Bare Bones Biology 126 – The Bottom Line

How should we proceed to solve the overpopulation/overproduction problem that we humans have created within this earth biosystem? I have heard three rather different viewpoints on this questioning the past few weeks. Last week I talked about technologies. Technologies are not innately bad, but they will not help if we continue to use them to try to change the world, instead of using them to help change our own behaviors.

And you have already heard my opinion of what is needed – that is, that we should individually take the responsibility to educate ourselves about how and why overpopulation is so harmful to the biosystem, and then we should crank up our courage and discuss this issue with others. I am confident if we fulfill this level of responsibility, answers will emerge from the discussions. In the meantime we should make family planning technologies and information available to everyone on earth who needs it.

My colleague, who trains medical doctors at the university level, believes that a more pro-active approach is needed, especially in the more “advanced” societies. She says:

“I think I already wrote back about this issue of where to focus re overpopulation. Obviously I agree we should definitely be tackling the issue of couples/women who want contraception but can’t get it – and it is wonderful that Melinda Gates is now on the case. But another big part of the problem is those who CAN get contraception but still have large or medium families of high-consuming babies in rich countries and don’t realize that these babies will be part of the problem, as well as the victims of it.

“Even if we haven’t noticed any ills, the USA is one of the few countries in the world where you can still fail to notice the effects of overpopulation. Even here in Britain most people say there are too many people. The answer for those who have sacrificed some of their pleasures to help the overpopulation is that they have been right in principle, positively noble. And now the need is more like stopping at one child per couple, to get where we need to be (somewhere around 3 billion, if we want a lifestyle with a few luxuries like refrigerators). Isn’t it? You know this. And this needs to happen in all countries. Birth rate of 1-1.5 per couple, for the next 2 generations. Seven billion is not sustainable unless we all become largely vegetarians and take on a resource usage per person of – not sure, maybe about 20% of the current US average. And stop using fossil fuels.

“One or the other of those, or the Great Dieback where the fall in numbers happens through the death rate instead of the birth rate. I think you have given up believing that there are any alternatives to this. Yes, getting the world birth rate down to 1.5 is a huge “ask”; but if everyone knew what we know, maybe they might try…?” That’s the end of her opinion. She believes more good will result from reducing birth rate in the rich countries than in the poor countries.

And then there are people who believe that God will provide. To this I say that God already provided us with a miraculous biosystem that is sustainable in perpetuity if we take care of it – that is, if we do not take away or destroy what it needs to stay healthy — and then God put us in charge of doing just that that, taking care of it, and gave us our unique brain to do it with. Read the Bible. Or the Koran. Or the many Buddhist writings. We have responsibilities. We are not babies, most of us who can read this; surely we do not expect God to pinch hit whenever we fail in our responsibilities. We can be forgiven, but all the religions, including the Catholic church http://www.catholiccompany.com/essential-catholic-handbook-sacraments-p1001749/, recognize that the effects of our behaviors cannot be reversed. Whether or not we are forgiven, we and our generations must live with and in the results of our behaviors.

And here we are, having too much fun living the good life — or trying to be happy or spiritual — to worry about anyone else’s problems. Too much fun even to realize that their problem is our problem inside the biosphere. Like it or not, whoever created the living earth — created it to function the way it does function – not the way we wish it did. And it will not change for our convenience or our happiness.

LynnLamoreux@Yahoo.com

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 http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Recommended References

Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook – freely downloadable, no strings
https://factfictionfancy.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/pages_std-portrait-barebonesecology100627-finalfinalprinter.pdf

(First blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/01
(Second blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/
(Third blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/
(Fourth blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/28

http://world.time.com/2012/07/11/melinda-gates-launches-global-crusade-for-contraception/
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/whose-population-growth-has-the-most-environmental-impact
http://www.catholiccompany.com/essential-catholic-handbook-sacraments-p1001749/

