I am becoming terminally confused by WordPress.  As they keep changing things around and do not bother to keep me informed, I find I can do less and less with the program, after all these years.  As an interim measure to figuring how to approve this comment, I will post the comment from WildEarthMan, which I think is excellent, along with my responses.

Here are two things we clearly agree upon: We are living in an Old Story that is destroying the world, leaving us with an urgent need for a New Story, and; we are deep into population overshoot, and, since we are a biological species, Nature is going to deal with us just like she does with any other species that (temporarily) exceeds the Earth’s sustainable carrying capacity. I am sure we have other points of agreement, but from the way you present your belief system, I am uncertain where these are.


I am quite sure that we agree about almost everything, but we use different words and frames (I woke up in mid-night to write about frames today, now tired) to express them. That is why I am interested in our conversation. I am looking for solutions.


I think we went off to the side of the direct subject in this discussion, and for my part one of my premises is that the best and only way to understand big holistic realities is to look for commonalities in the ways that we express our perceptions of the one reality.
I like your book and I am excited that you are writing it. We all live in the same reality that we try to explain through our various paradigms, and it is important that we communicate the SIMILARITIES (especially the similarities) among these paradigms, because the more common observations we have made along the path, the more likely those common. Observations are to lead us along a path that approaches the reality. I comment on your observations not because any kind of relationship between us, but in hopes that we both can have a closer relationship with whatever that reality is.   I do not think you should see what I see or write about it. I do think it is a bit of a miracle that we both see nearly the same, even though we use different words.

I must confess, Lynn, that I am made uncomfortable by the way you throw around the concept of emergence. I do not deny that emergence can be a factor in the way the world orders itself. I think of a coral reef as an excellent example of an emergent structure which serves a number of important ecological functions, but as far as we know, there is no coral director directing each individual coral to contribute its share to the architectural marvel that is a coral reef. But I see this word, emergence, used by scientists and others as a way of explaining something that we just don’t understand, but leaving the impression that there is no mystery here; emergence explains it all.


If you choose to figure out my mental system (paradigm, after your book is completed) you will probably appreciate that I don’t throw around that term (or any term). The reason it sounds odd is because – within the corpospeak paradigm – it doesn’t make sense like it does within my paradigm. The function of a system is to perpetuate itself. The corposystem today has taken control of the information, and perpetuates itself, or recreates and exaggerates itself in every generation) mostly by defining the words and paradigms that we are permitted to use and/or understand. And then it requires us to simplify and provide cutsy coropsystem stories or examples, metaphors or some other device from within the corposystem world view in order to explain our thoughts. Which of course, said thoughts, when they come from outside the corposystem world view, are hard to understand for people who live inside the corposystem paradigm. So the English teachers  (not really, it’s the media mostly) give us an F and we learn to se only corpospeak.


I have given up on corpospeak. I also do not like the corposystem usage of the term emergent properties, and have spent about five years looking for a better word, but unfortunately it means what it means, and if I try a different word, then NOBODY will know what I mean. (I tried.) I am also able to switch definitions. If you have definitions I can use yours when talking to you, and in fact I think that may be the only way to bridge the information barrier that stands between the corposystem and other naturally evolved systems.

I don’t believe you can get something out of nothing. I don’t believe life can come from non-life; that intelligence can come from non-intelligence; that consciousness can come from non-consciousness. Materialists, who claim that the Universe consists of nothing more than inert matter operating according to nothing more than random chance and linear mechanics, try to “explain” life, consciousness, and intelligence using the magic wand of emergence–But I don’t buy it. What makes more sense to me is that the Universe itself is conscious, intelligent, and therefore alive, and must always have been so. To me, this is not an abstruse philosophical point, but vital to our very survival.


This could work up into another definition problem, depending on how we define life (or Life, as I refer to Lift itself to be more clear). However, I think of it more as the God question, which for me is not a problem, because I am so deeply embedded in my science that I have learned not to be bothered by things I can’t explain, except to push back at those that are harmful to the people. That is why I stress facts and non-facts so much. The facts are few, but they are incredibly important to our survival. If we know a fact, then we can evaluate the probable long-term results of our behaviors.   I can also discuss non-facts, including the God question, using other people’s definitions and belief systems or my own. Karen Armstrong, not a scientist, is also good at this. I think it’s a good thing, so long as we recognize that the human paradigms can’t change nonhuman realities.   This kind of question should definitely be discussed relative to human world views and behaviors and needs. It’s not my question because I am trying to explain a different and more useful (less harmful to the people) world view than the corposystem world view.
Maybe you can grant me the point that the people of our culture are living in wrong relationship to the natural world.


