Communities and Evolution

Happy Days Folks,

This week I will refer you to a blog post from last year at about this time. It is even more relevant today.

https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/

Bare Bones Biology 088 – Evolution and Creation
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download is available at the below link.

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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/

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

Bare Bones Biology 088 – Evolution and Creation

Until the corposystem started making up fake debates, almost everyone knew that evolution is real, whether or not they knew the word. Everyone still knows it, really, it’s common sense. I mean, we have been using the process of evolution for several hundred years to make domestic animals. What is the difference between a wolf and a pug dog? The pug dog was not created 6000 years ago, it is a product of evolution. Controlled evolution. Monsanto is actively evolving our food supplies. If evolution were not a real thing, life on earth would not keep changing.

The evolution argument is about human political power. It’s a fake debate generated by people who think that evolution is about survival of whoever has the most power. These people think survival of the fittest means working out in the gym until you can kick sand in your neighbors’ faces. Evolution is no such thing.

Ask a dinosaur.

For BBB blogs about evolution, see or listen to Bare Bones Biology 010 through 019. Also BBB 046.

So what I want to talk about today is, what is fitness really? Because what we can do to help the earth today is to give a gift of fitness to our future human generations. And nothing we do could be more important. But as long as we continue to believe that fitness is defined by some kind of competition, we will fail. Biologically, fitness is the ability to survive, as a species, not as individuals.

Fitness really is pretty much the same as sustainability. Fitness is something about how the universe evolved from whatever it was, when everything was subatomic, to what it is now, with step by step levels of increasing complexity in all its parts. Fitness is a component of the process of increasing complexity that is and was the evolution that created the levels of organization of our universe and life and our living world.

There is a wonderful book (Linked, by Baribashi) entitled Linked that describes networks in terms of mathematics. I don’t understand it mathematically, but it must be talking about evolution. The changes of evolution are the increasingly complex networks. Every “advance” in evolution involves the formation of a more complex set of interacting networks. For example, you are a network of interacting organs (kidney, heart, etc), and each organ is a network of interacting cells and the cells are each networks of interacting molecules. That IS how the universe is organized, by networks interacting with other networks, and this book talks about the mathematics of the way networks form. For example:

“Each node is different. Each has some intrinsic quality compelling it to the head of the pack . . . Each node has a different fitness . . .”

I know this insight is very important, because when he says nodes, and I say species, and Buddhists say “emptiness,” we are all talking about the networks of which all of reality is composed. And when he says “fitness” he is not talking about competition. He’s talking about competence. It’s not the same thing at all.

I believe compassion has genetic roots in people, and that it is a component of our fitness on this earth, but compassion is not enough. If we only rely on our compassion, or only our spirituality, or only our technology or our power, we will be the node that fails to survive. Because the entire gigantic ticking clock of the creation is built of networks of networks of networks (that biologists refer to as levels of organization that I have discussed many times). (for example, BBB-051, 052, 056, 057, and more recently 070.

Any newly arising network — that would be us. If it does not FIT into the systems and the processes that have been the source of our creation – it will not survive, no matter how much power and glory it believes itself to have.

Bare Bones Biology 088 – Evolution and Creation
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Without Energy Nothing Happens

I was listening to a podcast about shamanism today while working diligently on the Energy book so I can post it for you ASAP. It was very good, the podcast, from The Interdependence Project, but the man kept using the word energy as though he believes all the different kind of energies are the same sort of phenomenon.

Of course energy is all around us. And all through us now that we have cordless computer connections. Who knows what interesting medical conditions will result. But we can’t get away from energy in any case. Every minute of life pulses with change, growth and movement. Most of that activity is work, and energy makes work possible.

We know that the work of the ecosystem is powered by organic energy, as studied by modern basic science, using measurable facts. We also know that the universe is vibrant with other kinds of energy that we can not study using modern basic science, but the important message of the science of ecology is what we do know factually. The physical life of the ecosystem requires it to maintain a consistent balance between the light energy that the ecosystem uses to generate organic energy, the organic energy that is required for survival on earth, and the heat energy that is released when organic energy is used to do the work of life. The organic energy for our life comes from the food we eat.

Personal Opinion! Sometimes people want to argue about their various experiences with energy. That kind of argument makes me cranky. (Actually, more often they don’t want to talk at all and that makes me even more cranky.) Yes other forms of energy exist that science can not measure. Furthermore, we probably sometimes use the same word “energy” for phenomena that are different from energy as we understand it. Phenomena that can not be measured can not be studied using the scientific method. That doesn’t mean they aren’t real; it also doesn’t mean they are real. It simply is not relevant to our factual knowledge of the ecosystem, and I don’t see the point in arguing over things we do not understand if we are using that argument to avoid dealing with critically important facts that we do understand. Surely there is no shamanic or religious or New Age tradition that would relieve us of our responsibility for stewardship over the welfare of mother earth, and our responsibility to understand the measurable facts about her needs, so that we can know which of our behaviors are helpful and which equally well intended behaviors actually make things worse for the ecosystem.

