Category Archives: wildlife

God, Einstein, Kant, Darwin, and Me

God-horz

I’ve been really busy on a couple of new radio projects. One of these radio shows relates to this blog, and will air this Sunday. I really enjoyed doing it, and I’m excited to share it, so let me tell you a little about it:

let me tell you a story

Sunday, August 31, at 9:30 AM Pacific Time on KMUD Community Radio,

kmud-radio-logo
I will appear (if one can be said to “appear” on radio) as a guest on:
The Living Earth Connection:
A Show That Examines the Root Causes of the Ecological Crisis and Seeks to Change Our Vision of Our Place in the World

livingearth back cover

On this show I talk about classical music, Einstein, Kant, Darwin, the phenomenology of the organism and the metaphysics of ecology, in that order. You know, just a regular “off the cuff” interview. We prerecorded the interview last week, and finished editing it last night.

off the cuff stuff

I know this material pretty well, but it’s quite heady. I had the rare privilege, as an interviewee, to edit the interview as well. I did my best to eliminate the long pauses and unnecessary digressions to make it as pleasant to listen to, and easy to understand as possible. Some great bits didn’t make the cut. We only have an hour of airtime, after all. This show was entirely Amy Gustin’s idea, but now that we’ve completed it, we’re both happy with how it came out. We may even post some of the outtakes as additional material on the Living Earth Connection blog.

living earth connection

I got invited on the show because of an essay I wrote that first appeared on this blog. Well, that, and the fact that I sleep with the producer, got me invited on the the show to talk about the essay titled: You Don’t Have To Call It God, But Don’t Pretend It Doesn’t Exist. Amy really liked the essay, because it points out that the best available science supports an animist, or indigenous worldview, while it indicts objective science, technology and the dominant culture.

future indictments

The essay has nothing to do with God. It’s about science, perception and phenomenology. Religion gives God such a bad name, that I hated to use the G word in the title, but “A Short Essay on Phenomenological Metaphysics” has no hook. God is still a celebrity with SEO gravitas, so I went with the stupid title.

seo stupidity

This essay elicited the most inspiring comment I have yet received in three-and-a-half years of blogging:

Frank Josef Orange
May 28th, 2014 at 1:22 am | Edit

This in regards to your essay You Don’t Have to Call It God: I’ve been a searcher all my life, read Relatively for the millions at around 11 but I was never able to do the math but I came to understand the principles.
Looked for god in LSD ,weed ..got closer
The strange thing is that recently I’ve been having some health problems, the kind you know will be the end ..ya just know, the odd part is that answers have been just showing up, I happened to watch a documentary DMT the spirit molecule And your essay, and all of it is coming into clarity.
That all of us and everything ever,was and forever well be One.
And it is simplicity and perfection and oneness and ..Self ?

Although there is still the problem how this thing came into existence. Something can’t spontaneously exist from nothing.
Could be we are just one of many beautiful shinning entities.
Oddly I’ve come to not care.

To conclude though, there were many things that lead me to the conclusions I’ve come to, but I have to say your essay just about puts the dot at the end…….

What can you say about a comment like that? Words matter! I write!

words have power

Frank read the essay about a week earlier than most of you, because I accidentally hit “Publish” when I meant to hit “Schedule.” The post appeared on the blog early, for about 10 seconds, but because he subscribes, the post went right to his email. When he came back to post a comment, it ended up under the previous week’s post. I’m telling you this, because, hey, sometimes there are bonuses for subscribers.

bonus

There are bonuses for listeners too. I always find it easier to understand something when someone explains it to me, than when I read it. On the radio show, I go into much more detail about the science behind the essay, and the implications of this world view. I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of what you read on this blog is just pointless drivel. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, but this radio show is different. This radio show can change the way you see the world. At the very least it will give you something to think about. I hope you’ll tune in. 

tun in loungeclick this link to stream or download Part 1 of the show

click this link to stream or download Part 2 of the show

 


Bikini Weather Crisis

bikini weather crisis

I heard a pretty good radio show on KMUD this week. A local volunteer programmer failed to show up for his time slot, so they threw on an episode of Radio Ecoshock, which usually runs at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night. The show looked at why no one wants to talk about (or read about, presumably) Global Warming or Global Climate Change. The show featured guest George Marshall who has just written a new book called Don’t Even Think About It, about why it is so hard to get people to talk about Global Climate Change.

