Simulation of the Ideal Environment
Jonathan Wang '10

The successful growth of lots of food depends on the alteration of the Earth into the ideal environment, a form of agricultural simulation that brings a certain piece of land to closely resemble another, vastly different zone. The most significant part of technology that contributes to this concept is irrigation; plants and animals only grow where there is water, and water seems to always end up in the wrong places. The building of aqueducts and levees in ancient times and extensive pipelines, pumps, and water treatment plants in the modern era allows farmers to force an acre of desert to be an acre of verdant, lush temperate zone. Where there would normally be no way for berries to grow in an almost totally dry region, irrigation systems allow new foods to grow in unusual places. The fine precision allowed by sprinkler systems, driplines, and long hoses means that a farmer does not even have to, but often still do, alter a whole landscape to suit his or her agricultural needs; nanoclimates of the perfect moisture can be emulated in just the rows, or even just the local areas, where crops are planted.

Another significant technological piece is the greenhouse. This structure is important, since it essentially carries around with it the extremely productive tropical situation with it. It houses plants in a high level heat and moisture, yet does not inhibit the necessary sunlight that causes photosynthesis. It is another form of micro climactic transformation, transporting a small house's worth of vegatation from the dreary cold of the north to the humid fertility of tropical biomes. In addition to alterations in chemical composition of potting soil and an abundant, outside source of water, the greenhouse is the structural representation of the portable emulation of the Earth's most productive climate. It contains all the heat, moisture, and light that many crops crave.

Artifically produced nitrogen and other fertilizers, similarly, force a certain part of infertile land to suddenly provide an unbelievable bounty, and mowing down forests and trees, likewise, transforms an otherwise unusable rainforest into an ideal plot of pasture for beef farms. There are now many ways of altering the land to reflect what is the most practical and productive, from an economic standpoint. Deforestation has happened since ancient times, and artificially adding nutrients, whether chemically derived (artificial fertilizer) or naturally discovered (manure), humans have moved and relocated Earth's resources in a determined and sometimes clumsy attempt to create the ideal environment.

Essentially, people attempt to dislocate the perfect climate from its original place and into a location more favorable for practical, legal, economic, or political reasons. In doing so, the amount of arable land expands, proportionally increasing the stores of food. At some point, the sheer amount of customization in levels of water, nitrogen, wind, soil, and all sorts of other factors means that people can create tiny zones of climates that have never even existed before; there is no environment that has the perfect soil, temperature, and precipitation conditions for certain plants that also excludes the influence of pests and weeds, yet new pesticides and sprays have been able to influence plants and the ground into adopting this new paradigm. At some point, it extends from the simulation of an environment to the creation of an all-new part of the imagination, a phenomenon that happens frequently with heavily processed foods.