Bare Bones Biology 292 – There Are Rules

Last week I pointed out that religion and science teach us, at the top levels of their understandings, one big message. The message is that there are rules and we are far better off in the real world if we follow these rules than if we do not. I think that’s why humans evolved both religion and science – because the more we know about the rules, the better able we are survive and flourish in a real world of rules.


160119-TurkeyWe all live in the same world, more or less comfortably, and therefore our wisdom traditions, including both science and religion, as studied by for example Prof. Huston Smith and by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Prof. Joseph Campbell, Karen Armstrong, and others – if they do a good job of studying the higher-level information, that is the wisdom that is illuminated for us by the various religions and by basic science (not politically useful technologies, but the basic science that attempts to learn what the rules are and how they function) — that higher level information should be the same or similar in all the wisdom traditions, because we are, indeed, one world. Not a different world for science and then a collection of different worlds for the various religious expressions.


What do I mean by higher-level information? I mean the actual rules, the laws of nature, stripped of their various metaphorical interpretations. Every religion and also basic science abound with metaphorical elaborations of the rules for safe conduct in the world, and they vary from culture to culture, but the message is similar, and in that similarity are the truths that describe the rules of nature/God that are necessary to the proper function of the universe, the Biosystem, and humans within the Biosystem.


There are at least three levels of understanding in every wisdom tradition. First we grow to understand the culture into which we are born, all the things we automatically learn, that tie our instincts to our particular culture of birth — such as language and our interpersonal relationships and our relationships with our immediate environment.

The second level is our education, including the vivid metaphors of our religion that function to align our behaviors with our instinct for survival. Third, beyond the metaphor, is the highest level of understanding the facts of history and the laws of God and nature.


160118-cabin-ASC_1370sFor example, all the major religions encourage compassion, preferably “wise compassion,” or “pure compassion,” that is not entangled with negative motivation, because compassion, like any human emotion, can be used for self-aggrandizement (that is, pride), and these same major religions (and the basic science) also carry the message that: “Pride goeth before a fall.”


In my lifetime I have seen this meme actualized at every level of human endeavor, yet I have never seen a culture so prideful as are we in this world right now, and yes, we are mining compassion for all it is worth, both for money and self-aggrandizement. We actually believe we only need to think of a thing and it is do-able without any down side or blowback – just because it was we who thought of it. Scary it is. Where is our religion when we need it? And our basic science?


At the peak of human understanding, where the teachings agree, there lies wisdom, and that wisdom tells us there is an “unseen order” that drives reality. We only need to listen.




This is Bare Bones Biology a production of

The podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:



Huston Smith. 2005. The Soul of Christianity. Harper, San Francisco.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama. 2010. Toward a True Kinship of Faiths. Doubleday     Religion.

Joseph Campbell. 1972. Myths to Live By. The Penguin Group

E. O. Wilson.  Sociobiology.

Karen Armstrong. A History of God.

Diary 131109 – Holly Trucker

“Now the view was obscured by clouds and sleet, but on the usual day Chee knew the (window) glass overlooked immense space – across the Laguna and Acoma Indian reservations to the south and east, southward across the forty-mile sea of cooled lava called the Malpais toward the Zuni mountains, and eastward toward the Canoncito reservation to the great blue hump of the Sandia mountains behind Albuquerque.”

Tony Hillerman published that in 1980, in People of Darkness.  I remember then; Iused to love driving these roads.

131109-TruckerHolly-ASC_7076RSsAll that’s behind me today, but I spent most of yesterday driving along from Albuquerque, just slightly south of the area he described.  On a normal day in 2013.  There were no clouds, no dust storm, no wind, visibility only about five miles, mostly obscured by a yellow chemical haze.  The sun shines through it at lunchtime with the amber glow of  late afternoon, and the glowing health that my body grew breathing the clean air of the canyon is melting around me like a the muddy air itself.  My ears are ringing, sinuses filled up, the floaters are back in my eyes and I’m working up to a nosebleed for the first time since leaving Bryan.  But worst for driving, is the difficulty of focusing on what I’m doing.  The contrast, from two days ago, is enough to inform a large number of decisions.

Anyhow – this time the brakes are really fixed.

And it was fun meeting Holly, who actually believes she is personally in charge of this monster semi.

Most likely tomorrow I’ll make it to California.

Faith, Hope and Love

Is There Hope?


