Bare Bones Biology 340 – “Happiness”

            “I love to do a good job more than anything else I can think of.”

161109-seniordance-asc_7959rlsbss(Archie Goodwin in The League of Frightened Men, by Rex Stout).

 

Me too.

 

And yet our modern corposystem tells us that the way to be happy is to have what you want; that “everyone wants to be happy;” and that we can buy our “happiness” from the corposystem, our modern American socio/political environment.

 

I once had a mini-debate about this with a Tibetan Lama I was tutoring. When he said the word “happy,” I could tell that he was NOT thinking about what that word means in modern American English. So I did some research.*

 

Happiness is a 20th century British mis-translation of a Tibetan word referring to that for which all sentient beings strive.

 

Of course it is true that sentient beings strive to survive. It is one of the four foundational facts of creation and is instinctual, or physiologically automatic, in all species of living organisms. Life strives to stay alive; that’s why it does stay alive.  But that is not at all the same concept as the American “happiness” myth that teaches us to suck at the teat of the corposystem (buy more stuff, grow the economy) in hopes of our eventual reward. And if you aren’t happy, it’s your own fault – suck harder

 

Like Archie Goodwin, I was taught that: “A good honest job is its own reward.” And the reward is NOT happiness, but a sort of pride in doing a good job of being alive – a certain miracle of Life.

 

But pride is not the right word either.

 

It may be that we no longer have a word, in American English, for the pride that we take in our own well-lived lives. The job done, and done well, to benefit the community of our roots rather than the “happiness” of our selves – regardless of the environmental accidents and realities of our birth. Not a fulfillment of self, but a fulfillment of responsibility to the future of the whole of Life.

A good job of living life.

161117-tewa-asc_8444rls-copy-2

Buddhism – that is, American Buddhism, tells us that we want to be happy. Buddhism provides us with an eightfold path which could could lead to a sustainable human future, within a sustainable Biosystem environment.   But of course the word happy is then defined by the corposystem and applied to its

own toxic propaganda.   Growth by domination for profit. Which is very non-Buddhistic. And to survive in this corposystem culture, Buddhism must be profitable. Or we never hear about it.

 

What my Lama seemed to mean, when he used the word happiness, was much closer to eudamonia, a term favored by one of my contacts on the web — an obviously well-educated Brit. I looked it up:

“In more general terms, Eudaimonism can be thought of as any theory that puts personal happiness and the complete life of the individual at the center of ethical concern.”

 

No, no, no. That is just another variation of the corposystem con.

I remember my first trip to Japan, sitting in front of a television that I could not understand the words that were clearly explaining to me different ways that Japanese people take pride in the nature of their lives and work, and the excellent job they do of it (or did, in the 90’s). I was fascinated, and from time to time I still am, as I rerun lifestyle stories that I taped. Japan was telling me something very important that I already knew in my bones, but could not find in my own failed corposystem culture that glorifies growth by domination for profit, a three-fold path that can only lead toward collapse and increased suffering, because it eats up the source of its own life.

Life is based upon and depends upon the perpetual balanced recycling of all the basic materials of Life – clean air, clean water, clean fertile earth, using energy from the sun. Growth cannot continue forever, and no technology can change that law of Life.

 

Unless we are willing to take pride in our job well done FOR THE FUTURE, there won’t be a future for humans on this earth.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, production of https://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com.

 

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_340_-_Happiness.mp3

 

*References

Archie Goodwin in The League of Frightened Men, by Rex Stout

Eudamonia http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_eudaimonism.html

“According to Aristotle, eudaimonia is constituted, not by honour, wealth or power, but by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life, what might be described today as productive self-actualization. This rational activity, Aristotle judged, should manifest as honesty, pride, friendliness, wittiness, rationality in judgment; mutually beneficial friendships and scientific knowledge.

Immanuel Kant was an important opponent of Eudaimonism. He rejected the view that happiness is the highest good, and insisted that happiness can be an ingredient of the highest good, but only if it is deserved.”

