For the past few years I have been working more than full time and spending retirement money on the effort to explain to people that we are in a real biological emergency of unpredictable magnitude. (If you don’t agree with this, you are not well informed and you should come talk to me, but that’s another story.) So in my daily life, I don’t have time nor inclination for politics, unless it is a real emergency where it seems I can make a difference. Why? Because I do not believe that war of any kind will improve our human predicament, biologically or otherwise. And our American politics today is not a lot different from war. So rahrah let’s win this battle slogans only depress me. Nobody ever wins in a war. Not even the rich capitalist.

But there is hope. Today I heard two programs, in one day, in which people actually discussed real issues that could change this roadblock that America has thrown up against biological sanity. First was on Sierra Club Radio, where the moderator was so courageous as to use the word “growth” as problematic. Second was New Dimensions on the subject of sanity in politics. Meaning. People actually talking to each other and discussing issues. Hooray for both.

Bare Bones Biology 043 – What Won’t Work

There is no point waiting around for a simple answer. There aren’t any. Our cultures are emergent properties (BareBonesBiology 017), arising out of their complexity, and our goal must be to rearrange the components until we find a combination that is life affirming rather than life destroying. I have tried to imagine the most simple and straightforward scenario that could result in a life-affirming culture to grow from the one we have. Next time I’ll talk about that. This time, I’ll mention just a few of the approaches that clearly will not take us where we want to go.

First, complaining about the past, present or future will not make the future better. Whatever action we’re doing right now, in this immediate moment of time, is the action that we are passing on to the future. What you are thinking and doing right exactly now is this moment of your legacy.

Second, winning anything, working heroically, suffering, or striving will not make the future better if what you do unbalances the balance of life (BareBonesBiology 008).

Making more babies than the earth can support and then sending them off to be killed in the effort to win anything will not rebalance the earth. Mostly it only makes some rich persons richer and helps some politicians win something that is not relevant to making a better future. In the short term certain communities benefit in the production and sale of weapons, and in the rescuing and saving of victims, and in the medical treatment of the unfortunate. This may appear to be sustainable, if we can continue to produce enough victims and soldiers, but only to the person who believes that life is a bottomless cornucopia of victims, soldiers, saviors and other consumers.

Life is not a bottomless cornucopia of resources. Neither victims nor villains nor other kinds of resources. Life is a balanced system or it does not stay alive. It is an incredibly arrogant human mistake to believe that humans can control life according to our limited perceptions. Especially human economists who have no knowledge of biology or the ecosystem, but only some inaccurate daydream about survival of the fittest. Life is not about survival of the fittest. Life is all about sustainable balance. Ask any cancer patient.

Saving every person who is threatened by natural or manmade disasters is neither heroic nor useful, even to the persons who are saved, unless we can ALSO provide some plan, some hope for them and for us all together, for a sustainable, viable future with a reasonable lifestyle that does not include starving babies and dodging bombs.

These above are only examples of what I have referred to as reductionist problem solving (BareBonesBiology 040). That’s when different groups of people battle against different individual symptoms of a syndrome, but nobody is interested in curing the root ailment that produces all these victims for us so gallantly to save. That’s why I don’t get all excited about individual problem solving UNLESS its advocates are ALSO willing to talk knowledgeably about how their effort will contribute, everything considered, positively rather than negatively to the balance of life. We need solutions to many, many individual problems. I am not suggesting we should drop everything and hide. We must, however, ALL also understand the probable long-term effects of whatever we are doing, so that we can direct our work toward helping to rebalance the ecosystem.

The root ailment that causes all these symptoms, and more, is overpopulation. For a discussion of this see the January 2011 National Geographic. I am NOT saying we would have no problems if the population were within the range that photosynthesis can support. I AM saying you cannot succeed with whatever positive goal you are trying to accomplish if we continue to unbalance the ecosystem. The many individual efforts to address the symptoms are necessary, but they all will fail unless we all, or most of us, also address the bottom line.

Bare Bones Biology 043
89.1 Radio, KEOS, Bryan, TX
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Down on the Farm

It’s a beautiful day down on the farm. The birds are fighting over nesting sites, we now have predator birds moving in so the cat has to stay inside all the time or maybe move over to the studio, and the elm trees are thinking thoughts of spring. Assuming they can think, which of course they can not in the way that we do. But they must do something, or otherwise how would they know it is spring?

It reminds me of young human sprouts who have never seen the back end of a horse in front of a plow, and they are trying to tell me all about farming, or gardening, or the fabulous tomato they just ate. I mean, just because they just figured out where veggies come from doesn’t mean it’s a new story for me. I looked at it. Obvious supermarket tomato.

I stopped eating fruits and vegetables from the grocery store about 20 years or so ago, and meats soon after. The meat and milk because someone was injecting hormones into the animals, and while I don’t SO much mind them experimenting on farm animals, I resent it when “they” begin feeding me hormones. I happen to know something about hormones, too. I know quite a few things, folks, but that is another story.