Not if we use hope as an instrument of our cowardice.

Not if we use hope as a tool to deprive others of information, therefore the freedom to make wise life choices.

Not if we use hope as an excuse to avoid the hard work and responsibility of survival.

Shall we hope that God will change the way the body of the earth functions? And for the silliest of reasons – just because we don’t like it? After He spent a few billion years growing it up to work the way it does work? Why are we hoping for magic and miracles, when we know what the problem is and how to solve it all by ourselves? If God did miraculously change the processes that maintain life, then Earth could no longer function in our universe, because the miracle is that it functions at all. Shall we hope for a miracle that will destroy it? We can do that, all by ourselves, and we are.

No, we cannot hope for a miracle, and I’m really sorry God. I know you spelled out the rules from the very beginning, and it’s not very hard to understand — neither Your rules nor the functions of your Earth — but it’s not my fault. If I could, I would have stopped the destruction 50 years ago. I’m not a coward; I’m not depriving anyone of necessary information; and I’m not afraid of hard work or responsibility. But I can’t do it by myself, and I can’t control what other people do. They like what they are doing. They chose it. I suppose that is a part of how Your law functions. I don’t like it much, but is is the miracle we’ve got.

Kurt Vonnegut Shall we hope for a Singularity? Fun game to play, but the whole idea is based on the theory that humans are intelligent – in fact that the human brain can function better than the biology of which it is a fairly minor subunit.

No, we cannot hope for a “singularity” that will save us from experiencing the physiological (karmic, cause and effect, physical) results of our own behaviors.  We chose our karma; it is our creation and our responsibility. If we don’t even understand that – then there is no way we can rationally hope to survive into the future.

And if the A.I. singularity DOES occur, then it will: a) not be able to invent a world that functions better than the one we already have because, while it may be immensely more intelligent than humans, it cannot be nearly as intelligent as the entire billions of years of evolved wisdom of the universe of which it is a part, and b) if it is more intelligent than we are, it will immediately recognize that the easiest quickest and least painful way to save the Earth would be to dispose of the humans. We don’t need a singularity to do that; we not only are doing it, but we also know that we are — and we know how we are.  We have probably already done it. Probably that IS the singularity. The nearly certain occurrence of Homo sapiens’ genomic bottleneck – or decease – during the first half of this century.

Only one rational hope remains conceivable, because it arises out of the only rationally conceivable way that we could resolve our physical plight.  We can hope that humans will wake up and decide that we don’t like the future we have built for our grandchildren, and that we will sit down together to learn what the biosystem requires for its well being – not what we believe it should require, and not what we hope will fix it, but what it/she really does physically need to balance the millions of organisms and billions of processes of which her body is composed – so that we can begin to work together to give the mother Earth what she needs to survive.

I can wish — but I have no real hope that this will happen. Mostly because most people would rather hope and pray than work to understand what is needed. And partly because I have finally come to understand that the miracle of Life, and the beauty of how it functions to exist as a vital (formerly) green rock in space, is more significant, elegant, beautiful and desirable than the human enterprise.

There is no other viable reason for hope.

There can be no Life without death.

It is done.

And so be it.

Communities and Evolution

Happy Days Folks,

This week I will refer you to a blog post from last year at about this time. It is even more relevant today.

Bare Bones Biology 088 – Evolution and Creation
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download is available at the below link.


Sunrise and Sunset on the North Llano River

As Bitsy and I viewed the devastation, a local farmer chanced by with his little tractor and said that until last year I would have been standing with my head under water in this river. Last year and this year — it never happened before in 50 years. I asked the cause and he said the farmers up the river are taking more than their allotment. What I didn’t say — the farmers up the river have always taken more than their allotment, only now there are more farmers up the river and a lot more people people for them to feed than the earth, water, air can support.

Bare Bones Biology 124 – Education

Last week I said: “We begin by taking the responsibility to educate ourselves about all the many sides of the population issue.”

I said this because one of the favorite corposystem power ploys is to distract us from our goal and occupy us with fake debates that do not interfere with corposystem desire to do whatever it wants to do. This is just another version of the old “divide and conquer” ploy. People who are fighting with each other cannot solve problems, for at least two reasons. One reason is that the solution to any problem is many sided.

Debates are two-sided sound bites and fun games, if we think life is nothing more than a game of winners and losers (that is not, by the way, how evolution functions (Bare Bones Biology 088 to 091) but debates do not resolve problems. Instead they prevent people from even evaluating and discussing problems — even problems that threaten their own futures — which is the second reason that debates don’t solve problems.

