Bare Bones Biology 183 – Hail Ponzi

Yes I do use Facebook, as little as possible because it is one of the more enormous of the corposystem’s methods of keeping us occupied with trivia, rather than helping our communities to grow a sustainable, reasonably pleasant life-style for the next generation. But, then, even Facebook can be used to do something worthwhile.

For example, to understand opinions of people different from ourselves. I accidentally stubbed my toe on one world-view that is so far from mine I didn’t believe it could exist in a human mind:

The statement: “No I don’t want to know more.” (about the function of the Biosystem) represents the ultimate baby-bird philosophy (feed me, I’m happy to believe whatever makes me feel good).

“Baby bird” is only one in a panel of the unproductive games (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/3677bbb072) the corposystem uses to maintain its control over a formerly more or less democratic society.

As we already know (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/the-real-answer/), the function of a system is to perpetuate itself. As one way to protect itself from changing, the corposystem (defined in the same ref) encourages us to spend as much of our time as possible playing unproductive human games. When we are playing these games, we are not contributing to the most important work we could be doing for the future of humans on earth, and that is to dismantle or change the corposystem and replace it with a sustainable, nurturing environment for the generations ahead.

130629-TerritorialDays-ASC_4011RLs copyAnd what a pleasure it is to chat with like-minded folks about the evils of the corposystem that has taken over our culture. But so long as we waste time talking about how bad the corposystem is, or why other people aren’t doing what they should be doing, or how impotent (or how important) we are as individuals – so long as we are engrossed in this “aintitawful” game, we aren’t doing what WE should be doing. We are not contributing to any kind of change. The corposystem games eat up our time, our lives, without producing anything worthwhile.

But then you ask: “what can we do?” Oh yes. That’s another corposystem game. “What Can We Do?” It cycles around endlessly, because we don’t like the answer and so we ask some other person – and another, and another — rather than evaluate the answers we are given. And the answer is – ta dah — We could instead be spending this very moment talking, thinking and/or discussing how to stop wasting our time playing corposystem games.

The history of human success/progress/survival is based in the effort to understand the FACTS of life. A fact is something humans cannot change – both historical facts and functional facts, such as the laws of nature — so we don’t waste our time trying to change the unchangeable, or redoing what has already failed, in our never-ending efforts to survive. The corposystem, to save itself from changing, teaches us that there is no difference between a fact and an opinion; and the baby-birds believe it. So, again, what’s a person to do?

130629-TerritorialDays-asc_4479RLSs copyIndeed it is true that one person is very unlikely to single-handedly make a big change in a big social system. Does that mean we should give up and go with the flow? Or might it be better for those of us who believe the corposystem is an unethical, illegal, immoral Ponzi scheme, to REFUSE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CORPOSYSTEM GAMES, as the few did in Hitler’s Germany. That’s one of the things I find so impossible to believe; I remember Hitler’s generation. That we are no different boggles my mind. But — No, says the corposystem game. What’s the point of trying if you can’t win?

To which I answer, what’s the point of living by supporting an unethical illegal, immoral Ponzi scheme.

What we CAN do is stop playing the corposystem games. We can spend our time doing the fact-based research, and the behaviors, that are required to grow a sustainable, reasonably comfortable environment as our nurturing goal for the generations yet to come, rather than participate in the games that are set for us by an unethical, illegal, immoral Ponzi system.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM radio, 89.1, Bryan Texas. A podcast can be obtained at:

Bare Bones Biology 178 – Do Something

131116-Benicia-ASC_7186RLSsSo much for the glass is three-quarters empty. Most people do not want to sit around watching it fade away. They want to DO SOMETHING,

What we need to do, in order to achieve our goal of developing a viable, sustainable, reasonably comfortable human presence within the Life system of earth — is to change the human corposystem from a destructive force to a constructive force for Life. I have defined system and Biosystem and corposystem in https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/the-real-answer/ toward the end of the post.

We humans have grown the corposystem. All of us are part of this corposystem. Thus we can change the corposystem. It won’t be easy, because one of the functions of a system, any system, is to maintain itself. (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/)

But it is possible. We can change the corposystem from a competition-based growth machine into a Life-nurturing maintenance system. Simply by deciding what we all want, and discussing among ourselves how to get it, we can change the system.

