That’s Not How it Works

Evolution is the process of change of the entire information content of the ecosystem — over time.

We all understand time, and the important thing here is that time does not go backwards, nor does it stop. I do not know why. Ask a physicist if you want to talk about that. What I know is — it’s one of the laws of our living ecosystem. Time stops for no living thing. If God created the ecosystem, then it is one of God’s laws.

So that takes care of time. We can not change what is already behind us. Furthermore, evolution does not happen in the future, or rather it WILL happen in the future, but it is what is happening in this very moment of time that affects what will happen in the next moment of time. The only thing that actually is changing is NOW.

The information content of the ecosystem is usually thought of as the “gene pool.” You could quibble about this and say that there are other forms of information, but I am talking about the primary source of information in the ecosystem that changes in response to whatever conditions exist at each moment in time. That information is all the genes that exist in this moment of time.

The ecosystem is the largest unit of life as we know it on earth. The information of life is the genes. The gene pool of a population is all the genes in that population, the gene pool of a species is all the genes in all the organisms of that species; the gene pool of the ecosystem is all the genes in the ecosystem. You have only two genes of each kind. So does everyone else. So forget the delusions of grandeur. The impact of any one person on the gene pool of the ecosystem is tinier than tiny. Even if you kill off all your enemies and even if you are more fit than Superman, your impact on the gene pool is still unmeasurably small. Survival of the Fittest is an excuse for people like Hitler. It doesn’t work that way.

The third word in the definition is CHANGE. Change in the gene pool over time IS evolution. What causes this change? No person knows, and unless you are a person who can understand all the genes in all the organisms in the ecosystem, and all the ways in which they interact to allow the ecosystem to be alive — then there is no way for you to know scientifically what causes evolution, beyond what we have already said. There is a change in the gene pool. That is, a change in the information content of the living ecosystem.

Now it gets complicated, because the gene pool (through it’s organisms) changes in response to the ecosystem environment. That sounds like a cycle, doesn’t it, with the environment on one side and the gene pool on the other. The gene pool is necessary for the environment and the environment is necessary for the gene pool, and this is true. But it is not a cycle because of the element of time. If the gene pool changes in response to the environment — then the gene pool is changed, and it can not go back in time to what it was before. Therefore, in the next moment of time (or more likely the next generation of organisms) the relationship between the gene pool and the environment is different, because the gene pool is different. And that makes the environment different. And the environment influences the gene pool in the next following generation. So it’s not a cycle, like the carbon cycle, that happens over and over again in the same way. It’s more like a figure 8 with infinite potential to continue, if it does not destroy its own environment. Or its own gene pool.

So to this guy on wall street who is puffing out his chest and gloating that he is contributing to survival of the fittest because his company has grown 100?


What that guy has done to us all is essentially the same as what Bernie Madoff did to his investors. Because the ecosystem does not honor Ponzi schemes, nor does it honor growth. The ecosystem survives on BALANCE.

Balance between the gene pool and the environment; balance in all the interactions between all the species in the gene pool of the ecosystem; balance of all the nutrients and other chemicals that cycle around so that we may have life; and balance between input and output. That economist who is going around claiming to be a boon to mankind — what he has done by growing 100% is to contribute to the UN-BALANCE of the ecosystem. He has taken out more resources than she can sustainably produce and destroyed species that are required for her balance, and even changed the weather for goodness sake, and he thinks he has done a good thing because he is a big fat macho “winner.”090624Dallas_dsc1997Ss

That guy who is richer and more important than any other person on wall street — measured according to the natural law that allows life to exist — is one of the most UNFIT people on earth. He and his friends have gone halfway to changing the ecosystem into a desert. He will be dead and gone; his legacy will be huger and thirst.

Because he chose to rally behind a silly slogan about survival of the fittest instead of finding out how it really does work.

Toxic Tolerance

My friend Ivy could have told me. She was raised in the black community during segregation. Her teachers assumed that she was competent and expected her to demonstrate that competence. She has been striving (against odds in the school systems) to give that gift to her students for all of her teaching career. I on the other hand, like most idealistic do-gooders had to learn for myself about the devastating consequences of our low expectations of our youth and other members of our communities.

