Bare Bones Biology 158 – Fracking the Reservation

It’s doubly ironic, what I’ve been told is happening on the Jicarilla Apache reservation that is my neighbor. This situation is a small example of the decisions we all face, in fulfilling our responsibility to the future. We have the option to use our knowledge to respond to the challenge of supporting the health of the Biosystem — or not. The Biosystem does not care about our reasons. If we do not act, it will make the choices for us. The bottom line choice is between accepting the jobs that are now offered by the corposystem — or facing the fact that many of these jobs now are gained by destroying the ability of our Biosystem to provide Life (earth, air, energy, water) for our future generations.

Here is the story. images

The Apache Nations had a sustainable culture nourished by their knowledge of the Biosystem. The Biosystem is all of Life on earth that is able to sustain life by maintaining the balance among all its parts – the soil, water, food energy and air – everything we organisms need to stay alive.

The cultural wisdom of the Apache Nations was gained by centuries of experience and observation. Early people lived sustainably within the Biosystem without destroying the resources that gave them life. Chief Garfield

The Apaches (and the other First Nations) were defeated in war by the new arrivals. The newcomers stripped them, as much as possible, of the power of their traditional wisdom and gave them a part of this Biosystem that was thought to be of no value. The newcomers do not have a traditional wisdom. They are growing a new system that is based on the power of technology to make money.

It’s hard to remember, because things have changed so fast, that all this happened not so very long ago. After that time, the newcomers learned more and more to use the power of technology and corporations to make money. In fact, they have grown a new little bubble of a Corposystem within the Biosystem of Life. This subsystem of Life cannot maintain itself without the soil, air, water and energy from plants that are made by the living Biosystem.

Time passed, and the people of the Apache Nation admired the power of the newcomers and began to exchange their own sustainable wisdom for the newcomers’ unsustainable financial greed. They began to believe that the Corposystem is more powerful than the Ecosystem. They learned how to “make” money and began to buy back the land that had been taken from them. So the Apache Nation started to become richer, and started using the money to buy land. Land is good. If properly nurtured, land gives us what we need for life. Earth, air, fire (food energy) and water. Only the Biosystem can make these things, and only if the biosystem remains balanced among all its parts, including us. Buy the land and nurture it; a fine plan.

But now the Apache Nation is (comparatively) rich, what is their plan for their lands? Apparently (I haven’t asked them directly) they want to use the land to become more rich – to be like the newcomers. They want to frack the land for money rather than nurture the land to support their own future. It sounds to me like they have been doubled-conned by the newcomers – first to lose their home on the lands and then as they gain it back, to lose it again by fracking away its good water, air and soil for an energy source that is only good for making money.

130627-Shodo-ASC_3952sThere are other options than either of these two. Life is not a choice between Biosystem and Corposystem. Life is our responsibility to nurture the future of Life. There is nothing to stop us from choosing the best of both systems, rather than the worst. Except perhaps an ego based in greed, rather than an ego based in wisdom.

And if we do decide to choose the welfare of the future Biosystem — over our perks of today – it is then our obligation to discover what the Biosystem really does need to be healthy — not what is our personal opinion of what it should need. The Biosystem does not care about our opinions – but we need to learn how the cycle really functions to maintain the soil, energy from photosynthesis, breathable air and drinkable water – and we need to stop destroying the balance of the Biosystem it on the basis of personal opinions or corposystem propaganda.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of KEOS 89.1 FM Bryan, TX, and A podcast can be downloaded at:

(image of Chief Garfield)

Bare Bones Biology 133B – World Community

Last week I described, in a very general way, how I imagine the human brain processes information. The primary take-away message is that our brains are not universal. We are one species out of billions that are required to operate the functions of the living earth — just as any one cell of our brain is only one out of billions that are required to operate our amazing human brain. Secondly, there are levels of function of the human brain that we do not control – they control us. They control the basic functions of our bodies, and the basic nature of our emotions.