I believe what we all want is not “happiness” (undefined and undefinable), nor is it peace defined as absence of war, nor any of the things we are touting that divide us. I believe what we all want is to develop a viable, sustainable, reasonably comfortable human system.

To be viable, sustainable and reasonably comfortable, our corposystem must be changed from what it is now, because now it is not viable long term, and it is based on a competition-and-growth model that is biologically unsustainable and humanly unethical. To be biologically sustainable, the corposystem must stop trying to get what it wants by competing with the Biosystem; to be humanly ethical, we must develop a nurturing model that compassionately supports the needs of the Biosystem, some of which conflict with our own desires. That’s it – we must all (or at least the majority of us) cooperate in that effort, discuss it, evaluate it and stop letting the corposystem tell us what we can and cannot talk about — and it will happen.

If we all have the same goal, and I think we do, then we need to discuss that goal among ourselves rationally, compassionately, realistically, and we will get there. Of course we will also need to learn how to interact in a rational compassionate realistic manner, but I trust us to learn these skills when we finally realize the current corposystem competition (war) model will end in a fight to the death between the corposystem and the Biosystem.

Most of us are not really interested in promoting a fight to the death, especially when we cannot win.

Most people know these things, at least intuitively, and a great many people are working hard or at least contributing by their daily behaviors, such as recycling, to the welfare of the whole community of the Biosystem. But many of the people who are working hard are, in fact, working at cross purposes. Why? Mostly because we do not define and discuss our goals in terms of compatibility with the needs of both of the human community and of the Biological community (defined in https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/
bare-bones-bio…-community-iii/)

Where to begin? Start talking cooperatively about our common goals on our mastheads, letterheads, in our meetings and mission statements. Avoid competing against or dis-respecting the efforts of others who have the same goals and missions. Everyone. No matter what is your individual talent and/or life mission. Everyone can do this.

Systems evolve, and we can evolve this one if we recognize that it IS a system, and it will inevitably try to protect itself from change. How does the corposystem protect itself?

In our culture at this time, the corposystem protects itself primarily by PREVENTING us humans from engaging in honest, ethical, constructive, fact-based communication that engages all the three parts of our brains (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/
bare-bones-bio…a-quarter-full/).

And what I see the most is defensive rather than constructive responses.

How to change the corposystem? Talk about it.

(https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/

https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/ bare-bones-bio…a-quarter-full/)

Facts are real; learn about them; individual “heroism” does not grow communal “happiness;” the glass is not half full, and we need to learn about the things that are wrong so we can intelligently deal with them; our behaviors today absolutely affect the quality of life of our grandchildren; blame-placing does not solve problems; speculation should be relevant to the facts on the ground or it won’t solve the problems on the ground; anger and hatred that are used to dominate others do not solve either our own problems or theirs; and even in the most benevolent conditions, focusing on the small picture without regard to the overall Facts of Life only tends to perpetuate the system we already have.

How to change the corposystem? Stop being controlled by the corposystem mantras, either the pie-in-the-sky fairy tales or.the claims that there is nothing we can do. They are all excuses to avoid positive change. If our corposystem tells us that we must not think about positive change, or it tells us to believe in magic, or it tells us we can’t talk rationally about hard issues such as population or climate change (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/) — then –

131116-May-ASC_7202Rsthe way to change our system is to talk — reasonably, rationally and constructively about these problems as they relate to our common goal — to develop a viable, sustainable, reasonably comfortable human presence within the Life of Earth.

Please don’t tell me you can’t think, or that you have more important things to do than to talk.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS 89.1 FM radio in Bryan, Texas. A copy of this podcast can be downloaded at:

Bare Bones Biology 165 – Power

OK, I have to talk fast today, and even so there is more on the blog page. In the last blog https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/ I got cranky, because nice speak https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/ doesn’t work in the face of factual problems, and people do need to understand what choices we are making as we each in our own way try to do what is best for ourselves, our communities, our countries and for Life itself.

The choices are difficult, but they are becoming more simple over time as the generations of humans have made bad decisions that leave us very few — in fact — one choice in this generation . Either we are committed to the survival of humans on this earth, or – we would rather do something else.