Low expectations usually are hidden behind a mask of tolerance. In California, where I was raised, tolerance is automatically viewed as “a good thing,” but really, does that mean it’s OK for anyone to do anything they want to do? Of course not; that would be dumb, and so the ethical person will avoid the easy knee-jerk idea of tolerance and face up to the obligation of us ALL to think about what sorts of things we do and do not want to tolerate in our children, our families, our schools and our communities. Sometimes intolerance, as intolerance of bad behaviors, is a good thing; sometimes tolerance is a bad thing when it is used to deprive our children of the resources they need to succeed.

I learned the hard way what Ivy could have told me. I accepted a teaching position that took me from “tolerant” California to “intolerant” South Carolina shortly after enforced integration. I expected my college freshman students to EARN their grades. I believed (and I still believe) that every one of them could do so, given the necessary resources. I tried to make the resources available. It was a hard time for us all.

Meantime, while I and my college students were struggling with our expectations, this segregated town had bit the bullet and built a fine new integrated showplace school for the early grades, to which they had transferred the best teachers in the community. Black and white children learning to read and write together, equally. And the next year the star student from my own class, an education major I’ll call Sue, went to do her student teaching with the star third-grade teacher in the showplace elementary school.

The third grade was learning to write sentences. Verbs and nouns. Subjects and objects. The star teacher explained the lesson to all the students, and then she gave the homework assignment:

“Write five sentences using the word flow.” And bring them back to class tomorrow.

Remember, the South Carolina accents. Most of the little black students returned the next day with sentences that used the word “floor,” while most of the little white students came back with sentences that used the word “flow.” No surprise here. Life is full of misunderstandings, and that is a GOOD thing to learn. So Sue went home that night and wrote up a lesson plan to explain the difference between flow and floor. Sue viewed this misunderstanding a golden opportunity to teach the students to enjoy the differences among human kind AND the difference between a noun and a verb.

The response of the star teacher was:

“Don’t bother, they can’t understand it anyhow.”

Is this tolerance or toxic low expectations or is it intentional racist discrimination? Does it matter? The damage was done to the students no matter the good or bad intentions of the teacher.

And it wasn’t until about three weeks later that I realized the same damage had been done to me in the same way. My tolerant white California culture had been doing the same thing to me — all of my life — because I started out as a pretty little girl instead of a rugged little man. Very few people recognized any need to give me resources beyond shorthand and typing, because there woulod be no place for me in the culture to do anything more than maybe secretarial work, nursing, teaching other people’s children to have low expectations of their own competence and depriving them of the resources they need to compete in our American cultural milieux.

It took me 20 extra years to understand that my culture’s low expectations of me were simply a lazy lie and to go for a PhD in science. Which took me to the South Carolina college where one of my freshman students could not write any words at all. For all of his 18 years he had been guessing true-false questions and passed through as a “kindness” without ever being required to write a sentence in a test. He believed himself to be stupid and incompetent – which he was NOT. I hate that more than anything else, when I hear people who clearly believe the lie and there is nothing we can say now to change their own perpetuation of the lie they have been taught about themselves..

And where I learned HOW I too had been handicapped by low expectations.

We have obligations to our neighbors, students, children and friends, and even if we don’t care about them, we have an obligation to the community that we require for our own survival. One of these is to know the difference between nurturing competence and toxic tolerance.

It is a Problem

You spend your whole life learning about something that is real and true and important, until you finally have something to say, and —

People don’t want to hear it.
And the reason they don’t want to hear it is?

Because you spent your whole life learning. So now you sound like a book instead of a person :!

Now that is a dilemma, isn’t it. I mean given that ecology really is important to us all, and I spent years and years figuring out how it works. Like — would you listen to a mechanic with clean hands?

But this is quite a lot more important than a car 🙂

What should I do?

1. Pretend I don’t know anything and then maybe people will listen? (I tried that actually; they were happy to believe I know nothing.)

2. Tell jokes? (It’s not really funny. Well, I guess it would be better to die laughing than to die crying, but I was hoping we could avoid dying — not me of course, but the ecosystem at least.)

3. Fight, argue, flail about? That seems to be big on the blogosphere, but does anyone believe the info on the blogosphere? Anyhow, that’s kind of demeaning, because that’s what we women had to do before we were liberated. Cry and mope and suffer in order to get anyone to listen to anything at all, and I do hate to go back there, even though it is occasionally necessary. Like the other day I met up with this MCP —-But that’s another subject 😐

4. Make up stories about the ecosystem that aren’t real but are really interesting? (Turn on the TV, any channel, they don’t need me for that.)