dont even think about it marshall

I haven’t read the book, but I can relate. In the ’90s I worked as a canvasser for Greenpeace. The science behind Global Warming was pretty solid even back then, and Greenpeace had an active campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It had something to do with “the Montreal Protocol,” but I don’t remember much more than that. We had pretty good campaign literature and everyone could easily understand the issue. Compared to endocrine disrupting chlorinated hydrocarbons, bio-accumulation of persistent toxins, or even the dirty side of nuclear power, Global Warming seemed like an easy sell.

climatebikini

Most of the people who worked in that office lived “car free” already. We knew vehicle exhaust was destroying the planet. We immediately understood the importance of the issue, and we all developed raps to explain Greenpeace’s strategy to stop Global Warming. We immediately recognized Global Warming as “the ubber-issue”, the issue that supersedes all current issues and spawns all future issues. We knew that Global Warming would define our lives, so we worked that campaign enthusiastically.

climate bikini

Unfortunately, Global Warming turned out to be a really tough sell when talking to the general public. When we told them that the Japanese were still hunting minke whales, it incensed them and made them angry. They were happy to give us money to stop them. When we told them that DuPont made carcinogenic plastics, pesticides and ozone destroying chemicals, as well as medical equipment and chemotherapy drugs, they said “go get ‘em” and wrote a check. When we explained that fossil fuels caused global warming through the greenhouse effect, and that we must, on a global scale, reduce the amount of fossil fuels we burn, or face catastrophic consequences, they just got depressed.

global warming hot gets hotter

They got it. That was the problem. They believed that Greenpeace could stop Japanese whaling ships. They believed that Greenpeace could pressure DuPont into phasing out CFCs. They believed Greenpeace could close down nuclear power plants. They knew that global warming meant something else entirely. Global warming meant we lost the war.

global-warming-proof-funny

By the early 1990’s we had lost a lot of environmental battles. Those were not the best of times for the environmental movement. We were used to not getting what we wanted. We were used to setbacks, but people still believed we were relevant. We still believed we were relevant. Global Warming meant we had failed. We could no longer claim we were swimming towards a distant shore. We had clearly been sucked out to sea.

lifeguard

With other issues, we can fix a problem, without challenging our underlying way of life. Saving whales or banning CFCs were little things we could do to fine-tune civilization, to make it more civilized. Global warming indicts civilization itself. Global Warming is the altimeter that tells us that we are plummeting, rather than flying. Global warming is not a problem, Global Warming is an indication of failure.

bikini-failure

Global Warming isn’t the only indicator of failure, by the way, here’s a short list, in case you haven’t been paying attention:
1. Overpopulation
2. Mass extinction and global wildlife population decline
3. Ocean acidification
4. Peak Oil
5. Peak Water
These “meta-crises” indict more than an industry, or a class of chemicals, or a technology, they indict our whole way of life.

no

If you think solar panels and electric cars will solve this crisis, you are dreaming. If you think there is a political solution, you’re delusional. We’ve blown it. We will not have a soft landing. I’m not saying that there’s nothing to be done; I’m saying that we’re doing everything wrong. Grassroots organizing isn’t working because democracy doesn’t work. Technology isn’t helping because capitalism doesn’t work. We cannot even conceive of what to do next because our culture doesn’t work.

climate bikini4

We need to have that realization. We need to realize that what we are doing here, as a global culture, does not work. Every man, woman and child, in all of civilization needs to know that they have been betrayed. Everybody needs to know that everything we know is wrong. If we don’t stop doing what we are doing, and what we’ve been doing for longer than anyone can remember, we will lose everything.

climate bikini1

That’s why people don’t want to think about Global Warming. That’s why people deny that Global Climate Change is real. That’s why even people who know that climate change is real, try to pretend that it’s really not that big of a problem.

climate bikini8

Nobody at a bar wants to hear about Alcoholics Anonymous.

fail thong

This is the only way of life any of us have ever known, and a lot of us like it, but it simply does not work. It never has, and it never will. As long as civilization persists, it’s appetite for energy guarantees that the effects of Global Warming will intensify still further, and persist far longer, with catastrophic consequences.

