Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Can a Newly Discovered Fungus really solve our Plastic Waste Problem?

 Image Collage by Genesis: Go Ahead... Make My Lunch.

A team of students from Yale University have discovered a fungus which apparently enjoys snacking on polyurethane, one of the most commonly used plastics. Led by Scott Strobel, a molecular biochemist at Yale, the students found the fungus in the Amazon in Ecuador on their annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory

Experiments by a team of researchers found that the fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspore, can thrive on eating plastic in an anaerobic environment—like that which you find at the bottom of landfills.

Image Collage by Genesis: P. microspora under microscope.

This is a significant development, because the implications for a number of reasons, beginning with the global problem which plastic has become.

‘Houston, we have some plastic.’

We all know that plastic is a bit of an Achilles heel of modern civilization…and that may be a bit of an understatement. Sure, plastic is light, flexible, inexpensive, convenient, easy to work with and oh-so-disposable. Aye, there’s the rub.

We all like to believe that most plastic is recycled. Apart from the horrendous amounts of energy which is spent collecting, processing and then re-purposing that plastic, it’s a pretty good idea, too.  Except it’s nowhere near reality.

According to a study published in Science, plastic pollution is growing, particularly in underdeveloped coastal countries. 

Chart: Plastic Pollution is Growing, Credit: Jambeck et al, Science, 2015

This, of course, contributes to the notorious plastic flotilla in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (also known as the Great Pacific garbage patch), not to mention the plastic debris littering the shorelines of all major bodies of water around the world. 

Image: Great Pacific garbage patch 

Here’s some more interesting tid-bits about plastic which you may not be aware of…

Inforgaphic: The Truth about Plastic 

Biology to the Rescue?

So clearly something has to be done about plastic, right? The Yale scientists certainly seem to think so. In fact, they’re not the first to suggest a biological approach to solving the plastic waste problem, particularly in the Pacific.

Be it mushrooms from the Amazon rainforest or genetically engineered E. coli bacteria, scientists are scouring the natural world (and their very unnatural laboratories) searching for ‘silver-bullet’ organisms to clean up our mess.

Does anyone else see any inherent danger in this approach? Have these scientists forgotten the lessons learned from cane toads in Australia, killer bees in North America, and every other attempt to introduce a foreign species into a new environment?

Of course not, because materialist scientists don’t seem to learn from experience.  Their arrogance and hubris makes them believe more in their theories than in proven reality, believing in the technocratic dogma of the incessant march of progress which promises them (and the world): ‘this time will be different.’

Materialist Science: Playing with forces it cannot comprehend…nor control.

In July of last year, PeapodLife took on the question of GMO Foods in its blog by pointing out the dangers of introducing new species into the environment. Read the article and watch a related video on the introduction of foreign species here.

Despite what the scientists will tell you, they are in no way, shape or form ‘in control’ of the ‘technology’ they are purporting to wield, here. Anyone who’s seen Jurassic Park can tell you that!

Image Collage by PeapodLife: Jurassic Park Genetic Power, Nature & Science montage

So, are we saying giant mushrooms are going to devour New York City or Tokyo?

Image collage by Genesis Eco Fund: Rampaging Gumba, NYC.

No, of course not. We just couldn’t resist the image.

What we are saying is that nature is governed by chaos, and there is positive chaos, the chaos observable in evolutionary fractals—defined to a large part by the Fibonacci sequence—for example, the pattern of petals in a blooming flower or branches of a growing tree. But then there’s also the negative chaos of a devolving fractal: water as it’s being flushed down the toilet.

Rainforest Keeps on Giving; Humans Keep on Taking

Having said all that, that’s not even the greatest problem with this story about the plastic-eating mushroom. As always, it’s a story of exploitation. Here’s thing in nature, let’s see how we, the human race, can exploit it to the maximum of our abilities.

You would think that when we find such organisms that there would be a sudden and universal outcry: “Hey! Maybe there are other as-yet-undiscovered organisms that can solve other major problems we face!” But sadly no, rainforest devastation and resource extraction continues globally at an unprecedented pace.

