An update from Shaun on the BBC transphobia saga

As you may recall, I did a short post this past November about bigotry, which included a video about the BBC’s transphobia. Shaun put out another video in early December following up on that, and we have now come to part three:

Unsurprisingly, the folks at the BBC seem to be hoping that if they just ignore the problem (that being people who don’t like big news companies spreading transphobic bullshit), it’ll just go away. Wouldn’t it just be terrible if instead of going away, the problem got bigger? On an unrelated note, there’s some interesting stuff in the description of this video. A sample letter, a “contact us” link – all that jazz! It’s amazing to think how far the internet has come!

When research and development starts to feel like a delaying tactic

I am endlessly frustrated by the fact that there are so many things that we could be doing about climate change, and we just…


Even without the obvious large-scale stuff like replacing fossil fuels with renewable and nuclear power, we could be rebuilding or relocating cities to deal with sea level rise, and building greenhouses, and making sure everyone who wants one can have a solar water heater, and the list goes on.

But I think the one that annoys me the most is carbon capture and sequestration. It’s not that I think it’s a bad idea to pull CO2 out of the air and sequester it; quite the opposite. It’s that of all the challenges created by this climate crisis, this is perhaps the easiest one to tackle, and something we could start doing at a massive scale today if we wanted to. Instead of doing that (and eliminating fossil fuel use), we seem to be investing money in ever-more elaborate ways to capture carbon using “cutting-edge” technology.

“Our new method still harnesses the power of liquid metals but the design has been modified for smoother integration into standard industrial processes,” Daeneke said.

“As well as being simpler to scale up, the new tech is radically more efficient and can break down CO2 to carbon in an instant.

“We hope this could be a significant new tool in the push towards decarbonisation, to help industries and governments deliver on their climate commitments and bring us radically closer to net zero.”

A provisional patent application has been filed for the technology and researchers have recently signed a $AUD2.6 million agreement with Australian environmental technology company ABR, who are commercialising technologies to decarbonise the cement and steel manufacturing industries.

Co-lead researcher Dr Ken Chiang said the team was keen to hear from other companies to understand the challenges in difficult-to-decarbonise industries and identify other potential applications of the technology.

“To accelerate the sustainable industrial revolution and the zero carbon economy, we need smart technical solutions and effective research-industry collaborations,” Chiang said.

The steel and cement industries are each responsible for about 7% of total global CO2 emissions (International Energy Agency), with both sectors expected to continue growing over coming decades as demand is fuelled by population growth and urbanisation.

Technologies for carbon capture and storage (CCS) have largely focused on compressing the gas into a liquid and injecting it underground, but this comes with significant engineering challenges and environmental concerns. CCS has also drawn criticism for being too expensive and energy-intensive for widespread use.

Daeneke, an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow, said the new approach offered a sustainable alternative, with the aim of both preventing CO2 emissions and delivering value-added reutilisation of carbon.

“Turning CO2 into a solid avoids potential issues of leakage and locks it away securely and indefinitely,” he said.

“And because our process does not use very high temperatures, it would be feasible to power the reaction with renewable energy.”

The Australian Government has highlighted CCS as a priority technology for investment in its net zero plan, announcing a $1 billion fund for the development of new low emissions technologies.

How the tech works

The RMIT team, with lead author and PhD researcher Karma Zuraiqi, employed thermal chemistry methods widely used by industry in their development of the new CCS tech.

The “bubble column” method starts with liquid metal being heated to about 100-120C.

Carbon dioxide is injected into the liquid metal, with the gas bubbles rising up just like bubbles in a champagne glass.

As the bubbles move through the liquid metal, the gas molecule splits up to form flakes of solid carbon, with the reaction taking just a split second.

That is genuinely neat. I think it’s amazing that we can do that, and I have no doubt that there are going to be good uses for that technology in the future.

But, as I said earlier, we have everything we need to start large-scale carbon sequestration right away, without using any fancy new technology. As was mentioned in the interview I embedded in yesterday’s agriculture post, we could take existing farmland that’s not currently in use, plant cover crops, bale them up, and store them where they can’t rot. We could pull vast amounts of carbon out of the air by doing that, and it would almost certainly require fewer resources than elaborate processes like these liquid metal bubblers. This obsession a lot of people seem to have with finding some technological “quick fix” seems like a desperate ploy to avoid having to change, and to justify continued inaction.