climate bikini too cold

Scientifically, we can expect the consequences of Global Climate Change to intensify as long as the levels of greenhouse gasses in the environment continue to rise. The question now becomes, how long will civilization persist in the face of Global Climate Change.

bikini question mark

Do we get smart and bail-out early, in hopes of surviving as a species, or do we plunder forth in the face of certain destruction, to join countless other species that have disappeared into extinction at our hands? From an environmental perspective, the sooner we abandon this crazy, dysfunctional, unsustainable global culture, the better.

dysfunctional


Pisaster Disaster

starfish_quoteThis starfish wasting syndrome is not funny folks. In case you haven’t heard the story, an epidemic of disease among Pacific starfish, specifically pisaster ochraceous, or Ocher Starfish, the big orange “stars” of beaches and tidepools, is causing them to waste away, fall apart and die in alarming numbers.

alarming numbers
Humans have adored these strangely beautiful creatures for eons, and their popularity hasn’t waned one bit, but within the tidal ecosystem, the ocher starfish is a feared predator, at least to the degree that a bivalve mollusk can experience fear.

fearful-clam-

Frightening or not, the ocher starfish plays the same role in the intertidal zone as lions do on the Serengeti, or that wolves do in Yellowstone National Park. The ocher starfish is the apex predator of Pacific tide-pools. In fact, scientists have learned a lot of what they know about apex predators, like lions and wolves, from studying ocher starfish.

starfish look and learn

Ecology, especially ecosystem ecology, is a very new field of scientific inquiry. It seems hard to believe today, but before World War II, nobody really gave a rats ass about how ecosystems worked. The story of civilization has been one of “plunder first, ask questions later,” and so it goes that the science of studying ecosystems didn’t get under way until well after most of the world’s ecosystems had been severely impacted by industrial exploitation. As a result, we may never know how a healthy ecosystem operates. In a sense, studying ecosystem ecology today, must be a lot like trying to learn about antebellum life and culture by observing a confederate field hospital towards the end of the Civil War.

confederate_field_hospital-600x374

Still the nascent field of ecosystem ecology can teach us a few things about what happens to an ecosystem when you remove a keystone species. In fact, one of the landmark studies in the field of ecosystem ecology looked at the effects of removing just this particular species, pisaster ochraceous from a tide-pool ecosystem.

tidepool anemone-horz

The scientist in this study, Robert T. Paine, marked off two equal sized patches of tide-pool habitat. A couple of times a month, Robert would go to one of those marked off areas, and within it he would meticulously remove every single ocher starfish from that area, and hurl them, as far as he could, into the surf. In the other marked-off area, he did nothing but observe.

bob paine w starfish

Every two weeks or so, for a year, Robert went down to his little marked-off areas and began chucking starfish. Doesn’t this make “ecosystem ecologist” sound like a pretty sweet job? Spend your days splashing around on the beach skipping starfish across the water. How do I sign up? I guess his hands got pretty torn-up from the abrasive skin of starfish, but it still sounds like a pretty good job to me.

good job

Over the course of the year, Paine observed the results of his strange new obsession. In the area where Paine had removed all of the ocher starfish, the ecosystem collapsed. Initially Paine observed dozens of different species living together in that area. Within a year, half of those species had disappeared completely, and those that remained, did so only tenuously. Before long, all but one species completely vanished from the experimental area.

vanished where

The only species left inhabiting the area, had completely taken over. Every square inch of the marked off area was covered with large mussels, mytilus californianus, the ocher starfish’s favorite prey. In absence of starfish, nothing could stop the mussels from squeezing everyone else out of the picture, leaving a desolate monoculture where there was once a thriving, diverse ecosystem.

mussel

Paine published the results of his experiment in 1966 in the scientific journal American Naturalist, and it has become a foundational work in this emerging new field. Paine’s experiment revealed that certain species, specifically predators, have a greater effect on their ecosystem than their numbers suggest.

big impact

Paine’s work with starfish eventually led to federal protection of keystone predators like the spotted owl, and to the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Paine had demonstrated that predators are critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems, and that without them, complex and diverse ecosystems quickly collapse into desolate wastelands overrun with pests.