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Bare Bones Biology 174 – The Real Answer

Of course it requires hard work to grow a satisfying belief system, and that hard work may well be the purpose of life for humans, because, in growing a valid sustainable belief system and passing it on to the future, we are contributing to the welfare of all humankind. That is what my own blog is about and that is why I will not change the honesty of my “style” or of the facts that I report, just because the corposystem (definition below) wants me to do “what works.” Or “what sells.” Well, I’ll modify that statement. I will and do change both the style and the factual reporting whenever I can learn to conform more closely to the reality of the Biosystem (definition below).

131023-Chama-ASC_6792RLSsTherefore I agree completely with Alejandra’s critique (in the blog referenced below) that “helping” people for financial gain may not be a kind or ethical practice. I think that was her point, and I think she was talking about the welfare of individuals who are suffering for the want of a clear life ethic. I think the world-view problem is a bonanza for the corposystem. First it can muddle the questions and then it can give (pardon, sell) its own (fake) “answers” or “solutions” to the people. The corposystem can control the human herd with fear and confusion and at the same time harvest the product (money) that results from the peoples’ fear and confusion.

Of course there are no key words for happiness, and happiness isn’t even the goal that will lead us toward contentment. Nor is ordinary emotional compassion. The accomplishment of a satisfying life goal requires hard work, not rote answers or solutions. In my opinion, that hard work is the life spent learning to understand and correlate the realities of (1) the human experience with (2) the facts of Life on earth.

131022-Chama-ASC_6788RLSs1 – We compare human experiences in our different cultures, and the better we understand the realities that are common to all or most human cultures, then the closer we approach the core of what it means to be human. Joseph Campbell’s publications have been helpful to many people in this regard, as well as the work of Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Tony Hillerman (ex.The Shape Shifter unabridged), and others. The more we understand our common humanity, the more we can align ourselves with it.

Ethics, religion and all that are very helpful in guiding our path toward a satisfying life, but we must do the work. On the contrary, a frantic search for “happiness” or even “compassion,” “right versus wrong,” or “superiority,” is not helpful, because then we are only thinking of making ourselves feel good. Making ourselves feel good is a beginning to understanding our place in the whole of Life, but when we come to believe that our own human culture is the whole of Life (that is the great corposystem lie) then making ourselves feel good no longer aligns us with the realities of Life, but with the defects of the corposystem.

2 – Humans are not the center of the universe, nor did humans create Life. Humans cannot stuff into our pockets the Creation and all the Laws studied by physics and the biological sciences and make them give us (that is, sell us) what we want. If we truly want to grow our contentment within the reality of things we cannot change, then we must check our common human experiences very carefully against the larger facts (facts are things we can’t change, defined below).

Human contentment arises out of aligning our own personal reality with the greater Facts of Life so that we can grow a communal ethic (belief system) that will benefit the future of all Life on Earth.

The keys to a satisfying life are a) to align ourselves with the reality of our culture; and b) to recognize that no human culture is perfectly aligned with the biological and physical Facts of Life that we cannot change; and c) to figure out what realities we cannot change (and stop trying to change them) and what we can change (ourselves), and use that information to grow a belief system that can sustainably benefit: 1) ourselves; and 2) the future welfare of the whole system (all sentient beings, unto the seventh generation).

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS FM, 89.1 in Bryan, Texas. A podcast of this program is available at:

I very seldom post comments on blogs, but today I did. (http://alejandraarroyo.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/alain-de-botton-derren-brown-on-magic-happiness-london-4dec2013/).

http://mindofandy.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/fear-one-another-pt-2/

The Real Answer

In this day and age, the corposystem has taken control over the education system and is teaching us basically the reverse of what I said yesterday (Bare Bones Biology 174).  It is teaching us that happiness is the goal of human life – rather than the contentment of a job well done – and it is teaching us that we humans can control the Laws of Nature (therefore there is no point to studying the needs of any other part of the Life system.)  It is teaching us that we do not need to know the basic laws of Life on Earth; that all we humans need is humanism.

