Bare Bones Biology 096 – Climate Change V

We can not help the earth maintain a habitable climate by growth, either of the corposystem or of the population because it is not possible to cure any problem by doing more of what caused the problem in the first place. You cannot cure alcoholism with more alcohol. You cannot cure the biological reaction to too much growth by growing more.

The whole of life and all its parts consists of processes that work together to form networks of cycles. The most amazing thing about life is the way all these interacting networks stay balanced. Well, most of the time they stay balanced. If they aren’t balanced the result is sickness or some sort or death. Mostly the balance is maintained quite literally by the availability of the resources. Does that sound familiar? Yes indeed, it sounds just a little bit like classical economics. Not the modern Ponzi economics, but the old fashioned kind where – if you didn’t have carrots, you didn’t sell carrots, and you didn’t eat carrots.

If you don’t have enough resources, for example, if the earth is not capable of making enough food energy to feed all the people – then the delicate balance among all the networks becomes unbalanced. If there is not enough to eat, then people die. If that unbalance leads to shortages, climate change, economic downturns, war, any kind of difficulty – then you can not cure the difficulty by doing more of what caused the unbalance. You can’t cure Ponzi economics by more Ponzi economics because sooner or later you run out of the resources that are necessary to keep the whole scheme growing

You can’t cure climate change by pouring more toxic compounds into the climate, either from people eating and breathing or from corporations and other machines eating and breathing the products of the earth until there are not enough resources left to provide the food energy to drive the interacting networks of nature that keep us alive.

We know these things are facts. And yet we have come to the point where our knowledge about genuinely omnipotent realities is no more respected than your next-door-neighbor’s uninformed opinion. This is too bad, because the technologies to prevent a dreadful end are now available while we are fiddling around with the same technologies that have been causing our problems in the first place.

And while we are talking about these things, let’s consider a couple of more false assumptions that run along the same lines.

1. That there is no climate change, but there are too many people in some other parts of the world, and so if we build a fence around the United States and keep everyone else out we will be OK. This one boggles the mind. You can’t fence out climate change. The earth’s climate goes all the way around the earth from the top to the bottom and all around the middle parts. No fences will stop air.

2. That overpopulation doesn’t exist, apparently it can’t exist (how do they prove that?), and we would be better off to save every human cell. Then, every person will have a better life. We have measured the facts (for example), and they tell us that the earth is losing both its resilience (because of species extinctions) and its sustainability (by what I will refer to as overgrazing). From here on out, if we continue to grow, the more people we have on earth, the more people will suffer starvation and genocide and war and similar fates as the economy crashes because we are running out of resources. Bottom line, if there is not enough to eat, then we cannot provide the good life for more people, and we need to find a solution that will work before more people are victimized by our growth ethic.

3. Then the other side of the coin is the phrase I just heard yesterday again, that there is plenty of food on earth to feed everyone, it’s a re-distribution problem. You know I have heard that old saw my whole long life, and we have more than doubled in numbers of people during that time. Furthermore, every time we destroy another species in our efforts to feed humans – every lost species is a broken link in one of those networks that function to keep the earth alive and healthy.

Bare Bones Biology 096 – Climate Change V
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at http://BareBonesBiology.com

Recommended References: Post Carbon Reader, PCI.org; Networks, by Barabashi; Beyond Ethics by HH The Dalai Lama; Bare Bones Ecology free download on my blog.

BBB088 – Evolution and Creation https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/
BBB022 – Population https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2010/09/19
Earth Policy – http:// http://www.earth-policy.org/

Bare Bones Biology 095 – Climate Change IV

We can think of the climate as part of the physiology of the earth very similar to our own physiology that requires us to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Except that’s only half of our cycle and the rest of our breathing cycle happens outside of our bodies as part of the whole living earth. The whole of the creation is made of networks connected to networks inter-connected with more networks. It’s too complicated to understand, and so I don’t, but I’ll tell you some important facts.

First there is physiology – networks of molecules and water and hydrogen and carbon in your cells and your organs and your bodies, and also in the whole earth, all of them interacting. And they keep cycling because of energy. Human physiology and the physiology of the whole earth and all its parts are all connected. They all use food energy to do all the work of continuing the cycles of life.

Every living thing uses energy to stay alive. In all our cells, all the time, energy is released by burning sugars and other carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are made up of carbon and oxygen and hydrogen. The energy to stay alive, food energy comes from burning the carbohydrates. Your body uses the energy and discards the carbon and hydrogen and oxygen in the form of carbon dioxide and water. These are released into the air or possibly the toilet.

Plants breathe in the carbon dioxide. They use the carbon, and then they take energy from the sun, and some water, and they put it all together to make carbohydrates. The plants breathe OUT a lot of oxygen that is left over from the process.