The problem is not technical, it’s political.

Thank you for reading. If you find my work interesting, useful, or entertaining, please share it with others, and please consider joining the group of lovely people who support me at Life costs money, alas, and owing to my immigration status in Ireland, this is likely to be my only form of income for the foreseeable future, so if you are able to help out, I’d greatly appreciate it. The beauty of crowdfunding is that even as little as $1 per month ends up helping a great deal if enough people do it. You’d be supporting both my nonfiction and my science fiction writing, and you’d get early access to the fiction.

From home gardens to communal greenhouses: changing agriculture for a changing climate

Before getting to the main point, I just wanted to vent for a moment. When I was looking through articles on food prices, two caught my attention for the same reason – they talked about the predicted price increases, but in discussing causes, they limited themselves to “supply chain problems” and corporate greed. The first article was, unsurprisingly, Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire; I would have been shocked if they mentioned climate change. The second I find a tad more worrisome, and it’s abc15 in Arizona, a “local” news source. The media’s love for ignoring climate change is a well-known phenomenon, but I find it discouraging that even in the most obvious circumstance, with “bad weather” being a known factor in the ongoing rise in prices, it’s not even mentioned. This kind of “reporting”, whether through malice or incompetence, serves to downplay the severity of the crisis we’re in, and to slow any efforts to respond to it.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I want to dig into the issue of food prices and agriculture a bit, as well as what we can be doing to both prepare our food supply for a hotter, more chaotic climate, and to decrease agricultural emissions.

These days, food shortages are a matter of policy. We produce enough food to feed everyone, but that’s not actually the goal of a lot of global food production. Things that humans could be eating, like grains, are used to feed livestock, so that wealthy countries have access to unlimited beef, pork, and chicken. Food that was produced for humans is left to rot because giving it to the hungry either wouldn’t generate profit, or would actually cost money. We create artificial scarcity for profit, and rather than rationing food to make sure everyone gets fed, we ration it to make sure those with money can buy as much as they want – by increasing prices. This is further complicated by the nature of our “just-in-time” production and distribution system, which is designed to maximize profits by removing the costs of buying more than a business needs, and of storing the excess. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted this problem, as there was a sudden spike in demand for certain goods, in a system that has no slack. Further, the same profit motive has always resulted in mistreatment of those people – like truck drivers – which means that they are also stretched to their limits. For all the pandemic and the Suez Canal incident put the supply chain in the spotlight, the relentless greed of the aristocracy was already starting to cause problems well before that.

As with so much else, there is a great deal that needs to change if we want a better future; with climate change already affecting global agriculture, and still on track to collapse the world’s fisheries by 2050, the time to make those changes is now. When I wrote about this before, I focused on factory-style production of high-protein algal and bacterial foods. I still think they’re something we should invest in right away (along with things like lab-grown meat), both because of the potential to provide a great deal of food, and because it’s a relatively new technology. There are going to be challenges in scaling it up, and would be better to run into unforeseen problems before large portions of the population are dependent on this stuff for survival. That said, I’m generally of the opinion that we would be wise to invest in a diverse array of food sources, both to distribute food production closer to where it’s consumed, and to reduce the chance of something disrupting the whole world’s supply. That’s why I like the community greenhouse solution that Aron Kowalski describes in the discussion below. The whole thing is worth your time, but I’m specifically talking about the bit starting around 29 minutes in:


Having collectively owned greenhouse farms for both food and recreation sounds like a brilliant idea to me. Even if you’re in an area without cold winters, climate-controlled green spaces like that can be a wonderful break from the world. It also makes me think of the Vietnamese arrangement that lets people who’re willing to do the work have space in a collectively owned rice field, to grow their own rice:

Even better, I’m willing to bet it would be possible to build indoor rice paddies pretty much anywhere in the world, even when the climate won’t allow them outdoors. The amount of food you can get that way never ceases to amaze me. I think it’s also worth noting that even with existing indoor farm models, there are models that combine vegetable farming with fish farming:

A sprawling new building that will soon be constructed in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania—at 250,000 square feet, roughly the size of two entire city blocks in Manhattan—will be the largest vertical farm in the world when it’s completed in 2023. Inside, though, you won’t find just vegetables: Tanks full of fish will sit near vertical stacks of trays filled with certified organic microgreens.