Bare Bones Biology 125 – Adaptation

We all know that we cannot reduce pollution of our biosphere without reducing human growth on earth. Any more than a bathtub could contain an infinite number of marbles. The more we grow – the more we unbalance the healthy relationships between ourselves and the rest of the biosphere. The earth biosphere cannot change how it balances its parts (see Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook – ) in order to stay alive. It’s parts are energy and matter – just like our parts and all of life. Earth, air, energy and water. The big LIFE balances its parts very much like our parts balance, and all of life balances its parts. (See the Bare Bones Biology series on climate change that begins with Bare Bones Biology 092, on the website http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com).
We are not God. We cannot adapt the facts of life to suit ourselves. What we can change is our behaviors, and that would be enough if we would adapt our behaviors to suit ourselves to the facts of life. Instead of trying so hard to adapt the facts of life to suit ourselves.

The corposystem propaganda is once again trying to confuse us about how life works. This time they are claiming that we can adapt to the changes in the biosystem. Or – and I just found a real book authored by a famous reporter that has the title “earth” and is not at all about the earth. (If you want to hear about a book that DOES address reality, check out Eaarth by Bill McKibben.

This new “earth” book is not about the earth – not at all. It’s about people. This is really odd, given that people can’t make earth alive – it is the earth that keeps us alive. People wouldn’t be here at all if it were not for the whole earth ecosystem. And the way the Biosphere stays living is to keep all its parts balanced, and the way it does that is by the functions of all the millions of species that live on the earth.

The living earth must, like all living things, keep its parts balanced in order to stay alive. Just like ourselves, the earth can change how it does some things, but it cannot change what it must do. What it must do to stay alive is balance the earth and air and water – all the elements that recycle, for example oxygen and carbon – and the energy that it gets from food.

We cannot adapt our biology, because it is genetically programmed, and so is the biology of the entire earth ecosystem. Genetically programmed. Well-adapted species, such as the grasses in the photograph (right here in the back yard in New Mexico), fit every part of their life cycle to the conditions around them. This grass grows in a circle, in the dry, easily eroded environment. The grass roots and the little dam of its growth style help to nurture the soil by preventing erosion and also by capturing water when it does rain, and by retaining the little rabbit turds that will nourish the plant, as the plant nourishes the rabbits that eat the grasses. This is very much how our relationship with the biosphere MUST be if we want to be a well-adapted species. Living sustainably healthy lives. All these behaviors are genetically programmed. Any other kind of grass could not adapt to the same functions as this species of grass, and if the climate changes too much where it lives, the grass will die. Nor can humans adapt to changes in our environment outside of our physiological limits.

If you want to hear of another situation, check out the story of some of the “keystone species” such as the sea otters, or mountain lions, how they fit into the biosphere (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061024214739.htm,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_species). This describes real biological adaptation. It requires that all the species in the area nurture each other. That is the whole point of an ecosystem. And it takes hundreds or thousands of years for all the genomes of all the species to gradually evolve into a connected whole ecosystem.

With the exception of organic farmers, humans are making almost no effort to fit into the ecosphere, and I wonder if the organic farmers realize they are destroying the smaller local ecosystems that had evolved in place, in their desire to make a “better” ecosystem that serves primarily humans and not the whole of life itself. Without asking why better and for whom. (I once asked an economist turned organic farmer; he got very angry with me.) The idea seems to be that we should change the ecosphere — not fit into it so that we can be sustainably healthy. I think organic farming is probably a good thing, but I also believe we are not doing it for the welfare of the whole, but only for ourselves, and – again – we are not God who created the whole, and we may not know what is better – especially if we don’t even bother to ask the question.

Bottom line is that we cannot change the basic laws of nature. What we could do is the real meaning of adaptation; that is, change our behaviors so that we can fit helpfully inside the biosphere.

We live on earth only so long as we obey the laws of nature; we can change our behaviors, but we cannot change our physiology – we can’t change how our heart beats and what things poison our cells, or how our bodies use the breath of life to stay alive. Neither can we change how the biosphere stays alive by balancing the air, water, fire and earth within its living self. Most people know this.