Life or death for humans depends upon the services provided by the Biosystem; therefore, if we want to work for the welfare of humans within the Biosystem, then we must ALSO work for the welfare of the Biosystem itself — as we know it. All of us. That’s not our choice. Just a basic fact. We can’t change the basic biological systems that function to maintain a balanced environment. If we want to support human life unto the seventh generation and beyond, then we must study these life support systems. And behave accordingly. If we were raised in the past 30 years or so, or if we assume without studying that we DO understand what the Biosystem needs, then our first obligation is to study, for example the old Curtis Biology textbook or an older Basic Biology text or minimally Bare Bones Ecology.

Either we learn what the Biosystem needs, and provide it, or we will fail to accomplish our chosen goal (aka mission) to support human life into the future. Either we study outside our personal and social world view — or we will be, unawares, working for the entrained goals of our culture of birth that is destroying our human participation within the Biosystem.

I suggest we also learn how to tell the difference between real facts and Corposystem propaganda or we will waste a lot of time being confused (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/bare-bones-biology-064-corposystem-power/).

If we study wisely, t hen we can make wise choices that involve our own human behaviors. That’s a full-time job that can occupy anyone for a lifetime, and that too, as I see it, is oddly simple. It seems that most people in our culture understand one of two general life styles: 1) how to be a “winner” — or 2) how to get along without being a “winner.” One or the other, but not both. They are different skill sets. Winner power or loser power; war or peace; debate or discussion; male power or female power; powers of the strong or Powers of the Weak (http://www.amazon.com/Powers-Weak-Elizabeth-Janeway/dp/0394406966/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325785263&sr=1-1). Whatever you want to call them. There seem to be two general approaches to obtaining our goals or pursuing our mission in life.

130810-Rodeo-ASC_5533RLSs copyThe powerful, dominant, macho people seem to believe that war (in it’s many manifestations, from passive-aggressive through competition, debate and physical combat) defines power. More usefully, I have observed that the powerful (dominant, macho) people usually do not understand any other form of power than the power of winning. That’s why they keep on losing, year after year, generation after generation, century after century, warriors ultimately lose their wars because they only understand one kind of power, and that is “winning.” So they can be relatively easily toppled by any number of other kinds of power.

Those people who actually achieve sustainable success of their goal (aka mission) are most often those who: a) study the facts, because basic facts don’t change; and b) who fit the solution to the challenge in such a way that the challengers don’t understand they are being manipulated (that’s easy, the only thing warriors seem to understand is winning) and don’t understand the goal/mission of the people who are manipulating them (also easy, because strong people generally only understand domination).

130811-Lumberton-ASC_5550RLSs copyAnd indeed right now we humans are losing our place in the body of Life on Earth because ALL the major players, good guys and bad guys, conform so resolutely to the macho Corposystem ethic that very few have time to research the problem factually and face the reality of our situation with an unshakeable commitment to our goal (aka mission) that is greater than our commitment to winning whatever we individually want to win. But anyone can work for the welfare of the Biosystem, any time, all the time. And make Life better, rather than worse for the privilege of being alive – if we are willing to really study what the Biosystem needs rather than what we think it should need.

Witness the T party that propounded so many really silly opinions that had nothing to do with real solutions — they could only make themselves foolish in the long run. They would have done better to analyze the problem than to expound their opinions without benefit of input. Because in the end they did more harm than good.

On the other side, many “progressive” activists today are in the very odd position of admiring the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gandhi, whose efforts were NOT based in war but in resistance, while at the same time PROMOTING the methods of the Corposystem – which is all about war and winning at all levels from passive-aggressive, to competition to debate to active conflict. We don’t need “sides.” What we do need is well-informed communities that can discuss problems and reach rational conclusions.

How many scores or hundreds of times have I been told that I am “doing it wrong,” because I choose not to promote or collaborate with the modern Corposystem society whenever my participation would undermine the Biosystem. And yet, the only possible way that we can nurture the Biosystem is to NOT collude with the Corposystem methods of domination (war), but instead to resort to some combination of powers of the weak, beginning with a discussion of the problem and the parts of it that humans cannot change — because neither we nor the Corposystem can possibly dominate the Biosystem. The more we try, the more it will evolve to accommodate its own needs – not ours.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. A podcast of this program is available at:

Bare Bones Biology 159 – Facts versus Fancies – Money

Our modern American corposystem is built around something that isn’t even real. Money. Some people have gained a whole career and a lot of well deserved admiration using the power of money in a positive way, and written books about it, but I’m not referencing the books, because they are based on the idea that money is a real thing, rather than a short-term corposystem fix.

