Bare Bones Biology 353 – God Makes Energy

The title is a quote from one of Angela Sayers’ lovely books, I forget which one. Surely she, in England, never met up with a snow bank such as this, but the principle is universal. Machines do not dominate the weather; they only move it out of the way, or give us time to get out of the way.


And we would be better to remember this principle, as we try to discuss climate change, which is all about our human misuse of God’s energy to make machines so we can do whatever we want to do. There ae some things that machines can not do, and it’s better to remember this fact.


For example, we can use the energy of life to make the roads, to push the snow off the roads, to heat our houses, and to grow our food — but we cannot change the way the energy of Life works to operate and maintain Life. And so we fuss and complain because our machines didn’t make the world be like we want it to be, and now we have climate change, and what are we doing about that?


Basically, we are still trying harder and harder to dominate nature with the machines, and doing more harm – as a generalization, we are not trying to understand that machines cannot change how God made energy to function. Maybe it would be better to study how Nature really functions, rather than throwing a tantrum because we can’t have everything, because the way we are now going will most likely end with nothing that we want, as the climate of earth changes holistically in response to our micro-efforts to dominate the Earth.


Clearly, climate change is not merely a change of temperature. That claim is just one of many boondoggles organized by politicians to encourage us to argue among ourselves — as though our arguments have some impact on the laws of thermodynamics, or gravity – to give us some relatively inconsequential details to argue about so we won’t recognize the holistic reality.


Meanwhile, they are extinct or going extinct — those other organisms that created the climate and shared in the climate in which we evolved and thrived. We didn’t create the climate, nor could we – they created and maintained the climate, in their balanced interactions – but now they are gone and going, in huge numbers, and that is largely why the climate is changing.


In fact, some people are trying to save the extinct species using cryogenics and the like, but that effort is not likely to be very effective, because the reconstituted organisms will have no place to live. Because we are converting their environments to make food for ourselves. It’s a cycle, a runaway negative cycle, we don’t want to think about – only to control. We could use it to inform our efforts, but we cannot control it. We are putting our faith in the ridiculous notion that we can control God with our machines.


If one defines climate change according to a temperature, then of course, the temperature will change according to the systems that control it (the system created by all those other organisms that are going extinct) — but we won’t be here, because the Biosystem is not a bunch of little things that we can fix. It is an entire whole “body” like ours only much more complicated, and it will have to start over, make itself over, slowly adding and testing billions of interacting parts (like our physiology, but much more complex) that gradually “learn” how to work together to re-evolve a new set of sustainable conditions before becoming once again complex using whatever new species arise. That scenario is inevitable (or something very similar) if we continue as we are. It has happened a number of times before in the evolution of this living earth, and it will happen again if we cannot align our beliefs with the realities of our existence within the universe.


The future is not the next century we continue so confidently to talk about, as though nothing will change. It can crash dramatically in a few decades, if not supported and nurtured, and then it takes more like thousands of years for earth to begin recovery from a mass extinction. From our point of view – forever, because the higher organisms die off first, and that includes us. And then whatever simpler organisms manage to survive begin to repopulate the devastated earth as they find new kinds of environments that can support life, and begin again the evolutionary journey toward another, similar but different, complex earth system.

If we don’t like that scenario, then perhaps we should do something to prevent it, and what we should NOT do is more of what caused the problem in the first place. If we want to save ourselves, we must now try to establish a new norm for humans. A new “storyline” that does not involve domination as the solution to every problem. Unless we want to simply keep on recycling the extremes: the Hitlers and the Mother Theresas: unto our extinction, the new norm must be based on a new storyline that honors the balance among the systems: sustainable balance and respect for Life itself.   It’s too late to solve our problems with growth and domination.


So our recourse now because we as humans are not competent to “make” a viable ecosystem, is to stop trying to force our ignorant will (the word ignorant means uninformed, not stupid or dumb — this is possible, we just aren’t doing it) to stop trying to force all of nature to do whatever we want it to do and instead honor the reality that systems of life – those that survive — work together for the common good.