In the vertical farming industry, which is raising billions from investors, many startups grow greens like spinach or bok choy inside carefully-managed indoor spaces, and then selling the fresh produce to local consumers. But Brooklyn-based company Upward Farms is unusual in its use of fish, a version of a centuries-old practice called aquaponics. While others use synthetic fertilizer in their growing systems, the company uses fish waste that it filters out of tanks to provide nutrients to its plants. Both the fish and greens are then sold for food.

There’s a near-infinite array of ways to use communal greenhouse space, especially if the greenhouses are viewed as an integral part of the communities that work them. It can range from the methods currently being explored by for-profit enterprises, to dedicated food production zones like the aforementioned rice paddies, to space for people to experiment with new crops or techniques.  Additions or changes could be made with community approval, to better serve the wants or needs of that particular community, and to accommodate those interested in making food production their primary occupation. What’s important is that it’s done by and for the people, and that we change how things work to both allow and encourage people to take a little time to grow food.

As Kowalski said in the video at the top, it would be a good idea, on an individual level, to plant a garden if you have the ability, but remember that this is very much like the broader climate crisis – we need systemic change, and a revolutionary shift in societal priorities. We can have a society that clings to its greed as it withers away, or we can have one with indoor food forests with fish ponds, walking paths, and food carts, all next door to mostly-automated vertical farms that produce a majority of the food for the nearby population. I don’t think this would necessarily be “economical” as it’s reckoned today, but it would yield far richer rewards than any future the status quo can offer. Since we have to reshape society anyway, why not aim high?

Thank you for reading. If you find my work interesting, useful, or entertaining, please share it with others, and please consider joining the group of lovely people who support me at Life costs money, alas, and owing to my immigration status in Ireland, this is likely to be my only form of income for the foreseeable future, so if you are able to help out, I’d greatly appreciate it. The beauty of crowdfunding is that even as little as $1 per month ends up helping a great deal if enough people do it. You’d be supporting both my nonfiction and my science fiction writing, and you’d get early access to the fiction.

Happy M.L.K. Jr. Day!

Apparently the agriculture post is going to take me another day – sorry about that!

For any readers outside the United States, today is the celebration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a leader from the Civil Rights Movement, and a man whose legacy has been misused and abused since well before his death. Of the famous leaders of that movement, King is often viewed as the “correct” one because of his focus on nonviolence, but the reality is that he was treated as an extremist while he was alive, and many of those who love to praise him today are explicitly opposed to most or all of what he fought for. Fortunately, it seems that more and more people are speaking out against that kind of hypocritical crap, and telling the truth about King and his place in history.

A brief agricultural report

I’m putting together a larger post on this, and I wanted to take a little time with it, so here’s a sort of preview. It’s a report from a regular caller to The Majority Report on his perspective as a farmer about the state of things:

Basically, there are a number of factors converging to create what looks to be an ongoing food shortage that will cause more empty shelves in some places, and higher prices in others. It’s important to remember that a lot of problems like this are things that could be solved, but not if access to food is controlled by the markets, with rationing based on wealth rather than need.

As with so many other problems today, we have the resources and understanding to solve this. What we lack is an economic and political system that values life.

Stinkhorn Saturday

It’s been a long day and I’m tired, so I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Ze Frank. Enjoy these funky fungal facts! (content warning for “blue” humor? Do I need to do content warnings for that? I honestly don’t know.)

Good news, everyone! The U.S. healthcare system is a little bit less cruel and devious than it was a month ago!

The healthcare “system” of the United States is so deeply, unforgivably fucked up that it’s hard to put into words.


There is so much wrong with the system that even a layman like me could probably write several books on it, and barely scratch the surface. This is the result of running healthcare – or any other necessity for survival – for profit. There’s always going to be a fairly constant demand relative to the population, and people will do or pay everything they can to keep living. I’ll add that it’s even more fucked up when you consider that the corporate interests responsible for the massive amounts of pollution to which we’re exposed on a daily basis are also spending lots of money to keep people in power who will fight tooth and nail against the efforts to bring universal healthcare to the United States.

Until healthcare is treated as a right that can’t be used to extort money from people, the U.S. is going to keep having a system that profits off of death and misery.