5. For that matter, the stuff on TV seems more real than the real stuff, so the competition is fierce, and I still do not know what to do except that I believe in one very important basic thing.

I believe, if you tell people how something works, and if they will listen, then they will understand how it works. Once they understand how it works, they will then be able to make logical choices. And in spite of all the people who somehow recently managed to buy houses when the house payments were bigger than their salaries — I still believe in good common sense. If you tell people how things really work — instead of always telling them what they should be doing about it.

For example. You see that mechanic fix that car? I could do that too, if I knew how the car works. It happens that I do know how the ecosystem works, in its essence, and I’d really like to share that information with someone who cares, because we are mostly winding ourselves around arguments over things that do not matter (all the fake debates I’ve been ranting about), like a bunch of kittens with a ball of yarn — while the coyote is watching from behind the fence, white canine teeth gleaming in the setting sun as saliva drips from — you don’t want to hear all those metaphors and similes and fairy tales and all that do you? Really? Wouldn’t you rather just have the facts so you can decide for yourself?

090612LuMitchell_dsc1738_1LsThe biggest fact that anyone can tell you about the ecosystem is that it survives by BALANCE, and you don’t need to believe this because you can watch it in your own body, or I can tell you how to make a mini ecosystem and you can watch how that works. But your body is already handy. Your body is a subset of the ecoystem and it also survives on balance. The heart must beat just at the right speed, you should not try to eat 100 gallons of ice cream in a day, you should not try to live without drinking. It is all about balance, and so is the ecosystem.

This means no matter how hard we try, we will never GROW the ecosystem back to health. We will have to balance it back to health or — well at least we can all die laughing. Where is Letterman when you need him?

Never mind, there is a serious (and very good) discussion of this problem on Dot Earth today. I recommend you go and read it and then come back and tell me what I should do.

I would join the discussion there on Dot Earth, but they all talk like scientists, like they really know the answers, and it’s kind of boring. Besides. They don’t listen to me either 😦

Which are You?

As I watched the Dalai Lama this morning on the Research Channel, talking about compassion, it came to me what a wondrous species human kind, in our response to challenges, problems and threats. Individually and through our politico-religious communities, we are very predictable. If I were a scientist I could classify us:

Some people respond with incredible acts of compassion;
Some people respond with incredible acts of war, cruelty and torture;
Some people, of course if they can afford to, are “head in the sand;”
Others work harder and harder trying to engineer solutions.

We are such a clever and ingenious race, we have gotten by in those ways for millennia, trying to control reality, and doing fairly well at it with our farms, airplanes, internet and all that. But we do not have the power to change the basic bottom line laws of cause and effect, nor can we change reality. The factual reality is that the earth ecosystem lives in balance or it doesn’t live.

So today, we are faced with a crisis that is new to human kind. We have not enough of resources to provide for the numbers of people that we have or soon will have, and none of our classic responses can change the roots of the challenge, which require that we nurture the balance of our earth ecosystem. We do have the technology, but we have chosen to use it for growth rather than balance. And so we are increasingly facing the effects of our communal (mis)behavior.

The root challenge is populational, and I can’t move populations, but I do get to choose how I personally will respond to the challenge:

I tried “head in the sand.” It didn’t help anyone, not even me.
Technology will not change the laws of nature.
Nobody can force me to knowingly torture anything.

So, as we seem to be going down the tubes anyhow — I choose compassion.

EarthThe most compassionate act I can think of would be to make birth control technology available for everyone who wants it. Can you think of any other act of compassion that would more positively impact BOTH the needy individual AND the whole needy community of an earth ecosystem faced with war, cruelty, starvation and epidemic disease that are caused by overpopulation?

If so, please let me know what it is.

Are you a Man or a Trained Elephant?

When humans originated in the ecosystem, we looked to the power of the natural balance of the life to define our evolution; now we look to the corporations. The corporations define our wants and needs and drive our survival behaviors very much in the same way that my grandparents bred, raised and trained the horses they used for farming and transportation. We are the livestock the corporations breed, raise and train to turn the wheels of their voracious growth. Their training methods — the right touch on the TV to make us want what they have to sell (tobacco is in the news again for hooking children; the medical community as a drug pusher), and the fake debates they generate that keep us competing with each other, rather than forming communities for our common welfare (imagine convincing individuals that they are more important than people, and turning the religion of love into a killing machine).

