A biosphere is anywhere organisms live.1 Thus, any place on our green planet, or
microcosms within it, is a biosphere–more importantly it is the only one that we know
how to live off. A well known fact is that our biosphere is becoming less and less
suitable for sustaining our rapidly increasing population. Gross pollution caused by
industrialism and technological advances have seriously damaged the part of out
planets atmosphere made up of O3, most commonly referred to as Ozone. Anytime we
burn coal, wood, oil, or petroleum we are releasing into our atmosphere an invisible,
odorless gas, called carbon monoxide, which is eroding our atmospheres layer of
Ozone.2 Methyl Bromide is another culprit in ozone thinning, this chemical is used by
most all industrialized nations as a pesticide.3 For us to continue to thrive on this
planets surface the once unthought of ideal of zero-emissions must become a reality,
An article in the March/April issue of Mother Jones entitled, Nothing Wasted,
Everything gained discusses the ecological progress that a town in Colombia has
made. Granted, we live in a very different world than these rural villagers do, we like to
think that our world is more complex. As of today cement covers well over one-quarter
of the continuous 48 states, most of this cement is in the forms of highways, byways,
and interstates. Herein lies our complexity– we are a nation that is completely
dependent upon oil, petroleum, and electricity– comfort is mistaken for complexity.
Fossil fuels are our lifes blood that facilitate our comfortable travel to and from work and
school, and all our daily busyness. This article about a zero-emissions village in
Colombia proves that in fact the opposite may hold true; maybe these villagers are the
genius and we are the ignorance. Cars do not spew their noxious fumes in this place ,
instead villagers have bicycles that have, like most other innovations in this small village
of two hundred, been altered to facilitate travel over rough roads. For others, outside
the most wasteful nation in the world, life is a lot different. Their lives seem simple when
juxtaposed over ours, yet they prove to be genius using not a quarter of a million dollar
education, but good old common sense.

Another important step these villagers are taking is the complete removal of
ozone damaging pesticides like Methyl Bromide. They have done this by growing their
vegetables and herbs hydroponically. Hydroponic growing is essentially gardening
minus the soil, roots are immersed in water and produce perfectly ripened products. By
gardening in this manner the need for pesticides is erased. This is indoor gardening that
we could all learn to master because of its simplicity, yet a trip to the local corner store
will produce the same end result. If we are to overcome the ecological damage we have
already done we need drastic changes which include all forms of organic gardening.
And since photosynthesis is the process which changes CO2 to breathable oxygen the
more green plants there are the better off we are.

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This project began in 1971 by Paolo Lugari and, a handful of Bogota engineers
and soil chemists…to try to make an unlivable place livable.4 The village, called las
Gaviotas, Lugari reasoned could be a starting point towards changing the pattern of
ecological existence. Little did Lugari know that one of the hottest topics for the year
1998, but 27 years later, would be the scientific communities, and NASAs interest in the
population of Mars. Lugaris project didnt set out to change the standards of the way
popular culture operates, instead he set out to improve the living conditions of poor
villagers in an empty savanna in a third-world country using the materials at hand and a
large dose of practicality and common sense. If one has ever visited a country outside
of the major power yielding countries (i.e.. the UK, Japan) then Lugaris quest becomes
ever so obvious, clean malaria-free water is a privilege, truly impoverished peoples live
in ran shack housing, and their immediate surroundings is their biosphere which
provides them with essentials. These truly are essentials, and if these are threatened in
any way then their subsistence may be in jeopardy, it seems like the villagers at las
Gaviotas have come to know this. They are doing more to try to help save the planet
because while rich suburbanites in America may be able to afford purified water and
sheik sunscreen, their economic status is one that if they cannot live off the fruits of the
environment as is, then they cant live. They are setting the example though, it is
possible, but is America ready to get off its addiction to oil? Thats a whole other story.
It requires too much hard work. The people of las Gaviotas dont dress in Armani and
Hillfiger they work very hard at collecting pine resin to be used in cosmetics, perfumes,
paints, and in medicines instead of petroleum-based substances. The worker in the
pine resin processing plant at las Gaviotas doesnt make a six figure salary, but he can
go home at night knowing that he has caused no ill effects to the environment. It doesnt
seem to me that America is ready to make that distinct switch from materialism to
At las Gaviotas the elements which provide so much potential energy have been
harnessed. Solar kettles have been developed by Lugari to sterilize drinking water;
this water can then be heated using solar water heaters to use in the hydroponic
growing systems of this village.5 Also windmills are used to convert the energy of the
winds into consumable energy. The energy potential of the sun and wind has been
known for a while, as have the resources to build homes and automobiles using these
renewable energy resources.6 Incorporating these changes though would require that
some of the most powerful companies loose all their money, and that isnt going to
happen. It would also require that we alter our suburban landscaped with windmills and
our beautiful houses with ugly solar panels, besides well be different than our neighbors