Image collage by Genesis Eco Fund: Rainforest devastation: cutting; burning.

And the discovery of new species with ‘practical applications’ like our friend Pestalotiopsis microspora, doesn’t help precisely because it, too, is just another example of humanity’s culture of exploitation. Not harmony, not mutual symbiosis, but the same old ‘we’re at the top of the food chain so the world is ours to command, control, use and abuse as we see fit’ mentality which is responsible for how we’ve completely mismanaged and ruined the biosphere.

Be a REAL human being. Get an ecosystem and develop a harmonious and mutually symbiotic relationship with it. Allow the knowledge which comes from that experience to inform all your actions, inquiries, decisions, and goals.

Take Responsibility. Reduce your plastic consumption.

10 Tips to Reducing your Plastic Use

1.    Use reusable bags, not plastic or paper.
2.    Drop the bottled water.
3.    Don’t use single-use plastic packaging (buy in bulk when you can).
4.    Leave the sandwich bags on the shelf and use reusable sandwich boxes instead.
5.    Go the classy route and use silverware, not plastic-ware.
6.    Let the ’90s go — go digital… no more CDs, plastic CD cases, and so on.
7.    Use a refillable dispenser for your soap and cleaning supplies.
8.    Use a nice “to-go” mug instead of cups made of plastic or styrofoam (don’t even want to go into that issue).
9.    Try to buy products that don’t contain hard-to-recycle plastics (when you need to buy something, that is).
10.    Better yet, find products not made of plastic at all (again, when you absolutely have to buy something).
Source: http://greenlivingideas.com/2011/08/01/plastic-world-infographic/

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ecosystems & Mining:
Natural Answer to Oxygen & Air Quality?

Collage by GenesisEcoFund: Could  Ecosystems Be the Answer to Oxygen & Air Quality in Mining?

Mining companies pump countless billions of cubic metres of air every year deep underground, and spend billions of dollars every year on liquid oxygen, oxygen masks, and oxygen extraction and condensing machinery.

When we began looking at the topic of oxygen, air quality and mining, we approached it primarily from the perspective of human health and safety—workers need clean air to breathe. It turns out that oxygen is an essential element in the ore extraction process—especially gold—aiding in the separation of the desired ore from the surrounding material.

So the short answer to the question, could ecosystems have some role to play in producing fresh oxygen and cleaning the air in deep mines is: we’re not sure; it really depends. On what? Many factors.

For starters, we cannot even begin to look at a pilot study with the mining industry without some kind of quantifiable figures: how much O2 is produced per X sq ft. of ecosystem? This is just a reality of trying to apply an ecosystem to an industry which is all about efficiency and exploitation (let’s face it: there is no other way to describe extraction of precious minerals from the earth).

Mining as an activity is fundamentally concerned with outputs. It has no concept of inputs—few resource extraction industries do, with the exception of some leaders in forestry which have learned the economic benefits of sustainable forestry practices (planting trees to replace the ones which were cut down). 

A mining operation will want to know how big an ecosystem they need (or how many individual ecosystem “modules”) for how many cubic feet of mine shaft per person? But here again: the mining industry is going to be about “what’s the maximum oxygen I can get for the minimum amount of ecosystem?” They will look at an ecosystem not as a superorganism, a living thing, something of intrinsic value, but as a cog in their machine—the big mining machine in this case—just as they do not consider the rock and ore they are mining as anything other than a resource to be extracted and profited from.

It’s not an attack. It’s not even a criticism. It’s just an honest and objective look at an industry which may be fundamentally incompatible with the essence of what ecosystems are all about.  Any industry/use which only cares about what the ecosystem outputs are, and not what they themselves need to input, has no grasp of harmony and mutual symbiosis.

So what about air quality? Could all the dust and soot in a mining operation offer an ecosystem a veritable treasure-trove of minerals and nutrients? Surely they could be considered an input.

Sadly, an overabundance of nutrients in a high order rainforest ecosystem results in an abundance of algae growth. In other words, considering how much dust and soot we’re talking about in the typical mining operation, it would take an impossibly large ecosystem to process all the contaminants in the air.  As a matter of fact, it would be very difficult to keep such particulates out of any ecosystem placed in that environment.

