Bare Bones Biology 222F – What is Healthy?

In Bare Bones Biology 220 ( we all agreed with the dictionary that “health is the general condition of something in terms of soundness, vitality and proper functioning.” But that doesn’t exactly answer the question, does it, unless we know something about how we are supposed to function – our bodies, I mean – in order to be vital and sound, and there are millions of cells, connected by processes that need to work together to make our bodies function properly. And among all those millions of cells, every day vast numbers of new cells grow from the mature cells that are already there, and equally vast numbers of cells die, so that our bodies can maintain a healhy balance. Balance is the key to good health of all Life on earth. The dictionary didn’t mention that.

140723-morning-ASC_0416RLSss copyDoes that mean I need to memorize all those cells and where they came from and what they do in order to be sure I am functioning properly? You would think so from the hoohaha on the internet, but in fact nobody could memorize all that. Not even your doctor. She goes into the back room and checks the computer from time to time. The down and dirty from the drug companies. And even that is not about being healthy; it’s about being sick so they can sell you pills. Being healthy is about maintaining the natural balance of Life as it was created on this earth. Your doctor doesn’t know much more about that than you do, unless of course you have an out-of-balance body to begin with, and even then you can be aware of making it better or worse by healthy living.

So I think it’s very much more sensible to start from the top end. and recognize what Life needs to stay in balance, and then to think about what we might be doing to unbalance our lives so that they cannot keep healthy by themselves. And that story was written in the parables of humankind since the times before reading and writing. So it can’t be too difficult for us.

The body takes in food. Food is made of energy and molecules that your cells use to stay alive. When your body has separated what it needs from what it doesn’t need, it eliminates the waste materials. Your cells capture the energy and the molecules by burning the food in a very controlled and complicated set of processes that happen inside every cell. It requires oxygen to burn anything, so your body breathes in air. Your cells also require water of course because they are more or less 98 percent made of water, and the cells require molecules because the more or less 2 percent rest of themselves is mostly molecules.

140907-Monero-asc_1152RLSsIn all of our history, humans have known without being told, just as all organisms do: we require the earth to grow food, the air to breathe, the water to drink, and food energy. Earth, air, fire and water. Good food and clean water. These things are not made in supermarkets. They are made available to us by (and only by) the whole living body of the Biosystem,.

We use the molecules and energy from the food and discard the wastes. Energy does not recycle. It comes from the sun and gets changed into food energy by the plants. We only can use it once. Everything else that we need, water, oxygen, and other atoms and molecules do recycle through the entire living Biosystem; through all the plants and animals and the weather and the oceans and rivers and air.

The function of our cells and organ systems is to keep all those things – food, air and water in a healthy balance inside our cells and inside our whole body and inside the body of the whole living Biosystem, so that they will be available when they are needed. Earth, air, energy and water. Not too much oxygen, not too few cells, a good balance between eating and drinking and excretion. Everything in balance.

So what do we need to function properly?

Basically we need all those cells and organs to keep our bodies balanced, and we require good food, clean water and fresh, clear air to keep our cells and organs healthy so they can maintain the balance of our bodies.

Where do we get the food and water and air and energy?

The only plae we can get them is from a vital, sound and healthy Biosystem.

So there you are. Biology 101. Except for a few odd micro-organisms everything on earth, from the smallest bacterium to the one, unitary Life complex of the whole grand Earth, everything including us, functions to keep the whole enormous wheel of Life in balance. Healthy means everything is in balance; unhealthy is what happens when some part of it is not properly functioning in balance with the other parts of Life. Healthy cells, healthy body, healthy Biosystem.

It’s easier to learn the names of ten organs than to understand how they function, so most students would rather just learn the names. However, it’s very much easier to learn the basic principles of how a thing functions than to learn the names of millions of cells and organs, and once you know how it functions, you don’t need all those names to keep it healthy.

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

A copy of the podcast may be found at:

Bare Bones Biology 094 – Climate Change III

Oh, and yes, all these physicists who believe that they understand life because they have some convenient information about the basic laws of the universe. As far as anyone knows, life is not the center of the universe, and while life does operate according to the laws of physics, it is not studied by the science of physics. As far as anyone knows, life is the whole of the reacting, breathing, interacting earth, and physics says nothing about the higher Levels of Organization (and) beyond the properties of energy and matter. Well, not nothing. Physics is very important because it informs us about fundamental natural laws like gravity and energy that everything must obey.

Life couldn’t exist if it did not obey the fundamental laws. But of course, EVERYTHING obeys the fundamental laws, or it wouldn’t be here. That’s what fundamental means. And everything is not life. The purpose of biology is to learn to understand what is the difference between life and everything else.

Everything must obey the law of thermodynamics, so biologists study that. But all the non-life also obeys the laws of thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is not what makes life alive. It is necessary but not sufficient.

Biology is the study of life, and therefore biology is the study of the whole earth ecosystem and how the living earth and all its parts is different from non-life and – more importantly — how we can stay alive without causing harm to the whole earth ecosystem that gives us our lives.

The ecosystem stays alive because of interacting cycles of functions and properties, of energy and matter, because of the ability to transmit information by genetics so that the ecosystem can respond to change, and because of the ability to flow energy from the sun into plants and from plants into every other living thing. And the ecosystem also stays alive because of the ability of itself to recycle the key materials that it needs to stay alive – like carbon dioxide and oxygen and water. Carbon and oxygen and water recycle through the living earth just as they recycle through our own bodies. They are a part of life. They are the climate – the respiratory system – of the living entity we call the earth ecosystem. If they didn’t change – if the climate didn’t change – the earth would not be alive and we would not be here.

There is no debate among biologists about whether or not living things change. There would be no life if it couldn’t change in response to what is happening around and within it. That is the foundational necessity of being alive, and all illness, disease and death are the result of not being able to change in response to one’s environment. Climate change is real, the fake debate is about politics, not about life. And the function of the fake debate is to prevent we the people from figuring out what to do about it, because what we must do about it would diminish the preposterous wealth and power of the corposystem.

So what can we do to give a gift of fitness to our human future within our living earth? We have three options, at least. 1) We can do something useful to help humans — that is, to help the earth maintain a climate that is suitable for human life. That’s what most biologists prefer to spend their time thinking about. 2) We can do something that is harmful to the health of the living earth. That will cause devastation to the future of humans on this earth. Or 3) we can do nothing and let the climate rebalance itself without regard for our needs.

The trouble with doing nothing is that it will result in unimaginable suffering because of the vastly greater number of people, animals, plants and other living things that will be affected, and that’s why I prefer option number one, do something useful to help humans.

And the way to do that is to find a way to stop the growth that is causing the ecosystem to rebalance and readjust all its millions of cycles of life, in response to our waste products.

Bare Bones Biology 094 – Climate Change
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at

Recommended Readings: Bare Bones Ecology free download on my blog.

Bare Bones Biology 074 – More Information

Many people die of smog in the USA. The media try not to tell us this, of course. And it’s getting worse, but nevermind the whole USA, I looked out the window this morning to a toxic mist made up of air and pesticides that I could smell and something that makes my nose bleed and something else that turns my stomach. Maybe you can’t see this miasma, but when I came to this valley the sky was crackling blue all the time unless it was cloudy. Now our sky is like sour milk — and the incidence of asthma in little kids has soared.

And not only asthma, smog causes many deaths every year. It’s easy to deny this, because all deaths are caused by multiple different things that happen inside the same body. Something stops working, something else stops working, something else is inflamed, we are under stress. If they all happen at once, we can die.

My mother died once; but that was after she had been “saved” about six times. And I always wonder, saved for what? Good health, happiness, joie de’vivre? No way. All that in-between time was something I would not want, but for the nurses and doctors it was a success story. They thought they had saved six lives. But anyone can do the math, and we only die once. For the corposystem, the multiple life saving was even better than for the medical community, bringing years and years of bundles of money into their coffers. So I don’t believe the corposystem ever cared about my mother’s health, because in all that time the corposystem never stopped spewing its waste products into the air we breathe and running its poisons into our water. For me, this scenario is a major betrayal of trust.

And think of all the people in this country who have asthma or emphysema. I never even heard of these things in my youth, and if the proximal cause of asthma or emphysema is smog, then they primarily died from the smog, and in-between the corposystem made a lot of money treating them.

Then listen to the radio tell you it is a “lovely day” when the globe is warming, the sky looks like rancid skim milk, and my stomach is roiling from the smog. And now there are some people don’t even know what a lovely day feels like, because they have never experienced one. For me, this is a betrayal of trust.

Nature does not have “trust” as an ethical obligation. Nature has functions, like gravity, energy flow, and cause and effect relationships, rather than trusting or ethical relationships. Nature’s laws are at the very root of physical reality, because they are how reality is, or it wouldn’t work. For example, starvation is what will happen if we don’t get enough food energy. That’s a natural function, and it’s not something for which we are responsible, so natural starvation is not cruel. Dying is not cruel – it’s natural. It’s what we all get – naturally – and if we didn’t the whole ecosystem would come to a halt very quickly, because without death there can be no life on earth.

People forget to tell us those important things. But the laws of nature are functional relationships, not emotional relationships, so they are neither tragic nor cruel. We are grateful to the laws of nature for giving us this amazing experience of life.

We humans can not change the laws of nature that cause suffering. But we do have responsibility for those relationships that we can control and for which we are responsible. Like nurturing our children and studying the laws of nature so we can plan sensibly for a sustainable future. Like refusing to countenance smog in the Brazos Valley that could be prevented or cured and causes suffering for other people’s children.

Like any betrayal of trust.

Bare Bones Biology 074 – More Information
KEOS radio 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
Transcript at
Audio later this week at