquitously as the Jujube. A native of Africa, it is widespread in the Middle East in areas like Iraq, Israel, and Yemen.

In the Bible it represents the thorns used to assemble the crude crown that topped Christ's head during the Passion. John 19:2 says "And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put [it] on his head, and they put on him a purple robe," before displaying him bloodied and broken; Ecce Homo.

In the Quran it represents the trees shading eternal paradise. Sura 56 (The Inevitable) promises "those Foremost (in Faith) will be Foremost (in the Hereafter)... (They will be) on Thrones encrusted (with gold and precious stones)," and provided with their reward of virgins: "Companions with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes,- Like unto Pearls well-guarded." All of this "among Lote-trees without thorns," a popular economic provider around the region where Islam had its genesis.

The fresh and dried fruit, Jujubes, are an important staple crop in the Arabic world and many pharmaceutical remedies were attributed to this trees constitute parts. A review by the Journal of Ethnobotany and Ethnomedicine summarizes the various uses. It is attributed to the Prophet Mohammed that honey made from the Lote Tree is superior and it is one of the major honey production plants in the region to this day. Many Iraqi Muslims wash newly dead bodies with Sidr leaves and the ritual is unique to the region and species. I'd be willing to bet Sidr stock is going to skyrocket on the Iraqi market very soon.

If that's not enough, Cat Stevens titled a song "Lote-Tree" on his album Life of the Last Prophet, released under his Muslim moniker Yusuf Islam. Cat Stevens could save the world, man.

Thursday, July 27

Limits to Growth

Impatiens sp.
A report was authored by the World Commission on Environment and Development entitled "Our Common Future" wherein the following term was coined:

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Among this and other haunting revelations the WCED assures the reader that the report is not meant to predict "ever increasing environmental decay, poverty, and hardship in an ever more polluted world among ever decreasing resources." They are ushering on a new era of economic growth and stability which is only possible through "decisive politial action" there and then.

The report was authored and published in 1987. The UN waited until 1992 to officially condone the use of the term sustainable and sat on it until the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002.

The underlying fear behind legislation blocking and political apathy about the situation was and is the threat of "Best Practices" and the possibility that ecologically unsound business practices would be either shut down or fined for their wrongdoings.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, the push for sustainability is no longer an urgent message from the liberal fringe of the science world; it's a necessity for human proliferation. It's knocking on your front door with dead babies in hand. It's playing in your movie theaters while the AC belches freon. It's strangling our elderly, our livestock; more importantly it's burning our nuts.(1)

The enemies of sustainability revel in the phrase attributed to the symptoms of continued "non-sustainability": The Greenhouse Effect. Greenhouses are places where life thrives and develops - centers of biodiversity and cellular efficacy where the concept of an atmosphere warming a ecosystem is put to good use. What we have here is a mistake of epithetic semantics. What was previously associated with greenhouses is now most aptly associated with gas chambers. This is recompense for our crimes against nature and it will only get worse if something isn't done now.

In an effort to thwart your efforts to educate yourself on sustainability the top Google result for the search thread "sustainability" is, a Ltd. company claiming strategic management consultancy: Look here instead.