ABSOLUTELY. It’s all I talk about.


I trace this back thousands of years, beyond the axial age, to the beginnings of agriculture and private property, to what I call the Big Lie. If you believe that you and your people are separate from, and superior to, Mother Earth and the Community of Life, the psychological way is paved to treat the Earth as a dead storehouse of resources for human use as well as a garbage dump for all the toxic junk that remains after those resources have been exploited. If, on the other hand, you believe that the human is an integral part of the Community of Life, and that the Earth and all Life are sacred, you are likely to live in better relationship to the natural world you recognize as part of yourself—because everything is connected to everything else.


Yes, the question then becomes how to get other people to believe in a viable, fact-based reality so that we can begin to live it. These are questions about the relationships between humans and the biosystem, and the answers must be based in the facts – since we mostly now do know the facts that need to be addressed.



A corollary of the Big Lie is the narcissistic anthropocentrism that characterizes the people of our culture. We see ourselves as exceptional beings who can make our rules, while ignoring the laws of Life, including the law of reciprocity. We have given ourselves permission to take and take and never give anything back. This, too, is part of our pathological culture. And this is the root we need to dig down to.


This, in my opinion is a problem within the human social system (rather than specifically a problem in a relationship between a human social system and the Biosystem).   In this case we do have a naturally evolved set of instincts that can be thought of as part of our world-views. And then we have an ocean of opinions, most of which are excuses to participate in the narcissistic anthropocentrism. That is a human/human problem and may or may not be directly related to the human/other situation. The two situations differ (partly because of the emergent properties that separate systems from each other that I am not going to talk about until I can explain in context). Yes – the Big Lie is a human God question from several points of view, the most important being we are not God
I have a lifelong interest in science, but my academic training has been as a generalist—with a major in English, but with an abiding interest in history, philosophy, anthropology, and a bunch of other disciplines, too. I find all academic departments to be far too narrow in scope to get anywhere close to the realities of life—which does not divide itself into discreet departments. I see the world in holistic terms, and favor the Big Picture and the long lens of history, believing that you best understand something if you perceive it in context.


As a society we need to acknowledge the big picture and the details. We make bad mistakes when we ignore either or argue over facts – especially those that exist at different levels.



I took a fair amount of science classes as an undergraduate, including genetics and evolution, but I was intuitively resistant to the usual dogmas that always seem to go along with the standard scientific education–and that few science majors ever get around to questioning. As I have said, I find many of these taken-for-granted doctrines to be a poor explanation of the world we live in, and this worldview is frequently used to further our wrong relationship with the natural world.   For people whose paradigm is the corposystem I would say it is ALWAYS used to further our wrong relationship with the natural world. People who are living in the corposystem paradigm can’t even see the natural world, though they believe that they do.


In my would-be book I go into quite a bit of detail about this, linking scientific materialism with the Old Story that is bringing the world down around us. Nor am I confusing science with technology in this regard. Both science and technology have their own particular subcultures, and both partake of our larger deep culture, including our endemic anthropocentrism (humans above all) and our investment in the Big Lie of separation. As for what used to be called “pure science,” capitalism has made sure that almost no one can afford to study life and the world just for the joy of seeing it whole and clear.


Then the Big Lie qualifies as one of the common subjects that can be recognized from the viewpoint of nearly any paradigm and it therefore requires to be discussed in detail and from various viewpoints. I look forward to reading it. I haven’t been on line for a while so am behind.




Oh yes, I think you would like “The Information” by James Gleick if you haven’t read it. I don’t care for his style, but he brings facts and ideas together better than most. Excellent on history of science.

Bare Bones Biology 293 – Reinventing the Wheel

I am not a physicist. Far from it. I had to take calculus in order to be a good biologist, and I never did understand it until I was able to intuitively grasp what they were talking about, and even then I couldn’t actually DO it without going back to the book every time for the various mathematical expressions that I needed. Nevertheless, I got it mostly right, because, as Neil deGrasse Tyson is supposed to have said: The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” And I know his mentor, Carl Sagan, said something similar. And it is true, by definition.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Facts are facts.

Of course.

That is why many of us lean toward science. Well understood facts are completely reliable, and we can’t say that for many other things on this earth – even some of us choose “science” as our God.