On the contrary, fame and money are figments of an unsustainable human dream of power in the same way that winning, or success, are merely human opinions that we have decided to believe. Even with the best of intentions, these corposystem fantasies are likely to cause more harm than good to the Biosystem, and to a good life for us. When it comes to planning our lives, I think it’s better to go with what is real.

Even though everything does keep changing, some things are real. A car is a real thing. Life is real. Food is real. An ear of corn. When you eat it, you become a living link in the living Biosystem. Money is not a real thing; it is a human agreement. Or rather it can be a real thing. It is really a piece of paper with a pretty picture on it. But as money it only exists in the shared promises among people.

130716-Spencer-ASC_4638RLSs copyYet, we have built an entire system that is based in our common delusion that money is a real thing. Our corposystem defines itself by convincing us that money is power; most of its propaganda is meant to teach us that money is a real resource, like sunshine, or roses or meat; but really. money is only a human promise to pay. You can use it to buy stuff; that’s the promise; and so long as the promise is honored – yes, money is a good thing to have.

Most often you get your money by spending your time wisely. You can use your time to make the things you need – or you can trade your time for money. Let’s pick food for an example, because it’s a real thing you cannot live without. You could spend your time (which is also a real thing) growing food, or you could trade your time to someone else, let’s say McDonalds, and in exchange they will give you money, which is not a real thing, but you can use it. You could use the money you earned working for McDonalds to buy food. Or you could buy something you do not need, but if you do that, you have wasted your time AND your money, and you will have no other way to get what you do need unless you can get someone else to give you some of their time/money.

Your challenge as a living human today is to balance your time and money to get the real things that you need for your good life. Your obligation to the future of humankind is to do this in a way that does not cause harm to the Biosystem. If you do a good job, the money can come and go without causing permanent harm.

The corposystem, however, does not support either of these challenges, because the ethic of the corposystem is to grow more money. Instead of helping us to grow the good life by focusing on real things that we need, the corposystem tells us to spend our time and money buying more things that we don’t need. To throw away our things and spend our money buying more things. We end up spinning away our time and our money, and the irreplaceable Biosystem resources – wasting them to make money for the corposystem.

And then the corposystem will crash, because nothing can grow forever if it consumes resources, and when it crashes our money will be worthless.

Life is not about money, nor is it about supporting a system that becomes more and more unbalanced with every turn of the wheel. Life is about sustaining Life by balancing the Biosystem. We know how to do this, but we won’t, because we believe so deeply in the unbalanced growth required by the corposystem that we think it would be unethical to take any steps toward controlling human overgrowth of the Biosystem.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, in Bryan, Texas, and FactFictionFancy. A podcast of this program can be downloaded at Bare Bones Biology later this week or next week.

Photograph of Spencer and Remington in Chama, New Mexico.

Terracide and the Terrarists

To destroy our planet with malice aforethought, with only the most immediate profits on the brain, with only your own comfort and wellbeing (and those of your shareholders) in mind: Isn’t that the ultimate crime? Isn’t that terracide?

Destroying the Planet for Record Profits 
By Tom Engelhardt

http://www.tomdispatch.com/dialogs/print/?id=175703

We have a word for the conscious slaughter of a racial or ethnic group: genocide.  And one for the conscious destruction of aspects of the environment: ecocide.  But we don’t have a word for the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on, the world as humanity had known it until, historically speaking, late last night.  A possibility might be “terracide” from the Latin word for earth.  It has the right ring, given its similarity to the commonplace danger word of our era: terrorist.

The truth is, whatever we call them, it’s time to talk bluntly about the terrarists of our world.  Yes, I know, 9/11 was horrific.  Almost 3,000 dead, massive towers down, apocalyptic scenes.  And yes, when it comes to terror attacks, the Boston Marathon bombings weren’t pretty either.  But in both cases, those who committed the acts paid for or will pay for their crimes.