For example, we have been overgrazing the earth since approximately the turn of the century. That means we have been taking out of the earth more than it can continue to grow.


These are genuine data that have nothing to do with opinions. Lester Brown, for example, is a nonpartisan expert who has been recording these data for more than 40 years, nearly 50, until his recent retirement. It’s not like we don’t know; we do know. If we do not stop overgrazing the earth we do know the result will be something on the order of the scenario in the paragraphs above.   We can stop in two ways. One is to stop eating/using the available food and other energy supplied by the earth system; the other is to stop reproducing more people than we can feed. We are not making any particularly noticeable effort to do either.


Our politicians get elected by promising to NOT stop.

Opinions do not change facts**. Whatever we want to believe will not change the fact that the earth has only so much capacity to feed however many organisms and at the same time maintain its own balance as a life form. Maintaining its balance INCLUDES but is not limited to maintaining the climate. Nor will human opinions change the basic laws of nature that we are only beginning to understand, such as how gravity works and how the naturally evolved complex adaptive systems of the universe balance each other to maintain (or not maintain) themselves. It is not by domination, overall, but by cooperation, system with system.


What we do know, that every “hands on” farmer in all of history also knows, if you put too many cows in the same pasture they will eventually destroy the pasture and die. And that exact same scenario applies also to humans on this earth. We have been overgrazing the earth, beyond its capacity, now for nearly 20 years, and we cannot change what we have done. Dead is dead.


And now that it is done, we have a problem, and there is no point arguing about it, because whatever our opinion, our best solution is to behave as though it is true. Then, if it is true, we have a chance to save our world for the children. If it turns out that I am wrong, then we still leave to the children a better (more healthy) heritage than we received, and a much better opportunity to solve new problems as they arise.



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 *Metaphors – at one point in the history of this blog I promised to not use metaphors, but that turned out to be impossible because all words mean different things to different people. Some of my readers may prefer to use “emergent properties of the system” or “environmental system” or “higher power” to replace the word God. Some might prefer to think “evolve” where I said “learn.” And you may want to know that I use the term “emergent property” synonymously with “macro-property of the system,”



Brown, Lester R. 2008. Plan B 3.0; Mobilizing to save Civilization. W.W.Norton & Co

Sutherland, Stuart. 2013. A New History of Life. The Great Courses, DVD

Bare Bones Biology 351 – It’s About Process

“. . . microwave on high for one minute, or until hot. CAUTION!  Product will be hot.”

Indeed it was hot; but dreadful in texture and lacking in taste. I ate it anyhow, as the other option was a Wendy Burger with enough salt to qualify it as a livestock licking block. Or we could un-attach the trailer and drive around looking for something better. I’m basically not a fussy eater, except that I like to be healthy without eating spicy hot peppers, and I don’t like to move once I get the truck/trailer settled in a good parking place with a clear exit.

170109-hempsteadpenguin-_dsc1044rlsMotel 6 in Boerne has an excellent parking spot and the room is a spiffy little space, pared down to what we really need, without a lot of unhealthy pesticides and cleaning products that most motels hide beneath toxic artificial perfumes that are then disguised under chemicals that kill or damage our sense of smell so we don’t notice the pesticides, bactericides, homicides and toxic artificial perfumes. (Never forget the true fact that the suffix “-cide” means, literally, poison.

170121-jan21_dsc1174rsWhich is more true? The real name of the –cide or the corposystem pretense that it smells good? Who cares how it smells if it is a –cide? Do we really care about the future of our children – enough to study the reality of our communal behaviors of today?

The answers to those questions, by the community of the whole, will decide, but let us get back to our reality of this day. It indeed was not all bad. We could have been sleeping in the park, or the car, and the room was not only tolerable. It was comfortable, with no carpets, no offensive laundry detergents, and no evidence of homicidal chemicals heavy in the air. We found almost what we paid for: a clean space to regroup and relax before a good sleep tonight and another long and careful day of driving tomorrow. And nothing is perfect, we know that.
Too bad about the manager. I would certainly go back, stopping for takeout first and trying to avoid the manager in favor of the nice young clerk who was there when I drove in.