Unfortunately, in the battle between the corporations and the ecosystem, we know who will win in the long term; and the corporations know from nothing. But for now the corporations are winning. They have convinced us that growth is more important than balance and that debate is more useful than discussion and community.

090525TGT_dsc1340LSs copyI have one friend who was nose-in-the-air when she saw that I live in a singlewide mobil home in the middle of a pasture. And so I asked myself the question, what would I add? I would change two things for real benefit: I would replace the yucky carpet with linoleum, and I would add solar. Otherwise, I have shelter, food, heat and air, hot and cold running water and a toilet and electricity and I owe nothing to any bank. Any changes I might make would not be to benefit myself or my community, but only to show other people that I can buy more stuff than they can.

Those corporations really have us sucking at their teats.

And they aren’t even alive.

“Sustainable Growth”

The entire organization of the earth ecosystem is devoted to the necessity of maintaining the balance that is required of life. Just as our own physiology requires that all the components remain in balance (or we die – ask any good doctor) so the ecosystem must maintain its balance. All of life requires balance, and the ecosystem is the largest life form.

Continual growth is not balance; it is not sustainable; it can result only in disaster to the economy and the ecosystem; and it is touted routinely as the ideal. If you count the mentions on TV you find that growth is promoted even more more often than violence and always in positive terms.090607TGT_dsc1666Ss Just as I believed because I wanted it so much, but against all common sense and evidence, that M’Donna was pregnant, similarly the American culture is based in and firmly believes in the myth that growth is good for our selves and our ecosystem.

There is no such thing as sustainable growth — there is no evidence for it — we believe only because we want it to be so..

Another Fake Debate, Pro-Life

As Teddy analyzes in his blog, the “debate” over pro-life and pro-choice would seem to be almost entirely artificial, based in words rather than facts. It clearly is not based in reality.

The reality is that balance among all the myriad elements of life on earth, including death, is the only way that LIFE can sustain itself, and I have to believe the Creator wanted to create sustainable LIFE. Growth is not sustainable. Humans, by our growth fetish, in both economic and population terms, are truly threatening LIFE, that is, ALL of life as we know it.

God created death so that life might exist. Our problem is not to defeat death; if we defeat death, we will destroy life on earth as we reproduce like mice in a cage with no place to go. Our problem is to maintain our honor in our relationships with both life and death. What we are doing now is saving people with our left hand and killing them with the right. That is one way to maintain balance, but I question if it is either ethical or honorable.

If God created LIFE, then he created life as the earth ecosystem, a network of checks and balances within which excess growth leads to destruction. That’s the way it is; that’s the way it works; who is to claim that God made a mistake?

Truly ethical people do not argue over fake debates; they discuss issues with a goal to reach a humane understanding of the larger problems faced by human kind and the many possible ways to resolve these problems to bring maximum benefit to all of LIFE. As God created it.090607TGT_dsc1653Ss

Butterflies, Bugs and Birds

ButterflyThe butterfly, symbol of our own awakening life, the first to find the first yellow blossom that pushed up out of the mud at the edge of my pond.

The pond teems with life this year after the long drought. Enough to feed the huge white heron, enough to feed the butterfly, enough to feed whatever it is that breaks the surface to slurp up some unwary bug or baby bird and drag it back below. And when I drove in I knew immediately the baby killdeer had arrived.

birdinflightIn their effort to drag us away from their babies, the mother and father flashed their white wing patterns and their orange rump feathers as they swooped — across the surface of the pond and over the new-mown grass along its edges — around our advancing threat to their young, just far enough away to tempt, and not close enough to get caught. They settle onto the grass, looking back over their shoulder, they squat and flag the orange rump feathers, flutter their wings and roll over on the ground as though maimed and unable to escape, but if we approach they do escape, again just out of reach, time and again until they have lured us away from their new hatchlings, and then soar into the morning sun. This works with the dog, who dashes across the pasture in pursuit.