That is a big mistake. First, most people do not understand that technology is NOT basic science. Technology is very powerful, but it is merely a manifestation of man the toolmaker, not man the omniscient god. Humans are not God, and if you want evidence of that, just go for a walk in any city. If you want power, technology is a lot of fun. If you want a future, then it is better to take a path that leads toward fact-based wisdom that combines the benefits of good basic science with the learned experience of human mistakes.

To be a physicist, you need calculus, but you only need to be about 25 years old or so to begin; for wisdom, you need experience, your own and as many generations as possible behind you, on top of your knowledge of the facts of history and of basic science, and that of course is why powermongers, first most quietly and now most forcefully, are overwhelming our sources of information with fake facts. Well, actually, it’s not possible to fake a fact unless the listener is not paying attention, but we seem to have a great lot of people listening to the media with their emotions rather than with their minds, and so the powermongers are succeeding elegantly in this country. They don’t even have to work very hard to pull the wool over our eyes. It’s what we want, so we the people are doing it for them, but that is another story.

This story is about humans choosing between wisdom and power. We have chosen power, I think largely based on a false meme: “Survival of the Fittest” is NOT how Life functions to stay alive, and it would take a little effort – not much, but beginning with a questing mind – to understand how evolution really does work to generate and maintain living systems. I’m not talking about technological systems that powermongers use to elevate themselves. I’m talking about real, sustainable systems that maintain themselves and us by balancing the interacting systems of which they are composed

How, then, do humans find wisdom – the elusive antidote to power? First we acknowledge the real facts and discuss their implications for the entire Biosystem, ourselves included — the root, rock-bottom facts that generated Life on Earth, that guide how naturally evolved systems interact with each other to grow better systems. Those processes do not change. The systems change, of course, but not the processes.

151224-XMasEve-ASC_0886RSsOnce we have the knowledge, then our wisdom challenge is more complex. We must of course acknowledge our human instincts and emotions, but we must go beyond that level of understanding to figure out how to navigate our path among the facts of today and into a sustainable future. We are not ants, that make their decisions instinctually, based on response to chemicals in their environments (or if we are, it isn’t working well). The gift of wisdom, when we accept it, is our ability to factor the facts into a wisdom tradition that suits the environments.

The facts give us power to make war over whatever we choose, but wisdom gives us the power to use the facts to make a future for ourselves within Life on earth. We probably can’t do both as our resources dwindle; it’s too bad we have chosen war over sustainability.

This is Bare Bones Biology a production of http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com.  A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_293_-_Reinventing_the_Wheel.mp3


Bare Bones Biology 291 – Enlightenment?

Most people pursue a quest of one kind or another. We seem to be made that way, always dissatisfied unless we know the answer or are looking for it. As a scientist, I tend to appreciate answers that are factual. I agree with Sean Carroll, quoted froASC_0975-for blogm The Great Courses, The Higgs Boson and beyond, 2015:

“Really, the reason why we devote our lives and our money to . . (basic scientific research) . . is because we want to know the answer. . . We want to discover the way the world works. . . We want to know what this nature is that we live in, what are the rules, what are the ingredients.”


I have confidence in the factual reality of a statistically evaluated experiment that is conducted by a person who is well trained in the tools of his discipline and peer reviewed by other experts.

But of course the limits of both basic science and statistics are significant, and if we have no other source of reality, then many of our questions are left unanswered. Science and mathematics may be our best windows onto factual reality, but there are other kinds of reality that can be studied using other methods. History, Art, philosophy, religion, even economics and politics; much can be learned from the humanities, especially if we remember that what we are learning about is humans, and humans are not everything; we are not omniscient. Therefore the answers will not fulfill our thirst for omniscience any more than basic science and mathematics do. And nobody can be truly expert in all.
As a result, in seeking omniscience, we end in chaos, unless we stand on the shoulders of history, as a vertical dimension, and on the validity of other world views, as a horizontal dimension, and search the past and present dimensions for signs of common human insights that emerge from diverse human experiences. One of these is quoted by Huston Smith in “The Soul of Christianity:

“in its broadest terms, religion says that there is an unseen order and that our supreme
good lies in rightful relations to it” (from William James, in Varieties of Religious

In other words, from the concentrated wisdoms of two quite different windows on reality
emerges the same view, suggesting that:

There are rules — the universe and the Biosytem and the human reality operate according to natural laws —
1- These rules are not fully known to us;
2- These rules certainly are not made by us, and we cannot change them;
3- We want to know what they are;
4- Speaking from the viewpoint of evolution, it may be very much to our advantage to understand those rules that relate to human behaviors, and that may be why we all (or nearly all) have an internal need to set out upon our individual quests to find meaning within our individual environments;
5- and we all must settle for something less than omniscience.ASC_1197- for blog

Some of us refuse to settle.


