Seed Bombs: Can Military Expertise Turn The Tide In The War On Global Warming?
They sound like something that should inspire terror, but instead they are designed to protect the planet.
Seed bombs, also known by the equally frightening name seed grenades, are non-military bombs that are designed to disperse vegetation over a large geographical area. They are used in areas where the soil is arid or otherwise inhospitable (often as a result of deforestation).
The first seed bombs were used in the early 1970s by a group who called themselves the Green Guerillas. They filled condoms with flower seeds, fertilizer and water and then threw them over fences into empty New York City lots, in an attempt to beautify their surroundings. The actions of these people sparked the beginning of the guerilla gardening movement.
Today, the most sophisticated seed bombs look quite a bit like regular bombs, but they don't contain any explosive materials. Instead, they contain small clumps of soil with live vegetation planted in them. The clumps are housed within a biodegradable container. These bomb-shaped containers are necessary to ensure that the seedlings reach the ground safely. Upon impact (or shortly after), the containers break apart and allow the seedlings' root to penetrate the ground.
Recently, modern military targeting technology has been used to help improve seed bomb dropping accuracy.
While the potential upside to seed bombs is easy to see – the ability to replant vast geographical areas, such as those ravaged by forest fires, with very little effort – there's also a clear downside. Although the materials used in the construction of seed bombs are biodegradable, the fuel needed to propel the planes the drop seed bombs isn't exactly eco-friendly. There's also the matter of whether a dangerous precedent is being set – protecting the environment can't always be easy and exciting.
Though it's pretty clear they won't play a role in all reforestation efforts (nothing will ever supplant the efforts of people going out into the field and getting their hands dirty planting seedlings), seed bombs can be a useful tool in areas that are far from civilization or otherwise hard to reach by land.