However, we also have higher levels of function in our brains that can adapt to our environment in a conscious way. One of these qualities is how we are learning all the time. Another is our intellect, that we can use to evaluate ourselves and our surroundings. If we try, we can figure out the difference between our perceptions — that is what our reality feels like according to our world view – and what the world really is according to facts that we study in physics, chemistry and biology. For example, we can measure the speed of light using tools designed by our intellect, but according to our perceptions, we would not know about the speed of light. We wouldn’t know that light is energy. We wouldn’t understand energy and would not have learned how to control fire, for example, during the millennia of our origins.

In all those millenia, the problems we faced had to do with how to interact with an overwhelming environment. For example, I was very touched by the last story in the most recent National Geographic. It is the story of an interaction between today and a primitive tribal culture. I won’t tell you the end of the story, but for me it was a heart-wrenching illustration of the choices we must make if we are to survive within the requirements of our environment. (National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea.)

Today, we no long live sheltered in the broad green arms of our ecological home. I think that’s one reason why we experience the levels of discomfort, dis-ease and discontent that we do in our culture, but that’s not something we can deal with now. We have already destroyed that long-distant Garden of Eden. We can’t go back and change the mistakes of yesterday. You younger folk don’t realize that yet probably, but it can be demonstrated using, that intellect of ours, that the earth has modified herself to our needs about as much as she can. Our choice now is whether to push the environment even more. If we do, it’s likely to change so much that it can no longer support our needs for air, water, shelter, earth and human companionship.

We can do this, I know our brain is capable of understanding the problems that we face, and we can join together communally to deal with them. However, we cannot face these challenges using only our inborn instincts. If we are to succeed, it will require our intellect in two ways. First, we must educate ourselves about the ecosystem, how it functions and what it needs from us in order to sustain itself; second we must use our intellect to grow a new culture, based in what we know about basic instincts, and on what previous cultures have taught us, and incorporating our scientific knowledge and changing our attitude toward technology.

We now must decide together whether we, as a culture of the world, want to continue using technology to dominate and to make money – or if we will choose to, find a better way, based on a better goal-set than winner/loser. We do know there are better and more satisfying ways for humans to live, and the first thing we need to understand — we are not God. We do not understand the infinite meaning of life, nor can we control it. Our need to control, our ego, our desire to grow life in our image, whether the image be evil or even if it is a good image – that is the source and cause of our man-made disasters.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photo by Lynn, Lucky B Bison

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at

Recommended Action/Question for Discussion: Identify the source, and the path from source to table, of each item of food that is part of your Thanksgiving meal. In countries without a day of Thanksgiving (or with one), give thanks for your food at every meal and remember that it comes from the living earth. What, I wonder, is the difference between our living earth, and your God? Or mine?

Recommended References

Bare Bones Biology Ecology Handbook, free, no strings –
On the right side of the page click on the link under “Chapters” to download the PDF.

National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea, by Mark Jenkins, Photos by Amy Toensing.

Bare Bones Biology 130 – Community IV

I believe a human community is a group of people who interact with each other in emotional and social ways very much like the organisms of a biological community interact among themselves in biological ways. The function of biological communities is to promote the welfare of Life Itself – the whole living ecosystem that is the earth. The valid function of human communities is also to serve Life — so that Life may provide for us the earth, air, energy and water that we require to maintain our human communities. The question is: How do we build a human community that nourishes the biological community. It’s a hard question.

Life sustains itself by maintaining the balance of the cycles of life. Plants and other green organisms collect energy that can be distributed, throughout the whole body of the living earth, in the form of food. By digesting the food, all organisms use the food energy to do the work of staying alive, and at the same time breaking apart the food so that the materials recycle to continually revitalize our air, water and soil. These processes are necessary to life, and Life is sustainable only when these processes remain in balance with each other.

To remain balanced, as I just said, the system requires energy. Energy cannot be recycled. The system also requires materials that can be recycled. Molecules and atoms are constantly recycled in all living things. Because energy cannot be recycled, the whole system requires a constant input of energy (ref. Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook). We must keep eating to stay alive, therefore the plants must keep on making food all the time, and they do if there is enough light reaching the plants.