That said, I’m a firm believer in the notion that the best way to get the people to empower themselves and bring about real democracy, is to do what we can to ensure their basic needs are met to the greatest degree possible, and to give them as much control over their limited time as possible. As the pandemic showed us, when people get a taste of what life could be like, they’re reluctant to go back to something worse. That means that while I think we absolutely should have universal healthcare that’s free at the point of service, I was glad to hear about the “No Surprises Act”, which goes a long way (though not all the way, as we’ll see) towards fixing one small part of what’s wrong with healthcare in the U.S.

For those unfamiliar with the complex array of bureaucracy and blood sacrifice that makes up what’s called a “healthcare system” in the United States, let me explain the need for this bill. Basically, if you’re not old enough to have Medicare (the kinda-universal healthcare that’s available to old people), you need some form of private insurance to make healthcare affordable. Most of the time, this insurance will not cover all the doctors or hospitals near where you live. It might not even cover most of them. Part of choosing a health insurance plan is looking through their lists of “in-network” healthcare providers to make sure that they’ll actually cover the costs of healthcare at a place near to you. Incidentally, it’s on you to actively look for the ways in which health insurance companies will try to force you to pay for your healthcare, despite sending them hundreds or thousands of dollars per month precisely to avoid those bills.

The problem is, even if you do get health insurance that covers your favorite hospital, that’s not a guarantee that everything in that hospital will be covered. Some of the individual doctors might be “out of network”, which means you are stuck with the bill. Again, it’s your responsibility, as the patient, to look out for that trap. The example scenario I hear a lot is one of surgery – you need an operation, and you know that your surgeon is covered by your insurance, but…

Is your anesthesiologist? Or are they out of network? Do you have a chance to check?

Or what if the entire operating room team is covered, but someone calls out sick, and their replacement isn’t covered?

So, it’s pretty common for Americans to get unexpected medical bills that can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, even for things they didn’t even know they had a say in.

This law, which went into effect on the first of January, fixes most of that (From the New York Times via Commondreams because paywall):

If you are having a medical emergency and go to an urgent care center or emergency room, you can’t be charged more than the cost-sharing you are accustomed to for in-network services. This is where the law’s protections are the simplest and the most clear for people with health insurance.

You will still be responsible for things like a deductible or a co-payment. But once patients make that normal payment, they should expect no more bills.


For scheduled services, like knee operations, C-sections, or colonoscopies, it’s important you choose a facility and a main doctor that is in your insurance plan’s network. If you do that, the law bars anyone else who treats you from sending you a surprise bill. This also addresses a large problem. Surprise bills from anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists, assistant surgeons, and laboratories were common before.

If, for some reason, you are having such a service and you really want an out-of-network doctor to be part of your care, that doctor typically needs to notify you at least three days before your procedure, and offer a “good faith estimate” of how much you will be charged. If you sign a form agreeing to pay extra, you could get additional bills. But the hospital or clinic can’t force you to sign such a form as a condition of your care, and the form should include other choices of doctors who will accept your insurance.

This is not the end. The entirety of the United States is set up to encourage people to find ways to make money, with no real concern for the harm done in the process. Even so, this is a legitimate win for the American people, against their corporate overlords. That said, as MSN reports, this bill does nothing to change the problem of Americans risking their safety to avoid ambulance bills:

The No Surprises Act, health care legislation targeted at preventing surprise medical bills, officially went into effect on Jan. 1, albeit with one major exclusion: ambulance bills.

A 2021 survey found that ambulance bills account for 8% of all medical debt. A big reason why is because 51% of emergency and 39% of non-emergency ground ambulance rides include an “out of network” charge from insurers, according to the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker.

“I think part of the issue is that a lot of ambulances are run by the states, which makes it more complicated for them,” Matthew Rae, associate director at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Yahoo Finance.

Furthermore, Rae added, you can “absolutely not” request a specific ambulance provider to ensure it’s in-network. Just 10 states have laws in place protecting consumers from being balance-billed by a ground ambulance provider.

“Most places you may not have a choice over who’s the ambulance that shows up,” Rae said. “This is absolutely a place where someone who is having an emergency has to make a call and they don’t have control picking their provider and then they are potentially subjected to a surprise bill.”

According to the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, citing data from seven states, “more than two-thirds of emergency ground ambulance rides had an out-of-network charge for ambulance-related services.”