It definitely would make for a very interesting pilot study—to see if ecosystem technology could be utilized by the mining industry in a cost-effective way. Such a pilot project would require a significant amount of funding, a mining company to partner with, and participation by an academic institution.

Genesis is certainly not opposed to looking into the matter further. Despite what the initial indications are, we are not mining experts; we may be missing some key piece of the puzzle. We will definitely take some time digging deeper into this matter in the future.

Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

More than just Cooperative:
Ecosystems are key to a Better World

Infographics by GenesisEcoFund: More than Cooperative Co-ops:
If Cooperation is the cornerstone to a better society, ecosystems are the foundation to a better humanity

The idea of co-operatives is not new, just as the concept of co-operation is as old as humanity itself. But is co-operation all we need to overcome the challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century?

Co-operation is a very human concept. It suggests not only an agreement, but a conscious choice: a decision to co-operate versus some other alternative (i.e. compete). This then not only makes it an aspect of higher-order thinking, it ends up in the mental frameworks of cost-benefit analysis, etc.

It turns out there is something even more fundamental, more primal and far more instinctive than cooperation. And as always, it is found at the heart of nature, ecological relationships and at the heart of every ecosystem.

Harmony and mutual symbiosis is the foundation and framework of all nature. Competition exists at multiple levels within this broader, superior framework, but since competition serves the whole in the big picture, it too then is an aspect of harmony and mutual symbiosis.

What is good for one organism is ALWAYS beneficial to the ecosystem as a whole. Unless that organism happens to be a human.

Human beings are the only species who do not comprehend this fundamental law of nature: that any action taken in the microcosm will be reflected in the macrocosm. Thus, any behaviour by any particular organism must be aligned with the goal of the macro ecological goal, or it must be discarded.

Now clearly, since harmony and mutually symbiotic relationships are everywhere in nature, right down to single-celled organisms, such harmony is spontaneous, instinctive, inherent…individual organisms do not exactly have a say in the matter.

The fact that human beings do have a say in the matter is precisely what is to blame for civilizations’ dismal track record of abhorrent environmental stewardship…or better put, our complete inability to respect and maintain a harmonious and mutually symbiotic relationship with the planet.

This, despite the fact that most humans comprehend the importance of cooperation. So what’s going on?

How is it that human beings have such a dismal relationship with the macro environment, despite having such a firm grasp of co-operation, particularly in our personal and professional relationships? 

The answer comes back to the fact that co-operation is a limited human concept with a limited reach. Nature doesn’t function on cooperation, it functions on that more primal, instinctive, foundational thing…harmony and mutual symbiosis. 

Humanity’s compulsion to cooperate with fellow humans when need be and exploit everything and everyone else has led to the total lack of comprehension of what harmony and mutual symbiosis actually is.

So here we have organizations called “Co-operatives” or “CO-Ops” who like to think of themselves as superior to typical for-profit enterprise. What gives them that sense of superiority—a kind of moral superiority, as it were—is precisely the fact that their actions in the world are more likely to be beneficial to individuals, community and society by virtue that their cornerstone is co-operation. 

But sadly, when it comes to SUSTAINABILITY, co-ops are just as hamstrung as all other corporations and organizations…running around trying to apply this human-engineered system or that human-derived solution to problems which are INFINITELY MORE COMPLEX and FAR BEYOND THE REACH of human conceptions.

Even a Co-op, though theoretically positioned to do what is best for society, has no special advantage when it comes to sustainability, because nature cannot rely on its cornerstone of co-operation. Nature must function on something deeper, more foundational and infinitely more powerful than mere cooperation. Nature must have harmony and mutual symbiosis.

And now co-ops can have it too.

If co-operation is the foundation for a better society, then imagine what can be achieved with ecosystems? Imagine what happens when organizational culture is based on harmony and mutual symbiosis?