But what if our individual enlightenment lies in understanding that very fact — that we can NOT be God after all, because we have not the capacity for omniscience. For one small but finite reason, there are not enough neural connections in any one brain to organize or comprehend the whole of God’s Laws of Nature.
Really we know this, but we nevertheless carry on with our various quests for omniscience, and I suspect in the back of our subconscious awareness, the quest is not so much for omniscience as for omnipotence.
We want to know everything so that we can be in control of everything and have our own way with the world.
We would do better to spend our energies trying to understand the power we do have — and its implications for the future welfare of all sentient beings — rather than trying to rewrite the laws of Life.
This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

A copy of the podcast can be found at:http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_291-Enlightenment.mp3


Bare Bones Biology 263F – The Problem Is

Right now it seems as though we (as humanity) are running panic stricken, in all directions at the same time without any sustainable paradigm to guide us, each person responding in knee-jerk fashion, mostly trying to “fix” our social collapse, each according to his own world view and without respect to getting rid of the cause of the affliction. This is why I have not enthusiastically focused my energy on any of these separating actions, though many will


150615-Flood-ASC_7400sI bless the culture shocks that saved me from myself. Wisdom is gained, according to the Dalai Lama (Becoming Enlightened) by “analyzing the facts and discerning the actual situation.” He should know – he’s had enough paradigm shifts in his life, and I’m quite sure we would agree that this kind of wisdom, based in factual reality and gained through deep study and empathic participation — combined with wise (altruistic) compassion — is essential to long-term, reasonably rewarding human lives.


Before that I actually believed that we had dealt with the problem in the 50’s and 60’s. I knew I had, and that’s another thing about one’s own paradigm. Unless we have an opportunity to experience the logic of another’s paradigm, we just naturally tend to believe that everyone else thinks like we do. They don’t. They don’t even want to. They like their own.


We need to begin rational fact-based discussion of issues and stop fighting irrational wars (debates).


I bless the culture shocks that saved me from myself. Wisdom is gained, according to the Dalai Lama (Becoming Enlightened) by “analyzing the facts and discerning the actual situation.” He should know – he’s had enough paradigm shifts in his life, and I’m quite sure we would agree that this kind of wisdom, based in factual reality and gained through deep study and empathic participation — combined with wise (altruistic) compassion — is essential to a long-term, reasonably rewarding human paradigm.


Is it possible, given the chaos we are now creating, that our response to our social and biological collapse is not so much about the actual cause of the problem as it is about the necessity of “getting together” in order to “analyze the facts and discern the actual situation” in an effort to grow some wisdom around the problem? Is it perhaps that our World Views are pushing us apart, preventing us from getting together even to discuss the real issues?


I think it’s important for us to understand that all world views are or were logical in the circumstances of their origin, and to understand that culture shock is one of those painful blessings with emphasis on blessing, and to understand that we always have choices. We can cling to the seeming security of what we already understand, or we can choose to become a part of change, for the benefit of the entire community.


150614-Cabin-ASC_7341RLSsThe natural biological response to stress is indeed to generate diversity, but I think the wise approach, in this case, would be to benefit all of us by sharing and evaluating the world views of all in our effort to understand why we don’t just admit to the real cause of our pain so we can remove it. And then proceed to develop a more sustainable world view of the whole. In other words, to discuss the issues among the disciplines.


There is always a starting point for discussion, because we all are looking at the same problem happening in the same Earth Biosystem. We are not experiencing a bunch of different problems. We are in fact, every one of us, experiencing one common experience, the death of our species.


I think that’s worth a little time spent in problem-solving with others of our kind.


I believe paradigm change is the only hope for human kind in this age, and it is clearly happening, but extremely inefficiently. We could do more. We could consciously use our unique mental equipment to grow a new world view that is aligned with our current factual reality, which is overproduction, overpopulation and overshoot.


My goal is to grow or create a new paradigm that will result in a sustainable, reasonably comfortable human presence on this earth. What is yours?


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


A copy of the podcast can be obtained at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_263_-_The_Problem_Is.mp3


References Cited:

Collapse, by Jared Diamond. Penguin Books, 2011.

