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) ( 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, ( 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,

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

David Loy (Essay entitled Transcendence or Immanence, May, 2013) (
David Suzuki