My point relates to trying to grow what we humans want there rather than what will grow there. I have not seen any truly barren land, but what is growing there without inputs would not meet the standards for commercially acceptable landscapes. Those plants you saw on the Big Island are what will naturally grow there. I try to take those same plants and put them in a Honolulu landscape, they are probably dead.
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin 1775
Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.
Benjamin Franklin Poor Richard's Almanac1738