In the case of the terrarists — and here I’m referring in particular to the men who run what may be the most profitable corporations on the planet, giant energy companies like ExxonMobilChevronConocoPhillipsBP, and Shell — you’re the one who’s going to pay, especially your children and grandchildren. You can take one thing for granted: not a single terrarist will ever go to jail, and yet they certainly knew what they were doing.

It wasn’t that complicated. In recent years, the companies they run have been extracting fossil fuels from the Earth in ever more frenetic and ingenious ways. The burning of those fossil fuels, in turn, has put record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Only this month, the CO2 level reached 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. A consensus of scientists has long concluded that the process was warming the world and that, if the average planetary temperature rose more than two degrees Celsius, all sorts of dangers could ensue, including seas rising high enough to inundate coastal cities, increasingly intense heat waves, droughts, floods, ever more extreme storm systems, and so on.

How to Make Staggering Amounts of Money and Do In the Planet

None of this was exactly a mystery. It’s in the scientific literature. NASA scientist James Hansen first publicized the reality of global warming to Congress in 1988. It took a while — thanks in part to the terrarists — but the news of what was happening increasingly made it into the mainstream. Anybody could learn about it.

Those who run the giant energy corporations knew perfectly well what was going on and could, of course, have read about it in the papers like the rest of us. And what did they do? They put their money into funding think tanks, politicians, foundations, and activists intent on emphasizing “doubts” about the science (since it couldn’t actually be refuted); they and their allies energetically promoted what came to be known as climate denialism. Then they sent their agents and lobbyists and money into the political system to ensure that their plundering ways would not be interfered with. And in the meantime, they redoubled their efforts to get ever tougher and sometimes “dirtier” energy out of the ground in ever tougher and dirtier ways.

The peak oil people hadn’t been wrong when they suggested years ago that we would soon hit a limit in oil production from which decline would follow.  The problem was that they were focused on traditional or “conventional” liquid oil reserves obtained from large reservoirs in easy-to-reach locations on land or near to shore.  Since then, the big energy companies have invested a remarkable amount of time, money, and (if I can use that word) energy in the development of techniques that would allow them to recover previously unrecoverable reserves (sometimes by processes that themselves burn striking amounts of fossil fuels): fracking, deep-water drilling, and tar-sands production, among others.

They also began to go after huge deposits of what energy expert Michael Klare calls “extreme” or “tough” energy — oil and natural gas that can only be acquired through the application of extreme force or that requires extensive chemical treatment to be usable as a fuel.  In many cases, moreover, the supplies being acquired like heavy oil and tar sands are more carbon-rich than other fuels and emit more greenhouse gases when consumed.  These companies have even begun using climate change itself — in the form of a melting Arctic — to exploit enormous and previously unreachable energy supplieshttp://www.economist.com/node/21556798.  With the imprimatur of the Obama administration, Royal Dutch Shell, for example, has been preparing to test out possible drilling techniques in the treacherous waters off Alaska.

Call it irony, if you will, or call it a nightmare, but Big Oil evidently has no qualms about making its next set of profits directly off melting the planet.  Its top executives continue to plan their futures (and so ours), knowing that their extremely profitable acts are destroying the very habitat, the very temperature range that for so long made life comfortable for humanity.

Their prior knowledge of the damage they are doing is what should make this a criminal activity.  And there are corporate precedents for this, even if on a smaller scale.  The lead industry, the asbestos industry, and the tobacco companies all knew the dangers of their products, made efforts to suppress the information or instill doubt about it even as they promoted the glories of what they made, and went right on producing and selling while others suffered and died.

And here’s another similarity: with all three industries, the negative results conveniently arrived years, sometimes decades, after exposure and so were hard to connect to it.  Each of these industries knew that the relationship existed.  Each used that time-disconnect as protection.  One difference: if you were a tobacco, lead, or asbestos exec, you might be able to ensure that your children and grandchildren weren’t exposed to your product.  In the long run, that’s not a choice when it comes to fossil fuels and CO2, as we all live on the same planet (though it’s also true that the well-off in the temperate zones are unlikely to be the first to suffer).

If Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 plane hijackings or the Tsarnaev brothers’ homemade bombs constitute terror attacks, why shouldn’t what the energy companies are doing fall into a similar category (even if on a scale that leaves those events in the dust)?  And if so, then where is the national security state when we really need it? Shouldn’t its job be to safeguard us from terrarists and terracide as well as terrorists and their destructive plots?

The Alternatives That Weren’t

It didn’t have to be this way.

On July 15, 1979, at a time when gas lines, sometimes blocks long, were a disturbing fixture of American life, President Jimmy Carter spoke directly to the American people on television for 32 minutes, calling for a concerted effort to end the country’s oil dependence on the Middle East.  “To give us energy security,” he announced,

“I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation’s history to develop America’s own alternative sources of fuel — from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun… Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war.  Moreover, I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20% of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.”

It’s true that, at a time when the science of climate change was in its infancy, Carter wouldn’t have known about the possibility of an overheating world, and his vision of “alternative energy” wasn’t exactly a fossil-fuel-free one.  Even then, shades of today or possibly tomorrow, he was talking about having “more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias.”  Still, it was a remarkably forward-looking speech.

Had we invested massively in alternative energy R&D back then, who knows where we might be today?  Instead, the media dubbed it the “malaise speech,” though the president never actually used that word, speaking instead of an American “crisis of confidence.”  While the initial public reaction seemed positive, it didn’t last long.  In the end, the president’s energy proposals were essentially laughed out of the room and ignored for decades.

As a symbolic gesture, Carter had 32 solar panels installed on the White House.  (“A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people: harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”)  As it turned out, “a road not taken” was the accurate description.  On entering the Oval Office in 1981, Ronald Reagan caught the mood of the era perfectly.  One of his first acts was to order the removal of those panels and none were reinstalled for three decades, until Barack Obama was president.

Carter would, in fact, make his mark on U.S. energy policy, just not quite in the way he had imagined.  Six months later, on January 23, 1980, in his last State of the Union Address, he would proclaim what came to be known as the Carter Doctrine: “Let our position be absolutely clear,” he said. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

No one would laugh him out of the room for that.  Instead, the Pentagon would fatefully begin organizing itself to protect U.S. (and oil) interests in the Persian Gulf on a new scale and America’s oil wars would follow soon enough.  Not long after that address, it would start building up a Rapid Deployment Force in the Gulf that would in the end become U.S. Central Command.  More than three decades later, ironies abound: thanks in part to those oil wars, whole swaths of the energy-rich Middle East are in crisis, if not chaos, while the big energy companies have put time and money into a staggeringly fossil-fuel version of Carter’s “alternative” North America.  They’ve focused on shale oil, and on shale gas as well, and with new production methods, they are reputedly on the brink of turning the United States into a “new Saudi Arabia.”

If true, this would be the worst, not the best, of news.  In a world where what used to pass for good news increasingly guarantees a nightmarish future, energy “independence” of this sort means the extraction of ever more extreme energy, ever more carbon dioxide heading skyward, and ever more planetary damage in our collective future.  This was not the only path available to us, or even to Big Oil.

With their staggering profits, they could have decided anywhere along the line that the future they were ensuring was beyond dangerous.  They could themselves have led the way with massive investments in genuine alternative energies (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, algal, and who knows what else), instead of the exceedingly small-scale ones they made, often for publicity purposes.  They could have backed a widespread effort to search for other ways that might, in the decades to come, have offered something close to the energy levels fossil fuels now give us.  They could have worked to keep the extreme-energy reserves that turn out to be surprisingly commonplace deep in the Earth.

And we might have had a different world (from which, by the way, they would undoubtedly have profited handsomely).  Instead, what we’ve got is the equivalent of a tobacco company situation, but on a planetary scale.  To complete the analogy, imagine for a moment that they were planning to produce even more prodigious quantities not of fossil fuels but of cigarettes, knowing what damage they would do to our health.  Then imagine that, without exception, everyone on Earth was forced to smoke several packs of them a day.

If that isn’t a terrorist — or terrarist — attack of an almost unimaginable sort, what is?  If the oil execs aren’t terrarists, then who is?  And if that doesn’t make the big energy companies criminal enterprises, then how would you define that term?