If that were the case, then our happiness would be easy, but in fact humanism is not enough, because humanism today believes in the dominance of humankind over everything else, and that is not really true, so you begin and end with a lie that benefits the welfare only of deep pockets (the corposystem, defined below) and causes irreparable harm to the balance of Life (the Biosystem/Ecosystem defined below).

The ideals that are taught by the corposystem are a lie, and we can’t align ourselves with a lie because the reality is that we simply don’t fit in, and we always know that we do not fit.  Knowing that we do not fit is not happiness and provides us no way to do a job well done.

131022-Chama-ASC_6784RLS2Thus humans generally don’t have the information they need to align themselves with factual reality, and therefore human-kind is always looking to buy something to make us happy.  Or, if one aspires to the upper classes, finding something to sell.  The current generation seems very hung up on trying to prove they each are better than the other – another impossible goal – or yet more incredibly trying to prove that we know more about what the Biosystem needs than even the Biosystem “knows.”

And so the Corposystem is in a constant impossible war for dominance against the Biosystem, and humans are constantly engaged in impossible wars for dominance over each other.  Confusion creates war creates money, and the function of the corposystem is to make always more money, without regard to the welfare of the people, or rather using the fake image of welfare to activate and reactivate that imitation welfare-money-imitation welfare-money cycle.

Entirely to the contrary, the function of the Biosystem is to maintain Life.  And that is what my blog is all about.

If you followed Bare Bones Biology from the beginning, I have progressed over the 3+ years, beginning more or less with facts about the whole of the Biosystem, and then working more toward study of facts, realities and truths at the level of biological and social communities, and lately I’ve been talking more about individual human realities.

During that period of time, the corposystem has co-opted some words that I need and changed their meanings to support the corposystem modus operandi – which is to generate confusion.  Also I have received more inquiries about the definition of corposystem.  Therefore, over the next three or four blogs I plan to define the terms I use, and then proceed again to answer the question “what can we do?” but the short answer is that we will never understand what/why we need to do until we as individuals learn how to align our own opinions with the Facts of Life, and then use that knowledge to the benefit of the 7th generation to com.

DEFINITIONS

I provide these definitions, not to start another corposystem war over whose definition is better (who cares, we need words to talk with and we need to talk if we are to avoid more wars).  My hope is, if you will understand my definitions (or yours) then we can both talk about the same things – worthwhile things — and not just argue over unimportant things while the balance of Life around is us is being destroyed by us.

Biology.  The study of Life (all of Life, and the laws of nature that make Life possible on earth) using the scientific method.  The scientific method requires study of measurable facts.  If you aren’t using the scientific method to study measurable facts, then you technically are not a biologist, even if you know more about something than someone else who is defined as a biologist.


Scientific Method.
  The scientific method is the study of measurable facts followed by a formal review system that makes sure the discovered knowledge is available for discussion by the human community.  Contrary to common usage, the study of Life without using the scientific method is not science.  By definition, science and scientists use the scientific method to study measurable facts.  It is entirely possible to study reality without using the scientific method, but then your results may or may not be measurable facts.  There is nothing wrong with things that are not measurable facts.  They aren’t science, but some of them are a lot nicer than science.  The reason to keep these defined categories is the same as the reason for definitions.  They are a great help to us in our efforts to align ourselves with realities of life, and so grow a satisfying world view, as discussed in Bare Bones Biology 175.


Basic Biology.
  This definition is the same as the above, but specifically refers to the learning to understand the natural laws that make Life possible, not to how we use these laws after we understand them.

Applied Biology. is the same as biological technology.  The technological use of our scientifric (biological) understandings to make or do something that we want to make or do.  Usually, in the modern corposystem, to make money.  This includes technologists such as physicians, wildlife management professionals, etc.  Any technological application of biology is applied biology.  Most biologists in today’s world do not realize that applied biology is not basic biology.  Applied biology can cause great harm to the Biosystem if its basic applications are not fully considered.  Overpopulation is a perfect example of this fact of Life.  Too many of one life form can unbalance the Biosystem in which it lives — so that species eats up all of its food and crashes that system.  This is natural, but if we don’t want to crash our own system we should be considering the relationship between “saving lives” and the future welfare of the system of which we are a part.


