We woke up to a fresh elk footprint in the front yard, and headed out for Denver, during which drive we went from 7000 feet more or less to 12000+, a view that will be gorgeous in the autumn colors and is nothing to sneeze at now. Then we descended back to about 7000 and beyond and headed into some of the worst of the American metropolitan ambience, including 75 mph bumper to bumper traffic. For the first time, during all these many hours, I noticed that Bitsy has outy dimples when she smiles.


Bare Bones Biology 156 – Nice Speak

The story of my life: Chapter One, I grew up; Chapter Two, I majored in Biology/Genetics/Evolution; Chapter Three, I had a great teacher, Dr. Salt, at UC Davis, who caused me to realize the relationship between human overpopulation and war, starvation, and all the other ills that are now converging upon us; Chapter four I quit science after agonizing for months, trying to decide whether or not it is unkind to tell people these facts of real life. I decided it was. It never occurred to me, until I saw it happening, that my fellow Americans would permit a bunch of crooks to take control of the world food supply and expand the world population so they could take over our governments. Chapters five, six and seven, I returned to science, was successful, and eventually realized why democracy does not work unless the people understand the facts of life and discuss them together. Isn’t that what the “greatest generation” was fighting for?

130623-Fire-ASC_3883RLS+sAnd now I must repeat myself, what I’ve been saying on this program for three years, because the shortest distance between here and there is to start listening to each other, studying, and discussing the issues that face us today as a result of human overpopulation (http://mahb.stanford.edu/consensus-statement-from-global-scientists/). Nothing will resolve itself if we continue the modern nice-speak (or any of the many other techniques when they are used to prevent discussion), and then continue each person doing her own thing, on the theory that everyone has a right to her own uninformed opinion.

Nobody has a right to cause harm to the community of Life, regardless of what they believe themselves to be doing. The only way to change a human cycle of behavior – or any biological cycle — is to cut the cycle. That’s why good discussion is essential. First we must see the cycle and then we must modify our behaviors. Nobody sees everything; the cycle cannot be cut by each individual person trying to prove that he personally knows all about the cycle. That turns human control over to evolutionary control and the wheel turns round once again to repeat the past interminably. The only way to change the cycle is by pooling our knowledge of it. Otherwise we doom ourselves to repeat the cycle by focusing all our own energies either on promoting or fighting against the little bit of it that we understand and so pushing it around one more turn of the wheel of divide and conquer.

So this is what happens instead of discussion. If I say to you that I believe population control is the only viable solution to our root problem (the actual cause of the illness without which we cannot cure the disease). What do you say to me? Usually it is one of these things: a) “I disagree;” b) “Let George do it,” which means, “I’m doing something more important than you are, and I don’t want to stop doing that to engage in population control, which is not nice and about which I am not concerned and know very little”; c) ”How would you control the problem without also doing something so appalling that I won’t even think or talk about it?” (I’ll answer that one because of course it is the problem — but it’s not a reason to not talk about it. We are communally already doing something even more appalling by not taking appropriate action; d) “Nobody would give us money if we talk about population control;” e) (well, that’s a partial list, and that’s only the people who do agree that we need to stop the growth. The other side has even more vigorous replies.)

130622-canyon-ASC_3624sTHOSE ANSWERS ARE NOT DISCUSSION, they are attempts to avoid discussion. Of course everyone has said or thought those things, but unless you actually state your reasoning and then are willing to carry forward the discussion, those answers are not discussion; they are attempts to avoid discussion. And there is no point trying to discuss a real communal issue with someone who only cares about his own.

None of those are even a right answer if we seriously want to resolve the problem. The answer is WHY? Or if you already know why, the answer is HOW? The answer is NOT “Everyone has a right to his own opinion.” And the answer is not to complain about how a thing is said — so long as it is focused on the problem and is not abusive (meaning that people are actually listening to the other and trying to understand and respond) — but to complain if discussion is not permitted, usually because some believe themselves to have the only answer and are not interested in the fact that there are many implications of ANY problem, and nobody knows all of them. Either we pool our knowledge or it’s divide and conquer time again and the cycle repeats itself as it has done for a couple of millennia at least.

I am saying the glass is equally as much half empty as it is half full, and that is how Life stays alive. By delicately balancing itself just on the edge of death, between full and empty, and if we continue to unbalance it, we, and possibly it, will crash in this generation or the next, because we have pushed the wheel as far as it physically can support us. If we believe only in the nice things (or for that matter only in the nasty things, or only in one thing, whether or not it is true), then we are easily manipulated, and we have very little long-term power to help balance the scales of our own lives, or of Life itself, no matter what we believe ourselves to be doing.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.wordpress.com and KEOS radio, 89.1, Bryan, Texas. For a podcast of this week’s program, go to http://www.BareBonesBiology.wordpress.com.