And it’s the process that counts, more than the destination.

So here we are now sitting in the center of a pile of snow that rises well over my head, having driven about 800 miles lengthwise and 7,000 feet and about five layers of atmosphere upward in two days (more about that in blog number 352 next week).

Just to give you a clue of our reception in Chama, it was more or less the reverse of the unreasonable and undeserved hostility of the Boerne motel manager. Above is picture of the kind young man, met at the Chevron, who changed his plans in order to spend a couple of hours digging out our driveway, and another picture taken the next day, of the sturdy and reliable F150, after I brushed off most of the additional foot of snow that came after the snowplow. What a difference 7000 feet can make.

Next day at the post office I picked up the huge pile of bills, requests for money, and mail-order supplies, and then crashed to sleep off the altitude, planning to participate in the women’s march in Chama that will turn out to be far more important in the long run than our failed political system, but what time did that sign say? I could not remember.

chamamarch-6s-copySo now today I have spent all morning digging out another foot or so of fluffy new snow, and the gate to Bitsy’s pen (more than three feet of snow) and the front steps, time after time, and unhitching the trailer after backing it most of the way into the space the young man cleared, so I can get out of the driveway and go to the post office and look at the sign and remember. What time is that march?

The sign was gone.

I missed the march.

chama-march-4lss-copyBut indeed the process is far more important than my presence, among the fifteen or so people who marched in the middle of a blizzard, at the Women’s March in Chama on January 21 to help safeguard our children’s future.


And about 2.5 million people marched worldwide, by the early counts. It could have been 2,500,001.

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Photographs of the Women’s March were sent to me without the names of the photographers at the event; thank you all!

Bare Bones Biology 349 – In the Beginning

In the beginning was the big bang, and immediately was our universe born.

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the Word was God.” The Holy Bible, John I:1


Our primeval system in its most primitive state of random uniformity, lacking structure, composed of matter, energy, and formless entropy was nascent information.


161218r-christmas-_dsc0741sIn the next instant came random variations in the distribution of the formlessness. A bit more density here, a bit less there, and the forces of gravity and self-assembly grew the first cold aggregations of matter, and the force of natural selection favored one growing system more than another, and the formlessness of entropy began to take on the forms of information, that is, structures, behaviors, interactions, processes, integration.


And as the pressure of its own mass increased, and bore down upon its central core, the first star burst into flame.


“And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.”   The Holy Bible, Genesis.


And many more stars burst into flame until there were galaxies and solar systems, and the earth swung around the sun, and the moon around the earth, and when the conditions became right, it rained upon the earth for 10,000 years, until there was water upon the land.


“And God said: ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.” (Genesis)


And the earth gave birth to its own new cycles as the energy and information/entropy interacted among themselves according to the exponentially increasing numbers of possibilities inherent in the factual information generated by its increasing numbers of integrated complex adaptive systems during its incredible history, based on the multitude of ways in which its subsystems could (or could not) interact among themselves in every possible manner – natural selection, symbioysis, emergent properties, even catastrophe — to generate higher and broader levels of complexity that then acted again upon each other to select/maintain those subsystems that contributed to their common evolution and further refinement the available information upon which evolution is based.


161224r-christmas-_dsc0743sAnd about four billion years ago the Lord said: Let there be Life.


“We have seen how, when complex adaptive systems establish themselves, they operate through the cycle of variable schemata, accidental circumstances, phenotypic consequences, and feedback of selection pressures to the competition among schemata. They tend to explore a huge space of possibilities, with openings to higher levels of complexity and to the generation of new types of complex adaptive system. Over long periods of time, they distill out of their experience remarkable amounts of information, characterized by both complexity and depth.” (Gell-Mann)


And a cell was born, and the Earth gave birth to Life.


