Friday, October 26, 2007

Rainy Season

When the annual rains come to Haiti, there are always fatalaties and thousands of people are left homeless. Relief workers are discouraged from continuing mobilizations, knowing that poor people will again construct makeshift homes on the banks and beds of dry rivers during the rest of the year.

In preparation for next year, perhaps an effort to prepare for them might be in order, since here on Hispaniola we have an annual rainy season from May to November. Flooding should not, please forgive me, take us by storm.

Indonesia is going to have a huge, nation wide party to plant 79 million trees in one day. Now, couldn't we do that in Haiti? If everyone could just all agree on what tree?

My vote would be for bamboo, for a variety of reasons. It grows very quickly. It produces food, shelter, timber, and aids in carbon restoration.

Here are a few more of them:


  • Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth. Some species can reach for the sky at the rate of 2 inches per day. Over 120 miles of root system from one plant was discovered throughout a 1-acre area. Bamboo plants managed to survive the nuclear blast at Hiroshima at a point closer to ground zero than any other life form.
  • Traditional Oriental belief holds that being in a bamboo grove restores calmness and stimulates creativity. Bamboo groves were also a favourite dwelling place of the Buddha.
    • Bamboo can withstand forces of up to 52,000 pounds per square inch, making it the rival of steel.
  • One book has ascribed over 5 thousand uses for bamboo - ranging from arrow-tip poison to medicine to scaffolding to desalination filters.
    • Bamboo provided Edison with one of the first ever filaments for the electric light bulb. Alexander Graham Bell used bamboo for the first phonograph needle.
  • A Western Australian Agriculture Dept brochure predicts that bamboo shoot production has the potential to provide an income to the grower of $16,000 per hectare. (Australia imports thousands of tonnes of tinned bamboo shoots every year).
    • Few people realise that a significant proportion of Chinese and Asian medicines are extracted from bamboo.
  • If bamboo disappeared off the face of the earth, about 30% of of the population of Asia would be homeless.
    • Australia has at least three, maybe five indigenous bamboos. In Arnhem Land, one species has been used for the past 4,000 years or more to make didgeridoos.
    So now if we could interest all those groups who appear to be so concerned about Haiti to apply their energy to some positive, on the ground action instead of .......

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