Biology
we cannot make conclusions about “good” and “bad” behaviors without considering the long-term expected results of these behaviors or we are likely to accidentally cause great harm.  Applied sciences that do not consider the basic science usually make this kind of mistake.  For this reason, technology is very dangerous without consideration of basic biology, and debates over what is right and what is wrong do not solve problems that are caused by ignoring the basic facts of Life.

Earth Systems Final2 copy 2Facts.  Facts are things that we cannot change.  There are at least two kinds of facts.  First are historical facts; things like your date of birth; we can lie about them but we cannot change the reality, and anyhow, I’m not talking about history; I am talking about the laws of nature. The Laws of Nature are facts like gravity, weight, thermodynamics, measurable energy, evolution and death. The whole of human history and human power have grown in the human mind that wanted to understand the facts of Life IN ORDER TO SURVIVE into a comfortable future. That is, until the last few generations. Now, it seems, we no longer believe that our survival depends upon the facts of Life. Instead, we have come to believe that we can change the facts to suit ourselves. We even write books about it that I will not reference, but we actually believe them.

For these authors, the unfortunate thing about facts is that it doesn’t matter what we believe, the facts keep on going just the way they always have done, because a fact is not something humans decided to believe in. A fact is something that would be here even if there were no humans, and the bottom line fact is this — humans cannot survive without the living earth that gives us life – it is the forever facts that created the living earth Biosystem — and competing with that which gives us life does not make us big and wonderful and powerful; it makes us dead.

But of course we would be dead anyway, sooner or later, so the more important reason to understand the facts of Life is to avoid causing misery and suffering by fighting wars against realities that we cannot change, and to know the difference between what we humans can control and what we cannot control.

Community.  The biological definition of community is very different from the social sciences definition. Biologically, a group of any one species (such as a group of people), the biological word for that is not community – it is population.  The population of humans in College Station.  The population of goatweeds on my ranch.  The population of a certain kind of mosquito in the Brazos Valley.

The biological definition of community is: The system that is composed of all the plants and other organisms that live in the same area and interact with one another.

131020-dng-CanyonASC_6779RLSsSo biologically, a community is ALL the organisms. Because they all do interact with each other, either directly or indirectly.  All the populations in the Brazos Valley. The population of goatweeds and of mosquitoes and of humans – all those populations of organisms together form the community of the Brazos Valley, along with all the millions more populations of organisms. When I say millions, we must consider the good rich soil of the bottom-land and all the other places where there are – yes – millions of different kinds of micro-organisms contributing to Life, if we haven’t killed them off, and all the plants and all the insects, the spiders that used to live here and everything else that is alive. That is the biological definition of community.

So it seems that everyone who is using the word community is not talking about the same thing – but we all are right. Whenever everyone is right, and they are all using the same words to mean different things, that is a perfect setup for arguments. But why argue? We do want the same thing; we only need to know what it is.

I believe a human community is a group of people who interact with each other in an emotional and social system that is very much like the physical system of a biological community. The function of biological communities is to promote the welfare of Life Itself, or one could say to maintain Life in environments that change.  The biological community does this using the sustainable physical system of biological interactions.

The valid function of human communities is also to serve Life — so that Life may provide for us the earth, air, fire and water that we require to maintain our human communities.  However, in practice, human communities in our culture primarily serve their own vision of human welfare, and they do this using emotional and intellectual interactions among humans, in addition to physical interactions.   Our current culture unfortunately is not based in a sustainable system, which is why I keep on writing this blog.