Just as the concept of co-operation leads to the co-op culture, stronger communities, and a better society; so too, ecosystems will lead to a culture of harmony and mutual symbiosis, true sustainability, and a better humanity—able to maintain harmonic and mutually symbiotic relationships with ecology and the planet.  

As in the microcosm, so will it be in the macrocosm. Developing a harmonious and mutually symbiotic relationship with nature within the walls and halls of your organization, is what will inspire harmonious, symbiotic and bio-mimetic behaviours, innovations and solutions that truly work.

Take your co-op to the next level. That's what we mean by more cooperative co-ops. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Infant Allergies linked to Air Pollution
What can You Do to Protect Your Children?

Image by Genesis EcoFund: Shielding Infants from Air Pollution Could Help Prevent Allergies
"Allergic diseases constitute one of the most prevalent childhood illnesses. Several population studies have reported increased risks of developing allergy in relation to ambient air pollution exposure. However, there are only few studies on specific sensitization following children over longer time periods, with detailed assessment of exposure to air pollution.”
~ AAAAI American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology; January 2012
Landmark Canadian study surveyed 2,700 Children; Shows risk of Infant Exposure

We can add another study to the growing body of evidence that air pollution increases the chance of allergies and asthma in children. This new Canadian study is the first to link pollution and allergies to food, mould, pets and pests in infants.
"This study started by recruiting pregnant mothers in 2008. That continued until about 2012," Brauer told CBC News.

"The idea is to follow moms during pregnancy and the kids as they age, to look at the development of allergy and asthma in quite a detailed way."

"Those kids that had higher exposure to air pollution during their first year of life were at an increased risk of developing sensitivities and allergies," Brauer said.
Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/infant-allergies-linked-to-air-pollution-by-new-canadian-study-1.3060312
The study did not find a link between neo-natal exposure to pollution and allergies in children.

You can read the complete study by clicking the image/link below:

Image: Environmental Health Perspectives Infant Allergens Study

Of interest, was the finding that sensitivity rates appeared highest in Vancouver.

Image by Genesis EcoFund: Percentage of Children who develop sensitivity to Allergens, by City

Brauer told the CBC that the higher rates in Vancouver were not linked to air pollution but other factors, including the general affluence of the population in Vancouver.
"We know that populations that tend to be wealthier tend to have higher rates of allergies. Allergy is something that we seem to link to more affluent lifestyles, globally. So there may be something going on there," said Brauer.

"Of course there's other things: the vegetation, food, lifestyles — other factors that may differ between Vancouver and the other cities."
Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/infant-allergies-linked-to-air-pollution-by-new-canadian-study-1.3060312
General Effects of Air Pollution

Air pollution causes a range of respiratory symptoms, including
  • coughing,
  • throat irritation,
  • chest tightness,
  • wheezing,
  • shortness of breath
Higher air pollution levels have also been associated with a higher incidence of heart problems, including heart attacks, and toxic air pollutants can increase the risk of developing cancer. The following poster/pdf provides more information:

So What Can be Done?

Interestingly, the study found that several factors seemed to lower the risk of developing sensitivity to allergies, including:
  • A cat or dog in their house.
  • No attached garage on the house.
  • Eating dairy products, eggs, nuts or grains during the first year of life.
  • Attending daycare.
  • Having older siblings in the house.
The researchers also evaluated the use/type of the home’s ventilation system; with exposure to traffic-related air pollution assessed by measuring nitrogen dioxide levels at each child’s home address.

There seems to be an interesting connection between exposure to natural elements versus industrial ones. That is, exposure to pet hair, dander, etc. as well as other children or another sibling seemed to reduce sensitivity to allergens.

If we consider the ability of an indoor ecosystem to break down synthetic compounds and VOC’s, it seems like a natural extension to any preventative program to reduce allergies. Ecosystems  not only clean the air of pollution which many home ventilation  systems cannot filter, they also produce freshly oxygenated air, as well as ionized water vapour which acts like a magnet attracting airborne particles.

Genesis Eco Fund looks forward to the day when there is a critical mass of ecosystems in homes across Canada so similar studies can compare the effects of ecosystems on the development of sensitivities to allergies in children.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

EARTH DAY REFLECTION: You know that relaxed, refreshed, recharged feeling you get from nature? Why is that, do you think?