So what are the many sides of this overpopulation problem? I could begin by making a huge list of human opinions about overpopulation, but, human opinions cannot change the natural laws that permit our biosystem to survive. God the creator made the biosystem to function the way it does function, and that IS how nature works. Life feeds death and death feeds life.

God’s very breath is the breath of life and lifein the biosystem, whether we like it or not, and I think that’s why we don’t like it. We want what we want for ourselves – we want to use the earth for our own selves, and we don’t really care how many other species we kill off, and we don’t want to hear about it.

The trouble is, those species ARE the biosystem. They are what God breathed into the biosystem to make our air, water, fire (energy) and earth. That is how life on earth, the biosystem, functions to stay alive. God is Life – or God created Life.

That’s why I mention levels of organizationlevels of function of the biosystem) every chance I get. Individual level, population level, and all of life, the biosystem. If we are to make wise decisions, we must consider how the other levels affect us. If we could once realize that ONLY solving human problems is NOT the solution to human problems we would be far better off. Because humans cannot HAVE everything they want without causing irreparable damage to the biosystem. And anything that damages the biosystem is harmful to human individuals and human populations and even to the corposystem.

Every person on earth, except the most isolated, the sociopathic, or the super-spoiled, knows that we must have a balance between the wants and needs of individual humans and the requirements for community welfare. Individual humans cannot have everything they want if whatever they want causes harm to the community. Society is a constant readjustment between individuals, families and populations, in which nobody ever gets everything they want. We could paraphrase Mitt Romney’s recent “joke.” Obama wants to help the biosystem; I want to help you.

This is ignorance generating ignorance, because right now the biosystem is (check the facts, please) maxed out of earth, air, energy and water that we need to stay alive. Therefore, nobody can help anyone unless we all help the biosystem. The best way to learn how the biosystem stays alive and healthy is to read widely, and discuss the issues, and then check the facts. I’m talking about everyone – especially those who believe they already understand the biosystem. Most of us don’t. And then come back to the political arena and help to change our own behavior.

Debates do not solve problems; they only result in everyone trying to prove they are better than everyone else.

They aren’t.

And while we are playing ego games, the bottom line is we cannot continue to live in the biosystem unless we also reduce the numbers of people who are draining away the breath of life from the biosystem.

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded later this week at

Recommended References

Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook Download

Click to access pages_std-portrait-barebonesecology100627-finalfinalprinter.pdf

(First blog in this series)
(Second blog in this series)

Bare Bones Biology 020,
Bare Bones Biology 021,
Bare Bones Biology 022,

Power Ploys 066, corposystem-power/

Bare Bones Biology 009 to 019 and 088 to 091


Levels of Organization…d-population-i…-population-ii/

Don’t go Away – Dog Park Diary 120911

In a far off time we learned to understand “I-Thou” relationships. This sounds to me very much like Buddhist enlightenment. An experience that is available to humans and very likely represents a relationship with whatever we see as our God. Cheri Maples explains the implications of that kind of relationship with life in Buddhist terms: “It’s not about me, but I can make a difference.” In fact, everything that we do all day every day does make a difference, whether or not we are aware of it. So i think the most important point of human life is to understand what we are doing and what difference it is likely to make. We cannot do this by following only our emotions or only our opinions. It requires study. Study of how we affect people, and also study of how we affect the whole giant biosystem/ecosystem, because — we do. The Dalai Lama calls that “wise compassion,” and everyone can do it. It is so very much more important than a life spent only playing in the dog park — I mean human park. I think Bitsy probably doesn’t understand this, but a human life spent in wise compassion is almost like a human gift to God.

Bare Bones Biology 123 – Heroism

Once upon a time I was a real hero. I forced my employer to hire women scientists on a more or less equal basis with men. As a result, the employer hired a gaggle of very competent women, and several of these women let me know that I: “wouldn’t have had all those problems if I had been competent.” Apparently the newbys want to believe they alone are the heroes; that the past is not relevant.

My parents belonged to the generation of the great depression. My early years were informed by WWII and some magnificent expressions of American democratic responsibility, as we tried to imagine a better culture after the war.

