Bare Bones Biology 213 – Thinking in Questions

We-the-people of the New Ethic are willing to learn new ideas and discuss solutions to communal problems. Last week I said we must ask the right questions — or we won’t get useful answers. Before we start to argue, we need to agree on what is a useful answer. “Useful for what?” Or we might end up with answers that do not support our own long-term goals. The questions we ask must relate to our communal goals. That’s why we nced a fruitful discussion with others who also are serious about growing our new ethic, the good questions will arise out of a good ongoing discussion that includes inquiry. That is, learning about things we didn’t already understand rather than fighting over things we do already understand.

140628-Territorial-ASC_9678RLSssTwo-sided debates are very satisfying for some people because fighting over simple questions shows that they care – they are willing to fight and suffer to accomplish the goal. And they are. But caring about problems does not solve the problems. And all that suffering is wasted if we fight for an answer that ends up causing more harm than good. So maybe that’s why another correspondent said:

“I think survival of the individual, the family, the group, the country, is the four dynamics we should begin to evaluate first.”

This is a very good subject for discussion, and better yet it includes a plan of action. But again, we can’t discuss anything without agreeing about what we want our action to accomplish, so instead of beginning with an action — let’s begin with :

1. A long term goal, and

2. Good questions that relate to that goal.

My goal is to help grow a reasonably comfortable, sustainable, human community within a healthy Biosystem on this earth. For the grandchildren.

Now, let’s restate the readers’ opinion in the form of a question, because answering good questions is a challenge in which we all can participate, whereas beginning with a plan of action tends to generate arguments and debates, rather than questions. Try this question:

“Should we begin by evaluating survival of the individual, the family, the group, the country.”

And then we must ask: “What do we need, as individual humans, families, groups and country, if we are to survive?” Not what we want or what we think is good, but what do we NEED?

So now, I stand at the blackboard, you tell me everything we need, I write it all down, and when we have finished we will realize that we need two sets of things. One set is provided by human-to-human interactions. The other set is provided by the healthy Biosystem and cannot be obtained in any other way. Think what you would need if there were no other people on earth. Those are the things that must be obtained from the Biosystem as we know it. Air, water and food. Those are the human survival needs. Those physical needs have now become the limiting factors ( ) of human life on earth.

Then the question becomes: How can we live without destroying our air, water and food. That is the good question of our day, and our answer will be our human legacy to the grandchildren. “Can we grow a healthy biosystem for the grandchildren?” Then – of course — the next question is: “How?” Beginning with whatever the Biosystem requires to maintain its balance as it is now, making air, water and food. We won’t find the answer to that question on the television, which is all about what people want to watch, and we won’t find the answer by discussing what people want, and we won’t find it by how clever are human technologies. The only answer to that question is another question we are NOT ENGAGING because we are too busy fighting for our particular human conviction.

‘If we can only get enough energy we will be OK”
Not if we use more than our share. The Biosystem also needs energy to survive.

“If we only can win this war we will be OK.”
The Biosystem is not interested in this war.

“If we only we could be happy we would be OK.”
We can’t be happy if the Biosystem can’t fulfill our needs

“If we teach nonviolence it will solve our problems.”
Not unless nonviolence can also resolve the problem of Biosystem health.
Which is not impossible.

And who is asking: “What does the Biosystem NEED, in order to be healthy?

I didn’t say what humans believe it should need. I said what does it need really? The question without which we can’t answer any of the other questions. What the Biosystem needs, bottom line, is fewer humans sucking the life out of it.

Only when we understand that, can we address the problem of human dynamics.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM, 89.1, Bryan, Texas.

A podcast of this episode can be downloaded at:

The Facts from Earth Policy Institute