For Mark and Maaark

And yes, if we don’t understand how the ecosystem functions, we will not be able to save OURSELVES. I am very sure of that. If we ran across a car sitting someplace and knew nothing about mechanics and had never even seen metal, how would we be able to fix it? There is no doubt that the universe and the ecosystem function by “natural laws,” that is physical laws, and that life (the ecosystem) would not exist if those laws were not what they are. And, as the ecosystem is more than we are, similarly the natural laws are more than the ecosystem is. We would not be here without the ecosystem, and the ecosystem would not be here if there were no physical law of gravity, law of thermodynamics, etc. So neither we nor the ecosystem can survive outside the natural law that makes us both possible. Nobody KnowsFlat

It is not possible for the part to dominate the whole. The ecosystem is an organism and it functions as an organism. Think down a bit — you are an organism. It would be laughable if a group of your cells, say the kidney cells, decided to dominate you. There are only two possible ends. They fail or you die.

I leave a hope of success because there is no point assuming we will fail to learn these things, but the longer we delay the more terrible will be the cost in human suffering, and we can not succeed by applying human intuition to the problem. Example again. Your needs for survival, as an individual organism, are not the same as the needs of your kidney. For one thing, you eat food. Kidneys do not eat food, they plug into your circulatory system for their survival. If we continue to evaluate the needs of the ecosystem according to even the highest of human values, we will continue to deprive the ecosystem of what she requires for her survival. If we are to succeed, there is an absolute imperative that we understand the mechanical natural law that makes ecosystem survival possible, and there is only one accurate source of measurable facts about this information, because science is the only discipline that limits itself to measurable facts for its evaluations. If we ignore that source we will not succeed.

That is not the same as saying there is no spiritual component to our study of the ecosystem. It also is not the same as saying there IS a spiritual component. Science has nothing to do with spiritual because science is not science unless it is studying measurable facts. The Dalai Lama is trying to scientifically measure spiritual experiences, and a number of scientists also. And they are succeeding in measuring brain waves that are different during various mental states of people. So what does that prove? It proves the mechanics — it proves nothing about the spirituality itself. Science has nothing to do with spirituality. On the other hand, the Dalai Lama has 2000 years of human study of spirituality in his heritage, and he has stated that measurable facts take precedence in those areas of understanding where our human interpretation conflicts with the measurable facts about the universe. His statement reflects his understanding of the relationship between measurable facts and human spirituality, and he is no scientist. He is one of the world’s most knowledgeable spiritualists.

So none of science is necessarily spiritually related. It’s more like mechanical. This is how things work, therefore this is how we should behave if we want ourselves and our super-organism — the ecosystem — to survive. There isn’t anything necessarily spiritual or not spiritual about it.

But I agree with Maaark that we are more likely to succeed if scientists and spiritualists (religionists I think he said) would come down off their respective ivory towers and begin the conversation.

The Scientific Method

(The following is a paraphrase) In science we have an ethic. We argue from evidence based on publicly available information. When you become a scientist you agree to be bound by that, even if the evidence goes against your own theory. To do this you must first have disagreement before you can devise a theory to test. A problem is not definitively solved until we have evidence from experiments. Lecture at NSF, Leo Smolin, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Physics in trouble, why the public should care. Podcast on the Research Channel. http://www.nsf.gov

090926TGT_dsc4358SsDr. Smolin is a physicist highly trained in the use of the scientific method to differentiate between measurable facts and hypotheses. He is qualified to speak about the scientific method, the universal laws of physics and the various theories and facts therein.

I hear quite a few people grabbing some untested or inadequately tested idea that physicists are throwing around and presenting this idea as a fact in some book or in their practice. This is fun and it is probably as comforting as the various ideas about God, spirit and spirituality, but it is not science. Science is the study of measurable facts using the scientific method. (And by the way, this does not mean we got the answer we want in one isolated experiment, even if that experiment was published. The scientific method requires more than one result as proof.)

Spirituality and religion are sometimes fun and sometimes comforting and sometimes a way to sell books. Mostly they are fine and beautiful and real. But they are not science, and I think it’s sad when we use fake science rather than real measurable facts as we try to deal with the measurable, solvable problems that we are now facing in our culture and our environment.

It’s time to learn the difference between spirituality and science so that we can get the maximum benefit from both. We should not limit our spirituality by tying it to measurable facts — fake or real. On the other hand, we will never solve factual problems if we aren’t willing to acknowledge and deal with the facts.