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot by Tom Butler and William N. Ryerson. Goff Books, 2015.

Becoming Enlightened, by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins,  Atria Books, 2009.




Bare Bones Biology 240 – Reality Check

FAX to BLM 140812 (FAX receipt filed)


U.S. Bureau of Land Management
New Mexico State Office
Fax: 505-954-2010
• I am protesting parcels NM-2014-001, 004 through 015, which are in the Rio Chama Watershed and East of the Continental Divide.

I am an 80-year-old retired career basic scientist who planned to spend the rest of my life in the Brazos Valley of Texas and was forced to move because of the destruction of the quality of the air that was threatening my health. I am not alone. Large segments of the American people are becoming homeless or mobile. It is excellent business for the travel trailer parks, but not for building healthy productive communities.

I lived in this location in Texas for 35 years, and invested much of my life savings in four pieces of property in Texas. When I arrived in Texas the air was always as crystalline as that in northern New Mexico on a good day like today. When I left, the air was consistently, daily, gray with a dank smog that damaged my lungs and other organs.

This fug is still there on most days, over the entire region of the hill country and eastward, and up to about 200 feet elevation, and of course it continues to get worse as all those wells leak (I was threatened when I photographed effluent being poured into the local creek). This change took (for the worst of it) about 5 years and was very clearly, the most of it, the result of intensive fracking north of us.

In addition, of course, I know many other people who owned land and homes in the Brazos Valley of Texas who have had personal health problems, have been forced out of their rural homes, have lost their jobs to people brought in from outside to work the oil and gas jobs, and even have observed flights of birds drop from the air, killed or disabled by the fumes from those local processing stations the gas companies try to hide back in the boonies. I can document these things.

Some of the negative effects of fracking are very well known and well documented.. This destruction does not sit there on top of the BLM lands. Among these problems documented in regions of fracking, worldwide. Destruction of air, water and the almost completely unstudied underground biosystem are among them. Earthquakes that indicate unknown kinds of damage to underground bio and geo systems.

Our air water and soil are the commons. They belong to the people – not to the gas or oil companies, and not to the BLM. Money is not more important than the common welfare, and a little more money now will not solve the human problem of depleting resources. In fact, it will make the problem worse for children who are born today, because we did not try to solve the real human problem, but only tried to do more of what caused the problem in the first place.

I am a basic career biologist – not a technician or a technologist. Regardless of the opinions of technicians and technologists, I and other basic scientists know that what we do to the earth today we can never undo. Before we do anything we should deeply consider what will be the effect on the future of humans in New Mexico and beyond, because the effects of this toxic technology are not only local. But expand far across the land air and water, and into the future.

I sincerely hope I will not need to sell out and move away from New Mexico as fracking continues, but I hesitate to invest further – to buy a property where I can live in winter – until I find out to what extent New Mexico is willing to protect her citizens and the natural wealth of her Biosystems from fly-by-night developers who bring temporary jobs, use up the infrastructure of the communities, and then sell off a portion gas and oil overseas and go away to feed off of the next community. It is the function of government to protect its citizens from these snake-oil salesmen who promise temporary riches rather than help to grow sustainable communities for the welfare of all the people.

I have purchased land here. Again, I hope this is a place where I can live healthy to the end of my days.

Dr. M. Lynn Lamoreux
Lumberton, NM 87528

Copy to:
Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens
POB 934
Abiquiu, NM 87510

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS Radio, 89.1 in Bryan, TX

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:

Again, this link does not appear to respond to my efforts to open it, but the address is:
You have to precede the above with http://


For a more inclusive and very well informed account of the biological and human consequences of fracking go to Alternative Radio and download the audio or the transcript (or both) of Fracking and Public Health, Sandra Steingraber. http://www.alternativeradio.org/products/stes001

And while you are there: http://www.alternativeradio.org/products/lint001
Thomas Linzety. Corporations, communities and the environment.

Bare Bones Biology 238 – Reflux

Congratulations to The Eagle and to Gunnar Schade for publishing an accurate, straightforward, and conservative op-ed describing facts and opinions related to fracking (posted below and at http://www.theeagle.com/opinion/columnists/cs-needs-proper-drilling-setbacks/article_5c06e1bc-abf2-5b67-87c8-9ae1fd6c5347.html )

Facts, by definition, are realities that we cannot change. Opinions, we can change. That means we cannot improve our lives by trying to change an unchangeable set of facts. It does not mean there is nothing we can do to improve our lives. It does mean we should study the facts and use the facts to help us decide what will work and what will not work to improve our lives, and then argue our opinions about the options that are actually available to us.