Most people do want to move toward a more compassionate and sustainable relationship within the biosystem. Even so, I have been to meetings of many groups, from organic farmers to community organizers to politicians to religious or spiritual groups, all of whom know these things are true, and they care very much about the biosphere and our humanity within the biosphere, and they are trying to organize a new set of relationships that will bring a better balance between the biosphere and human needs.

What I have not recently heard talked about in this sort of meeting, whether it be organic farmers or community organizers or religious/spiritual organizations (and I have been looking hard among groups who claim to be concerned about the health of the biosphere) – what I have not heard is any effort to understand and honor what makes the biosphere sustainable. Nothing about the welfare of the biosphere itself. For its own good health. All we talk about lately is how can we force our will upon the earth ecosystem with our human technologies.

The answer to these ideas is that we are wasting a lot of time trying to do impossible things. We cannot force our will upon the ecosphere. We are not God, who created the heavens and the earth and breathed life into them.

What we can do is learn to understand what the earth ecosystem needs to be healthy, and change our behaviors to give the earth ecosystem what it needs. What does the ecosystem need to stay healthy? Minimally it needs us to re-balance our populations so that we are not consuming more of earth air fire and water than the ecosystem can provide — nor producing more toxic effluents than the ecosystem can tolerate — so that we are not unbalancing the cycles of air, water, healthy earth and food energy that make up the healthy earth ecosystem.

Frankly, I am not interested in any opinions about technologies as a cure, because that route is so chancey and the real solution is so simple. (Simple to understand, not easy to do, but we DO understand it, and it is not impossible; changing what the biosphere requires to be healthy IS impossible. Difficult is easier than impossible, so why are we holding back the solution to the problem?) Simple to understand. Our technologies have unbalanced our nest until we have more people than the earth can feed sustainably. The cure (also simple to understand) is to reduce the overpopulation as quickly and as compassionately as we possibly can to a level that the earth ecosystem can support without changing its climate to the point where humans can no longer live here.

So long as we refuse to use the technologies we already have, in combination with education about how the biosphere functions to stay healthy, we will continue to decline in all parts of our societies. So long as we continue to try to change the world to suit ourselves, and we refuse to change our behaviors to suit the world — we can not take the big step to evolve (adapt) our behaviors into more compassionate, sustainable and rewarding societies. Because starving people cannot learn to be compassionate or peaceful.

LynnLamoreux@Yahoo.com

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 at

    Recommended References


Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook
– freely downloadable, no strings
https://factfictionfancy.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/pages_std-portrait-barebonesecology100627-finalfinalprinter.pdf

(First blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/01
(Second blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/
(Third blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/
Bare Bones Biology Climate Change Series is BBB-092 through BBB-100.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/dialogs/print/?id=175549, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061024214739.htm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_species

Bare Bones Biology 116 – Wendy Johnson Workshop

Bare Bones Biology 107 through today, 116, are about communication. Different kinds of communication. And of course we didn’t scratch the surface. Communications has become an entire discipline. I know someone with a PhD in the subject. But there’s nothing new about the simple point of this series of blogs — that all communications are real, but they are useful to us in different ways, as we grow own personal future or, more importantly in the long view as we try to resolve the biological illness that faces our ecosystem.
,
We know we cannot survive without the ecosystem. Therefore, picking out whatever we like to believe, or whatever communication stirs our emotions, or whatever we wish were true — and working very, very hard for it – or going with the flow because that’s normal human behavior – none of those approaches to communication will resolve our current biological dilemma. What we mostly need is good information and good discussion. Sometimes a good place to look for these is in a workshop setting.

I recently attended a workshop about the four elements with Wendy Johnson (author of “Gardening At the Dragon’s Gate,” Bantam Dell), at Upaya Zen Center (http:www.Upaya.org).