The second major requirement for Life is to recycle the materials of life in the form of atoms and molecules that make up our air, water and earth. The millions of different jobs that are necessary for this recycling are done by millions of different species of organisms, all interacting within the entire system so that the tissues are broken down into molecules and the molecules into smaller molecules and atoms that are released and then recycled.

It is green organisms that make food energy for the entire system. Different species of green organisms live in different niches of the environment. For example, cactus plants only can live in certain kinds of desert niches. The more different kinds of plants there are, the more niches they can fill, and the more food the earth can produce. This is also true of the other kinds of organisms that do other jobs in the cycle of life. The more different kinds of organisms there are, doing all the processes that are required to stay alive, the more likely it is that Life on earth can sustain itself — the climate, the soil, the food.

In the world today, and especially in America, our community structures are not organized to serve Life, so much as to serve the corposystem. The corposystem is the complex of interacting corporate and political organizations that harvests the materials from the ecosystem and sells them to us. The corposystem uses us to do this work, and so it feeds us and trains us to grow the corposystem; and so we design our communities to serve the corposystem, rather than the ecosystem.

The explicit goal of the corposystem is to make money, not to nurture Life — and the way to make money is to grow the system so it can sell more things. The corposystem grows by taking away and selling to us the food and materials that are required by the millions of species that do nourish Life.

So by now the corposystem has destroyed a huge number of species, thus changing the balance of air, water, soil and food, energy and materials – thereby causing climate change. So many things we do not understand, but we do know that we cannot build sustainable communities by nourishing the corposystem to the detriment of the ecosystem.

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:
On right side of page look under “chapter” and download the pdf…-127-community/…28-¬-community/

Categories: Bare Bones Biology Transcripts, Community

Bare Bones Biology 127 – Community

Now that I am back from my trip, you will not be surprised to hear that I did not find any answers to the big questions. The biggest thing I learned is that nearly everyone I spoke with uses the same words to mean different things. Words are almost the most important things about being human, and the whole point of having words is so we can work together as human “communities,” because cooperating groups can accomplish more, working together, than any one person can accomplish alone. But that effort all falls apart in frustration and irritation if we are each using our same words to mean different things.

So I want to talk about community, because we humans are all hepped up right now about community-building. Maybe defining the words I used above, human and community, might be a good start, but let’s go back even farther. I have met people who do not know the meaning of the term earth, and there could be no humans and no communities and no life without the earth. So let’s start there.

One meaning of earth is a rather upscale word for dirt, isn’t it. Just plain old dirt that could be good dirt for growing food, or mountaintop dirt, or even the clay in the Brazos Valley. That’s the dirt we must have to stand on, build houses on, and grow our food. That is the first meaning of earth, but it’s not what I want to discuss.

What I’m talking about now is the whole planet Earth, the big blue and green and brown living marble as it is seen and photographed from a space ship. That earth is a living, breathing bit of life, floating in space. In fact, that earth is the only complete, self-contained unit of life that we know about in all the universe.

The whole living earth has several names. Biosphere is a term used in The Ecological World View, written by Charles Krebs. Krebs says: “Ecosystems consist of communities and their physical environment.” And he says that: “. . . they can be aggregated to include the whole earth ecosystem, or biosphere, which is sometimes called the ecosphere.” So the only complete unit of life that is not part of some other bit of life – the only one in all of space that we know about – the words that describe that amazing thing, are the earth or the biosphere or the ecosphere. Sometimes I like to call it the whole earth ecosystem, but the term ecosystem can be confusing because the whole earth ecosystem is made up of subunits that are also called ecosystems. And besides that, the same word has been widely used by the corposystem to apply to all sorts of combinations of things that are not really ecosystems. So no wonder we get confused some times.

A non-technical term for the whole living earth is Gaia, the concept introduced by James Lovelock. Sometimes I use this term to emphasize that the whole earth biosphere is a complete, stand-alone living thing within the universe.