Bare Bones Biology 007B – You Can’t Do Nothing

130611-Miller-ASC_3449RLSsToday I’m sitting on my new back porch tucked in the cleft between two out pouchings of Monero mountain, listening to mty little wren greet the morning from the top of the lilac tree planted in the 1980’s by Ila Blomberg. Bitsy is chasing rats. The air stirs, as the sun rises, the temperature changes, the process of photosynthesis accelerates. The canyon breathes in the silence of a new and different day.

This day I’m thinking about Shodo Spring and her group, who are on their way to Denver to take off for the Compassionate Earth Walk. How perfect, I think, for this occasion is Bare Bones Biology 007, and so we will repeat it. You can get the podcast at http://www.barebonesbiology.com, the most recent post.

I’m sitting on my back porch in the dark, watching the lightning flash, listening to the thunder growl over the little hill behind my house, drinking a cup of green tea, and remembering just such a night five years ago, when I sat in a Japanese hot bath at the Green Village Youth Hostel in Niibo-Uryuya listening to the grumble and crack of just such a storm.

For two months I had been reading Huston Smith, the Dalai Lama, Terry Tempest Williams, and the story of the living earth described by James Lovelock. And trying to write. To write anything that might help the children of human technology understand the most important bits of biological reality. But what is the use? I will never be a Terry Tempest Williams, and I don’t see any sign that the children of human technology are interested in what I have to say. Why try to write, when the books I read express my worldview so much better than I ever could say it?

That Japanese night I was reading, The Pine Island Paradox, by Kathleen Dean Moore, holding the book high over neck-level water, when she said. “You can’t do nothing . . To love a person or a place is to accept moral responsibility for its well being.” And so I hauled myself out of the bath and climbed up the stairs to my room to try again.

But Kathleen, you didn’t say. How do we know what is best for the well being of the one you love? Almost everyone I talk with thinks they know what is best. As a biologist I know that most of them — no matter how convicted and well intended — are simply wrong about what this place needs. Biologically. If we care about anything we can’t do nothing, but isn’t it even more important that we should not do something that will cause more harm. And it’s way past time we can care about one place on earth without caring for the whole of it, because it is all one life.

The answer came at that time from Huston Smith, in his book, Why Religion Matters.

“My way relates to world views. I am convinced that whatever transpires in other domains of life — politics, living standards, environmental conditions, interpersonal relationships, the arts — we will be better off if we extricate ourselves from the worldview we have unwittingly slipped into and replace it with a more generous and accurate one.”

I think he means we should listen to each other and compare notes before we decide what we should do. But I can’t make anyone else do that, and I can’t just sit here in a hot Japanese bath or on the back porch of my own home and smile and remember that I have had the best of life, so it won’t really affect me very much, whatever happens, and watch the younger folk working their little hearts out trying to fix the mess we have made, convinced they are doing something new and different to help, and making all the same mistakes we made, but with a great deal more power behind their efforts. If we care, we can’t do nothing And so finally that Japanese night I fell asleep while the storm grumbled and cracked outside my window.

The next day I got an email “where are you and are you having fun
Where am I? I haven’t moved from this place that I love.

Am I having fun? When someone asks an irrelevant question, should you answer the question or ask a better one? Were we put upon this earth to “have fun?” On my headstone, what? “She wasted her one shot trying to have fun?” Wall Street wants me to have as much fun as possible; should I dedicate my life to Wall Street? And a few more questions along those same lines, at least one of which might contain the words God, love and responsibility.

I don’t remember what I really said.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM radio, 89.1, in Bryan, Texas. A transcript will be posted Wednesday at

, where you can leave your comments.

I have been asked to define the word ecosystem. If I can get on kline for long enough, next time I’ll give that a shot – Or maybe I’ll report on Chama Territorial Days, where they have stick horse racing and in the end they hang Chicken-Stealing Charlie . I don’t know what happens to the chicken.

Bare Bones Biology 156 – Two Minds

Why does it sometimes feel like nearly everyone is sitting on his hands, of course except me, while we are facing the greatest challenge in the history of human kind?” That’s a question I’ve heard more and more lately. I’m glad the question is finally surfacing. Here are words from a couple of people who are not sitting on their hands. A Buddhist and a biologist who look at the world through their separate disciplines and seem to see the same sorts of answers.