Image by Genesis Eco Fund: Earth Day Reflection: Mechanical Approach v.s. Sustainable Approach

“A mechanical, systems-based approach can only produce more exploitation because its foundation is separation. True sustainability emerges when we consciously embrace an ecosystems-based approach.” 
~ Wolfgang Amelung, Inventor & Co-Founder of Genesis EcoFund
Every Earth Day it’s the same thing: the world expounds on the virtues and necessities of saving the planet, and they point to the perils and evils of one kind of technology, while gushing over the benefits and glories of a different brand of technology, all the while missing the point entirely.

Have you ever been in nature? You know that feeling that you get? That relaxed, refreshed, recharged, clear-headed, balanced feeling? Why is that, do you think?

Maybe it's because our TRUE NATURE is NOT the mechanical mind we have and are trapped in most of the time: all our systems, linear thinking, engineered solutions--and their antithesis, our "escapism," desire for randomness and abstract thought, wanton destruction (even if its in movies, video games, or on the nightly news).

Maybe our true nature is reflected in the highest expressions of Mother Nature...not what we superficially see and describe in primitive linear relationships (competition, survival of the fittest, etc), but precisely what we don't see and what the mechanical mind cannot comprehend fully. But let's give it a shot anyway...

To truly comprehend the meaning of “Earth Day,” we must begin to comprehend that “the earth” has always had a second meaning as it applies to humanity. While this meaning is not exactly “hidden” in the strictest sense, it has been lost on most people.

“Earth” is another word for “soil;” the hume in the word hummus (a very “earthy” substance indeed); that is the stuff; earthstuff, if you will…the flesh of the earth. This sense of the word applies to the hume in human. In truth, the word human is a compound word meaning earth and mind (hume and manas).

Image: Earth, Hands  
Source: breisebreiseleighgoleire1969.wordpress.com: Breise! Breise! Extra! Extra!: News Headlines from around the world Septmber 11th 2011

THAT is why we feel so good in nature...because on some level we feel as though we've come home...held in the comforting bosom of our Mother's healing embrace.  In a very real sense, when we think about Earth Day, we should not avoid thinking of ourselves.

But we do. We see ourselves as somehow separate from the earth when in truth, we are the earth; it is us. This is both a physical and metaphysical phenomenon: it is a reality in every sense and at every level.  It is not the whole truth, but it is far closer to the complete picture than modern science (or even contemporary religion, for that matter) comprehends.

And therein lies the problem. We separate ourselves into a distinct category (human world v.s. the natural world). We believe ourselves to be lords over nature: that it somehow is ours to do with as we please; subject to any and every monstrosity our mechanical minds can conceive of.

What we call progress and civilization, built on so-called human ingenuity and technology, has been at the expense of the earth; of nature; and our own fundamental nature as earth! Our relationship with the planet is directly 1:1 analogous to our relationships with ourselves and each other.

Production, consumption, construction, destruction, addiction, affliction, subjugation, medication…anxiety, stress, SUFFERING.

And what’s our response? To continue the insanity, as Albert Einstein described it; that is, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Humanity believes so-called advanced technology—the same old linear, binary, mechanical systems-based approach made more complicated and sophisticated—will save it.  Economists actually believe they can achieve perpetual growth by returning indefinitely to the wellspring of efficiency. But efficiency is at best only 1/6th of sustainability.

Image Collage by PeapodLife: It takes more than “efficiency” to be “GREEN”

All it takes is a conscious, honest, objective look within oneself and any and all of nature on this planet and in the vast expanse of the universe to know the utter tragicomedy of modern humanity’s thinking…nothing in the physical universe lasts forever: not even planets, stars or galaxies.

So what’s the Answer?

It’s quite simple, really. We advance with a conscious appreciation of authentic nature. We throw away the crude linearity of a binary existence—the legacy of our mechanical systems-based approach—and embrace the infinite complexity of an ecosystems approach.