Bare Bones Biology http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com was created for just this reason: to clarify relationships among facts about biology, and opinions about biology so that we can make the wisest possible short-term choices that cause the least possible long-term harm to ourselves.
We cannot change facts, but we can change our opinions about how to deal with the facts. For example, we cannot change what fracking is doing to the air that everyone in the community must breath. That’s a fact of Life. We can change what we choose to do about fracking. That’s an available human choice.

In making that choice, another fact of Life should be considered. That is, what goes around, comes around. It is a fact that all the substances of Life (the atoms and molecules) recycle in the Biosystem. The fact is, if we put poisonous substances into the air, water and soil, then at least most of us must breathe, drink and/or eat poisonous substances.

We all know it’s true, what goes around comes around in the Biosystem. We don’t like to deal with it (http://www.celdf.org/), but that doesn’t change the fact. The modern “systems” expert Fritjof Capra (http://www.amazon.com/Systems-View-Life-Unifying-Vision/dp/1107011361/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419440846&sr=1-1&keywords=capra) knows it is true, even though he may think of it more like a business plan than a law of nature. Hundreds of thousands of people during the green revolution came to understand how our earth system functions to provide for our needs, and they embraced the Ecosystem (note, system) as their family of origin. Farther back in time, earlier cultures understood the dangers of fouling our own nest; for example, lessons we have learned in Ladakh (http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/) and other places are now being applied to problems in many modern communities, even Houston (www.transitionhouston.org/).

Do we need more examples? It’s a fact of life. In the real world, what goes around comes back around to affect our future welfare, the up side and the down side of our welfare, and we can’t change the facts of Life. What we can do is choose how we respond to them.

Of course, we also know that some people do not agree. For example the Eagle also published an opinion entitled: “Fracking Bans in Cities Hurt Everyone.” We know that is not a fact because I am someone and I have been very greatly harmed, physically, emotionally, financially, and permanently by oil and gas development in the Brazos Valley, as have many other people. So the idea that we all benefit from fracking is not a fact. It is an opinion. Furthermore, the author of that letter makes some rather extravagant claims that he does not support with data or references. In my opinion he cannot support some of these claims. So it seems that we have an argument between two sets of statements, each of which is supported by some facts and some opinions, with or without supporting evidence.

141104-FirstFriday-ASC_2633RSsIt seems to me foolish to argue opinions against facts. We can’t change the facts anyhow; it’s a non-discussable issue, a waste of our time that could be used to do something that actually would work to maintain or improve the common welfare. We do know that fracking is toxic to the “commons.” The commons is the air we all must breathe, the water we all must drink, and the soil in which our food grows. That’s a fact. The poisons we throw into the commons will go around and come back to bite us in the end.

If our real goal is to benefit everyone in our community, it should not be difficult to make a list of the most useful facts that limit our options. We could consult unaffiliated, well-informed experts. We then could post this list on the wall in city offices, and stop trying to change facts, admit to the reality of natural law, and begin to rationally discuss our opinions, considering both the up side and the down side of the options that remain to us, under three headings: 1) What is best for everyone now; 2) What is best for the welfare of the entire community. That would of course include people outside the cities who provide services of various kinds. 3) What is best for the future welfare of the children born into this community.

Obviously such a discussion is not an either/or debate that someone wins and someone else loses, and that’s a good thing, because either/or arguments do not lead to win-win solutions. Discussion is not the easiest answer to any problem because discussing real, fact-based issues is difficult. But such an effort, carried out with good will, could genuinely bring us one step closer, at least in BCS, to Peace on Earth and the welfare of all our citizens.

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

A copy of this podcast can be downloaded at:










Copy of op-ed:


Posted: Saturday, December 20, 2014 12:00 am


Special to The Eagle

While the shale boom is heralded as a new energy era and an economic windfall for all, the reality often looks much more mundane. Rarely in the mainstream news are there stories about the people directly affected by fracking operations near their homes, or the rapid degradation of air quality in those parts of the nation where fracking is dotting the landscape.

As geoscientists from across the world gathered two weeks ago in San Francisco for the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, there were several sessions on the air quality impacts of oil and gas extraction, especially as related to the “boom.”