David Loy (Essay entitled Transcendence or Immanence, May, 2013) (http://www.davidloy.org) points: “There is no individual solution to the ecological and social crises that challenge us collectively today.” It’s a good essay, you should read it. After describing his reasons for thinking so, based mostly in logic and his Buddhist tradition, he concludes that: “ . . . the ecological and social crises are just as much spiritual crises, because they challenge each of us to wake up and realize that our own well-being cannot be separated from the well-being of others, or from the well-being of the whole earth.” David Loy is a professor, writer and Zen teacher.

Dr. David Suzuki, (http://www.davidsuzuki.org) a scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He makes a similar point from his viewpoint that is based mostly in logic and scientific fact. First he describes our history of fighting over issues that surround the use of our biosystem resources and our attitude toward the biosystem, and then he suggests that fighting is not a useful way to address these issues, because in every fight there is always a loser, and we can’t afford losers at this time. Rather than fighting with each oher, he says:

130605-Clouds-ASC_3425RRLSs“Can we begin from a position of agreement. Let’s agree on the fundamental things on which we will build our platforms of politics or economics. So let’s start by setting a bottom line that is dictated by the laws of nature. We live in a world that is defined and shaped by laws of nature. Physicists tell us the speed of light puts a limit on how fast we can fly a space rocket. We can’t fly faster than the speed of light. Nobody objects to that. We live within that. We know that the law of gravity means we can’t have an anti-gravity machine, and we know that the first and second laws of thermodynamics tell us that you can’t build a perpetual motion machine. We all understand that. That’s the real world that we live in.

“In biology it’s the same thing. We know that there are carrying capacities of ecosystems. That ecosystems can flourish as long as predators living within those ecosystems do not undermine the ability of those ecosystems to sustain themselves over time. Human beings are the most powerful predators on the planet and we live at the very top of the ecological food chain, so we must pay attention to what are the carrying capacities of the various ecosystems that we occupy around the world.

“And the most important thing we must remember and agree on is that we are biological creatures, and our biological nature dictates what our fundamental needs are. What delivers clean air, clean water, clean soil clean food and clean energy, from the sun, is the web of living things around the world, what biologists call biodiversity. It’s life itself that cleanses, replenishes, or creates our most fundamental needs.

“Any corporate leader, politician, even the T party I’m sure, would have to agree, that as biological beings, air, water, soil, photosynthesis and biodiversity have got to be in our best interests, our most fundamental needs that we must protect and nourish. That’s how we begin to define our system of needs, upon which we then can ask how do we create an economy.” Complete audio available from me or from Making_Contact, http://www.radioproject.org/sound/2013/MakingCon_130605_Ax.mp3.

This is Bare Bones Biology 156. The podcast is available at:

David Loy (Essay entitled Transcendence or Immanence, May, 2013) (http://www.davidloy.org)
David Suzuki http://www.davidsuzuki.org

Faith, Hope and Love

Is There Hope?


Not if we use hope as an instrument of our cowardice.

Not if we use hope as a tool to deprive others of information, therefore the freedom to make wise life choices.

Not if we use hope as an excuse to avoid the hard work and responsibility of survival.

Shall we hope that God will change the way the body of the earth functions? And for the silliest of reasons – just because we don’t like it? After He spent a few billion years growing it up to work the way it does work? Why are we hoping for magic and miracles, when we know what the problem is and how to solve it all by ourselves? If God did miraculously change the processes that maintain life, then Earth could no longer function in our universe, because the miracle is that it functions at all. Shall we hope for a miracle that will destroy it? We can do that, all by ourselves, and we are.

No, we cannot hope for a miracle, and I’m really sorry God. I know you spelled out the rules from the very beginning, and it’s not very hard to understand — neither Your rules nor the functions of your Earth — but it’s not my fault. If I could, I would have stopped the destruction 50 years ago. I’m not a coward; I’m not depriving anyone of necessary information; and I’m not afraid of hard work or responsibility. But I can’t do it by myself, and I can’t control what other people do. They like what they are doing. They chose it. I suppose that is a part of how Your law functions. I don’t like it much, but is is the miracle we’ve got.

Kurt Vonnegut Shall we hope for a Singularity? Fun game to play, but the whole idea is based on the theory that humans are intelligent – in fact that the human brain can function better than the biology of which it is a fairly minor subunit.

No, we cannot hope for a “singularity” that will save us from experiencing the physiological (karmic, cause and effect, physical) results of our own behaviors.  We chose our karma; it is our creation and our responsibility. If we don’t even understand that – then there is no way we can rationally hope to survive into the future.