Instead of imposing a mechanical bias on nature (which is a crude and superficial understanding at best) and subjecting it to the unspeakable horrors such cold, heartless calculations create in the real world, we expand our consciousness and with objectivity embrace the reality of nature…harmony and mutual symbiosis...as modelled by ecosystems.

Only nature can create authentic sustainability. And even then, we must acknowledge and accept that the cycles of birth, death and sacrifice are fundamental to the nature of all things—ourselves, our civilization, and our planet is no exception.

The beauty is, once you start embracing an ecosystems approach—once you immerse yourself in the electromagnetic field of an indoor ecosystem and open your consciousness to your participation in it and relationship with it—you settle into the unavoidable laws of the universe…inspiration, innovation and comprehension follows.

By comprehension we mean a deep, conscious appreciation and direct experience of the nature of yourself and all things; this is not an intellectual pursuit, and cannot be achieved by reading books or any other intellectual means. However, it can and must be experienced for real personal growth; and is the REAL SECRET behind every major paradigm-shifting advancement in any and all fields of pursuit:

  • Sir Isaac Newton discovered Gravity meditating under an apple tree
  • Einstein discovered relativity while taking a bubble bath
  • Beethoven's 5th symphony was inspired by birdsong
  • and countless other examples

ONLY nature has this power...to help us achieve our highest potential, because that is the very purpose and meaning of EVOLUTION itself!

And, as it turns out, conscious comprehension and direct experience of the nature of ourselves and all things is the birthright of humanity, the dream of every living being, and represents the real “progress” and true sustainability for our individual 'earth,' and the planet as a whole.

In other words, "No man is an island." What would the planet be without the Sun's rays and the moon's rhythms? So too, we as individual 'earths' need our immediate environment to support us and vibrate in ways which optimize our lives--mind, body and soul--so that inspiration, innovation and solutions to so many of the problems the planet faces will automatically be aligned to the underlying paradigm of life itself: harmony and mutual symbiosis.

This is the mission of Genesis Eco Fund, and our hope for you and the whole planet from this Earth Day forward.

To look at all this in a slightly different way, contemplate the following quotation which has been attributed to Chief Seattle, although according to Barefoot Windwalker it is neither “historically accurate, nor even something that Chief Seattle said” regardless…

“This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
~ Chief Seattle
Source: barefootsworld.net: CHIEF SEATTLE'S LETTER
Image: Quote by Chief Seattle, “This we know: the earth does not belong to man…” 
Source: www.plentifulplanet.com

Related Links:
Earth Day Canada
Earth Day Network

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What is Mother Telling us about Population Growth?

"As a woman leader, I thought I brought a different kind of leadership. I was interested in women's issues, in bringing down the population growth rate... as a woman, I entered politics with an additional dimension - that of a mother."
~ Benazir Bhutto 
Source: brainyquote.com: BrainyQuote: Population Growth Quotes
Image Collage by GenesisEcoFund.org: What is Mother Telling us about Population Growth? 

As a tribute to Earth Day, the film “Mother: Caring for 7 Billion” is free to watch for the month of April! This means you have just a little over a week to watch the full-length version of this award-winning documentary about global population growth online. Here’s the trailer:

Video: Mother Caring for 7 Billion Trailer
Source: YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPc9BdWVl5s

If that trailer is not explanation enough, here’s what the filmmakers have to say:
“Mother, the film, breaks a 40-year taboo by bringing to light an issue that silently fuels our most pressing environmental, humanitarian and social crises - population growth.”
And there it is in a nutshell: there are simply too many of us. No ecosystem can support an imbalance for too long. No ecological framework—even as immense, complex and diverse as this planet—is immune to the consequences of having too many of one particular species.

Even if that species were really conscientious about living in balance and harmony with the rest of the planet (which we are not), there is no getting around the sheer mathematics. What’s worse, the mathematics are not working in our favour—nor the favour of the planet.

The film does a splendid job of illustrating the various issues and challenges around population growth, including the perceived negative economic impacts of negative population growth. In other words, despite the fact that population growth has turned negative in some industrialized countries around the world, there are powerful forces aligned in favour of continued population expansion…be it religious dogma and cultural traditions to economic dogma and the belief in perpetual growth.