“But you can’t fool me,” I say, turning my back on the birds and scanning the shores of the pond. “I’m the one with the brain!” And sure enough, this time I spotted them, two babies, but then I remembered these birds have been living here for about five years and produced several sets of eggs each year. I have looked before, but this is the very first time I have found the babies, and that’s probably because I just mowed the grass where their nest has been — wherever that was.
So who is smarter here? How do these birds “know” what to do to protect their chicks? Why do Killdeer behave this way and other birds choose other methods of protection? When we ask those kinds of questions, we are asking about the information component of the ecosystem. The information the ecosystem needs to survive through time and across the different sorts of environments of which it is composed.

The survival information is encoded in every cell of every organism that exists in the ecosystem. The plants know how to do photosynthesis, the cells know how to do cellular respiration, the muscles know when and how to contract, the eyes know how to see, everything knows how to breath, though everyone does not breath in the same way. Fishes are rather different from us, but they get what they need.

The brain knows how to think, and Killdeer birds know how to draw predators away from their babies. How does the heron know to fish? The flower to attract just the right butterfly that will carry its male fertility to the appropriate female flower? How does the butterfly know which flower is the right flower? How did the flower know that the right kind of butterfly would be available just when it opened?

The kinds of behaviors that are involved with survival inside the ecosystem are encoded in the genes of all the organisms, each kind of organism with it’s own instructions. This information flow includes genes, and is studied by geneticists, but it is more than only genes. It includes predator/prey interactions, parasite cycles, and all of the other elements of the ecosystem reality as it is this day in this year, and the interaction of all those factors with the genomes of all the other organisms that live in the ecosystem and with the inorganic environment.

If I were to refer to it as the intelligence of the ecosystem, you would immediately want to give it an IQ test and compare with human intelligence. That would be a misleading metaphor, and so I will not. But it is a very real flow of information through the ecosystem from the origin of life on earth until this very day. It is in you; it is your heritage; and you are in it.
Look at those little legs go, faster than mine. The parents are having fits, off to the side, trying to distract me, and I will back off as soon as I get a picture, because I know there are big fish and turtles in the pond, I doubt the little thing knows how to swim, and a Copperhead roams the shore. I don’t want to be responsible. The parents, I think, can do a better job without me.

Sustainable Balance

Everything in the universe that we can study is about balance, that is, it requires balance to maintain. Without balance, there is no such idea as sustainability. Well, there is the idea, but it is insane. If something gets smaller and smaller until it disappears, that is not sustainability; if something starts eating and gets bigger and bigger until it is bigger than the earth — that is not sustainability (but it does describe modern corporations, doesn’t it ☺. Balance is where its at if we wish to survive.

If there were no death there could be no life; therefore death can not be considered the enemy (but it is one of the best ways to sell stuff).

If a man has ten sons, is he then required to divide his lands into ten plots, none of which are sufficient to support a family? That is not balance and it is not sustainable; he is not providing for his future.

Balance between humans and the ecosystem.

Balance between oxygen and carbon in the ecosystem.

Balance in the water cycle.

I am not good at physics. Probably I could quote something there if I were, but I do know that all of life is about balance. If you know anything about physiology, the balance of salts in your blood. Everything. Temperature. The same is true at the level of the individual cells.

Therefore – the obligation of stewardship is to understand the balance. Do not assume everyone and everything is just like you. Study facts, also study convictions and opinions and as you do be wary of the desperate extremes of people who are so afraid of life that they can’t listen to reality but instead make up pretty stories (or horrid stories if they want other people to join them in their pit of fear)..

If we really want sustainability, we will have to nurture the balance of life. Nothing else is sustainable.

Fake Arguments – Is Global Warming Caused by Overpopulation?

Why is this a fake argument?

Because it is used to misdirect the intellect and energy of our well meaning people so they end up arguing over something that does not matter very much instead of solving problems that do. It does not matter very much because:

1. We do know some things we can do to reduce global warming, and

2. The OTHER results of overpopulation are so dreadful, all by themselves, that global warming is relatively a pinprick. For example think AIDS. Think genocide. Think the Israeli land grab. Think war. Think failed states that are no longer able to educate or care for their people.

Is that enough reasons that we should begin the conversation about overpopulation?

Or at least provide protection for those who want it?

Fake debates are meant to keep people debating over things that don’t matter so they won’t do something about problems that do matter (that might be inconvenient for some persons who are making money, or at least getting lots of blog attention, off those problems).