desolate-wasteland

Like I said, ecosystem ecology is a new field, and its progress has been greatly compromised by the impacts of industrial exploitation. As a science, ecosystem ecology remains in its infancy, especially regarding marine ecosystems, but when it comes to the question “What happens to intertidal ecosystems when ocher starfish disappear?” thanks to Robert T Paine, science can give us a pretty good answer. Unfortunately the answer itself is neither pretty nor good.pisaster starfish-bob paine


Forget Schools, Declare California “For Adults Only”

adults only beach

I was glad to learn that our local school bond, “Measure N” failed in our recent primary election. Schools seem like a lost cause to me. Really, why should taxpayers waste their money on subsidized daycare for the offspring of people who are too stupid and irresponsible to use birth control. With 7 billion+ people on the planet, I don’t think it makes sense to subsidize parenthood.

child care subsidy

Seriously, what are the chances that anyone stupid enough to bring children into a grossly overpopulated world, in the midst of the greatest extinction event in 65 million years, at a time of unprecedented government surveillance and economic oppression, has enough brain power to participate in a meaningful way in their child’s education? No amount of school funding will ever help stupid, selfish, irresponsible people raise smart, generous pillars of the community. Besides, public school is what made their parents into the dimwitted monsters of capitalist conformity that they’ve become.

conformity hazard

We should remember that, just like short people, who have kids solely to make themselves look taller, stupid people have kids specifically so that they will have someone dumber than them around, to make them feel smart. As long as we continue to subsidize moron and midget reproduction through taxpayer funded public schools, we’ll remain locked in a race to the bottom, both in altitude and intelligence.

race_to_ the bottom

What do we think we have to teach kids anyway? We should know by now that our way of life is destroying the planet, and that we have no freaking clue how to live sustainably. Children raised by wolves would have more survival skills than today’s high school graduates, but of course, there are no wolves around here anymore.

wolves

I think we should put a “wolf bond” on the ballot. If it passes, the school board will spend $10 million to reintroduce wolves into Humboldt County. Then parents could tie a pork chop around their kid’s neck, send him out to stand in the woods and tell them to wait for the school bus. Let the wolves decide who’s worth educating. Problem solved.

raised by wolves

School bonds are such a ripoff anyway. It makes no sense to borrow money from a bank, and then have the taxpayers pay it back with interest. Taxpayers end up spending two, three or five times as much money as they get value, while bankers make a fortune from these low-risk investments.

bankers fleece school kids

It makes much more sense to pass a school levy. In a school levy, the taxpayers finance the schools directly and cut the bloodsucking banksters out of the equation, but thanks to Prop. 13, no one can muster the votes necessary to pass a school levy. Prop. 13 has turned California from the best state in the nation for public education into the worst.

California1-broke

Really, if you want decent public education, move to Mississippi or Alabama.

welcome to  mississippi

People come to California for the sunshine, the surf, the gay sex and the drugs, not because they want to get smarter. If we were smarter, we’d declare California an “Adults Only” state.

adults only bw

Think about it: Surfers don’t have the time, or sense of responsibility, to raise kids. Gay people have a foolproof method of birth control and drug addicts make terrible parents. In short, nobody in California should be having kids.

californians

If we made California “Adults Only,” we’d never have to spend another dime on public schools. We’d never get stuck behind slow school buses that stop every 300 feet. They could sell cigarettes and candy from the same display rack, and put porno magazines out with the comic books. We could leave loaded guns, Draino and dangerous pesticides anywhere we felt like, and we wouldn’t continue to ignore homeless adults while we built more playgrounds and ball-fields for kids with no future.

no future

Instead of listening to parents whine about their kid having to walk past a homeless adult, who might be smoking or drinking, homeless adults could report any children they see to the proper authorities, and a cop would pick up the kid and put him on a bus to Alabama. Pregnant women would still have a choice: abortion or deportation.

deport abort

I am so sick of irresponsible parents thinking that they have a right to tell grown adults what they can and can’t do, because of how it will affect their children. The time to change the world is BEFORE you have kids, not after. If you didn’t want your kid to see a naked schizophrenic humping a stuffed giraffe on the sidewalk maybe you shouldn’t have gotten knocked-up in a world as crazy as this one.

