Bare Bones Biology 259 – Food and Population Growth

Guest editorial contributed by Steven Salmoney, Chapel Hill, NC.  Sentences in green have been edited out of the audio to fit the audio time frame. Thank you, Steven.

 

Recent scientific evidence (Hopfenberg R and Pimentel D. 2001. Human Population Numbers as a Function of Food Supply. EnvironDevSustain, 3, pp. 1-15) suggests that the governing dynamics of absolute global human population numbers is a remarkably straightforward and simple natural phenomenon. Despite all the misleading, intellectually dishonest and deceptively contrived ‘scientific research’ to the contrary, Homo sapiens can be seen as a species that is a part of and definitely not separate from the natural world we inhabit.

 

Experts in politics, economics and demography have willfully fostered and continue obdurately to countenance a perilous disconnect between ecological science and political economy. Their dogmatic adherence to misconceptions are broadcast everywhere and range from politically correct, so-called experts, to unscientific theories regarding fallacious ideas such as the automatic population stabilization around the midpoint of Century XXI and a benign demographic transition to a good life for the human community at large. These false assurances can no longer be accepted by responsible professionals in science. They are  directly contradicted by the best available evidence.

 

Texas060722_DSC0797F.sPerhaps politics, economics and demography are themselves disciplines that are fundamentally disconnected from science. They appear to have more in common with ideology than with science. To suggest, as many too many politicians, economists and demographers have been doing, that understanding the dynamics of human population numbers does not matter — or that the human population problem is not about numbers — or that human population dynamics has so dizzying an array of variables as not to be suitable for scientific investigation — is wrongheaded and dangerous. The skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population is recognizable and the cause of it  is knowable.

 

According to emerging scientific research, the size of the human population on Earth is a function of food availability. More food for human consumption equals more people; less food for human existence equals less people; and no food, no people. This is to say, the population dynamics of the human species is essentially common to, not different from, the population dynamics of all living things.

 

Global population growth of the human species is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop in which food availability drives population growth and the recent, skyrocketing growth in absolute global human numbers gives rise to the ruinous misperception or mistaken impression that food production needs to be increased even more.

 

Data indicate that the world’s human population grows by approximately 2% per year. All segments of it grow by about two percent. Every year there are more people with brown eyes and more people with blue ones; more people who are tall as well as more short people. It also means that there are more people growing up well fed and more people growing up hungry. The hungry segment of the global population goes up just like the well-fed segment of the population. We may or may not be reducing hunger by increasing food production; however, we are most certainly producing more and more hungry people.

 

Please examine the probability that humans are producing too much, not too little food; it is the super-abundance of stupendous agribusiness harvests that are driving population numbers of the human species to overshoot, or explode beyond, the natural limitations imposed by a relatively small, evidently finite, noticeably frangible planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth.

 

The spectacularly successful efforts of humankind to increase food production annually in order to feed a growing population, has resulted and continues to result in even greater human population numbers worldwide. If people are starving at a given moment of time, increasing food production and then distributing it cannot help them. Are these starving people supposed to be waiting for sowing, growing and reaping to be completed? Are they supposed to wait for surpluses to reach them? Without food they would die. In such circumstances, increasing food production for people who are starving is like tossing parachutes to people who have already fallen out of the airplane. The produced food arrives too late.

 
The idea that food production must be increased to meet the needs of growing human population is a prime example upside down thinking.

I think, this is Lynn, that it would be far more humane, and also less expensive, to make birth control available to all who want it so that we can prevent the massive starvation that we are creating and begin the process of helping the Earth to rebalance that she gave us — a system that provides our basic needs — earth, air, fire and water — to all its inhabitants.

Steve Salmony
Chapel Hill, NC

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1 in Bryan, Texas.

A copy of the podcast may be downloaded at:

 

 

physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/04/economist-meets-physicist/

Bare Bones Biology 250 – Healthy Eating

There are of course many ways to eat healthy. Mine considers the equipment I have and the fact that, except for a few weeks in late summer when we have a local Farmers’ Market, it’s about a hundred miles to a city to get organically grown. Which does seem odd.