Loren Adler, associate director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, told Yahoo Finance that there is “only one [provider] who has a monopoly contract for the region you live in. There’s literally no choice. Not that you really have a choice of emergency physicians, barely have any choice over an anesthesiologist, but it’s even more extreme. We think of ground ambulance services as if it should be like a municipal fire department type of service.”

Adler noted that “something like 80%” of ground ambulances are out-of-network.

“It’s fundamentally broken … it’s not like the ambulance has as much power because they don’t get to choose who they pick up,” he said. “Neither side has a lot to stand on here. And then you’re getting a lot of one-off fights between the insurers and the ground ambulances which is not great for the patients stuck in the middle.”

And those who are without any health insurance and in need of an ambulance are responsible for footing the entire bill, though Rae noted that they do have the ability to negotiate.

“This is a place where people can incur big expenses,” he said.

Off the top of my head, I can think of two times when I should have taken an ambulance ride to get checked out, and opted not to because of the cost. The first was a simple bike accident. I hit a curb too hard, and went over sideways. I hit my head hard enough on the pavement to crack my helmet, and my neck hurt. The abysmal insurance I had at the time (this was before the Affordable Care Act, when it was even worse) didn’t cover any of the nearby urgent care clinics, and I didn’t want the cost of an ambulance ride, so I put an ice pack on my neck and tried not to move much for a couple days. I was fortunate that I could afford to do that, rather than having to go to work. I was also fortunate in that there seemed to be no serious damage done.

The other time, I was biking back from work, had the right of way, and a woman turning left hit me. We were both going fairly slowly, but her car destroyed my bike, and I skinned a knee and badly jarred my wrists. It was outside a CVS pharmacy, so I hobbled in and bought myself some medical supplies rather than availing myself of the ambulance that showed up.

In hindsight, I probably should have taken the ambulance ride and gotten checked out, but I would have had trouble affording it. My wrists never fully recovered from that.

It was, as I’ve said before, damned near miraculous how much our quality of life improved when we got to Scotland, and just simply… knew that our costs would be covered. If we felt sick, we could just call the doctor. If we needed medicine, we just got the medicine. When Tegan got shingles in the United States, we thought it was poison ivy at first, and didn’t even consider going to the doctor, because of the cost. The result of that was she went untreated for the first week or two, and suffered a lot for it.

When I got shingles in Scotland, I called the doctor as soon as I noticed the rash, because why wouldn’t I? It was a short walk away, and no matter what it was covered by the money we had already sent to the NHS (it was £600 for each of us for a full year of coverage). I got an appointment the same day, stopped by the pharmacy on my way back, and started taking antiviral medication immediately. I had a much easier time with it than Tegan did.

Here in Ireland, the healthcare situation is worse than Scotland, but better than the United States, at least from our perspective. Irish citizens have universal coverage, as I understand it, but immigrants like Tegan and I do not. That said, our private insurance covers most hospital costs, with the highest single charge for something that’s not covered being €80. For example, it’s possible that a set of x-rays, multiple blood tests, and specialist visits, the bill could climb to hundreds of Euros, but it’s capped at €970 per year. That costs us €80 per month, compared to $300 per month with MUCH worse coverage, back in Massachusetts.  We pay out of pocket for GP visits and prescriptions, but that is also far cheaper than the deal we had in the US. I should also mention that this is literally the cheapest plan we could get and still be allowed to live in this country – if you want frills like a private hospital room, pregnancy coverage (which seems like it shouldn’t be extra), and so on, you can get a more expensive plan for better service.

I will probably never stop being angry about the cruelty and injustice of the U.S. health insurance system, for as long as it exists in anything close to its current form. Even so, I am overjoyed that my friends and family will now be a bit better protected from the greed that ravages that country. It’s a real step in the right direction that will materially improve a lot of people’s lives.

Thank you for reading. If you find my work interesting, useful, or entertaining, please share it with others, and please consider joining the group of lovely people who support me at Life costs money, alas, and owing to my immigration status in Ireland, this is likely to be my only form of income for the foreseeable future, so if you are able to help out, I’d greatly appreciate it. The beauty of crowdfunding is that even as little as $1 per month ends up helping a great deal if enough people do it. You’d be supporting both my nonfiction and my science fiction writing, and you’d get early access to the fiction.