In the next generation after mine a great many American and European women and men modified their own pleasures in order to benefit future generations. And yet, more often than not, I hear the Newbys of today say the Green Revolution was a failure, as though everything would be fine today if we had properly solved the problem yesterday. The Green generation understood that good times always have a dark underside. They recognized the new threat — the first ever worldwide, overpopulation-induced shortage of food. And they (we) dealt with it.

WE gave YOU your cushy livestyle. We worked together to achieve one of the most important human accomplishments in all of history. The birth rate dropped in all the educated countries. This was not a biological change. It is not possible –, well I will get into biology some other time, but the biosystem laws of life will not change just to relieve humans of their responsibility to balance human populations with biosystem requirements. Only the human brain can accomplish that task. Only education combined with technology and responsibility.

Education combined with technology. So yes there were bad guys, there are always a few who want to take control over their family, or a community, or their country, or the world. How do they do it? Obvious – they take away the solution to the problem. In this case, take away the education and the technology. Make more people, so the food will run out faster (it has) and there will be more poor people who have no time to worry about anything beyond their next meal (there are). Now the corposystem falsely claims that populations will automatically adjust themselves if only we make them grow. In other words, the corposystem propaganda is that we must grow the population so that the population can reduce itself.

Folks, that’s not how the biosystem works to stay alive and well, and because that claim is so intensely un-biological, therefore the corposystem has had to make sure that we do not understand the biology. I’m not talking about human biology, but the whole of the biosystem – the biosystem biology. The biosystem that gives us all of our food is threatened by overpopulation. And now we have some of the most biologically uneducated adult generations in this country in recent history, and what’s worse, they don’t even know they are uneducated. They believe they alone are the heroes. And the corposystem is still working hard to withhold access both to education and to the most useful and harmless technologies.

The quiet heroism of the green revolution gave us 50 extra years of the good life in which to generate the technologies that are needed to regulate populations, and it gave us time, 50 years in which to reach a sustainable level of reproduction so the good life could be carried into the future.

But the subsequent generations have abandoned responsibility for the whole of the prosperity that we generated in the Green Revolution — turned it over to the corposystem. That is not a failure of the green revolution 50 years ago. It is a failure of responsibility now.

Which, in a way, is good news. If the problem is happening now, then it can be fixed now.

How? We know the corposystem spreads lies; therefore, our job must be to ferret out the truth. And then we must focus on solving the problem, not fighting over it — or we will end up with a war rather than a solution.

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. A podcast can be downloaded at

Bare Bones Biology 122 – Human Hands

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. A podcast can be downloaded later this week at:

Hold up your hand flat open with your palm facing me. As though you were a policeman trying to stop an onrushing disaster.

Your four fingers and your thumb are all pointing in different directions.

Now let’s think of your four fingers and your thumb as problems or “actions” that you and other socially conscious people are promoting — spending your time, energy and money, using your life to benefit your family, the community and humankind in general. Every person using his/her best skills to address one or other of the major actions, trying to relieve the problems faced by humankind today.

Let’s say your first finger represents hunger, and all the people trying to reduce world hunger. The second finger can represent global warming. The third finger can represent conflict, for example war, politics, genocide, modern economics. And the fourth finger represents religion and spirituality. Your thumb represents overpopulation.

What I notice about this hand is that all five of the digits are pointing off toward different and separate goals. If you added together the five different problems, and the people who are working to address these problems. Well, they are not working together for a common goal – they are going off in five different directions. Often they fight or argue with each other or they simply ignore each other, rather than discussing common goals. For this reason the work of one group often cancels out the gains of one or more of the other groups.

For example, one group is working for compassion in the belief that a compassionate community will not fight. Another group tries to win because they believe that will solve all our problems. The climate change group, after a few hundred years of evidence, is finally beginning to recognize its problem is real and is trying to decide whether to adapt or deal with the root cause of climate change. The hunger group can’t possibly accomplish its goal in the face of climate change and excessive population growth. And the overpopulation group believes that no positive goals can be achieved by continuing the destructive path that caused these problems in the first place.

We imagine if all the groups accomplished their goals they would all add up to a successful community. The reality, however, looks more like a mish-mash of confusing goals and conflicting interests.

Efficient and effective problem solving does not jump out into the world in five different directions at once, with the different parts of itself fighting among themselves. Modern business practice has made many serious mistakes, but at least one good concept has come out of it, and that is goal setting. Good business defines its goals, sets its guidelines, and informs all parties involved.

