This diagram is not meant to be accurate with regard to quantities, either by the sizes of the lines or of the spaces.

This diagram is not meant to be accurate with regard to quantities, either by the sizes of the lines or of the spaces.

Bare Bones Biology 135 – The Corposystem Community

My question still is: how can we be aware of our human ego, and all the negative, painful behaviors that it generates — how can we use that knowledge to grow a more positive, life-supporting human community? Our efforts to treat the symptoms of ecosystem dysfunction — our hubris — are humane, admirable and heroic – variously they include: teach compassion, feed the hungry, build a fence and keep ‘em out, war. However, the painful truth is that these efforts will not solve our problems, because they are based in what humans want, without regard to what Life needs to stay healthy.

121202-Xparade-ASC_1483SsTo solve our problems, we cannot continue to do our behaviors that caused the problems in the first place. Instead, we must change our behaviors to give back to the whole of Life what Life needs to maintain itself. To do that, we must study what is needed and why. If we really do want to do more good than harm, we need to stop playing corposystem games and listen to and understand what we the human community are doing that is harmful to the biological community.

By the time this program is broadcast, the transcript will be posted, and above and below the transcript a diagram
that attempts to describe the most basic way that our corposystem of today is, in the overall, causing more harm than good to our life systems. Our job is to change the nature of the corposystem to conform to the needs of nature. That is, to make it sustainable. For people who only have the audio, I will try to describe.

On the left is diagrammed the cycle of Life. The function of Life is to transduce light energy into food energy and then to use this food energy to nourish all the interconnected processes that keep the whole of Life alive. This is rather similar to our individual lives, except that individually we eat food energy and transduce it into chemical energy that we use to nourish all the processes that keep our own bodies alive.

Perhaps the biggest difference between individual lives and all of Life is what happens to the materials that are left over, after we individuals do all the work of living. We think of these materials as waste products of life; materials like carbon, oxygen, proteins, feces and dead bodies. That sort of thing. But they are not waste products; they are essential components of the cycle of life that uses them over and over again to sustain the processes of Life.

121202-Xparade-ASC_1487SsLife is miraculous in the universe. The second miracle of life is how it recycles, gives back to the cycle of Life the materials of which it is composed, so that the materials are used again for another cycle — always available to maintain the body of Life – things like cells and trees and people. The relationship among the food energy and the work of recycling materials and the heat energy is essential to Life as we know it.

The first miracle is the way Life uses energy (1). Energy cannot be created or destroyed or recycled, but so long as the sun is shining, the plants can use that light energy from the sun to make food. After the food energy is used to do work, it changes into heat energy and is released into the body of Life.

The third miracle of Life is the genetic information that keeps all this in balance — but that is a story for another day. For now we must recognize that all the processes of life must stay in balance in order to maintain Life.

The cycle of our corpo-political human system, the corposystem, is shown on the right side of the diagram, where you can see that the corposystem unbalances the cycle of Life. The corposystem takes what it wants but does not “give back” proportionally to the cycle of life. That’s your life I’m talking about, and more your grandchildren’s.

The ecosystem, the left part of the diagram, generates food (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids etc.) using recycled materials plus energy. Burning energy (any kind of burning, including metabolism in our cells) releases the original materials, which are mostly in the form of carbon dioxide and water. This is the energy cycle, but it is much more than only energy. The balance between the photysynthesis by the green organisms, and the recycling of the materials, also creates our atmosphere; and the relationship between the atmosphere and the sunlight maintains our global climate. The sunlight is important to photosynthesis and photosynthesis and sunlight are important to our climate. This is only one example of the essential multifactorial balancing act of life.

The corposystem unbalances these essential functions in more than one way. First, it burns fossil fuels, in addition to the food energy provided by today’s ecosystem, thus unbalancing relationships between photosynthesis, production of heat by combustion and by the atmospheric conditions, the generation of materials, and their use.

In addition, of course, the ecosystem consists of billions of other cycles – life cycles, chemical cycles, atmospheric, you can list more. The function of the ecosystem is to provide the energy to all these activities, including: (1) to provide food energy so the organisms can do the work required to keep the ecosystem – and now the corposystem — cycling; (2) to operate machines and energize technologies, especially computers, that it uses to organize people and other machines; (3) to make things to sell, often things the corposystem cannot use or recycle, such as poisonous or non-degradable substances, computers, television sets, etc. In short, the corposystem takes food energy and materials from the ecosystem and uses them to make stuff to sell. The product of corposystem cycle is to make profit — not to nourish Life. The system is evaluated largely, in our culture, by who wins, rather than by the balance of factors required to maintain Life.

The obvious end point of a cycle that is taking out more than it is giving back is – it will run out of resources. Since 1997 the corposystem (that is us) has been taking out from the earth ecosystem more than the ecosystem can replace (for examples, download on my home page, right side, Planetary Stewardship). The ecosystem can tolerate a lot of unbalancing and rebalancing but there is indeed a tipping point beyond which it will change itself in ways that will not permit human life.

So to restate the original question here: “How can we become aware of our place in Life so that we can give back to Life what it needs to give us what we need?” I know that a simplistic, egotistical human effort to dominate nature, whether for compassion or for war, will not save nature. We must bow to the needs of nature if we want to survive. To do that we need to learn what those needs are, and nearly all of our leaders are much too busy winning to know, learn or care about anything else. It’s up to us.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at


(1) Energy is defined as the ability to do work. All the processes that keep us alive are work. They can be recognized in the simplest way by the fact that things move and processes happen because they use energy. Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook explains in more detail.

Question for Discussion:

How can you develop a small, local, life-supporting community that seeks information about the real facts of Life, while at the same time making our human lives less competitive and more compassionate?

Look at the two pictures in this blog. How many things do you see that cannot be recycled by the corposystem. Don’t forget the flyspray they used on the horses ☺

Recommended References:

Bare Bones Biology Ecology Energy Handbook
Go to the right side of the page under Chapters and download your free no strings PDF.
What Won’t Work
Corposystem Games


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