Picture an apple tree.
The genes in the cells that make up the apple tree generate chemical signals: these result in the growth of a trunk, branches, leaves and fruit. Variations in soil nutrients and water delivery determine how big and how bountiful the tree will become. Overall, the growth of the tree is moderate and controlled. Tree size and fruit production are in balance.
One season, one of the branches of the tree suddenly becomes overwhelmed with apples. The apples grow and grow and grow. They are misshapen and abnormally coloured. Something has gone wrong – the signals that tell the tree to keep apple production at a sensible level have somehow gone awry on that branch. The branch sags, it sucks energy from the rest of the tree and suddenly the health of the whole plant is compromised.
What are the options?
- Chop the branch off in a radical procedure that compromises the structure of the entire tree?
- Chose the first option, plus chop off extra branches in case they develop the same abnormal growth tendencies later?
- Throw an apple-killing chemical cocktail at the tree, and in doing so lose both the diseased and the normal apples and throw the entire health of the plant into ‘the danger zone’?
- Radiate the over-grown apples and hope you don’t damage the surrounding branches and leaves in the process?
- Do nothing, and wait for nature to take its course?
Sometimes, you throw everything at the apple tree to try and save it.
Chemicals, sprayed on.
The tree is reduced to not much more than a stump. You think it’s all over.
But then in spring a new leaf sprouts. Blossom grows. There’s a chance for an extended life. Live, damn you, live.
[photo thanks to humbert15 on flickr]