Sustainable.  This is a very interesting word.  It does not mean that everything stays the same.  It can mean that the essence survives indefinitely.  The essence of Life is – Life.  Life is sustainable on earth (so far) even though individuals cannot live forever.  Well, really, BECAUSE individuals die (and for a lot of other reasons) and because life forms (species) that cause harm also become extinct, therefore Life on earth is sustainable.  To understand sustainability one must begin with the core essence of a thing.  The core essence of our culture is profit gained from growth.  That is not sustainable on earth. Human social systems have been successful so long as the earth could provide enough resources of food, air, water and soil to support the human communities, but they are not sustainable (Diamond, Collapse).  However, our economic system could be made sustainable if we were to rewrite all the corporate documents to require biological and economic sustainability as the prime directive, and enforce that directive with a sustainable rule of law.

What is a System?  According to the dictionary, a system is “a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular, a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.”  I was once advised, by a university professor with whom I was discussing some improvement that should be made in the educational system:  “The function of an organization is to perpetuate itself.”  I have remembered this comment because I believe that it is very true – if it cannot maintain itself, it’s not a viable or sustainable system.

I believe a system perhaps originates as a singularity – a rare and fortunate coming-together of a set of processes that function well to maintain an emergent (new and useful) process that contributes positively to the whole. The creation of the corporation might be an example – or the creation of Life on earth.  The emergent function of the Biosystem is to maintain Life; the emergent function of the corposystem is to grow wealth.

In my own definition, a well-established system has at least two additional characteristics that  make it more likely than not to perpetuate itself.  The first is the ability to respond to modest changes in its environment.  Climate change is a fact-based reality — an example of the Earth Biosystem/Ecosystem responding to change in the human populations.  The second quality that systems develop to perpetuate themselves is protection from outside influences that might tend to cause disruption or require change.  An example of this sort of thing might be human belief systems that protect social systems from disruptive ideas – for example, the climate-change deniers’ belief system permits him to continue believing in his life-style without change.

So my definition of a system is a group of processes that function together as parts of a complex interconnected whole that generates a specialized useful emergent property or function and is organized to perpetuate itself by balancing processes that ensure stability with processes that ensure variability.

The unique emergent property of the Biosystem is Life.

The unique emergent property of the Corposystem is its growth-related profit mechanism.

Emergent Property.  An emergent property is a characteristic of a system that results when all the parts of the system function together, and is different from any of the parts separately.  For example, the emergent property of Life results from a particular combination of things (molecules) that are not alive.  An emergent property of water is that it is a liquid at room temperature.  Water is made of oxygen and hydrogen that are gases at room temperature.  There are many liquids, but water is a unique liquid.  So the emergent property of water is the unique and very specific characteristics of water.

The whole earth ecosystem is an evolved system that uses the energy from the sun to maintain and increase complexity of life in a universe that is flowing toward entropy in accordance with what humans refer to as the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics.  To accomplish a balanced, sustainable stability of Life, the billions of earth systems must be able to respond to change, within and without itself, and that capability is achieved through the Law of Evolution, or the ability to balance its billions of interacting processes in response to changes within and without itself.  This is accomplished by the exquisite balance of the interacting web of limiting factors.  In times of little environmental change, the limiting factors discourage variability by selecting processes or organisms that function to maintain stability.  In times of environmental disruption, the limiting factors permit and select for biological variants (mutants).  Whenever variability is increased, the system has more options to select forms that are able to function more effectively in the new or changed environmental conditions, so the whole system becomes more capable of change.

Potentially, limiting factors are each of the interacting factors that are required for Life to survive.  For example, Life requires food; if there is not enough food, then food is a limiting factor.

The Biosystem is the Life of Earth.  Life of earth is stable when all the interacting factors of its environment are stable.  Life is sustainable because it can change when the interacting factors of its environment change.  Life changes mostly by the process of evolution.  Usually that involves responding to environmental change (change in limiting factors) using positive and negative selection by means of limiting factors.  Useful species survive; harmful species become extinct.