This is ludicrous. Utter madness. A complete lack of awareness, comprehension and appreciation for the nature of…well…NATURE!

But let’s not go there just yet. It is all too easy for economists, businesspeople, and scientists who busy themselves with high-tech, biotech, etc. to dismiss arguments about what is or is not ‘natural’ by chanting the universally accepted mantras of ‘efficiency’ and ‘innovation.’ So here’s Richard Heinberg, journalist, educator and expert on energy, economic and ecological issues to put the slow drone of consensus materialist intellectual dogma to rest…

Video: The Law of Diminishing Returns

In the simplest terms, then, what this law tells those believing in unlimited growth is what natural law tells ALL creatures, communities, civilizations, ecosystems, planets, stars, solar systems, even galaxies:
“Nothing lives forever; nothing grows forever…diminishment, decay and DEATH is inevitable. Sure, renewal is possible and very real. But renewal, the great circle of life, cannot advance without periodic death and destruction.”
~ Mother Nature
Only the ego believes it can cheat death. And it is clear that ego is behind all those ‘grand religions, traditions and economic dogmas’ which encourage ongoing population growth.

Consider an Ecosystem for your Family…

A selfish child throws a tantrum when he can’t get the latest video game console, or a dog, or a little brother to play with. Hypnotized by desire, the child is completely oblivious to the fact his father is unemployed and his mother is working two jobs just trying to make ends meet, while the family slips deeper into debt.

Having a connectedness with our family gives us the awareness of what our household—our parents and/or siblings—can bear. We develop empathy and compassion and seek ways to alleviate the suffering of those around us. The result is we become net contributors in a positive way. We become creators; problem solvers; true innovators…inspired…as opposed to being simply consumers; inventors of new gadgets and/or schemes for consumption.

Having an ecosystem in our life—in our home, office, boardroom, school, church, etc—helps us to reconnect with our bigger family—our GREATER MOTHER and our brothers and sisters around the globe.

Connecting to the ecosystem connects us to the wisdom and inspiration which resides at the very heart of nature; we become in-tune with what works and what doesn’t; and in no uncertain terms, what’s right and what isn’t. This isn’t an intellectual knowledge, it’s an experiential knowledge. It’s an intuitive kind of knowing: something that you feel in your gut, heart and bones. And it’s the kind of knowledge which informs us, in an individual basis, what we can do to help our Mother care for the other 6.999… billion on this planet.

The full-length version of Mother: Caring for 7 Billion will be available to watch for free on YouTube for the remainder of April, 2015. Click HERE to watch Mother show you what you need to know about population growth:

Image: Screenshot of Mother: Caring for 7 Billion

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mindfulness and Ecology:
How do they Relate?

Image: Mind Full or Mindful? 

What is Mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”
Without any doubt, most of us live very mind-full lives. That is—as startlingly yet simply illustrated in the below photo, our minds are a cluster-fest of thoughts, emotions, concerns, fears, anxieties, plans, hopes, fantasies, wants, don’t-wants, and the list goes on.

Image: Mind Full 

Without question or exception, we all suffer from this “crazy mind” syndrome. And while some suffer more than others (especially those with Autism-spectrum disorders like ADD, ADHD, Schizophrenia, epilepsy, etc.) very few people can claim to live in complete mental peace and equanimity at all times.

And yet, mental tranquility is very much a component of true relaxation. The mind-body/body-brain connection is well documented. And while there are many practices and techniques to achieve it—most relating to meditation—a quiet mind is not necessarily the same as being mindful; nor is it a prerequisite to be mindful.

In meditation, for instance, we may seek to achieve a quiet, receptive state of consciousness…a quiet mind. However, one cannot force the mind to be quiet and remain truly relaxed and peaceful. Nor can one sit in frustration as the seemingly endless series of thoughts emerge one after the next, and expect to achieve a quiet mind. The frustration itself feeds the crazy mind. One can, however, simply be mindful of the mind that is full.