The plants get the water and the carbon dioxide from the air – the water comes from the earth and the clouds. The carbon comes from the carbon dioxide that we all breathed into the air.

These cycles and networks of cycles of animals and plants, and the whole earth physiology, have been going around and around and around for millions of years. They are perfectly balanced for us to live in – air, water, soil, plants and temperature. It is these networks that make our clean air, water, rich soil, and they can adapt to changes – the water and the carbon dioxide and the carbohydrates and the oxygen and hydrogen are all balanced. Sometimes they cycle together, sometimes separately, so when one bit changes the other bits also must change to maintain a viable balance. If you think of an old-fashioned watch, cycles are connected to cycles, but in living things the cycles can change themselves to adjust to changes outside themselves. Changes in the carbon cycle or the oxygen cycle or the hydrogen or water cycles must affect our climate because they make up our air, and the air interacts with the sun and the plants and animals in many different ways.

Energy is released by burning, using oxygen, like a fire in your yard, or burning in engines — burning any kind of energy source – anything that burns with oxygen produces carbon dioxide and water that go into the air and become part of our climate.

So, when we are burning and burning and burning carbohydrates from fossil fuels and also from 7 billion humans breathing out – and from coal, oil, gas, wood, dead bodies, incense, cigarettes — and at the same time we cut down the trees that breath IN the carbon dioxide – the whole vast cycle of life on earth must change or die. We don’t exactly know how it will change, and we want to know more. That doesn’t mean we don’t believe in climate change.

Bare Bones Biology 095 – Climate Change
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at http://BareBonesBiology.com

Recommended Readings: Post Carbon Reader, PCI.org; Networks, by Barabashi; Beyond Ethics by HH The Dalai Lama; Bare Bones Ecology free download on my blog.

Bare Bones Biology 058 – Happiness

“May all living things enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.”

I recently attended a weekend workshop at Omega Institute , where Pema Chodron explained, “The root of happiness is when we can stop struggling with ourselves just as we are, and against the world and our experience just as it is.”

She spent eight hours explaining this statement, and of course I can’t tell you about it in just five minutes, but the concept coincides perfectly with our scientific understanding of life on earth. And it reminded me of one of the most important ideas in the Bible, that is humility. When three bodies of knowledge converge, it’s time to pay attention. If we want to be “happy” or content, we need to have the humility to recognize that humans cannot change the works of God. We can’t change how the ecosystem functions. Even if we are the biggest cheese in the corposystem. Even if we are a biologist.

Biology is the study of life, and life is a fragile flower, beautiful and delicately balanced at the intersection of the interacting laws of physics. Change one little bit of it, and life will change as well. In fact, that is a definition of life. It changes as conditions change. That’s how it stays alive. But life CAN NOT change the basic laws of nature that give rise to life in the first place.

If we want to survive, let alone in happiness or contentment, we need to know what we can change and what we cannot change without destroying the interacting emergent balance that is life itself. It’s not hard to understand. It’s common sense, once we know how the power flows through the ecosystem, and if you want to know this you can download the Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook from my web site.

Life exists on earth because the natural laws are exactly as they are. If gravity were a tad off, or energy transfer were not as it is, we would not exist. If the diversity of species is sufficiently diminished, the living earth will not be able to accommodate the changing conditions of life. That’s how it stays alive. The living earth could die, just as your living body can die, if the balance of its needs is overwhelmed.

Technology can not change these things. We are not God; when we struggle against God’s miracle we are fighting against God, or the ecosystem, or life as it must be if it is to be. Exactly as the corposystem is now fighting in a vain and ill-advised effort to overwhelm the ecosystem. It is the worst kind of hubris to believe that we have more power or knowledge than God – or the ecosystem. I think it is the worst kind of criminality, because we know what the ecosystem needs to stay alive, and we know what will happen if we mess it up, and yet we publish continuing propaganda promoting ever greater messing, rather than to admit our mistakes and come together in an effort to bring a better quality of life to our future generations.

“The root of happiness is when we can stop struggling with ourselves just as we are and the world and our experience just as it is.” Pema Chodron

The Bible refers to this happy quality as humility. Recognizing reality for what it is.

Our experience of suffering arises from our struggle against the realities of the miracle of life.

Doing the right thing is not a struggle against reality – it is the process of going with the flow of positive human values informed by the needs of other living things and their emergent properties. The right thing to do exists where the best of human values affirm the long-term welfare of all sentient beings at all of their levels of organization.

Bare Bones Biology 058 – Happiness
KEOS 89.1 FM, Bryan, TX
Download after Monday at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com