Our basic human goal is to live in a community that is sustainable into the future. Surely it must be, and if it’s not we should ask each other why not, because we aren’t acting as though it were. We have all these five problems, and more, dashing off in all directions at the same time. Don’t you agree that we could organize ourselves in some way that would at least have a chance of growing a positive future? I think such a future is possible.

If our primary goal really is the common welfare, then we can align our four fingers to represent of our commitment to the common goal of human sustainability on this earth, in good health, at least through the lifetimes of our grandchildren. If my genuine stated goal is the same as the stated goals of people working in different disciplines – then we will cease to be all working for different outcomes.

Next, we can recognize the physical facts: (1) that nobody can accomplish anything if there is not enough food for them to eat, (2) that all our food comes from the earth, and (3) the earth now has more people than it can feed. If you don’t believe these are real facts, then you have an obligation to the hungry humans in the world to fact-check your belief system.

So we then fold our thumb under at the roots of the four fingers, to represent represent the facts: (1) that overpopulation is at the root of all of the other problems. Yes we have had these problems in the past and we did not solve them before. Blame your heritage. Now is now and now we cannot solve them if a large part of the earth’s population is desperately struggling to make a living, and ; (2) therefore, that no other compassionate goal can be accomplished when there are more people than the earth can feed; and (3) therefore, the four other goals cannot be solved in the presence of overpopulation.

Therefore, if we genuinely want to accomplish our goals. If we want our behavior to reflect our commitment to the real goal, and regardless of our personal expertise or our primary interest — hunger, global warming, conflict resolution (community) or spirituality – then it is our obligation to spend a portion of our effort, every day, to help compassionately reverse human overpopulation, first informing ourselves about why it is a problem, and then addressing that problem as it relates to our own special skills and projects. I tend to judge people’s compassion by their behavior. When I see anyone brush off this obligation with a platitude or a blank look — we all do really know how important it is. Then I wonder why they don’t really want to know. Can it be they don’t want to help carry the burden of responsibility that goes with knowledge?

And then – we all work together to accomplish both the root goal and the individual goals by enclosing all of life on earth within the fully informed, goal-oriented, responsible, compassionate hand of human kind.

And then, you ask. (Everyone does.): “But it is such a big problem, what can I do?” The answer is – in this sequence:

1-You can recognize that this is not about “me.” It’s not about who does what at the level of individual decision making. Do not promote the fake debate ( over family planning, which is corposystem propaganda meant prevent us from growing our personal and community power ( the ecosystem. Instead study the real overpopulation threat, which is about human suffering at the level of the population, and at the level of survival of the whole living earth.

2-Do not waste time blaming anyone; it will not accomplish our common goal. Instead educate yourself and others about the suffering of populations of humans who do not have access to family planning because our corposystem is withholding that resource from them.

3-Education yourself about how the ecosystem functions to maintain its balance and therefore it’s welfare and its life (you could start with the Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook downloadable from the right side of this blog site).

4-Discuss all three “sides” of the issue with family and friends. The “sides” minimally can be described as the conflicting needs of individual persons, families, communities, and the whole earth ecosystem.

5-What we need most right now is the political will to make family planning available compassionately to everyone on earth who wants it and needs it for their health and well being. Work as a citizen to bring this to the people who need and want it.

Bare Bones Biology 122 – Human Hands

Bare Bones Biology 114 – Great Aridness

Formula books, I have called them; I don’t read them. Sometimes I buy them, if I think the cause is worthy, and I skim through, or even give them to other people, but I do not sit down and read, like I would with a serious book, written well to illustrate factually and emotionally accurate truths.

Formula books may not lie, but they do not tell you the whole circle of truth, and of course that’s one reason they are so popular. Just like the rest of the corposystem, they tell you something that you want to hear, and try not to think about the parts you would rather believe don’t exist. For example there are formula books about organic farming that pretend we could save ourselves, very simply, if everyone would turn his or her hand to a backyard organic garden. Very simply, that is not true. And even though I believe strongly in organic gardening, and I do wish everyone would turn his or her hand and pocket book and political will to promoting organic gardening – I also think we need to hear the whole sorry truth about our human tragedy and our current biological dilemma. Otherwise, how can we deal with it?