sick fuck

If you can submit your kid to the horrors of this sick world, then your kid should also see what this sick world does to people. If you aren’t willing to do anything to make the world better for the people who are already here, then you shouldn’t bring any new people into the world, at least not until we pass the wolf bond.

wolves protected


You Don’t Have to Call It God, but Don’t Pretend It Doesn’t Exist

jack lalanne quote

As you may have guessed, I’m not a religious man. I think about religion the way I think about classical music, only more so. That is: I’ve heard it. I’ve played it. I know what it’s all about, but it’s been done to death. I know some people still love it, but to me it seems antiquated and irrelevant.

irrelevant

I don’t worship a God of any sort, but nor would I call myself an Atheist. Atheism is a reaction to religion. Atheists renounce religion, and with good reason, I think, but I’m not about to deny the existence of a force greater than myself in the Universe when science makes it so plainly evident.

scientific-evidence ignored

Anyone who accepts Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, buys the basic premise of Darwin’s Origin of Species, and can agree on a definition of “organism” would have a hard time arguing against the existence of, if not God, then at least something like God, or something that might have been called God for a very long time, for lack of a better word. I don’t have a better word either, but if you have a moment, and don’t mind stretching your mind a bit, I’ll introduce you, and you can decide for yourself what to call it.

UFO

We’ll start with the hardest thing to get your mind around: Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Everyone recognizes the formula E=MCsquared, and knows that atoms are packed with energy, and that’s why we can build nuclear bombs.

e mc 2

That’s not the really interesting thing about relativity. The really interesting thing about General Relativity is that it demonstrated that space and time only exist in relation to an observer.

relativity World_line

Einstein wasn’t the first person to figure this out, by the way, the first physicist, perhaps, but not the first person. Immanuel Kant deduced the same thing, about 200yrs ago, logically, based on the a-priori nature of math and geometry. Einstein did the math and geometry and arrived at the same conclusion.

kant space and time

If you want to check Einstein’s math on this, you are welcome to do so. I know I’m not up to it, but I have read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and it seems like an airtight case to me.

kant touch this

This is a very different way to think about space and time than we are used to. To us, space and time appear unified, inexorable and absolute. We think of ourselves as inhabiting space, and passing through time.

just passing through

For example:

for example

I live in Ettersburg, East of Shelter Cove, South of Eureka and West of Garberville, I’ve lived here since the turn of the 21st Century. That is how I would ordinarily orient myself in space and time. Abe Lincoln, on the other hand, lived in Washington, DC during the 1860’s. So, it appears as though Abe Lincoln and I are separated by space, some 3,000 miles, give or take, and by time, 150 years or so.

lincoln funeral

General Relativity tells us that we don’t inhabit space and time so much as space and time inhabit us. In other words, I live in a very special place called “here” at a time called “now”, and in my experience, Abe Lincoln is a character from the distant past. During his life, Abe Lincoln also lived in a place called “here” at a time called “now”, but in his experience, I did not exist at all.

here-and-now

Abe Lincoln and I both perceive space and time, as the central character in our own experience of here and now, but the idea of a larger space and time in which we both exist at different times, and in different places, is just that, an idea. Ideas, like space and time themselves, do not exist outside of our perception of them. That’s what Kant and Einstein told us.

KantEinstein-

Space and time only exist within observers. That’s not how the world looks to us, and we cannot even imagine what existence outside of space and time is like, but that’s how it is, and that’s where we live. Still don’t believe me, take it up with Einstein or Kant. I recommend Kant’s The Prolegamena to Any Future Metaphysics for a good first step. If you’re still with me, try to stretch your mind around that for a moment.

stretch

You can’t really comprehend anything outside of space and time, but that is where you live, weird as it seems. You secrete space and time in order to make sense of your experience, and you build a concept of the world based on what you experience. So, space and time, as well as a concept of the world, in which you, and every other creature on Earth, inhabit space and time, only exist in relation to the observer who experiences them, namely, you.

observer curious

OK, that’s the hard part. Let’s take the definition of “organism” next:

organism object

An organism is a complex system of interdependent parts, such that the structure and function of each part is determined by it’s function within the whole, and the whole of an organism is always greater than the sum of its parts.