In other words, being mindful is simply observing, being fully present and aware of what is going on around us and within us—in our hearts, our mind and our body—at all times, including during meditation. Being mindful doesn’t mean we have an empty mind, it means we are not allowing ourselves to be caught up in the stories our mind is telling us. We observe the stories arise, and then we observe them pass. We do not dwell on them.

Try it now:

Video: Guided Meditation with Eckhart Tolle

In meditation, this technique for simple mindfulness—coined psychological kung-fu by Samael Aun Weor, but also known as ‘no meditation’—eventually leads to a completely quiet, peaceful mind. Like watching the waves slowly die down after a storm has passed, the ripples in our psyche settle down and eventually—if we do not get caught up in the waves and/or produce new mental storms to whip them up once more—the mind becomes as calm and smooth as the surface of a mountain lake, perfectly reflecting the world as if it were a mirror.

Image: Mountain Lake calm water glassy mirror 

And, it is upon this perfect reflection that inspiration, imagination, insight and experiences of pure joy can be witnessed. In other words, when the mind settles down, the true nature and substance of the consciousness can be perceived directly.

Mindfulness and Nature
"Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness."
~ Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks 
If it is true that observing ourselves—our own mind, heart, body, can lead to a stillness in consciousness, an emptiness into which true insights can emerge, then what about being mindful about the world around us? What happens if we apply the same principles used in mindfulness meditation while in nature? Actually, a very interesting phenomenon takes place. We begin to comprehend its true nature.

For example, Rudolph Steiner, founder of the Waldorf Schools in 1919, said “All of nature begins to whisper its secrets to us through its sounds. Sounds that were previously incomprehensible to our soul now become the meaningful language of nature.” Source: http://www.awaken.com/2013/02/quotes-by-rudolf-steiner/

This sentiment is most certainly echoed by countless esotericists, mystics and practitioners of mindfulness, from practitioners of Japan’s unique brand of Shinto Buddhism (which incorporates Japan’s traditional ancient Shinto tradition of nature worship and Buddhism) to the Dalai Lama.

Video: Mindfulness in Nature

But this is not to say that the relationship between mindfulness and nature has gone unnoticed in more secular circles. Books like Awake in the Wild by Mark Coleman are an example.

Image: Cover, Awake in the Wild 

There are also numerous scholarly articles addressing the issue. Consider the abstract from Andrew J. Howell’s, Nature connectedness: Associations with well-being and mindfulness:
“Wilson’s (1984) biophilia hypothesis predicts that people’s psychological health is associated with their relationship to nature. Two studies examined associations among nature connectedness, well-being, and mindfulness in samples of undergraduate students while socially desirable responding was controlled. Significant associations emerged among measures of nature connectedness and indices of well-being (in Study 1 and Study 2) and mindfulness (in Study 2). Results are discussed in relation to possible mediators and moderators of the association between nature connectedness and mental health.”
This is all well and good, but let’s be realistic. With the massive urban intensification programs being pursued worldwide in a bid for efficiency and curbing the impacts of population explosion, access to that which can be seen and experienced as “nature” are becoming rarer and more far afield than ever before—for most people.

The term Nature Deficit Disorder or NDD has emerged only in the past few decades as a direct result of people’s changing relationships with their world—particularly as young people switch to virtual representations of the natural world delivered on interactive devices—and the impact it is having on their minds.

Mindfulness and Ecosystems

Ecosystems are a way of bringing nature in its highest expression back into our daily lives, so that we can be mindful of it and our relationship to it. Rather than being surrounded by lifeless, artificial, and largely toxic environments at work, at school or at home, we can surround ourselves with vibrant colours, lush textures, and living sounds of conscious super organisms: trillions of creatures living together in harmony and mutual symbiosis.

Image by Genesis: Mindfulness & Ecosystems

To be mindful in the presence of an ecosystem, is to open the door to a whole new level of consciousness, a whole new world of peaceful discovery. It’s not a world that can be described; it is one that must be experienced. But that’s how it goes with matters of the mind: be it the busy, crazy mind that’s full, or the peaceful, tranquil, mind that’s aware, receptive and present…mindful.