The earth is not the universe. The universe is everything. All the stars and planets and moons and space and sun and energy and matter and everything that we don’t know about. The planet earth is only a small part, a tiny part of that, but the planet earth is important to us because it is the place that gives us our own lives. To do this, the planet makes its own food and water and climate and atmosphere and all the living things. It does this to stay alive.

The basic function of life is to perpetuate life.

And so the next question is, what has all that to do with community?

Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. This edition aired on KEOS radio, 89.1 FM. The audio is available at We use the .com because we also refuse to become or behave as an integral part of the corposystem that is destroying both our lifestyles and our place in the communal life of earth.

Recommended References

Krebs, Charles. The Ecological World View.
Margulis, Lynn. Symbiotic Planet. Amherst, MA: Basic Books, 1998.
Lovelock, James. The Vanishing Face of Gaia. New York: Penguin Books, 2009.

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 (

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 (, 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 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.

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

Recommended References and Trackbacks:
Upaya Zen Center,
Wendy Johnson, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate
Bare Bones Biology 107-115 and 093
Thich Nhat

Bare Bones Biology 113 – Thinking Compassion

A few days ago I heard Ray, at a Dharma talk at Upaya Zen Center, read this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, entitled “Kindness.” If you are reading this on the blog, I suggest you might want to go to the bottom of this page to download the original Bare Bones Biology podcast and listen to Ray’s beautiful rendering:


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Well, I’m ashamed to say, as an American, that I never understood kindness until I had spent six months in Japan – I mean kindness as a way of life for its own sake. No strings attached. And that experience is one reason you have the opportunity to hear my thoughts about how we might be able to deal with this crisis that we are in.

I think it’s primarily a crisis of biology; I know it’s primarily a crisis of biology, because I’m a biologist, and that’s why I keep telling you various aspects of how humans interact with the ecosystem. Because the basic problem is not complicated; you can understand it as well as I can. But the solutions are not simple. Unless we want to ride this merry-go-round another time – well I don’t think we have another time for this merry-go-round because, all the other times around – war/peace/war/peace/war/peace/war/peace – all the other times around, the earth was able to provide us with what we needed to try to stay alive and try to solve our problems.

This is no longer true. This crisis is unique, and we cannot solve it by winning a war, or three wars or eight wars or however many wars we are doing right now. In fact I’m inclined to believe that these wars are mostly being staged by the corposystem to prevent we-the-people from understanding that we really are facing a crisis that will require us to hunker down to responsibilities that are very much more heroic than staging wars. We can’t solve it by growing another war.

Neither can we solve it by a concerted effort to teach compassion to everyone without regard to the fact that this is a biological crisis. At the root, it’s a biological crisis. We have never been here before, to the place where knowledgeable people have stated that, in 2007, we used 150% of the earth’s capacity to provide what we need to survive.

You might want to listen to the report on ecology to His Holiness The Dalai Lama, delivered by Diana Liverman from University of Arizona. Begin after the introduction, about 27 minutes into the video ). The powerpoint presentation that accompanied her report, will be linked to this blog under the heading Planetary Stewardship

In Texas or New Mexico, or in any city, you may not notice the devastating changes caused by our rape of the mother earth, because every generation believes their time of birth is normal, and because the damage is being mostly accomplished by destruction of other organisms and other peoples. But we cannot continue to survive by destroying other organisms. It is other organisms that generate air, water, earth and food energy on this planet. We might as well eat ourselves as destroy them, and that is essentially what we are doing.

So that’s why I began Bare Bones Biology. To help us find a way to combine our kindness – our compassion for the welfare of future generations – with basic fact-based knowledge about what the ecosystem requires to stay alive, and we must do this with a rule of law and an educational system that can maintain it.

Bare Bones Biology 113 – Thinking Compassion
KEOS Radio, 89.1, Bryan, TX
A podcast of this message can be obtained here
Or at

Recommended References: (begin after the introduction, about 27 minutes in, or ask me for a copy of the podcast).

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

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

BBB088 – Evolution and Creation
BBB022 – Population
Earth Policy – http://