cells

That seems pretty straight forward to me. A cell is made of many parts, but they all function together as one organism. Many cells can function together to form a larger organism, like a plant or an animal. Many organisms can function together to form a still larger organism, such as an ecosystem. Organisms are not objects, nor are they machines. Organisms are alive. Organisms live.

its alive

And finally, What’s the gist of Darwin’s Origin of Species?

darwin origin of species

In the tiniest nutshell, I would say that the crux of Darwin’s biscuit is that all of the organisms that have ever existed on Planet Earth, are related to each other. Does that sound right? There’s a lot more to biological evolution than that, but for our purposes, that’s enough.

tree of life

Now, imagine all of the organisms that exist on Earth now, and have ever existed in all of history. Imagine the 7 Billion+ humans living now, plus every human who has ever lived, all of their pets, all of their livestock, all of their ancestors, all of the wild animals that have ever lived, all of the dinosaurs, every fish, bird, insect, plant, and mushroom, and don’t forget all of the tiny microscopic organisms like yeast, protozoa, and bacterium. Don’t leave anyone out.

animals

All of those organisms, Darwin would expect us to believe, are related, by birth, to every other organism, including those of you now reading this essay. Now go ahead and throw in all of the organisms that will exist in the future, even though we have no idea what they will look like or how many of them to expect. We’re talking about a lot of organisms now.

future_evolution

What separates this collection of individual organisms from each other? The answer is space and time, of course. Some of these organisms come from the past, others from the present, still others from the future. Some come from Africa, others from Asia and still others from Australia, and so on. No two organisms can occupy the same space and time. This you remember from geometry, and it corresponds to your experience of space and time in the real world. So, all of these organisms, though related, remain separated by their positions in space and time.

separated

What were we just saying about space and time? We went over how Einstein demonstrated that Kant was right when he deduced that space and time do not exist outside of the observer who perceives them. What does that mean for all of those organisms? It means that outside of our perceptions, all of those organisms are not separated. Outside of space and time, where perceiving organisms actually exist, all life on Earth remains undivided. In other words, every organism on Earth, past, present and future, are, in some incomprehensible, but very real way, parts of a single organism, that exists outside of space and time.

einstein quote

What did we just say about organisms? “An organism is a complex system of interdependent parts, such that the structure and function of each part is determined by it’s function within the whole, and the whole of an organism is always greater than the sum of its parts.”

Aristotle quote
So I ask you, “What would you call an organism made up of every single organism on Earth, such that the structure and function of every single organism on Earth was determined by it’s function within the whole, and the whole of that organism was even greater than the sum of its parts?”

hello my name is

Thanks to Kant, Darwin and Einstein, we know this organism exists. Without it, we wouldn’t exist. We know that we are a part of it, but what should we call it? Gaia?, The Big Organism?, God?, Bruce? Does it matter what we call it? You are never going to mistake it for anything else, and you’re never going to be able to talk about it any more coherently than this, so maybe it’s best not to call it anything. Still, I don’t think it makes sense to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

made you cum

In fact, I don’t understand why we don’t teach this in schools. The Critique of Pure Reason has been around for over 200 years. General Relativity has been around for most of a century. We teach evolution, and we teach relativity, at least to the degree that most teachers understand it, but but they never quite put it together. Instead, they teach that civilization, the economy and the “rule of law” is what unites us …against the rest of nature.

against nature steely dan


Agribusiness, Genetic Engineering, and Where to Draw the Line

draw the line

When Eric Kirk introduced his most recent talk show on KMUD, he said his goal was to take listeners “outside of their comfort zone”. I have to say that he succeeded in that. Listening to his show made me uncomfortable in the same way that watching a dull-witted kid beat a dog with a stick would make you uncomfortable.

beating dog

Even if you don’t like dogs or kids, a scene like that makes you squirm. You wish you had never seen it. The whole pathetic situation makes you sick to your stomach, but you know that you have to say something.