In the local stores there are canned beans, milk substitute, and some frozen foods that are mostly packaging and taste more of spices than of food. I can get eggs from the neighbors, and I really don’t need meat. Certainly not meat (or milk or ice cream) that someone prepped with hormones or antibiotics. Personally, my body makes its own hormones, especially designed and balanced for me, and for the community, too much antibiotics is an even bigger danger. It can lead to epidemics of antibiotic resistant diseases.

150227-snowstorm-ASC_4900*sI go down the mountain to buy staples such as flour, dried beans, rice, in bulk from the farmer’s market or a health food store where I know they are non-GMO and organically grown, and as soon as possible I take them out of their plastic wrapping and then keep them in glass jars.

And now it is Spring, so now we start to think about eating the real thing – food from the garden. As I told you a while ago, I have bought my seeds, and in the meantime I have been saving organic food scraps – organically grown egg shells, organic coffee grounds in their brown filters, the ends of vegetables that I bought at Brazos Natural Foods or La Montanita Coop.

So that my organically grown foods will be mulched and fertilized by organically grown foods. As soon as I can get that compost heap working and the seeds in the ground.

You remember the list of seeds I bought by mail (Bare Bones Biology 246, https://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com/2015/02/05). Well, after I bought all that, I talked with my neighbor up top (elevation about 7,800 feet, in four feet of snow a couple weeks ago) who says the sure food crop is peas – snap peas, snow peas, any kind of peas. Talk to your neighbors; I didn’t get peas; will do on the way home.

JoAnn-IMG_20150315_183509018_HDRsIn sultry Bryan, TX (elevation about 100 and getting lower year by year with the progression of climate change), Sheila got Okra, summer squash and beets. I noticed the organic seeds cost only a dollar or two more per package than the Burpee seeds, so if I plant five crops I should be able to eat the food from organically grown seeds for an extra five to ten dollars for the whole summer — and then save my own seeds that I know are neither genetically modified nor chemically adulterated and eat them again next year, and there is no way big business can stop me doing that, hard as they are trying.

But of course, that’s only if I can get the plants to grow and produce. The first year, my entire crop was one ear of corn that never did firm up properly. Probably I can do better this year.

Maybe it was the way I planted in containers with purchased “organic” soil. That might not be the best method of sustainable farming when your back yard is the Rocky Mountain range. And I wonder how much fuel it takes to ship that carefully formulated “organic” soil up the mountain from wherever it came from – in tidy plastic containers?

It’s not necessary to do the math because we don’t care what the “footprint” is. We can do it in our heads. If the imported soil costs more than our compost — and involves things that come out of oil wells (plastics, diesal, gasoline) or things that burn (diesel, gasoline, wood) — it’s probably not sustainable. Not with our current human population overgrazing the oil wells and burning up the trees. Still, a crop of one ear of corn won’t sustain me overwinter. Maybe my compost needs fertilizer. There’s a lot of elk traffic on the trail behind my cabin near the water trough. I bet those elk are organically grown. Let’s add some elk turds to our compost.

Not the dogs’. They get heartworm medicine. I don’t need that in my diet.

Photos by Lynn and Jo Ann

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS FM, 89.1, in Bryan, Texas.

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:

References:
Bare Bones Biology 246, https://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com/2015/02/05
Bare Bones Biology 250, https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/

Nuke Free Now from Last Year

Which is worse, Nukes or gusher of toxic oil replacing our farmland and polluting our air and water? I don’t know, and I keep wondering what the corposystem is trying to accomplish — all the money in the world? What world? The world itself is biological and does not run on money or oil, unless you are a machine. The real world of oganisms basically runs on food, water and air.

So, here are some pictures I promised from Nuke Free Now last year.

And this is what you probably do not know. Sent to me by someone from across the sea and available on he web:

“Award of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory contract to LLNS LLC took effect October 1, 2007, rounding out Bechtel’s control of the bulk of the US nuclear weapons facilities including LANL (design), LLNL (design), Savannah River Site(nuclear materials), Hanford Site (nuclear materials), Pantex Plant (assembly/disassembly), and Y-12 National Security Complex (nuclear materials).”