The solutions are not simple, and even though the modern formula book may be meticulously honest and accurate, it cannot tell the true story if it is so closely focused on setting down facts in simple, precise, decisive, linear outline, in words of few syllables, that it fails to discuss background, repercussions, and long-term implications from the point of view both of human realities, comparative emotional perspectives, and of unchangeable facts. If I could do that – I can see it, but I can’t say it — but I don’t need to do it for this case study, nor could I do it as well as it has been done by William deBuys.

Recently I told you of a book that I have read cover to cover (or at least I will have by the time you read this. If all goes well.). A Great Aridness, by William deBuys.

Wm deBuys is an author and historian who addresses the reality of climate change without rancor, bias or hyperbole, as though it were just what it is, a complex story of human kind. A sad story of human compassion and frailty as well as heroism, dedication and responsibility. A story that has much to teach us. I heard his excellent talk at Upaya, and I thought: “This guy really gets it.” I mean both the human and the biological dilemmas.

And so, a few days later – I’m telling you a true story here — Bitsy and I really did climb into our old pickup to chug to the top of one of the highest occupied places in North America, and I really did take the above picture along the way, to interview Wm duBuys.

Following is an excerpt from our conversation. Someone else should interview this man, someone who has more than five minutes for talking. Oh, yes, fortunately Mrs. Green has done that, and the podcast is available. In Mrs. Green’s opinion:

“When you put (climate change) in the political arena I don’t understand why it polarizes people. It’s the one thing that could unite our country to focus on the planet and the health of the earth. There’s no down side to that, and it’s not political. Why are we fighting about this?” (www.MrsGreensWorld podcast 05-12-12_DuBuysMiraval.mp3)

I hope Alise will also catch Bill for an interview on Rethinking Green KEOS FM, 98.1 before he leaves the country to begin research on his next book. Here is Bare Bones Biology’s KEOS interview:

“(LL) The research in your book shows that there’s evidence of the impact of humans on the ecosystem for thousands of years in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. People have been influencing the climate for as long as we know about. So now we have a big deal about climate change. My question is, what’s the big deal?

“(WD) Well the big deal is that civilization has only known one climate, and that’s the climate that we’re losing now. The amount of temperature change predicted for this century is roughly equal to the temperature changes between the ice ages and the present. But when the transition from the ice ages took thousands of years to accomplish, we’re now embarking into a century that’s going to see the same amount of change in a tiny period of time. Basically, human civilization has only known the climate of the Holocene, the climate that has nourished earth for the past several thousand years. We’re on the verge of losing that bracket of conditions, and plunging into a new epoch which many geologists have termed the anthropocene because it is man shaped. So that’s a very, very scary prospect, if you value our way of life today, if you value the dependence of human society on existing agriculture and the systems that keep us going.

“(LL) Why is it scary?

“(WD) Well if you rachet up the heat, basically if people in Texas, say, didn’t feel that the intense heat wave and drought of last summer, if they didn’t feel that was a wakeup call, then they’re really not paying attention. What we’re talking about with climate change is moving into a period of time when that kind of heat wave, that kind of drought, becomes normal, and additional heat waves and additional droughts are superimposed on it. The drought in Texas and Oklahoma last summer was unprecedentedly severe. Climate scientists are now saying that drought, because it doesn’t have in its intensity, clear precedents in recent centuries, that drought was by all indications caused by anthropogenic climate change. So if you don’t mind living under those conditions, and watching what those conditions do to the landscape around you, climate change shouldn’t be scary for you, but if you didn’t like it that way, you should be concerned. The Texas Department of Forestry estimates that between 2% and 10% of all the trees in Texas died last summer. The range is pretty wide because the count is imprecise, but if dry conditions persist through this year, the cumulative effect of the drought will probably lead to an even greater die-off. So this is a very large portion of the ecosystem of the State of Texas that died off in one year.

“(LL) So what should be our take-away message if we want to react positively to this serious situation?

“(WD) Well, the take-away message is that we need to begin, with all the energy we can muster, to shift from a carbon based, fossil fuel economy. We probably need to have a carbon tax. Although that’s politically a very, very tall order, and we need to change how we structure the use of energy in our society. This will be a great transformation, and actually encompasses a lot of economic opportunities. It could be a positive thing. It would be a positive thing for the United States, and for the rest of the world.”