See-something

In this little metaphor, The show’s host, Eric Kirk, is the kid, our local liberals are the dog, and appearing as the stick, we had Eric’s guest, Saul of Hearts, a young Portland hipster, self-described liberal, and cultivator of a ponytail. I don’t know why these count as credentials in Eric’s book, but apparently they do.

credentials dog

The crux of this guy’s biscuit, was that genetic engineering really doesn’t seem that scary to him, at least compared to some of the diabolical things that scientists have been doing to plants for decades, such as using ionizing radiation and chemicals to induce genetic mutations.

three boobs

The show’s engineer, and local liberal, Michael McKaskil immediately snatched that stick and broke it to pieces, pointing out that genetic engineering was, in fact, qualitatively different than induced mutation. Michael pointed out that because genetic engineering involves adding DNA from completely different organisms, it alters the genetics of plants in ways that mutation never would or could, and of course Michael was right about that.

dog-teeth

Eric’s guest then turned the argument into one of “where do you draw the line?”, pointing out that between mono-cropping, pesticide use, aquifer depletion, chemical fertilizers, habitat loss, global climate change etc, etc, we have bigger problems with agribusiness than genetic engineering. Of course, Eric’s guest is not an agriculture reform activist. In fact, he only mentioned about half of the above, no where near exhaustive, list of ag related crises. Eric’s guest didn’t call for us to get up off of our sofas to do anything about any of these issues. Instead, he simply suggested that liberals are making too big of a fuss about GMOs.

draw the line somewhere

No, he’s not an activist. He’s a liberal blogger, much more concerned with his own career as a writer, than anything else. In other words, he’s a conservative, with a ponytail. Not that I have any great love of liberals, or political activists for that matter, quite the opposite.

quite-the-opposite-quote-by-rachel-miner

I feel the same way about our political system as I do about professional wrestling. It’s obviously fake. It’s embarrassingly stupid to watch, and you know that as long as it remains popular, humanity’s future looks bleak. Still, unless you’ve worked on a citizen’s campaign, you have no idea how much time, money and effort it takes to bring an issue like GMOs to the attention of the general public, not to mention the difficulty of explaining a high-tech problem to a poorly educated populace. That’s part of the reason that democracy has failed.

pro wrestling2

One caller to the show accused him of being an industry shill. I don’t think so. I just think him an opportunist. Right now, a lot of unpaid, volunteer activists are putting in a lot of time and energy to raise the issue of genetic engineering in the eye of the general public. By taking advantage of the fact that most people don’t know very much about big agribusiness, Saul of Hearts found an angle that allowed him to capitalize on the hard work of real activists.

capitalize

So much for the stick, but I must agree with him on one point, and that is: Agriculture is fucked! Agriculture is destroying the world. Even without GMOs, the single biggest reason that this planet is going down the shitter is agriculture. Agriculture is the leading cause of habitat destruction, both world wide, and locally. Agricultural runoff has created “dead zones” in parts of the ocean that once teemed with life, and agriculture fuels the human population explosion. Agriculture doesn’t make life better; agriculture merely insures that there will be more of us to share the misery of an increasingly impoverished world.

Homeless

Agriculture is bad news! It now covers a third of the Earth’s total land mass, and it continues to grow! Agriculture was undoubtedly the biggest mistake in the history of humanity, and people have known this since the beginning. If you were wondering where to “draw the line”, I think the authors of The Old Testament got it right.

where-does-god-draw-the-line

Agriculture is the “original sin” in the biblical story of Adam and Eve. If you recall the story, God provided everything for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, until they ate the “forbidden fruit”. After that, Adam had to spend the rest of his days toiling in the fields, while Eve had to repeatedly endure the pain of childbirth. In other words, whatever that “forbidden fruit” was, Adam and Eve’s punishment was to live like farmers.

adam tilling2

The writers of the Old Testament make it abundantly clear that God does not like farmers. In the story of Cain and Abel, God shows favoritism towards Abel, the herder, over his brother, Cain, the farmer. This so enraged Cain, that he killed Abel, and watered his fields with his brother’s blood.

cain and abel

Now, I’m not a Christian, or a Jew, and I don’t “believe in” the Bible, but this is what the witnesses of “the agricultural revolution” thought of the world’s first farmers. Thousands of years before the first written language, those ancient people would have known nothing about DNA, germ theory or the scientific method, but they weren’t stupid. Thousands of years ago they recognized farmers as vicious murderous people who were damned by God.