Similarly — imagine the Trans-Canada oil pipeline polluting what once was the last of the free and clean American air in Texas.

Pictures of
Scientist
Father John Dear with hunger striker Alaric Balibrera and in the background the reason why we care
Bitsy
Sack Cloth and Ashes Protest
LANL-6 (Los Alamos National Laboratories), the six arrested at the Sack Cloth and Ashes protest will go on trial on the 9th and can use your support, at least by spreading the word of this action and better yet attend the solidarity party on the 9th and the trial on the 10th. Pam@dtbprojects.com or 505-474-9288

5Ss

120804-Nukes-ASC_9234s

120804-Nukes-ASC_9239s

120805-Nukes-ASC_9471s

120806-Nukes-ASC_9827s

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

Click to access 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 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:http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/BBB122-Human_HandsFinal4.mp3

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 (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/another-fake-debate-pro-life/) over family planning, which is corposystem propaganda meant prevent us from growing our personal and community power (http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com/About)within 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

Richard Heinberg

Senior Fellow at PostCarbon Institute. Picture taken at the recent Economics of Happiness conference.

Here’s my favorite quote from his book, Peak Oil.

“The longer we wait the fewer our options. Social liberals and progressives who fail to talk about population and resource issues and to propose workable solutions are merely helping to create their own worst nightmare.”

My opinion? I’ve lived through quite a few generations, and of course there have been even more before me. I see that every generation has taken pride in dealing with the negative symptoms caused by our expanding human population, for the most part without a thought to the ROOT CAUSE of the symptoms. Of course — in the good old days we lacked technology to address the root cause. Now in this generation we are eating more food than the planet has to give us, we have all the technology we need to provide and distribute birth control and training for every person on earth who wants it (well, maybe not every single one). What are we doing? We are using our technologies to make more people so the corposystem can profit by their birth, life and death.

When there are more mouths to feed than there is food to feed them, people and other species starve. When there are not enough other species to maintain the natural cycles that make our food (and air and water distribution and soil and climate) — No, technology can not change the laws of nature that determine how these things happen on earth.

You know that as well as I do. Lucky we are — we aren’t the ones starving.

Yet.

That’s my personal and professional opinion.

Recommended reading: Peak Oil, by Richard Heinberg (and his latest book The End of Growth)
Collapse, by Jarrod Diamond

Bare Bones Biology 098-Climate Change-What Can We Do?

The ecosystem is not a democracy. Neither is it a matter of opinion, nor can we match its power. Not in our wildest dreams. The ecosystem – whatever it is – it is a factual reality. Just look at the veins in your hand. Then look out the window. Then remember where your food, water and air are created – no, not in the supermarket – the ecosystem. It’s a fact that the ecosystem is constantly changing in response to its interactions among all the factors that make up its existence. My critics and their grandchildren will not be at all happy about our choice to continue destroying the climate that the ecosystem created, that has been our cornucopia of life.

So to round out this series on climate change, I want to play some quotes. Here is a short one from an activist at the climate talks that recently took place in Durban, South Africa. Amy Goodman is interviewing Kumi Naidoo on Democracy Now (the only good coverage of the talks that I know about, see dates 12/05/2011 and 12/06/2011 as part of the series).

“the problem is that the level of ambition and the level of urgency in these talks do not match what the science is telling us to do.” He means the science tells us the problem is urgent.

Climate change is just as real as overpopulation, and if you know a few facts (facts are realities that aren’t about people and people can’t change them, like gravity for example) if you know a few facts, then climate change will be as common-sense as my story about overpopulation. The one about putting a cow and a bull in a pasture with plenty of water, and never feeding them any hay and see if they eventually have a population problem. Or a resource problem, which is nearly the same thing. Common sense.