“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis)


“The information stored in such a system at any one time includes contributions from its entire history. That is true of biological evolution, which has been going on for four billion years or so, and also of the cultural evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens, for which the time span is more like a hundred thousand years.” (Gell-Mann)


And the information that has survived this entire history is embedded in the functions of our physiology, the processes of our modern corposystem, and the world views of our incredible brains that we could be using to survive our current malaise if we would only get it into our heads that the behaviors (including human behaviors) that ARE CAPABLE OF SURVIVAL are not those that dominate the works of God, but those that contribute to the ongoing welfare of the miracle of Life within which we are embedded and integrated, and these behaviors are very well described and explained in the very heart and soul of all our major religions that tell us how to survive the millennia by partnering with the rest of the creation, rather than trying to dominate it.


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The Old Testament and the New Testament, Revised Standard Version. I could take similar supporting evidence from any of the major religions, but the Holy Bible happens to be more readily available in this community. And indeed – elegant.


Gell-Mann, Murray. (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics). 1994. The Quark and the Jaguar. W. H. Freeman & Co.


With great appreciation for discussion with and contribution by several people from Santa Fe Institute, this is my interpretation – not theirs.

Bare Bones Biology 348 – Hope for the New Year

In the beginning of another year, I am frustrated. Frustrated, and also angry with the mostly American culture that persists in irrational, knee-jerk denial of the reality of our biological crisis, as though denial or personal opinions, or somehow our level of dedication to anything, will somehow change the fact that nothing can grow forever witho161225-christmas_dsc0874_1rlssut causing terrible harm to something (or everything) else — and the benign but impenetrable wall of tolerance that our corposystem culture uses to eliminate the wisdom of factual, biological reality (my lifetime study) from its own contrary and implausible wishes, wants, beliefs and hopes. The infinite capacity of human denial is as awesome as it is devastating to those who can see its inevitable biological consequences to human kind.


I quote Corrie Ten Boom, the Christian WWII heroine and resident of a Nazi concentration camp: “It is wrong to give people hope when there is no hope.” Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place. She should know.


I am frustrated with the ongoing necessity of tolerating this kind of abuse from my own culture, which persists in brushing aside the wisdom of a lifetime of study as though it were an ignorant, emotional response to the normal vicissitudes of Life; or, now that I am old, the culture’s “compassionate” tolerance of my hard-earned knowledge about factual reality, as though it were the babbling of an addled old lady.


That is not hope, faith or compassion. It’s classic MCP. A pretense that human values trump the Laws of God and Nature. A denial without consideration of our current biological crisis, even as we are “going down for the third time,” smack-dab in the middle of the crisis denied.

That’s not hope; in my opinion, it’s stupid.


“Everyone has a right to his own opinions, but not to his own facts.”                                            Daniel Patrick Moynihan (March 16, 1927 – March 26, 2003) was a four-term U.S. Senator, ambassador, administration official, and academic.


So, today’s podcast/blog will consist mostly of quotations from other adult, highly educated well-respected human thinkers who also recognize that facts are universal, by definition; it’s what the word means; and that most opinions are not factual.  It’s why we have two different words for the two different sorts of reality. Quotes from others who understand the enormous danger that humans face today because we are using false human hopes and wishes to avoid facing facts. Listen to Dr. Lynn Margulis, professor of evolutionary bioliology.


“Life is an incredibly complex, interdependence of matter and energy among millions of species beyond (and within) our own skin. These Earth aliens (the other species) are our relatives, our ancesters, and part of us. They cycle our matter and bring us water and food. Without ‘The Other’ (species) we do not survive.”


“Our toughness is a delusion. Have we the intelligence and discipline to resist our tendency to grow without limit? This planet will not permit our populations to continue to expand. Runaway populations of bacteria, locusts, roaches, mice, and grass always collapse  Their own wastes disgust – as crowding and severe shortages ensue. Diseases as opportunistically expanding populations of the “other,” follow. They take their cue from destructive behavior and social disintegration. Even herbivores, if desperate, become vicious predators and cannibals. Cows will hunt rabbits or eat their calves. Many hungry young mammals will vie to eat the meat of their runted littermates. Population overgrowth leads to stress, and stress depresses population overgrowth – an example of a Gaian regulated cycle.


