The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that human needs could be met if we were to acknowledge and respect the needs of the ecosystem. The basic need of the ecosystem is to maintain the balance between cycling materials, the flow of energy through the system, and the flow of information through the system with time. The basic human needs are to cycle materials (the molecules of life), to maintain the flow of energy through the system (food), and to exist within a compassionate community, doing meaningful work, preferably with a creative connection to the higher forces.

090903Bali_dsc3123SsThe conflict between the human and the ecosystem has primarily to do with how we interpret “meaningful work.” Because we are human, and not the omniscient God who understands the entirety of everything, therefore it is important that we do not try to evaluate the needs of the ecosystem only by our human needs and ethics.

Just as the cell in the toe of my foot does not understand my human need for meaningful work, so we as individuals or as the whole human species — only one species in the big toe of the ecosystem — can not fully understand what drives the largest unit of life on earth, the ecosystem. Therefore, we must make an effort to evaluate the relationship between what we do understand (the ecosystem requires above all balance) and what we believe to be meaningful work. The most meaningful thing that anyone can do for her community is to avoid throwing the ecosystem out of balance. No matter what else she may do.

And here we have a problem, because we get caught up in the idea that “everyone has a right to her own opinion.” Absolutely that is not true. The opinion of a person such as Bill Gates (if that opinion were wrong) could cause enormous harm, because he has enormous power to generate change. Therefore he, and every one of us who is driven to support our community welfare, has an obligation to very carefully evaluate what we do in our good works. Personal opinions and human ethics are not enough to help the ecosystem stay in balance. We must do our best to understand her needs, and that is where science can help because science is specifically designed to AVOID being swayed by personal opinions.

The function of science is NOT to make technologies that will defeat natural law. That would be impossible. If we defeated natural law, we would destroy the construct that created life and so we would destroy life itself. 090904Bali_dsc3257s The function of science is to supplement our gut feelings, emotions and opinions with measurable facts. Measurable facts are not opinions, they are not spiritual, they do not differ among cultures, and they do not rely upon our emotional state for their validity.

We can not change the laws of nature, but we can measure them, and in that way we can know when we are destroying the balance of nature. In this way we can balance the human ethic against the basic needs of the ecosystem. I believe it is the obligation of any person who wants to serve his community with meaningful work to spend serious effort evaluating that work. The needs of the community today must be evaluated against the factual, measurable survival (balance) needs of the ecosystem so that we can preserve human community for tomorrow.
(painting by Made, Ubud, Bali)

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