The workshop experience merged our awareness of our human values, emotions and needs with the mother-nurture of nature as we examined each of the four elements that are organized by Buddhism as: earth, water, fire and air (and space). We all know that these are the fruits of the ecosystem, that we cannot do without them, that our behaviors influence their availability, and that I have also been talking about these issues from my perspective of our physical survival needs. It was a joy to experience Wendy’s beautiful rendition of the same issues, blending the physical survival needs with our human emotional needs and a practical approach, learning through gardening, that goes beyond either perspective.

We really could resolve our biological dilemma, if we would only reach that one step beyond the science and beyond the emotions and use our inborn compassionate nature, and our recognition that the problem at its roots is biological, as an incentive to study the fact-based needs of the ecosystem – and find a way to give the mother life what it needs that is different from what we need – for it and for ourselves and our future. We have everything to do that — except the will. The facts are available and so are the technologies. The compassionate will, however, is being drowned in a sea of fear, hostility, short-sighted self-interest and false propaganda.

Here is Wendy’s better vision.

“I love to make the connection between the outer waters of the world and the inner waters that do compose us. Three-fifths of water of our bodies is carried inside our cells, and then another two/fifths outside as blood plasma, cerebro-spinal fluid and intestinal tract fluid. So we are walking bags of water. We can feel that. Especially in a dry place. Those of us from the Bay Area, from Portland, Oregon, where water animates the air. We have to search for the resonance that is our human inheritance.

“And every day, every day, three percent of the water in our bodies is replenished with new molecules. Water from the deep abyss of the ocean, I was thinking this morning we are replenished, not only with fresh water, but from water that is in the huge hydrologic cycle, coming up fresh, and that water includes water from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, water mixed with the ancient fire of oil, water from rain on the tall grass prairie, and from the ancient forests. Actually, we measure water, in the woods, we measure water by how much stored fog and vapor. In the ancient redwoods, now whittled down to 2.5 percent of their original size. How much water they give back, so stepping into the redwood forest, I remember years ago with Thich Nhat Hanh (www.plumvillage.org), he said: ‘We step into a Sangha of water and life.’ You can feel it, stepping onto that ground, water vapor breathing with the trees. So, three percent of our bodies are always refreshed by the upwelling and the sinking down, by the rhythm of water.

“And yet water shortage, water depletion, the so-called resource, I hate to even use that word in connection with water, the so-called resourcefulness of water is already one of the greatest challenges we are facing.”
For more of this and the remaining elements, check out Wendy’s podcasts part one and part two at Upaya http://www.upaya.org/dharma/the-four-elements-series-all-2-parts/. Or for air, surely you remember Bare Bones Biology 093 was also pretty good, and the same general interdependence relationship is also true of energy (fire) and earth. I recommend you listen to Wendy’s podcasts of this workshop, parts one and two, and I also highly recommend her dharma talk of the previous week. http://www.upaya.org/dharma/wendy-johnson-06-13-2012-the-four-elements-return-to-their-true-nature/

During this workshop, we went down to the little Santa Fe River to put our feet in the water and wonder what it would feel like without water.

Bitsy and I went back again last week and splashed about while the children swung on the tire. But two days later there was no more water in the little Santa Fe river. Only a place in the bottom of the channel where some animal had tried to dig for it.
Bare Bones Biology 116 – Wendy Johnson Workshop
KEOS-FM, 89.1, Bryan, Texas
For a podcast of this radio spot, click here
Or go to http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Recommended References and Trackbacks:
Upaya Zen Center, http://www.Upaya.org
Wendy Johnson, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate gardeningatthedragonsgate.com/
http://www.upaya.org/dharma/the-four-elements-series-all-2-parts/
http://www.upaya.org/dharma/wendy-johnson-06-13-2012-the-four-elements-return-to-their-true-nature/
Bare Bones Biology 107-115 and 093
Thich Nhat Hanhwww.plumvillage.org http://www.plumvillage.org