Damned-Nations

They watched those vicious, murderous, damned farmers turn the “Fertile Crescent” into a desert. They watched those damned farmers spread all over the world, systematically wiping out or assimilating every other culture they encountered, claiming new territories, replacing natural habitat with farmland and watering their crops with the blood of their brothers.

brothers_and_sister

Those damned farmers gave us overpopulation, genocide, slavery, and the environmental crisis. They replaced our natural love of nature, and all living things, with “the work ethic”, and lives of endless toil. Farmers have transformed the “Garden of Eden” into hell on Earth, and the destruction continues to this day. Farming destroys the natural environment, and replaces it with an abundance of dull-witted, mean-spirited people who don’t know any other way to live.

Hell+on+earth

Farming is also addictive. The more habitat you destroy, the fewer game animals you leave. The more crops you grow, the faster your population grows. The more we do it, the harder it is to stop. Unless we stop, farming will kill us all. On the other hand if we stopped all agriculture right now, that would kill almost all of us. These are not biblical prophesies. That’s what science tells us, should we ever decide to listen.

listen-to-your-science-teacher-1

The Bible tells us that God punished those damned farmers by sending plagues. Today, we call them pests, and we understand why they continue to plague us. In nature, there is no such thing as a pest species, but when you disturb the natural environment, plow it under, and plant crops, you disrupt the natural balance of life. As a result, populations of some species, like locusts, frogs, vermin and disease causing microbes, explode, while others, like wild game animals, become extinct. What those ancient people saw as “God’s punishment”, we now see as the natural consequences of converting habitat to farmland.

JA1122_locusts

These “plagues” continue to vex farmers to this day, but we still don’t get the message. We still think we can outsmart “God”. We believe the world belongs to us, to remake in our own image. We think we rule the world, and we’re hellbent to prove it. That’s why scientists created GMOs in the first place, but even they know that today’s GMOs won’t be able to suppress God’s wrath for more than a few years, because organisms adapt. Bugs learn to tolerate BT, and weeds learn to drink Round-Up.

BT resistant-bugs

We don’t trust science when it tells us that sacrificing the natural environment for farmland causes insoluble problems. Instead, science has become the false religion of the damned, and genetic engineering, its latest assault on nature. Genetic engineering, like the high-tech organochlorine pesticides of the plastic age that proceeded it, is bound to fail spectacularly, and profitably. So, yes, agriculture is a goddamned sin, and no, genetic engineering is not going to fix it, or make the world a better place to live.

gmo lie

If you’re going to draw a line, you might as well draw it at the place where we made the wrong turn in the first place. It can be very helpful to know where we first went wrong. There’s an old Turkish saying: “If you realize that you’ve made a wrong turn, no matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong road, turn back.” I realize that this whole discussion is a long way from the current political debate, but unless you look at the big picture, you’ll never make sense of the puzzle.

turkish proverb


The Big Picture; A Unique Musical Performance on KMUD

The Big Picture 6 cov

I’m really excited about my partner, Amy Gustin’s, latest radio show: Episode #9 of The Living Earth Connection, titled The Big Picture. The Big Picture airs Sunday March 30 at 9:30 AM Pacific Time on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio. You can also listen to it online by clicking “listen now” or by searching the archive @ http://www.kmud.org.

kmud-radio-logo

The Big Picture airs during a time-slot known as The Spiritual Perspectives Hour, and Amy’s show, The Living Earth Connection, airs only on the fifth Sunday of the month, and only in those odd three or four months a year that have five Sundays. I know that most religious programming sucks, but I promise you that this show will be unlike anything you have ever heard on the radio before.

nothing you've ever heard before

I’m really excited about this show because it combines Amy’s Animist message with my electric didgeridoo music in a way that took on a life of its own. The resulting one hour-long musical performance, traces the history of life on Earth from its earliest microscopic origins through the evolution of the human brain, and uses science to reveal the ecology of beliefs that underpin the current environmental crisis. That’s why we call this project, “The Big Picture“.

animist vision

The combination of spoken word and didgeridoo in The Big Picture engages the whole brain, synthesizing the rational intellect with the wordless depths of the emotional subconscious in a way you’ll find both entertaining and edifying.  I hope you’ll tune in.

tune in


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108 other followers