That’s the end of the transcript. Five minutes is so short, at least two questions remain to be explained. First, what has the carbon tax and the carbon-based economy got to do with climate change? If you want to understand why carbon is important, you will need to understand some basic biology that you might find in previous editions of Bare Bones Biology. You can read them by flipping back on this blog, or listen to them at The climate change series begins with Bare Bones Biology 093 and ends at Bare Bones Biology 100. Or for a small donation to cover costs I will send you a CD containing both the podcasts and the blog posts for each of these BBBs.

If you don’t want to do that, here’s the shortest possible version of the carbon message to all of life on earth. We can’t live without energy, because energy is the ability to do work. Work is basically anything that moves, and without that, of course, there would be no life and no us. On this earth, all of our energy for food and everything else that living things use to stay alive comes from burning organic molecules such as proteins, carbohydrates, and all those organic molecules found in foods. Organic molecules are made on a base of carbon atoms. The plants make them using energy from the sun, we can’t do this, so we eat plants to get the energy for life. The energy for life on earth comes from eating plants. Or something else that ate plants. Then we burn (metabolize) the organic molecules, and the organic molecules release their metabolic energy in a form our bodies can use — and so we stay alive. When we burn anything (including in our metabolism) the organic molecules are taken apart, the energy is released, and the carbon (and other atoms) are released as waste products of the burning process. The whole earth ecosystem is a living thing, and to stay alive it needs to stay balanced. So it recycles the waste products (carbon dioxide in this case) by using them as ingredients to make more carbon-based organic molecules. The plants can do this, we cannot. Life has been doing this for millenia – life is based on this cycle staying in balance – but today we have unbalanced the life of the whole earth by burning more organic molecules than it can recycle.

The living earth is trying to rebalance, but we are also reducing the plants it needs to do this, so the earth is unbalanced. There is too much carbon dioxide in the air (and other places). Everything in the ecosystem is connected, so this imbalance has some effect on the other processes of life. In this case the effect is to raise the temperature by changing the interaction between the sun and our earth atmosphere.

The result is that the more people are breathing out carbon dioxide and the more machines also are breathing out more carbon dioxide as a waste product of burning carbon-based fuel – the harder the living earth must work to try to stay in balance. Now, after all these centuries – it has come to the time that it can’t keep up.

That’s the basic link between climate change and carbon compounds. As is true of everything it is a lot more complicated than that, but I do think it’s important to understand that there is an unchangeable, life-giving link, so we don’t fall for corposystem propaganda to the contrary. Check my facts – please.

The second question is about people who do NOT care what the climate change does to the environment because they live in cities and they honestly believe that the corposystem is providing everything they need to stay cool, well fed and clothed. This is just too sad to be real, but I think it is real. These people do not know that everything we need to stay alive comes from the healthy ecosystem. The corposystem cannot make earth, air, water or food for us without destroying the energy cycle of the ecosystem. The miracle behind life on earth is that it CAN do this process. People cannot. Not without using more energy than they generate and throwing us more out of balance. And there is no other source for life in the whole universe so far as we know.

If God made this beautiful living earth ecosystem, then he made it here. Not on the moon or Mars or anyplace else that we can reach. And he expected us to fulfill our responsibilities to not trash His Creation.

But we are trashing it, and so the outlook does look very grim. Here’s what Wm deBuys has to say about that.

“The outlook may be grim but the sunrise is always beautiful, and if you think about this blessed planet that we’re on – – – it is heartbreakingly beautiful, and there is so much beauty in the planet itself and in its creatures, and among its creatures are human beings, and our fellow human beings, that there is always and there will always be beauty to protect and defend, and the defense of beauty is a very high calling, and it’s great work, and great work is inherently optimistic. And so as long as there is that work to do, I think we should all be inspired to do it and all derive a lot of meaning for our lives from the act of doing it.” Wm deBuys, spoken at Upaya. (Look under dharma talks dp642_debuys_great-aridness-perspectives-on-environment_may-2012_dt.mp3)

Please read the book. It’s a good read and interesting, and it helps to answer the most common questions about what we can do to help ourselves and the living earth. The most important thing that we can do is to learn more about how the ecosystem functions to stay alive — including all the interacting stories that make up “A Great Aridness” — so we can discuss solutions that make good sense, and so that we will not be fooled by self-serving money-making schemers, who always abound in every crisis.

Bare Bones Biology 114 – A Great Aridness
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
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Recommended References:
A Great Aridness, Wm. deBuys:
Upaya Zen Center:
Mrs. Green’s World: http://www.MrsGreensWorld podcast 05-12-12_DuBuysMiraval.mp3