“The greatest challenge for Burma and the countries of the Arab Spring, as well as all peoples who hope to enjoy the flowers and fruits of their endeavors in 2012, will be to bring wisdom to bear on passion and power, and to create a blend of the two that is both effective and wholesome.” Aung San Suu Kyi

This is Harvard Professor E. O. Wilson on Earth/Sky

“Biology is going to be crucial also in feeding the world. We’re about to run out of water, and we’re running low on arable land. And we’re just now reaching 7 billion people on earth, and we’re not going to slow down or peak until somewhere in the vicinity of 10 billion, the most recent projections indicate. We don’t have enough water in enough countries to feed all those people and to restore soil to arable condition. And then there comes the matter of saving the rest of life, which is a major concern of mine. We’ll have to do a better job of exploring the natural world and figuring out how to carry it through what I like to call the bottleneck of the 21st century, when we go through the population crunch and use every bit of information – science based — that we can get, to make that journey through with the least amount of damage to the world.”

So what can we do to help? Number one, find a way to provide birth control for every person who wants it on earth. Number two, work to provide a reasonable standard of living for those who are living. This will require dethroning the corposystem and the growth ethic in favor of a sustainable economic system. Number three, join together with other countries of the world and let them help us do these things. How do we do those things? In any way we can, so long as what we do does not cause more long-term harm than help. That’s practical, self-serving compassion.

Bare Bones Biology 098 – Climate Change-What Can We Do?
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Trackbacks and Recommended References:
Bare Bones Biology Ecology Handbook downloadable on lower right of this blog.
http://www.DemocracyNow.org
http://www.earthsky.org

Bare Bones Biology 093 – Climate Change II

Relax. Sit down or lie down. Don’t go to sleep. Don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow. Think about your breath. Breathe in. Air comes in through your nose to all the little channels of your breathing system. That is your respiratory system. The air ends up in your lungs.

Breathe out.
Breathe in.

Air contains oxygen and carbon dioxide and some other things. The delicate tissues that line the inside of your lungs. The tissues are so thin the oxygen can go across to where there are blood vessels and red blood cells waiting to carry the oxygen to every cell in your body. Without the oxygen, you die.

Breathe out.
Breathe in.

The cells use the oxygen to burn carbohydrates. The carbohydrates come from your food, but that’s a story for another time. The oxygen burns the carbohydrates and that releases energy. Just like in your fireplace burning carbohydrates (wood or coal or gas or oil) releases energy. But the wonder of cells is they can capture this energy and use it to do the work of staying alive.

Breathe in.
Because you won’t be alive if your cells are not alive.

When carbohydrates burn, there are waste products. All this happens inside your cells. The waste products are water and carbon dioxide. The water cycle is a story for another time. The cells then release the carbon dioxide into the blood that is on its way back to the lungs. In the lungs, the carbon dioxide crosses the other way, from the inside of your body to the inside of your lungs, across the very delicate moist tissues that line the inside of your lungs. The carbon dioxide then is a part of the air that is the climate inside your lungs.

Breathe out.

The air that is inside your lungs goes out into the space around you, which is the air of the whole living earth. Seven billion people on earth are all doing this at the same time. It makes a difference in the amount of carbon dioxide in the air of the earth. Also all the cars are burning carbohydrates and blowing carbon dioxide (and other things) out into the air. And also all the factories and everything that releases energy from carbohydrates by burning the carbohydrates.

Breathe in. Listen to your breath. You are breathing in the air of the earth.
Breathe out. Listen to your breath. You are changing the air of the earth.

Meantime, the plants are breathing in carbon dioxide from the air of the earth. The plant cells unhook the oxygen from the carbon. And the plants use the carbon, and the energy from sunlight – to make carbohydrates. And then the plants use the carbohydrates to make food for the entire living ecosystem, including you, sitting there on your cushion. And then tell me that you are not connected to the living earth. Tell me you don’t need pure air. Tell me you don’t care if the air has too much carbon dioxide or too much carbon monoxide or too much of something that will damage a cell in your lungs and make a cancer grow in there.

You breathe in.
You breathe out.

The air cycling within your body depends entirely upon the air cycling outside your body. The air that is cycling outside your body is the breathing system of the whole living earth. You are alive because your respiratory system is able to maintain a healthy balance between your body’s internal climate, and the climate of the whole living earth. In fact, the inside of your body is part of the climate of the earth. No mystery. No debate.