And the news is bleak: Ongoing air quality measurements have shown for several years now that numerous hydrocarbons attributable to oil and gas industry emissions are tens to thousands of times higher in shale areas than what is considered clean air. The widespread hydrocarbon pollution creates secondary ozone pollution, even in winter, thus affecting people far removed from extraction areas, possibly erasing two decades of ozone air quality improvements. Air toxics emissions include known and suspected carcinogens such as benzene and formaldehyde, and neurotoxins such as xylenes.

The industry’s large well numbers per area with onsite pipes, valves, tanks, compressors and other equipment, together leak an enormous amount of gas and vapors into the air. Nevertheless, regulators treat each well as a minor emitter, and permits to drill are obtained easily.

In addition, Texas regulators allow onsite gas flaring with little oversight, which together with flaring in the Bakken shale has catapulted the U.S. into the top five flaring nations in the world, wasting more than 240 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, emitting yet unquantified amounts of soot and formaldehyde. Living downwind of one or more well sites, especially when flaring, thus means intermittent to constant nuisances from air pollutants. Associated public health effects are becoming better documented and are consistent in shale areas, including headaches, nose bleeds, and eye, skin and respiratory tract irritations.

Through front groups such as Energy in Depth, the industry is denying responsibility and shedding doubt on the health effects. But the air quality data show otherwise. At Texas Commission on Environmental Quality monitoring stations in the Barnett shale area and since 2013 also downwind of the Eagle Ford, the widespread hydrocarbon pollution is well documented. In addition, the commission’s data bases contain numerous incidences of individual measurements taken near industrial sites in the Eagle Ford showing outlandishly high pollutant concentrations.

We have analyzed the Floresville monitor (the only current air quality monitor in the Eagle Ford region) data in detail, showing on average roughly 10 times above “normal” levels of hydrocarbons many miles downwind the shale area, with regular pollution plumes at much higher levels. Tracing these plumes suggests that, at times, acutely toxic concentration levels can exist at fence-lines of individual facilities. Independent air quality measurements and the commission’s own data thus contradict repeated statements by its leadership that there are no air quality levels of concern in the shale areas.

Is it thus surprising that residents in Denton and other Texas cities are objecting to wells inside their city limits, in their neighborhoods?

As the city of College Station is pondering changes to its oil and gas ordinance, it needs to consider the impacts of air pollution on the health and welfare of its residents. Despite new federal regulations taking effect on Jan. 1, the industry as a whole has not operated responsibly in the past, and we should not expect that it will do better — especially in Texas, where lax enforcement of the rules and a lack of deterring fines are commonplace. It is up to local communities to put in place and enforce rules protective not only of the air we breathe, but the associated property values and quality of life.

As College Station is impacted ever more directly through fracking sites in the surrounding county — and soon inside the city limits — its leadership has the opportunity to pass a stronger ordinance that addresses various air quality and other environmental concerns, such as via appropriate setbacks, and continuous air quality monitoring paid by the operators, including public availability of the data. The latter falls under the widely accepted “polluter pays” principle and can instill best practices by the operator.

No clear scientific guidance exists yet for the former, i.e. the allowable proximity of a facility to a residence. Toxicological evaluations of existing air quality measurements in shale areas, however, suggest that people living within 2,600 feet of well sites have a significantly elevated risk of cancer and other ailments from their exposure.

Since there is also legal precedent in other Texas city ordinances, it would be prudent to select at least a 1,500 feet setback to limit resident exposure during the inevitable times of poor pollutant dilution under unfavorable wind conditions.

Such setbacks, alongside other rules the ordinance does contain, may allow for responsible oil and gas extraction inside city limits.
• Gunnar W. Schade lives in College Station. He receives funding from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Research Program, though unrelated to the topic of this column.

Bare Bones Biology 277 – Healthy Living

Ah such luxury! I had to make a quick run to Santa Fe, actually to pick up some pills – it’s a long story, but nothing out of ordinary – only one more example of our loss of what we claim to be our “inalienable individual rights,” “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and right now I’m thinking more about the luxury of staying overnight in a reasonably healthy motel.

At dinner, the tables were crowded, and I ended up briefly sharing with a couple from the West Coast who live in what they call the “last of the old-timey seaside villages.” The very last? Surely I was raised in a similar place. But now the place of my raising is covered in asphalt, and I have retreated to a basically unhealthy shack in the canyon — in an effort to enjoy good health.

The young people from the West Coast found it hard to comprehend that feeling healthy can be more important than having neighbors — or that it has become necessary for some of us to choose between the two lifestyles.   They thought it was sad.

