Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Name

I've read a newspaper everyday, perhaps starting with the "funny papers" when I was first learning to read. We didn't have much of a library in our household when I was being formed in Stockdale and Devine, but we always had the San Antonio Express-News, complimented with the San Antonio Light bought at George Vernon Schott's convenience store on Sunday (and of course, several farm magazines). I learned from Paul Thompson and Jack Anderson, and enjoyed Dan Cook and Dan Klepper. ... In more recent years I appreciated immensely, Carlos Guerra and Rick Casey, and here in Seguin it was Michael Cary.

I don't always agree with the learned historical scholar, T.R. Fehrenbach, but I very much enjoy and always learn from his columns in the San Antonio Express-News each Sunday. Today I appreciated his piece on "Homo sapiens." (We aren't as smart as we like to believe")

T.R. Fehrenbach provokes by suggesting alternatives for our Latin name ... as have others (e.g., William Catton, Jr. and "Homo colossus" in Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.). In his column, historian Fehenbach briefly discusses suggestions by others (Zoon politikon, Homo economicus) and after hinting that Homo bellicosus may be an appropriate name, finally settles on Homo sap.

This brought back memories of a visit to Sul Ross State University in beautiful Alpine, Texas in the late 1980s, where a retired Marine and Range Science professor--as I recollect--gave a lively lecture on the very challenging impacts to date of humans on the ecosphere. This outspoken flat-topped former Marine thought Homo saphead was an appropriate name for our species.

Thoughts After Meetings/Discussions Dealing with Conservation and Sustainable Community

From: Foods of the Americas Gathering
Our natural resource base and energy sources are finite. Thus there are limits on growth and consumption, ... and if we are going to truly consider quality life for all humans and associated life forms, we have already surpassed these limits. No amount of human creativity, planning, actions can really challenge this situation.

Therefore, the only solution is to lower inputs-throughputs-outputs for human systems, and conserve, conserve, conserve! Notions that we can continue to rampantly convert Nature & Land to artificial, and that this will be better for Life is "hubric" and without scientific basis.

"Wes Jackson's claim--that there is now and always be, a billionfold gap between our ignorance and our knowledge--reminds us that we are living in an immensely complex natural world. This, combined with the difficulties that we have created with our technology, makes one wonder if there is any reason for hope ... ." ... "... when we temper our optimistic view of the power of knowledge, we are left with a profound and necessary sense of humility and a great and well-grounded hope for the future."
From: Joe Marocco (2008) “Climate Change and the Limits of Knowledge” in The Virtues of Ignorance: Complexity, Sustainability, and the Limits of Knowledge Univ. of Kentucky Press

We really must lower inputs-throughputs-outputs of artificial energy flux & material flow in world systems and subsystems for them to be sustainable re quality life for humans and many other forms of life. We'll have to recognize this and deal with it as local and global "communities" if we are to have holistically resilient and healthful systems at all levels of biological hierarchy (cells, tissues, organs, body organ systems, individuals, population, community, ecosystem, ecosphere).

From: Food Council Meeting
Designated/anointed "Green"/"Sustainable" examples ("community" gardens, most conventional organic farms, magnet schools, health and wellness campuses, etc.) which are dependent on high inputs and are truly just "appendages" of a larger broken system, are not the answer for moving toward holistic, comprehensive sustainability involving conservation. Moreover, these so-called "Green"/Sustainable" "exemplars" may temporarily prop up very broken whole systems and delay real movement toward sustainability and long-term health at various systems levels.
We shouldn't halt: development of community gardens, organic farming, special schools trying to address specific "needs, various health and wellness efforts, etc. But we do need to overtly recognize their limitations and failings and work hard, agonize, and critically and creatively think about how we might muddle through the ecological mess we've created and truly work toward fixing it/cleaning it up.
High input-throughput-output artificial systems (which could be crudely determined by per capita consumption and population numbers) are the cause of the destruction of Nature and healthy life systems. No amount of human creativity (planning/design/implementation) can get around that fact. Therefore it is critical that we proceed cautiously and tentatively toward lower input-throughput-output systems.