agriculture

Humans and Terraforming

If there is one thing that can be said, humans are very good at changing their environment. Now regardless of your views on climate change or greenhouse gases, it cannot be denied that humans have left a big and very literally mark on our planet.

We’ve been doing it ever since our primeval ancestors figured out that fire can be used to clear forest, and that the grasslands created by such burning attracts grazing animals and gives us a clear line of sight for our throwing spears and nets. We have been doing it ever since the ancient humans figured out they could damn creeks to make ponds that lured in waterfowl. That if you repeatedly burned a clearing, the berry bushes would keep coming back ever year. That if you created stone walls along the low tide line, you could create sandy terraces that are perfect for clams. We managed our resources, only fishing at certain times, only hunting certain types of animals, or only cutting certain types of trees.

Then we invented agriculture and we wrought even more changes on the planet. We cleared forests to make room for our fields, pastures and cities. We terraced entire hillsides to allow us to grow crops. We drained swamps and cut the landscape with irrigation canals to provide our crops with water. Often we changed the very course of rivers and altered the soil we relied on, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Forests disappeared as our cities and emerging states needed timber for construction, ship-building, and fuel to make pottery, smelt metals, cook our food, and keep us warm.

But we didn’t just change the landscape, we also changed the plants we grew so that they suited our needs. We changed the animals we relied on. We turned wolves into dogs, auroch into cows, ibex into goats, jungle fowl into chickens, and wild boars into pigs. We called this process domestication, and soon quickly forgot that we had ever been without these domesticates.

We made artificial hills for our rituals, built mountains out of cut stone to mark the tombs of revered rulers, carved symbols into the landscape. Sliced into mountains to carve roads, mine metal ores, and quarry stone. We made monuments so astounding that people thousands of years later thought they must have been made by the gods, and buildings of the modern age that dwarf them.

We’ve also traveled. We’ve crossed all our oceans, bringing with us the animals and plants of our homelands, and returning home with the animals and plants of other lands. Some is intentional. New crops that offer new advantages. Animals from far away to awe visitors or remind us of home. Some is unintentional. Plant seeds lodged in the tread of our boots. Insect larva in the bilge of our ships. Rats that scurry and stay out of sight, and hitch a ride on our sailing ships and outrigger canoes. Some we regret bringing, intentionally or not, others have settled in and carved their own place in their new home.

And now we look to the stars and wonder if we could do the same to other planets. To bring our life and our world to the stars. To turn a red planet green and blue.

And what if we succeeded? What if a red planet turned green, and flushed with our success, we turned to other balls of rock orbiting distant stars.

And what if we encountered other life. Life that was like us, but also very different. What if they had never seen life like ours before, that spread to the stars turning red, grey, and brown planets blue and green.

What if some are fearful. What if they seen our domesticated animals, our sculpted landscapes, and our diverse nations and fear that we will assimilate and change them and their world like we did to our ancient animal enemies and our distant home planet.

But what is some our awed, and look at us and see a species that can not only adapt itself to new and challenges and environments, but that also changes the challenge and environment itself. Often changing and adapting to the changes they themselves wrought. For better and worse, humanity sailed the stars on the crest of a wave of change that they themselves have been creating since their distant ancestors set fire to the underbrush and realized they could use this.

Magical Plants

Mundane plants grown with magic
>Are plants grown with magic more nutritious?
>Do they have more flavor?
>Do they grow faster?
>Do they grow more fruit?
>Can they grow easily in non-native climates?
>Are they protected from things like vermin?

Magical plants
>How are magical plant species created?
>>Can they easily be bred after creation?
>>>Do they retain their magical properties after being bred?
>Can they be bred by people that cannot use magic?
>Can they be made to only affect certain creatures?
>Do magic plants affect only magic users?
>What other properties can magical plants have?

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Clouds roll over rice terraces in the northern Philippines

@growitbackjosh

about what you tagged me in, what first comes to mind is human’s deliberate fire setting

one of the first farming techniques was slash-and-burn, which cuts down as much plant matter in an area as possible, and then lights it up, which destroys the rest, and leaves nice ash and soil for agriculturally significant plants to grow without competition from native plants. areas cleared via slash-and-burn are called swiddens, which is a fun word.

so this can go into alien admiration of human ingenuity, and risk taking (risk of fire going out of control vs reward of growing desirable plants). especially because this technique is literally ancient and continues to modern day, although somewhat safer. like, ‘ok, we need this much land clear for crops, get your shovels everyone, lets uproot all these plants,’ and the human takes a lighter and says, nah, this is easier’ and they’re right.

something else that we can look at is the comparison between earth and non-earth planets. first is we don’t know how common wild fires would be, so theoretically they’re exceedingly rare, only occurring at volcanos and such, especially if the planet doesn’t have any lightning-producing weather. fire could theoretically only occur on a small scale, for cooking and industrial applications. with that is the shock of seeing fire so goddamn big. like, it’d shock a lot of humans to be near a big fire, but we at least have a concept that ah, big fires exist.

so taking the ‘humans are space australians’ a little more literal, eucalyptus trees, because of the oils produced, are extremely flammable to the point that they give off flammable vapors in heat and have been recorded to explode during forest fires. ornamental eucalyptus trees out of australia (notably in california) are a serious fire hazard for starting and/or worsening forest fires with other species of tree

so knowing how flammable trees already are, like, what if aliens just don’t have a concept of plants being flammable. like, organisms are all kinda fleshy and wet, so if they burn, they burn like meat burns, and not like, oh shit, its going up in flames. so earth, compared to other home planets, is unnecessarily flammable for no goddamn reason and humans set fires anyway

thats probably bad for the aliens on the ship discovering that most humans have at least a little pyromania

Inside The Global Seed Vault, Where The History And Future Of Agriculture Is Stored

Seeds on Ice author Cary Fowler describes the underground tunnel near the North Pole, which stores and protects a collection of 933,000 samples of different, unique crop varieties. The seeds are stored and protected so that we can regrow crops in the event of war, pests, and climate change: 

“We’re headed towards climates that are pre-wheat, pre-rice, pre-corn, even pre-agriculture. I believe this will be manifested in market disruptions and probably in food export bans and civil strife.” 

theguardian.com
Alabama immigration: crops rot as workers vanish to avoid crackdown | US news | The Guardian

georgia was just the start and now it’s gaining traction.

Brian Cash can put a figure to the cost of Alabama’s new immigration law: at least $100,000. That’s the value of the tomatoes he has personally ripening out in his fields and that are going unpicked because his Hispanic workforce vanished literally overnight.

For generations, Cash’s family have farmed 125 acres atop the Chandler mountain, a plateau in the north of the state about nine miles long and two miles wide. It’s perfect tomato-growing country – the soil is sandy and rich, and the elevation provides a breeze that keeps frost at bay and allows early planting.

For four months every year he employs almost exclusively Hispanic male workers to pick the harvest. This year he had 64 men out in the fields.
Then HB56 came into effect, the new law that makes it a crime not to carry valid immigration documents and forces the police to check on anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally.