Orbital View: A Golf Course During a Drought

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

I recently came across a great Instagram account called The Jefferson Grid, which posts segments of Google Earth showing a single square mile of land. Where the account gets its name:

It was impossible to survey the entire area [of the Louisiana Territory] ahead of time so Jefferson devised a system that would make platting and selling achievable from a distance. Jefferson answered with the grid in the Land Ordinance of 1785. The Ordinance divided the entire western territory into townships, sections, quarter-sections, and so on. A system of Euclidean geometry made this possible. Having never stepped foot on their property, someone could point to a map, make a purchase, and start their wagon westward knowing precisely where they were going. Today, a cross-country flight will easily show the physical ramifications of Jefferson’s decision to subdivide our territory upon the grid.

This latest from The Jefferson Grid is a shot of the Primm Valley Golf Club in San Bernardino County, California:

#desert #golf #golfcourse #california #instadaily

A photo posted by The Jefferson Grid (@the.jefferson.grid) on

One commenter snarks, “Seems like a good use of precious water.” Speaking of which, Alissa Walker highlighted over the weekend a new “not-so-fantastical plan to save California from drought”:

Grassroots Cactivism” is the name of the concept by Ali Chen, which taps the prickly pear (commonly called nopales when humans are eating the paddles, but you can also eat the bright pink fruit) as a renewable centerpiece of a water purifying system, something it’s been used for informally for centuries:

Locals in Mexico have often dumped the water used to cook cactus into polluted rivers and streams. The ‘mucilage’ or inner cactus pulp has also been tested and used in oil spills. Cactus pulp was found to disperse crude oil efficiently at much lower concentrations than synthetic dispersants.

In this concept, farms of prickly pear cactus would replace traditional “treatment plants,” helping to recycle wastewater without using additional energy, while producing a water-efficient crop that can feed local residents. Assuming the cactus can effectively act as a cleaning agent as described, this seems like a brilliant idea.