131022-Chama-ASC_6790RLSsThe corposystem is a system that uses energy resources provided by the earth ecosystem to generate continual growth, and the function of the growth is to make profits that are used to make more growth.  The corposystem operates by Ponzi economics, and therefore is neither stable (because the continual growth generates constant unbalancing and reorganization of the limiting factors) nor is it sustainable (because nothing can grow forever unless it has unlimited resources).  At the current time the corposystem operates as though the Law of Evolution (which humans cannot change) is based in competition and power.  It is not, see the above; evolution functions by balancing the limiting factors; the corposystem operates by growth, which unbalances the limiting factors.  The modern human corposystem is defined by human laws and by-laws that require growth of both money and population, and we are now at the point where the earth provisions are not sufficient to accommodate this requirement.  Therefore, the earth ecosystem is coming unbalanced, throwing up a myriad of different sorts of variables (climatic, genetic, social, economic, species extinctions) that wlll VERY soon, maybe 20 to 50 years, make our Bio130902-Monero-ASC_5831RLSs copysystem unfit for human habitation.

We could make the corposystem both stable and sustainable if we would change the corposystem imperative (growth), and there are quite a few economics books available on this subject that are written by trained economists.  I have not read them, but I do know it is biologically possible to grow a stable and sustainable human presence within Life of Earth if we were to balance the limiting factors of the corposystem and align them with the needs of the Biosystem.  I also know if we choose not to do this for ourselves, then the limiting factors of the Biosystem will do it for us and we will become extinct, and Life will start over as it has done several times over the millions of years of its evolution.

Bare Bones Biology 138 – Happiness

Good Morning. It’s 2013. What is your function in Life?

Joseph Campbell says that Life is: “a wonderful, wonderful game, and the hero is the one who can participate in it decently, in the way of nature.”

Lately, more people seem to believe that our function in this enterprise is to be happy; especially the corposystem wants you to believe that your value as a human person is to buy stuff, and that will make you happy. H.H. The Dalai Lama (Pursuing Happiness, October 17, 2010, Emory University) has said: “When I say happiness I mean deep satisfaction.”

120908-Dogs-ASC_0561SsSomehow, I don’t think all these varied opinions compute. I think our biological role may very well express itself in our feeling of deep satisfaction, and our deep satisfaction may be found in human interactions with each other and with our environments. That is, in family, in human communities, and in biological communities as I defined them in previous posts. I think our deep satisfaction is best found in the knowledge that we are doing a good job of fulfilling our obligations to community and to Life itself.

Deep satisfaction is not the same thing as fun, and it is not found at the corner bar, the TV or computer games. Our primary role in Life is not spirituality or sexuality or religion or politics or winning anything or becoming a star. If it is true that deep satisfaction for individual humans is gained by participating in life decently, in the way of nature, then we really do have the obligation to ourselves to learn about what nature requires for Life and what the other members of our communities require for their satisfaction.

A human community is any group of humans that shares Life within a biological community. The successful human community teaches its young the skills needed to survive in the biological community. Not the corposystem. The corposystem is a temporary aberration. The biological community is the actual source of our Life: our food, air, water and shelter.

In that context, my “American Dream” was to help grow a human community that can sustainably meet the physical and emotional needs of the people indefinitely into the future.

120804-Nukes-ASC_8932LSsIf you share this dream, then heroism is not enough; we must also understand the needs of nature and how they differ from our own. Heroism and happiness and compassion and love and spirituality are good, but they cannot accomplish the goal of sustainability if they impose themselves upon, or stand aloof from, the needs of nature.

Religion is good, but only if it aligns itself with The Creation. Technology is sometimes good, but only if we take charge to ensure that its use will serve the long-term survival needs of the biological community.

No matter what your expertise or your “passion” it cannot achieve your goals unless you are willing to share it with others in the community and avail yourself of what they have to offer toward the common root goal. That really is the primary function of good human community.

As far as I know there is only one way for us to work together to grow a human community that can sustainably meet the physical and emotional needs of the people indefinitely into the future, and that is to first proclaim that as our common goal. Stop beating around the Bush and throwing up arrogant proclamations and accusations and lies to get what we individually want. Instead, proclaim the goal, and challenge everyone in the community of like and unlike mind to evaluate themselves according to their own responsibility toward fulfilling the common goal.

Nothing is stopping us except corposystem greed and our failure to respond to it heroically, in the way of nature.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

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
http://barebonesbiology.com/bare-bones-biology-138-happiness

Recommended References:
Bare Bones Biology Ecology Energy Handbook
Go to the right side of the page under Chapters and download your free no strings PDF.
Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers. http://www.jcf.org
H. H. The Dalai Lama (Pursuing Happiness, October 17, 2010, Emory University) Or go to Krista Tippett, On Being.
biological communities https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/10/24
human communities https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/10/07.

Definitions:
Biological Community – all the species of organisms in a given area, and the environment they have created there.
Human Community – all the people in a given area
Life. Life is characterized by the ability to change in response to its environment.

Tags: Responsibility, 2013, Life, whole earth ecosystem, corposystem, happiness, human_community, biological_community

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/

“Happiness”

Bare Bones Biology 060-Fracking I

I have lived in a Tokyo suburb, and in the shade of a mountain in Montana, but it’s in rural loneliness where I learned the most about community. I learned to sit under a tree in the forest until the little creatures gathered around to investigate this stranger in their midst. Almost like a Bambi forest glade with the little birds and flowers, but I learned this before I ever saw a motion picture. And I always knew it was no fairy tale, but the deepest source of life itself.

So I already knew this when I went to college, and there I found the wonder of basic science and I dedicated my life to learning how we humans can use our knowledge of basic science to bring to ourselves a life of ordinary happiness, in a perpetual way, like a forest glade that blooms for us and for our children unto the seventh generation yet to be born, and beyond. I mean learning how the whole system works so that we can help us to continue nurturing us on into the future. And now we know; we are choosing not to do it, and that is our human tragedy.

For a long time, I have been wondering how anyone could make that choice.

This morning I woke up remembering how exciting it was in college, that three year period when I understood how forest glade ecosystems function – using all the species at once, and all the cycles, and the flow of energy at all the levels (see the Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook) – to maintain the well being of us all, the rabbits and birds and flowers and all of us who are a part of the ecosystem.

This morning after the fracking ]presentation, I woke up remembering how that felt and wondering how anyone, as we heard yesterday and have been hearing for the past 15 years or so – how anyone could dedicate his life to tearing down this wonderful dream of a forever fine future.

And then I realized there isn’t very much difference between a young person who dedicates her life to understanding the factual truth of a functioning world ecosystem (that would be me). There isn’t that much difference between me and, say, a young man who grows to that age of enlightenment and observes the amazing power of the workings of the corposystem. A young man raised on Star Wars make-believe instead of the beauty of factual reality can believe in the corposystem very much in the same way I believe in the ecosystem. Very much as Bernie Madoff’s clients and even his sons believed in his Ponzi scheme, even though anyone can do the math and know there is no future in it. Star Wars economics is of course impossible to sustain for the same reason that any Ponzi scheme is impossible to sustain within a universe that operates according to the laws of energy and the law of cause and effect. Anyone can do the math. But when we are dreaming big dreams and deciding where to devote our lives, if we don’t know about schemes and scams and the first and second law of thermodynamics we get big ideas and are willing to make big sacrifices for them. That’s the tragedy of human kind.

Of course there are no tragedies at levels three and four (corposystem and ecosystem), so far as I know. It’s all about cause and effect. But level one, the individual person and level two, the communities – the tragedy is all around us now, in the air and the water and the soil and every forest glade. Not only the sacrifice of our best human values – honor, honesty, compassion — but also the promotion of suffering – and the effort it takes for idealistic people to believe that what they are doing is for the best.

Even though anyone can do the math.

Bare Bones Biology 060 – Fracking
KEOS Radio, 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
Audio download later this week at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com