Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cornwall IV: The Eden Project

The Eden Project was our last stop in Cornwall. I've put off blogging it for way too long, so here it goes. The Eden Project began as a habitat reclamation program built in an old China-Clay strip mine (a big, grey hole in the ground). They replanted indigenous species, and created an elaborate park and garden system, along with a "sustainable" farm (I don't believe this assertion, but at least it's intelligent farming) and two exotic "biomes" (they are not biomes, they're just big green houses for tourists). They bill themselves as an "educational charity," and I suppose they are at least somewhat educational. Basically, they completely abuse Green and ecological buzz words, dump endless resources into keeping their Rainforest and Mediterranean biomes alive, and gave us a nice place to walk around for 3 hours.

They're not a totally useless propaganda machine, though. The Eden Project does a lot of cultural outreach, experimental community stuff, and basically provides the services of a family-friendly park. It's got programmes to get kids active, organic ale festivals, and they put on concerts and shows on certain weekends. Really, not a bad place. But do you know what it hasn't got? Biomes. They call the giant bubble things in the pictures biomes, but if you're expecting to go in and see a semi-functional rainforest, or at least a minimum-input, nearly closed biosphere, you're going to be disappointed. Further, for a place that promotes sustainability, their main attractions are very UNsustainable.

Not exactly a crime against hippies, but you get the point. If Disney Land became a greenhouse and "It's a Small World" became starving South African children living out of a rusty van display, you'd have a good idea of what these so-called "biomes" are like. Too much preaching and not enough teaching. If I were opposed to environmental awareness and sustainable practices the whole thing might have been funny, but since I'm rather fond of those things and took all those ecology classes in high school, it was just annoying, kind of insulting, and a major waste of pathos-based arguments. However, it's main purpose - education and raising funds for environmental reclamation at other sites - seems like it's working quite well, so I guess I should stop complaining.

1) Walking into the Rainforest

2) The coolest display ever - it's a bunch of different smells. You sniff the silver, phallic part, and try to guess what it is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why one would sniff something which is metallic and phallic...

:) - Elise