“We people are just like our planet mates. We cannot put an end to nature, we can only pose a threat to ourselves.”   Dr. Lynn Margulis, Symbiotic Planet. 1998. Sciencewriters, Amherst, MA.

“The benign indifference of the Universe provides not human rights or human values, but the ultimate justice of in exorable cause and effect, or karma, that we ignore at our peril.” Camus, The Plague


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The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: high-ability individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.[1]

Dunning and Kruger have postulated that the effect is the result of internal illusion in those of low ability, and external misperception in those of high ability: “The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”[1]


Bare Bones Biology 346 – Guest Podcast, Shodo Spring



The Envronment is the other half of ourselves, both literally and metaphorically.

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© 2016, Dr. M. Lynn Lamoreux

This photograph was taken by Shodo Spring at Standing Rock.

Bare Bones Biology 344 – Gold Stars and Good Jobs

Veterans’ day dance was special, at our village senior center, and then a few days later, special in a different way, was the open house at a native American tribal women’s center. There was a good deal of quiet pride, tinged with sadness, at both of these events. Not the shallow pride of ego, but pride of responsibilities fulfilled. Responsibilities to our children and to our children’s roots.


I remember the “everyone is a winner” phase in the classrooms of our lower grades. Our children are not so gullible; they know that nobody deserves a gold star every day.

And out on the field it was all about football, or baseball, or whatever was in season. Our kids are not so dumb as to believe that “everyone is a winner.”  All that did was make them dismiss “education” as of little value. Nobody can take pride or happiness in fake winners, fake success, fake happiness, nor from fake anything. Education has the potential to take us beyond that.

The affirmation of value arises from value affirmed – not value belittled. And value belittled cannot support the human longing that tells us, over and again, that we must be good for something. Something to do with our community. Something important that has to do with our children and our roots.

The Ayaa (grandmother) asked me about that. “What are your roots?” I said I have none. I have not even grandchildren.

My mother did not have her grand-mother; I did not have my grand-mother; today’s “successful” children were grand-mothered by the television.

But the Ayaa let me to understand that I am a grandmother nevertheless, and she invited me to come to the Ayaa-in, the circle of the grandmothers. And that’s what I saw in her, as in the veterans. Pride in their ongoing fulfillment of responsibility to the future of humankind.

My father was right, and Archie Goodwin, when he said that nothing makes him feel better than “doing a good job.” Doing a good job is its own reward if we make it so. A deep pride in a life well lived, even though it is accompanied by an infinite sadness in the knowledge that one person’s life cannot be enough, when the time comes, to help the beautiful system of Life, or even our local communities, when our population of billions comes to the point when the food is gone and the soil contaminated and none of the children or the veterans will care anymore about gold stars, and even the television will recognize that pretending we have a glass “half full” will not make us happy.

161117-tewa-asc_8444rls-copy-2Rather than dancing around inside the corposystem pretending to be “happy,” or trying to be “successful” (defined around profit) while the whole of humanity is ignoring a crisis beyond the limits of what we are willing to comprehend, beyond Hollywood, and even beyond Standing Rock, which is not Hollywood but real and important, if we were to open our eyes, we would see that we all have a job to do that is important and of essential value to all of human kind. And instead of doing it, as our ancestors have done, we are trying to create happiness out of tinsel and gold stars.

Maybe the answer lies in a deeper consideration of community. Not my community or your community, but community itself, as it relates to human individuals. Community over competition.  ( (

Maybe what we all seek can only be found wrapped in the wisdom of our communal Ayaa-in. Maybe if that is not available, if we no longer have human community, but only the corposystem God of domination, then maybe we should stop trying to reach for what is not available and isn’t even much fun.

Happiness by any definition is not an appropriate goal in a time of deep peril. It’s just corposystem propaganda designed to make us forget about doing our personal good job for the future of humanity.