To destroy our planet with malice aforethought, with only the most immediate profits on the brain, with only your own comfort and wellbeing (and those of your shareholders) in mind: Isn’t that the ultimate crime? Isn’t that terracide?

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

[Note: Thanks go to my colleague and friend Nick Turse for coming up with the word “terracide.”]

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 Tom Engelhardt

From England to Texas

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What we have here is the American way of exploitation. Way out on Rabbit Lane in Bryan an oil well pops up. Somewhere back on another country road, an oil well comes down. I bet it is a big relief to the folks who live a few hundred feet away. Next there will be one over on the other side of town. Looks like we only have one oil well, right? Sure enough it looks like it, but what we have in reality is several oil wells a week coming in and staying in.

It is perhaps time we asked ourselves whether our homes and the air we breath and the water we drink are more or less important than the money. If we want to have a livable community we need to find some way to balance the power. And the oil companies are still sending out requests for information about land not already leased. Trying to buy it all up before we catch on.

Which is more important? Or do we care about the epidemics of asthma, Alzheimers, and many other unnamed illnesses that were relatively rare 30 years ago.

120509-IMG_0877-oil well Cynthia

Bare Bones Biology 152 – Meditation for an Easter Sunrise

This past Easter, Bitsy and I sat at the picnic table behind Los Sueños Trailer Park in Santa Fe. She upright and watching, I slumping awake with a cup of coffee. It was a wandering meditation and I let it wander.

The solid faithfulness of Notre Dame Cathedral. I couldn’t stay for the services – all that smoke and perfume drove me away, but the building – the building that welcomes all. In the off season I came often to sit inside its truths. I remembered the time I sat behind a woman, just the two of us, widely separated, she weeping and I letting myself feel her tears and return what I could of a blessing. We never spoke, she didn’t know I was there,and I will never see her again, but she is a part of my life, sheltered within that building – not the tourists and not the ceremonies, at least not for me. The building took three generations to build, by hand, in the middle ages, and if you listen you can feel the tears, the millions of human hands, the love, the joy, and the patience. Above all the patience. The stone blocks of the stairs hollowed out by our feet. The building carries forward a truth of human community.

Notre Dame made me think of Jesus, and I wondered what it felt like to be Jesus, the man who cried out: “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” And I thought again of the building, and the tourists who file around the periphery in dumb awe of truth, ignorant of those who weep in the seats under the central dome of real life. 131328-sunrise-ASC_2832s

And that made me think of my favorite audio tapes that I carry when I travel. Stereo – with earphones. I pulled it out and plugged it in. One individual, not counting Bitsy, sitting at a picnic table, meditating and watching the sun rise while listening to The Messiah. EC gave it to me. How many individual people and other organisms have given me my life? Back in time and spread out across the living Earth? How wondrous a thing is Homo sapiens. How amazing a creation am I, arising within and nurtured by the glory of God’s Natural Laws. Sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Nurtured by a tough Texas lady. Somehow connected with an unknown, weeping French woman.
Eileen Farrell, soprano: “And he shall feed his flock.”

Jesus, representing the facts of life for humans. We are born, we live, we die so that Life itself, the whole churning brew of perfectly interacting processes, may take its rebirth in every moment. Ever changing.

Not even the most brilliant scientists can map that churning brew of Life, but the truths of it are true, no matter who interprets them, be it Jesus or the Buddha or any other saint, or Handel, or science. And what will I give back?

Our job is to sort out the truths from among our own ego trips and corposystem propaganda — greed, hatred and ignorance. Our job is to understand the power that we hold, lest it harm all the generations of our future Our job is to continue to learn about, and not to fight over, any truth of God’s Living system, because – we only understand part of it and a lot of what we do understand is wrong. Because we are not God. We are nothing more than a bit of life in the great stream of God’s system of Life.

And “We, like sheep” go often astray.

God is what it is, not what you or I have decided that it is. Our job is not to war against it or the Life that it is creating in every moment of time, but to honor it’s process and receive its blessing.

“Hallelujah”

And after Easter comes Earth day. I’ll see you there on Saturday, April 20.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a weekly production of FactFictionFancy.com, and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, in Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded at: