Richard – Please – this is mostly not an oil issue, it is a FOOD issue.

Richard, of course you are right, but this is not the basic flaw in their world view.

The problem is that WE CANNOT GROW ANYMORE ANYWAY.

We are already using more FOOOD resources every year than the earth can replinish. This is not sustainable.

To do this we are killing off other species that the earth needs to make the food and air and water and earth that we require to stay alive. We’re not talking about our cars any more. We are talking about FOOD energy.

Please. Once we break the earth’s cycles of life, we don’t have the foggiest idea how to put them back together again.

Bare Bones Biology 106 – Richard Heinberg

Bare Bones Biology for this coming week is entirely taken up with an interview with Richard Heinberg, who also gave the keynote introductory lecture at the conference of The Economics of Happiness. I’m pretty sure that talk will be posted on the web site of The Economics of Happiness. If not, I can give you my personal copy, just let me know. Later that day, Richard took five minutes out of his busy schedule to give an interview for us in Texans and former Texans. Because he introduced himself so well, I have given the entire program to his words.

“My name is Richard Heinberg. I’m Senior Fellow at the PostCarbon Institute and the author of a recent book called The End of Growth: Adapting to our New Economic Reality.

“The book is based on quite a lot of recent research that shows that we’re really entering into a new economic era, particularly in the US but I think around the world as well, and that new economic era is one where growth in GDP, growth in the total amount of money we’re spending in the economy on an annual basis, is going to be a lot harder to achieve. There are a number of reasons for that.

“One reason is that we are reaching a number of limits to debt. We’ve used debt to grow consumption and to grow GDP for the last several decades. And here I’m not just talking about government debt. I’m talking about consumer debt. Debt has grown faster than GDP in just about every year. People want bigger homes, and bigger cars, and we’re constantly being advertised at and talked into wanting this stuff, but real inflation-adjusted hourly wages for American workers haven’t been going up for three decades or so. So how we financed all this consumption is with more debt. You can only do that so long, because people get loaned up to their eyeballs, and they can’t afford to make payments on the debt they have, and banks don’t want to lend them even more money, so we’ve reached the end of that particular strategy for increasing the scale of our economic activity.

“Another problem that’s impinging on economic growth is energy costs, and of course here we’re talking primarily about the price of oil. That’s being driven by speculation and other things, but a lot of it is that we’ve already harvested the low-hanging fruit. I’m not suggesting that we’re running out of oil. Obviously, in this country, our real oil production has actually increased in the last few years, but where it’s increased is in the production of much lower quality resources. We’re talking about the shale deposits in North Dakota, and the Eagle Ford Play in Texas” (you can download maps of the Eagle Ford Shale and the Texas Aquifers from the lower right side of this page) “shale gas. The costs of production are higher, and with gas of course, we had very high natural gas prices a few years ago, and that drove up a glut of supply. We look at that and say: “Oh, well now we’ll have natural gas for 100 years and it’s always going to be cheap.” But actually most of the producers are losing money on production right now, because their production costs are so high and the natural gas prices are so low. The same thing will happen with the shale industry, if price of the oil goes down, if we do get gas prices down, well that’ll just mean that the industry will have to consolidate, and instead of seeing increasing rates of production in the US it will go back down again.

“So once again, the problem is not that we’re running out, the problem is that we’ve used all the low-hanging fruit, and that means we will be paying more for energy. We’ve got to get used to that. That will be a drag on economic growth.

“The third factor is increased incidence of weird weather. You can call that climate change, you can call it anything you want. You can attribute it to cow farts or volcanoes, or to CO2 emissions. If you’re an insurance company and you’re looking at the costs of what you are having to pay out for droughts, floods, fires, and other events like that, the costs are increasing. There’s no getting around it, and they’re increasing exponentially. So that is another drag on growth.

“So take the drought situation in Texas as an example of that. That kind of thing is happening around the world, and it’s getting worse. So economic growth as we’ve known it is coming to an end. Well, how do we adapt to that? What do we do instead?

“Well it turns out that actually we could make life better for people and for communities without necessarily having to have the kind of economic growth we’ve had in the past. But we will have to pay attention to different things. We’ll have to pay attention to what really makes our communities work better; we’ll have to pay attention to what makes our environment more livable.

“If we do that, I think we can have a better quality of life even as our economy changes. We live in a time of rapid change, and the intelligent path is to see where that change is going and adapt sooner than later.”

Bare Bones Biology 106 – Richard Heinberg
KEOS 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
You can download the audio here or at:
http://BareBonesBiology.com

Recommended Reference: The End of Growth: Adapting to our New Economic Reality

Bare Bones Biology 105 – Economics of Happiness II

Many of you watched the movie The Economics of Happiness that we showed in several venues locally. If you have not seen it, talk with Donna, she has a copy, or go to The Economics of Happiness web site (you should do that anyhow) and buy a copy for yourself that you can share with friends. Last week Bare Bones Biology aired the first part of an interview by Helena Norberg-Hodge, who produced that movie, and now you are about to hear the concluding part of her little interview, in which she gives us the Bare Bones version of a solution. I hope this energizes you, as it did me, to take advantage of her wisdom and experience, and fact check her suggestions and then participate in an effort to nonviolently dethrone the corposystem. Here is Helena:

“If we could just get the message out: wait a minute, we don’t need to continue deregulating. In order to produce food and feed people and to produce the building materials, and to produce all the needs that people have, we do not need to embark on continuing to deregulate, or globalize, economic activity. If we can get that message out, so that the call is from the occupy movement, the call is halt that deregulation. This is more strategic than focusing on finance reform or on personhood, because the action, where these companies have gained so much power, has been in these international trade agreements. That’s where they’ve been able to pressure governments to give them more power. They say: If you don’t give me lower labor prices, if you don’t give me lower regulations, I’ll go elsewhere. That mechanism has ended up ratcheting down everything we care about.

“That mechanism is how it is that governments are in debt to banks. And credit agencies are telling whole banks: Sorry, you can’t afford to look after your people, you must instead pay us a whole bunch of money. It’s a mad situation, and I really believe if we can understand the structural difference between globalizing and localizing, we will be creating an interlinked, global movement linking environmentalists with all those people concerned with unemployment and poverty, and then we’ll have a real powerful movement for change.”

I wish I could name for you the impressive list of people who spoke at The Economics of Happiness conference, that included for example Joanna Macey, Manish Jain, Carol Black, and so many others of equal caliber. In the cross disciplinary group were speakers on the subjects of: breaking down the old economy, from global to local, small scale to large scale, envisioning an economics of happiness, and local futures. And there were workshops around each subject. You know what I found the most exciting – nothing was finished and settled. There’s room for new ideas and new approaches to strengthen the mix, and I left just itching to tweak the educational ideas that were presented.

Mandana Shiva and Bill McKibben were present by video and one of those internet communication processes. The entertainment was – have you ever heard Scoop Lisker describe the evolution of life on earth? And a stunning final improvisational performance by Nina Wise. All in all, one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.

Next week, I will bring you the keynote speaker, Richard Heinberg, from my other favorite web site, the Post-Carbon Institute, who gave an interview just for us.

That’s the end of the transcript. If any of you want a podcast of the complete interview without my commentary, I can make one for you.

Listening again to Helena Norberg-Hodge reminded me of the words of Arundhati Roy:
“The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.”

And then there is my view that arises out of my professional understanding of how the ecosystem functions to stay alive. The corporate revolution will collapse ANYWAY, because the corposystem is trying to harvest more food energy from the earth than the earth has to give (this is not sustainable), and in the process is killing off millions of different species whose function in living is to maintain the health of the living ecosystem (thus reducing resilience of the system). So, the corposystem is killing itself.

Our job is to reduce the suffering this causes – and more importantly, our job is to remove the root cause of the suffering, which is growth beyond the capacity of the ecosystem to support One cause of growth is described by Helena Norberg-Hodge above. That is deregulation. (I call it decriminalizion of the corposystem crimes against the ecosystem). And to find a way to infuse our technologies with wisdom so we can do this with compassion. The other major growth problem is in our human populations (that is all of us, not only some other place). I strongly suggest that you watch the movie Mother the Film, that describes this difficult reality in a kind and compassionate context.

There is a time when all opinions cause pain, and that is the time to stop drawing our lines in the sand and get together to find a way to reduce the overall pain – individual suffering, populational suffering, and suffering of the living ecosystem. As HH The Dalai Lama said: “Human use, population, and technology have reached that certain stage where mother Earth no longer accepts our presence with silence.”
(per Upaya newsletter)

Unnecessary suffering is foolish, and usually causes more harm than good.

Bare Bones Biology 105 – Economics of Happiness II
KEOS 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
An audio copy of the “transcript” portion of this
blog can be obtained at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Trackback and recommended references:

For the first part of Helena Norberg-Hodge’s interview see Bare Bones Biology 104:
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/

http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/

http://www.motherthefilm.com/

Arundhati Roy. I strongly recommend her (March 22) interview on Democracy Now http://www.democracynow.org/2010/3/22/arundhati_roy_on_obamas_wars_india

Collapse by Jared Diamond
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_5?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=jared+diamond&sprefix=Jared%2Caps%2C249
Or you can get Collapse as an audio book

Upaya, http://www.upaya.org/

Peach Clubhouse Newsletter – December

Activities of Interest

Peach Clubhouse Movie Night – Second Tuesday of December. After that — next year — movies only by request. These movies are free at the Peach Clubhouse, 1110 Justine, just northeast of downtown Bryan.

December 13, Tuesday, will be the beautiful BBC “Jungles.”

The next requested presentation will be Bill Moyers’ interview of Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onandaga, a member of the Iroquois Alliance. We will discuss this and the story of the Great Law of the Peacemaker, as told by John Mohawk. The time for this is to be arranged. Let me know if you want to participate.

No other programs are yet scheduled for December. Enjoy your holidays.

Radio Spots – Bare Bones Biology Radio spots may be heard on KEOS FM, 89.1, three times a week. Sunday morning at 6:55 AM, Sunday afternoon at 3 PM, Tuesday evening at 8:55 PM. These may be downloaded at http://WWW.BareBonesBiology.com or at http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com. The new series, beginning this month, examines the Peach Clubhouse Imagining cited in the masthead.

Other Activities around the Brazos Valley

The Insight Meditation Group holds a half-hour sit, followed by a short reading and discussion of a general nature, every Wednesday at noontime at the Unitarian Church in College Station, Friday at 3 pm at the Peach Clubhouse.

Dec. 8, Friends of Peace
– Thursday, Poppa Rollo’s Pizza, 703 N.Valley Mills Drive, Waco
6 p.m.- business and pizza buffet.
6:30 p.m.-film and discussion.
Admission: one non-perishable food item for a local food bank.
Selection: OCCUPY EVERYWHERE: ON THE NEW POLITICS AND POSSIBILITIES OF THE
MOVEMENT AGAINST CORPORATE POWER (2011).
Or if you can’t make that, you can view or download a one-hour excerpt of a panel discussion, different program, at the website of Democracy Now. The program aired November 4. For more about creative political solutions, go to political section of this newsletter and some other interesting activities of Friends of Peace in Waco.

Remapping our Rule of Law

Occupy College Station
has held at least two public actions. I have a nice video with chanting but haven‘t figured out how to put that in a newsletter.

A quote from Arundhati Roy:
“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness — and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling — their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.” Our stories, according to Jack Kornfield, are who we are. I think it’s best to not let some corporation tell us who we are.

That’s basically it, and so well put, but of course to do that — to refuse to believe the brainwashing — we need to have something better in our brains. Something true and based in factual reality that we can live now and grow for our future, and that of course we are doing.

And speaking of the future, I’m attaching a short clip from Democracy Now that reports a neat and effective political response to the effort of our drug companies to overcharge the world for essential medicines on the basis of American patents. The speaker is Harriet Washington, author of the book, Deadly Monopolies. (www.democracynow.org)

Another commentary on Occupy is of special interest because it is a discussion among three American Buddhist thinkers, Michael Stone, David Loy and Ethan Nichtern. “When you go deeper” you get beyond superficial nitpicking and find there,what truth? (ttp://TheIDProject.org)

That comment reminds me of the new approaches of Democracy School (http://www.celdf.org/) and others who are preventing the corposystem from co-opting control over land, water, food, air and other resources that belong to the commons (i.e., everyone) by changing our own assumptions about the law itself. “Does our activism mean so little that we want no more than a few beeps from cars that are passing by?”

Compassion Corner

“It seems to me that no matter which spiritual path one is on, and no matter what the calling or vocation, this question of purpose must arise, if there is to be any real meaning in “commitment” and “practice.” To what are we committed, we must ask, again and again. Each day presents the challenge to contemplate the question and find a way of acting differently that becomes a transformative “way” that honors Life and Nature’s limits and wonders. What are we doing to stop “the machine?” Shouldn’t all practices now be anchored in the awareness of the peril we face?” Or do we just sit there and enjoy it?” Question raised by one of our tentacles.

Bottom Line Biology

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/30/end-of-growth (Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Inst.)
Also check out the website of TheWildlifeCenter.org. I have been to this facility in New Mexico, and it is outstanding. Not your ordinary dot org.

“On the face of it, it wasn’t anything to shout about — just more stats in a world drowning in numbers. These happen to have been put out by the U.S. Department of Energy and they reflected, as an Associated Press headline put it, the “biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases.” In other words, in 2010, humanity (with a special bow to China, the United States, and onrushing India) managed to pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than at any time since the industrial revolution began — 564 million more tons than in 2009, which represents an increase of 6%. According to AP’s Seth Borenstein, that’s “higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.” He’s talking about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which is, if anything, considered “conservative” in its projections of future catastrophe by many climate scientists. Put another way, we’re talking more greenhouse gases than have entered the Earth’s atmosphere in tens of millions of years.” From Tomgram http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175468/tomgram%3A_bill_mckibben%2C_puncturing_the_pipeline/#more

And if you really want to know why we should care about these facts (I know you already know) a new Declaration that describes very beautifully the relationship that we must have with our ecosystem if we want to survive into the future in our home on this living earth. (Blue River Declaration, Spring Creek Project springcreek@oregonstate.edu)

Fracking News, water, air, soil, damaging sound waves, earthquakes. What next?

Well, next the Government Environmental Protection Agency has definitely established contamination of an aquifer with fracking fluids (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/SIG=13er0l4se/**http%3A//beta.news.yahoo.com/blogs/trending-now/friday-13th-takes-twitter-beck-vs-mccain-two-160239016.html), another earthquake, this time in Georgia, and several cities have established new constitutions that prevent outside powers from dictating matters that influence the commons, that is properties that rightfully belong to all the people, such as air, water, soil and our climate that permits us to survive and grow our food.

Here are a few web sites that will be of interest to people who want to keep up with the news about Fracking, courtesy of our Austin tentacle.

Fracdallas is a Public Information site by a local Dallas interest group. Since you mentioned possibly creating a web site or blog site to raise public awareness in your area, I thought this might help you with ideas: http://fracdallas.org/docs/ambient.htmll

The Argyle-Bartonville Communities Alliance (Near Dallas in the Barnett Shale Area) is another action group focused on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing: http://abcalliance.blogspot.com/2010/05/fracking-process-and-noise.html

This is a public publication group that talks about many subjects. They had some interesting information on hydraulic fracturing: http://www.propublica.org/special/hydraulic-fracturing-national

The NOSEBLEEDS that are so common near the gas compressor plants are caused by highly volitile compounds. You may not be able to smell them, but the nose knows. My nosebleeds have stopped since I moved.

Food and Farming

Next issue I will give more attention to the agribusiness control over farmers in the United States and abroad, including the genetics part of the problem that usually is not explained, but is the biggest reason we do not want to turn our entire food-making enterprise over to Montsanto. And the other reason we don’t want to do that has to do with the same issues that are discussed above relative to fracking — our commons. We really do NOT want the things we require for our survival to be manipulated by the corposystem. The ecosystem already knows how to do a far better job. In the meantime, the world is belatedly beginning to take notice. If you want one example, check out the new trend in the Phillipines:

“This is indeed what is happening in the Philippines: The agriculture ministry, long a position for agribusiness allies, is currently headed by Proceso Alcala, a strong proponent of organic agriculture. Within a year of his appointment in mid-2010 – and just months after we had walked through Atilano’s fields – we learned that the Philippine agriculture department had stopped subsidizing chemical fertilizers and was steering public funds into community-based seed banks for traditional rice varieties. Alcala, we heard, was hiring community-based farmer-scientists and gearing up for an “eat healthy” campaign that will champion brown rice and other healthy foods.” http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/can_danilo_atilano_feed_the_world/

That’s nice and we had better go ahead in that direction if we want to survive. However, there is only one action that can truly ensure human survival on this earth, and that is control of our population pressure on the sensitive interactions that keep the earth alive and well,. Thus I get extremely crabby whenever any of our positive or negative sound bites suggests that ANY ONE THING will save us because it simply is not true and it pulls people’s energy away from what we truly MUST do if we are to survive. The answer to the misleading headline is of the above article is No. Organic farming cannot feed 7 billion people. Neither can any other kind of farming for very long. Picture the earth, population mounting, more and more mouths to feed, each doubling of numbers taking half as long as the previous doubling. Mouths crying for food, the earth increasingly paved over. The climate and destruction of soil reducing productivity in spite of the best efforts of the organic farmers. And killing more and more and more species that the earth requires for its resilience, until finally we kill ourselves.

Now someone will tell me I’m against organic farming. NO. Organic farming is A GOOD THING. HOWEVER, if there are no humans around to appreciate it, then all the effort will have been wasted. There is only one essential requirement for our survival. We have all the necessary resources and technologies to provide birth control for every person on earth who wants it. If we don’t do that, we will never be able to feed all the people.

It is rather astounding that we make up debates over which kind of agriculture can feed us all — when it is so clear that neither can — and it would be so relatively easy to solve the problem. No of course not easy — but simple. If we don’t deal with population control we will not survive on this earth no matter what kind of magic we invoke. Organic farming is better than Monsanto farming for very many reasons, but I don’t understand why we can’t get it through our heads that all of our work won’t make any difference to anyone if all the people die. Of course the earth will likely return to lovely glowing health, but what is lovely if no people remain to enjoy it?

OK, so I have scientifically literate friends who think we might get by without becoming entirely extinct, but I don’t think you will like what they envision, either. So why don’t we start to do something THAT WILL WORK FOR THE FUTURE! And then farm for our own welfare in our spare time. Not the other way around.

And as we are trying to promote gardening, folks in the Brazos Valley can participate in a student project at TAMU (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=427169369603), and open to public participation. Howdy! Farm. You will find their produce available at the Farmers’ Market in Bryan (http://www.brazosvalleyfarmersmarket.com). And of course organically grown foods at Brazos Natural Foods in College Station (BNF@txcyber.com) And a heads up from the Peach Clubhouse, we have a small open space available if the right person wants to take on the challenge of creating an organic community garden closer to downtown Bryan. See? I’m not against it. I just hope someone will be around to eat it 50 years from now.

The Peach Clubhouse Newsletter
imagines the minimum requirements for a sustainable, reasonably comfortable and rewarding human lifestyle within our earth ecosystem for our future generations. We would grow a communication and educational system that teaches everyone these minimum skills:
1. The basic physical requirements for our living earth to be healthy. Because the healthy functions of earth ecosystem provide us with everything we need to stay alive — earth, food energy, air, water.
2. Practical, applied compassion. Because humans require compassion in order to lead reasonably comfortable and rewarding lives (www://Bare BonesBiology 080-The Golden Rule).
3. A rule of law that recognizes the different and sometimes conflicting needs of different levels of life — individual, population, ecosystem — and strives for the overall most useful solutions..
Factual Biology-Education-Practical Compassion-Rule of Law -|- https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com

Richard Heinberg

Our Economic Black Hole

In recent months economist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has been saying that the American economy is “in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession”. It’s an interesting metaphor. The U.S. economy is assumed to be a satellite of some heavy object, and just needs a little more push (in the form of Federal stimulus) in order to achieve escape velocity and go on its merry way.

Perhaps the metaphor makes more sense if it’s reframed slightly. Maybe it is more accurate to think of the economy itself as the black hole. At its heart is a great sucking void created in 2008 by the destruction of trillions of dollars’ worth of capital. The economy used to be a star, spewing out light and heat (profits and consumer goods), but it imploded on itself. Now its gaping maw will inevitably draw all surrounding matter into itself.
You can’t see the black hole, of course; it’s invisible. It is composed largely of unrepayable debt in the form of mortgages, and of toxic assets (mortgage-backed securities and related derivatives) on the books of major financial institutions, all of which are carefully hidden from view not just by the institutions themselves but by the Treasury and the Fed. Added to those there is also a growing super- gravitational field of resource depletion—which is again invisible to nearly everyone, though it does create noticeable secondary effects in the form of rising energy and food prices.

The Treasury and Fed are perhaps best thought of as a pair of powerful Battlestars orbiting just outside the singularity, zapping propulsive jolts of energy (in the forms of stimulus packages, bailouts, and quantitative easing programs) at hapless spaceships (banks and businesses) in the vicinity in order to keep them from falling into default, bankruptcy, and foreclosure. Unfortunately, the Battlestars—with their limited and depleting energy sources—are ultimately no match for the black hole, whose power grows silently and invisibly with every further addition to its hidden mass. The Battlestars will themselves eventually be assimilated.

What are we puny, rank-and-file space voyagers to do? Sadly, we must resign ourselves to being absorbed by the black hole at some point. There’s at least the theoretical possibility, though, that at the heart of the singularity there exists a wormhole—a magical pathway to some other reality. In that alternate universe the economic rules are entirely different: money is not based on interest-bearing debt, and the economy is assumed to be a subset of the ecosystem, rather than the other way around. Unfortunately, it is impossible to get to this through-the-looking-glass world without passing through the singularity.

However, what we do now may have some bearing on our prospects: a few physicists reportedly believe that there are many alternate realities, and by visualizing and acting according to the rules of the reality we prefer, we might be attracted toward it rather than some other.

At least that’s the way it works in science fiction.