Breath in.
Breath out.

The whole living earth — stays in balance by constantly changing.
If the climate of the earth could not change – the earth could not stay alive.
There is nothing to debate. The only question is how it will change and what will happen after that.

Bare Bones Biology 093 – Climate Change
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at http://BareBonesBiology.com

Suggested Reading: Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook at https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com, Post Carbon Reader at http://www.PCI.org

Bare Bones Biology 077 – Demonstration

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.
The rich get richer and the poor are always with us. If it has always been this way, it always will be this way.

In fact, it has not always been this way. For example, humanity 6000 years ago was a whole different story, before we began trying to prove that human power is stronger than the laws of God and nature. Now, if we want our grandchildren to live in this beautiful Garden of Eden in reasonable comfort, we must build another new story that considers the needs of Eden. Because the earth ecosystem is also a living thing; it also needs to survive; it is our only source of food and water; we humans will not survive without it; and if we always do what we have been doing, we will make our survival on this earth impossible.

So I say it’s time for a change, but if we try to make changes using the same methods that caused our problems in the first place – we will mostly get more of the same problems.

So how to change? We can’t grow change by going backward to the time when there were more resources than we could use.

Also we can’t grow a change using the corposystem system that has co-opted our “American Dream,” unless we take control over the corposystem and define its uses and their limits.

If we are to make positive change we must know what we want and how to get it without making things worse. Two of the most basic requirements for success are: 1) we must honor the needs of the ecosystem, because all of our food energy is grown by the ecosystem and no alternative sources are available; 2) we must prevent the corposystem from controlling our human values and directing our behaviors so that we cause long-term harm to ourselves and to others.

The first time I heard from MoveOn.org and Change.org, that’s what I thought they wanted – to make a positive, sustainable change. Later I dropped them off my computer because the vocabulary of MoveOn.org and Change.org consists mostly of “fight.” Which is not anti-war nor anti-corporation nor a change. I do not believe war is a solution to anything except overpopulation, and there are better, quicker and cheaper ways to deal with overpopulation. When this national sit-in began, I again tried to believe in MoveOn, and I went to hear their speeches. In every sentence they screamed “fight” two or more times. Otherwise, I would probably be sitting in with them.

Finally, now, someone is telling us what the demonstrations are about, at least the Wall Street sit-in. It turns out they have a General Assembly and their General Assembly has now formulated a list of causes. http://www.care2.com/causes/occupy-wall-street-issues-first-official-declaration.html So I checked these causes to see if they conflict with the requirements for our sustainable future in this garden of Eden. The bottom lines is that they do not seem conflict, but primarily to control excess, and I agree they are important issues that we must address if we are to grow a sustainable human presence on this earth. So long as the demonstrations remain non-violent, I will support them in principle.

I am waiting to see how they plan to cure the problems they define, both at the level of human rule of law and at the level of ecosystem survival. Because as far as I can tell, these groups, and the new rally for jobs by ANSWER.org, have not proposed any solutions. It will not be easy to cure problems that were caused by previous generations using more than their share of limited resources. A solution is possible, but one thing is certain. We cannot cure that problem by using up more than our share of the limited resources. I still don’t see anyone addressing that reality.

Bare Bones Biology 077-Demonstration
KEOS Radio, 89.1 FM
Audio can be uploaded later this week here
or at Http//:www.BareBonesBiology.com

Below is the “Occupy Wall Street” first declaration:

‘Occupy Wall Street’ Issues First Official Declaration
by Beth Buczynski
October 3, 2011
11:32 am

Since the occupation of Wall Street first began on September 17th, the mainstream media has criticized the general assembly for its lack of a cohesive list of complaints or demands.
Not to be rushed by expectations of corporations and the elite they serve, the Occupy Wall Street action took its time fulfilling this demand.
On Thursday night, Occupy Wall Street participants voted on and approved the first official “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.” It is reprinted in its entirety below.
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive

Read more:
http://www.care2.com/causes/occupy-wall-street-issues-first-official-declaration.html#ixzz1aOYzOtI9