And if the A.I. singularity DOES occur, then it will: a) not be able to invent a world that functions better than the one we already have because, while it may be immensely more intelligent than humans, it cannot be nearly as intelligent as the entire billions of years of evolved wisdom of the universe of which it is a part, and b) if it is more intelligent than we are, it will immediately recognize that the easiest quickest and least painful way to save the Earth would be to dispose of the humans. We don’t need a singularity to do that; we not only are doing it, but we also know that we are — and we know how we are.  We have probably already done it. Probably that IS the singularity. The nearly certain occurrence of Homo sapiens’ genomic bottleneck – or decease – during the first half of this century.

Only one rational hope remains conceivable, because it arises out of the only rationally conceivable way that we could resolve our physical plight.  We can hope that humans will wake up and decide that we don’t like the future we have built for our grandchildren, and that we will sit down together to learn what the biosystem requires for its well being – not what we believe it should require, and not what we hope will fix it, but what it/she really does physically need to balance the millions of organisms and billions of processes of which her body is composed – so that we can begin to work together to give the mother Earth what she needs to survive.

I can wish — but I have no real hope that this will happen. Mostly because most people would rather hope and pray than work to understand what is needed. And partly because I have finally come to understand that the miracle of Life, and the beauty of how it functions to exist as a vital (formerly) green rock in space, is more significant, elegant, beautiful and desirable than the human enterprise.

There is no other viable reason for hope.

There can be no Life without death.

It is done.

And so be it.

Dudeman on the Compassionate Earth Walk


Hey everyone! My name is Justin and I am walking with Compassionate Earth! I’m really excited about it for a bunch of reasons. I guess a lot of the time, I just kind of flow from one place to another taking in life as I go with very little direction. When walking you always have a direction– I believe I need this direction, and right now so do we all! A compassionate and sustainable direction. I have always hoped that in my life the direction I would end up walking in would be one that brought peace and compassion to those around me and to myself… and so here I am.

Now I just want to talk a bit about why I am walking, and also a little about some things that I believe and some things I want to learn.

I am walking to see the earth, to hear it. To feel what is happening, and to understand. This way I can know what I believe, and believe what I know. I am walking to share my love with the earth!! I am walking so that I will grow, because If I grow the earth grows.

I believe that the walk will generate compassionate energy for the entire earth, and that we earthlings (plants, animals, people and everything in between) are as much a part of the earth as the rocks and the oceans. I am happy to have the opportunity to participate in something like this and just want all of you to know that you can too!

I believe that the money system is intrinsically flawed and is depriving us of direct interaction with our survival needs, even making it unclear to some as to what our “needs” really are. (Food, love, peace, shelter, water, for a start. Not oil, not green paper, not decimal points.)

I believe the the corporate system is blinded by numbers, greed and profit. I think it has grown out of control concentrating the world’s resources in the hands of a few. This is increasing the suffering felt by many people, and by the Earth. This is being done with little regard for anything other than Old Might Dollar and The decimal point. Thus we end up with things like the KXL and the Tarsands.

I believe the path that our world’s majority culture is traveling down will end in disaster for us if it doesn’t change, but more importantly I believe that there is Hope!!

I don’t really KNOW any of these things, but I do believe them. As a friend recently reminded me, there is a difference between knowing in your heart and having information at your fingers, and I’d add even in your head. So I am walking compassionately, because I need to know, I want to know the earth, and the people and the problems we’re all facing.

I’ve had it drilled into my mind for most of my life, by our world culture, that the world is in fact Ours. That our industrial culture is the world. That this culture is humanity. And this is the way it was meant to be. The way it has to be. I do not believe that. I do know there have been other ways. There ARE other ways. Other peoples. Other cultures. Some of them right here in the U.S.

Many of our brothers and sisters in our earth family don’t know this– they know that this isn’t the way but think there are no other options– so am I’m walking for the people who don’t know, Myself included. I am walking hoping that after the walk there will be a little more light and that one of Us (earthlings) can illuminate another way and find another direction. (one day <3)

I Know that when this walk is over I won’t be the same as when it started and when I change the world changes just a little bit. So I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and I’m not going to stop! I am really blessed to be in a place in my life where I can do this, and I realize that not everyone can but there are lots of other things you can. You can come and walk for a little while– a day or a week even! We would love to have you along. We’re also asking for donations, which will primarily go toward feeding us walkers, so anything helps!
To contribute to our Start Some Good campaign, visit: startsomegood.com/compassionateearthwalk
To mail a check or food/supplies, address to:
The Compassionate Earth Walk
c/o The Harvest Collective
1518 Menlee Rd.
Silver Spring, MD 20904
To gift via Pay Pal, address to: davidrogner@gmail.com

Fire Fighting Plane


130604-fire-ASC_3361SsComing home to the airport at the end of a long day fighting the fires. Surrounded by clouds and smoke from the burning, drought-stricken hills around Santa Fe.