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Bare Bones Biology 343 – Black Friday

As our world population grows beyond the ability of the corposystem to give us what it teaches us to want, the young and the old are valued, more and more, primarily as sources of profit — victims of the never-ending corposystem growth machine that helps us to die; requires we give birth whether or not we want to; and then trains up the children to believe in the corposystem ethic of growth by domination for gain.


All to grow the economy. To feed the infinite maw of the corposystem, our modern socio-economic/political environment.


161115-standingrock-asc_8167rls-copy-2rlssIncreasingly, the dreams of our young adults, also, are sacrificed to the growth machine — their ideals converted to activism or cannon fodder, self-destruction, and abusive behaviors – the good guys and the bad guys, running after happiness, as the television and their indoctrinated peer groups educate them to do.


The corposystem teaches us to be victims of someone/something other than ourselves that controls our happiness, and then to blame ourselves or our roots, or our community and family and neighbors if we aren’t happy.


Does that sound like a new religion to you? It does to me. But religion, throughout our human evolution has functioned to subdue our shadow behaviors so that the whole of humanity can survive. This new mantra, to the contrary, teaches us to use the best parts of ourselves – our positive instincts including happiness, love, compassion — to destroy ourselves, individually and as a species.

Of course everyone knows the corposystem has an up-side. Everything has both an up side and a down side. We have lots of good stuff; that’s what is supposed to make us happy. But even if it does, in our current environment, the downside is in violation of natural law and therefore in control, and the down side to the corposystem is growth. To grow forever would require infinite resources, and the earth does not have infinite resources to share with humans. We have used up what the earth has to spare, beyond feeding itself.   Now the corposystem increasingly is preying upon us, its own micro-system, using our instincts and our own creative political constitution against our best interests. Increasingly, we humans are the resource the corposystem uses to maintain its profit imperative; to save itself.


An emergent macro-system such as the corposystem cannot long survive by consuming its own micro-system.


Our corposystem teaches us to be victims both of itself and of each other, and then finds fault with us because we behave like victims, as we run after happiness down that threefold asphalt highway toward domination (winning) — buying stuff or doing stuff that the corposystem requires to feed its growth machine. And then blaming each other and competing with each other to decide who is “right” and who is “wrong” at a time when no opinions are required.


We already know the factual cause of the resource problem. Too much growth.


Good guys and bad guys, the corposystem is farming us as we farm cattle. Our bodies and our behaviors feed the growth machine, no matter what we do. It has trained us to believe that winning (or “success”) generates “happiness.” Actually, winning and success within the corposystem primarily generate domination, but domination does not generate happiness.


Should that make us angry? Absolutely! But then, instead of using our anger to restore the rule of law that was created to prevent exactly this, to defeat this emergent runaway feedback growth system/religion — instead of doing that, we displace our righteous anger onto other people who are also part of our communal microsystem. Wives, children, neighbors, immigrants, presidents, political parties. People who are all in the same corposystem boat that we are, and are similarly striking out at us. Blaming each other. Growth by domination.


For just one example, it is not possible to defeat a powerful growth machine by domination; if you want to read up on that aspect of the problem, I recommend A Persistent Peace, by Father John Dear.* He has spent his life studying and practicing active non-violence, and is one of our most knowledgeable experts.


What he may not understand is that it is similarly impossible to defeat a domination machine by growth of anything – even nonviolence. Because the machine is a system, not a human, and because it has grown beyond human control, it doesn’t care who or what generates the growth that it requires. By channeling the best of our humanity, our compassion and our creativeness, into growth, the corposystem is able to expand itself, generating the violence and domination that it requires for the existence of its own phenotype — growth by domination for profit.


The way to defeat a growth machine is to withhold the resources required for its growth. We could be doing that because now we are the resources. But we would rather blame each other than starve the beast by reducing our populations. It will happen, because we cannot change how nature functions to maintain itself, and the beast is already starving; we cannot stop the process; but we could take charge of the process and immeasurably reduce the amount of suffering for humans and all other sentient beings of Earth.


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*­­Dear, John. 2008. A Persistent Peace. Loyola Press.