A few years ago I tried another garden, and the tomatoes tasted pretty much the same as those in the supermarket. Sort of like cardboard impregnated with some essence of unripe tomato. It costs more than a McDonalds hamburger, which is made mostly of ketchup and relish. The ketchup and relish still taste pretty much the way they always did, a lot better than the tomatoes or the meat, so now we know why people mostly eat fast foods. The prepared food from health food stores mostly all tastes romantically of sage, rosemary and thyme, which is good if you lake sage, rosemary and thyme. There was a time when food tasted good.

No it’s not because I keep getting older; it’s because the food tasted good when I was young. I know this because some really smart persons started saving heirloom seeds about 30 years ago, and you can still buy them through the heirloom seed catalogs, and their fruits still taste good.

In the meantime, though, before I figured that out, I stopped gardening because the plants they sell us to grow the vegetables in our back yard produce veggies that taste pretty much like the ones in the grocery store. The only advantage is that mine have no innate pesticides or herbicides. They still don’t taste good, so why should I waste my time? It started with tomatoes, that were bred (the old fashioned way) to never get ripe and to stay round and firm and fully packed for the automatic tomato pickers (these look sort of like one of those big green cotton pickers, but for tomatoes). Now they can breed any kind of plant or animal more or less any way they want to, without waiting for the old fashioned way, by genetic engineering, and I especially do not want to be growing genetically modified soybeans or corn or anything else in my yard, so. And the government just approved alfalfa. Who knows if they have done spinach or not? Like I said. I stopped growing a garden.

So what brought all this up? Besides the young sprouts trying to tell me their tomatoes are good tasting? I was in the Producers’ Coop this morning and had a random whim of an idea to maybe grow some spinach. So I asked them if their spinach seeds were genetically modified.

They don’t know either.

You know what’s maybe better even than spinach? That I know of, and there is a lot I don’t know, this time of year the dock plants have really tasty young leaves. They just all froze off, but they’ll be back in a week or so. And later on the mustard greens are sharp and full of flavor. And they don’t cost a cent.


Chill factor below zero, the elm trees are blooming, the redbirds are singing up a storm and the bluebirds are defending their nest against all intruders.


What is the most important thing you can possibly do with your time?

Audio Link

This morning, friend Ann gave me her friendly high-speed kitchen so that I could figure out how to post these audiocasts on this blog and on Thank you Ann!

Bare Bones Biology 042-God, Earth, Human

The other day I saw a billboard picture of a troubled man talking on the telephone with a “direct line to God.” I think it’s possible that we may all have a direct line to God. But, I also think that no human person IS God, therefore no human person completely understands God, and definitely we do not connect with an old-fashioned curly telephone cord. That’s what I think.

Neither does any other part of life connect to God by maybe a power line or a water pipe or any other man-made technology that we can turn on or hang up whenever we choose. Physically, we, and all other living things, are a part of the ongoing cycle of life on earth that is directed by the genetic code contained in every living cell, and is connected to the whole universe by the basic laws of nature — the laws of thermodynamics and aerodynamics, the law of cause and effect, the law of gravity — and by maintaining the balance of all of its parts. Just as our body maintains the balance of its life. By maintaining all its connections. That’s our physical connections, and if we set out to changing them, we ought to understand what we are doing, because we are doing it to the whole living earth, and we are not God.

Humans can not change the basic physical laws of the universe. We are not an omnipotent God to create the balanced cycle of life – we are an intermediate part of the cycle, bigger than a cell and smaller than the whole green, living earth. We are not an omniscient God, either, to know what is best for the future. We don’t even know very much about how the whole system functions. We definitely don’t know enough to improve on it. And God has not given us the responsibility to decide what that future should be. He gave us the responsibility to nurture life in his image. Not to change it forever in our own image. Or to trash this living green earth that was entrusted to our stewardship. No human technology has the power to change the universal laws of nature, but we do have the power to destroy. And we have free will, either to obey the universal laws, or to learn from our mistakes, or to die, or kill with our mistakes.

Life maintains its balance gloriously — the water recycling, the oxygen and other molecules recycling, the atmosphere circulating, the green organisms reproducing themselves to constantly produce organic food energy, the other organisms reproducing themselves to carry the organic food energy and the code of life to every corner of the great green earth and clean up after us all. We are part of the cycle: an influential part, but certainly not an essential part. Presumably God created the cycle, or the natural laws, or both. Our responsibility is reverence and stewardship toward the balance that is life.

We are failing that responsibility, we have drastically damaged the balance of life on earth in ways that we can’t even begin to predict the results. We will suffer the results of our mistake. It’s too late to avoid that. But we still have the choice to learn from it.

So the question we now face is: What should we do about this ecological problem that in our arrogance we have created? And here we get arguments based in personal opinions. Some opinions are excuses to not do anything, others are confusions, still others are commitments, and some people are waiting around for a simple answer.

We all know that you care as much as I do about solving our ecological, especially as it is your children and grandchildren who will experience the results. But I may have spent more time and energy studying possible answers. I have directly studied the natural laws of biology during all of my career, and over the past ten years I have especially paid attention to this question. What should we do about this ecological problem that in our arrogance we have created?

Bare Bones Biology 042 – God, Earth, Human

KEOS Radio 89.1, Bryan, TX