140920-sky-ASC_2518RLSsI guess it’s hard for most people to imagine that me feeling healthy, and their children BEING healthy is in conflict with their own desire to have the lifestyle they were raised to believe is — healthy.

I guess it’s the essence of being human, to be working together – as families and as human communities (ref community) to fulfill our common human potential. I remember that feeling. It explains why/how the “greatest generation” was great. Everyone working together toward a common goal. It explains why our leaders keep trying to make us believe we are in a war against one thing or another – to keep us fulfilled and working together under their control.

My father used to say, as often as possible, that our own “inalienable rights” end where the other fellows’ rights begin. But the results of his “Greatest Generation” reductionist ethic are sad, indeed. I am living in a canyon because I want to feel healthy; and our food, energy and communications have been taken over by the corposystem that is not primarily working together with us to fulfill our common human potential, but rather is teaching the youth to work for goals that are neither achievable nor sustainable. And the grandkids have not been taught to understand the difference between needs, wants, rights and the facts of life. And as a result it is now sadder than sad that we have reached the point where we must choose between our aspirations and the common welfare.

To be fair to the great-grandkids, my father didn’t see it either. He and others of the “Greatest Generation” worked very hard to bring the dream to all the people. A healthy lifestyle in which everyone has a right to basic medical maintenance resources and crisis treatment without discrimination. Everyone has a right to a source of healthy food to eat, healthy water to drink, and healthy air to breath. Everyone has the right to a healthy place to live and a healthy place to work, and a safe, warm and healthy place to spend the night. And “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” but in fact we have no right to these things unless we fulfill our obligation to them. I think most of our young people do know this. They just don’t understand how they are repeating and recycling the mistakes made by the Greatest Generation, and intensifying them by using the greater power of modern technologies.

In fact, our world now is far less healthy overall, in spite of all the work of my father’s generation, because we have been working for the common potential of humans — without regard to the needs of the greater community of the Biosystem that gives us our food, water, air and energy. What makes this a new problem is that we have now overtaxed the productivity of the Biosystem.

Until we understand this fact, all our efforts will make matters worse rather than better.

The couple I spoke with last evening do not have the healthy-living perks that my father’s generation tried so hard to give them, but they don’t know it yet, so maybe they are happy. The people on the internet who are screaming at the world because they can’t have whatever it is they want that someone else has – they do know something is wrong, but they believe it’s someone else’s fault and if they could only figure out who is to blame – what? They don’t even know what they want – they want someone else to give it to them, whatever it is.

140920-sky-ASC_2531RSRSsMany people see the selfishness and greed all around them and they believe that the failure of the dream is caused by a failure of compassion. I disagree. I believe the failure of compassion is just another symptom of the failure of our reductionist ethic that builds human power but ignores the needs of the whole. The greater community of the Biosystem of which we are apart – the Biosystem that we require for our most basic sustenance (ref).

If we want to get together to grow a healthy human culture, then it will be necessary to screw up our courage and address the deepest CAUSE of our malaise, which is the relationship between Biosystem productivity and human consumption of resources. We must ALL work for two things at the same time – first of course we should use our own skills as best we can for our own welfare and the welfare of our human communities. That innate capacity is the glory of our humanity. But as we have seen through all the generations, if we do this without regard to the needs of the Biosystem that gives us sustenance, we will fail. Again. To succeed it is essential that we reduce the human “footprint” on the Biosystem, using any available humane technologies.

Many people believe that Healthy Gardening may be one way to achieve that kind of lifestyle. I agree, but only if we use our healthy gardening technologies to grow our understanding of how the whole biological system functions to stay to stay healthy. Whatever technology we pursue, be it gardening or something else, we must dedicate ourselves to — my health, within my healthy community, within our healthy Biosystem.

If we truly want to succeed, we must be very careful not to cause more harm than good with our good efforts. We must ALL address BOTH – the common human welfare, and the common welfare of Life itself, the Biosystem. There is no longer any other humane, sustainable way to work together for the common human welfare.

And now I will enjoy the selfish luxury of a strong hot shower after a warm night in a reasonably healthy motel – I expect they would rather I call it a resort — using soap that is healthy for me and for the Biosystem, before heading back to the canyon to prepare my soil for next year’s healthy garden.

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

The short version of this podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_227_-_Healthy_Living.mp3


Recommended References:

https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com On right side of page look under “chapter” and download the pdf