Examining the makeup of a healthy ecosystem: Predators can help with climate resilience

I think ecosystems are really neat. The cumulative effects of multiple organisms just going about their lives and interacting with each other results in these complex, multi-dimensional webs of relationships that can have fascinating and unexpected results. Some of my enthusiasm is very much about aesthetic and entertainment. Diversity is the spice of life, and it just makes me happy knowing some of the weird shit that’s out there for no other reason than nothing stopped it from existing. The other big reason the topic fascinates me is that – as I repeat fairly often – we’re part of the global ecosystem, and play at least some role in every regional and local ecosystem. Our activities have touched every portion of the surface of this planet, and the results, while often horrific, have been fascinating.

It’s often hard to see exactly what role a given organism plays, but every once in a while, we’re able to do large-scale experiments, like re-introducing wolves to Yellowstone.

In 1995, Yellowstone brought the wolves back to the park. After 70 years without wolves, the reintroduction caused unanticipated change in Yellowstone’s ecosystem and even its physical geography. The process of change starting from the top of the food chain and flowing through to the bottom is called trophic cascades.  According to Yellowstone National Park, here are a few ways the wolves have reshaped the park:

Deer: It’s true that wolves kill deer, diminishing their population, but wolves also change the deer’s behavior. When threatened by wolves, deer don’t graze as much and move around more, aerating the soil.

Grass and Trees: As a result of the deer’s changed eating habits, the grassy valleys regenerated. Trees in the park grew to as much as five times their previous height in only six years!

Birds and Bears: These new and bigger trees provide a place for songbirds to live and grew berries for bears to eat. The healthier bear population then killed more elk, contributing to the cycle the wolves started.

Beavers and other animals: Trees and vegetation also allowed beaver populations to flourish. Their dam building habits provided habitats for muskrats, amphibians, ducks, fish, reptiles, and otters.

Mammals: Wolves also kill coyotes, thereby increasing the populations of rabbits and mice. This creates a larger food source for hawks, weasels, foxes, and badgers.

Scavengers: Ravens and bald eagles fed off of larger mammal’s kills.

Most surprisingly, the land: Soil erosion had caused much more variation in the path of the river. But with elk on the run and more vegetation growing next to rivers, the river banks stabilized. Now, the wolves have changed Yellowstone’s physical geography.

Unfortunately, I have a confession to make. In learning about ecosystems, I’ve mostly focused on ones where I don’t need special equipment to breath. I certainly learn about aquatic species, and about aspects of the aquatic “landscape”, both in oceans and in fresh water, but I don’t think I’ve really studied them as systems in their own right. Even when I was doing water quality and invertebrate analysis for a river near my high school, I wasn’t really thinking about it as a system, so much as a way to gauge pollution levels. Even so, it’s obvious that climate change is messing with our watery brethren just as much as life on land, and a research team from Trinity College Dublin and Hokkaido University have made an interesting discovery about how the presence of predators can influence the way heat waves affect life in streams:

The scientists assembled communities of freshwater organisms in experimental streams at the Tomakomai Experimental Forest in Northern Japan. The stream communities were exposed to realistic heatwaves, and some included a dominant predator (a sculpin fish), while others did not.

They found that heatwaves destabilised algal (plant) communities in the streams such that the differences normally found among them disappeared and they resembled each other much more closely—equating to a loss of biodiversity—but this only happened when the predator was absent from the community.

Algal communities are important in streams because they form the energy base for all other organisms, so loss of algal biodiversity can propagate to impact the entire ecosystem.

Additionally, the scientists discovered that important heatwave effects—such as shifts in total algal biomass—only emerged after the heatwave had passed, underlining that even catastrophic impacts may not be immediately obvious.

I keep saying that we need to start actively managing our ecosystems, to control how we affect them, as simply not affecting them seems to be both beyond our ability, and a denial of our nature as one organism among many. If we’re going to become the kind of stewards I’d like us to be, we will also need as great an understanding of our ecosystems as we can attain.

“Western” society has operated under the belief that the natural world exists for our convenience, and so it can be reshaped to suit our short-term interests. That led to extermination and genocide, and ultimately the total destabilization of our planet’s climate. That said, ecosystems are very resilient – we’ve been doing vast amounts of damage for generations, but while the scars from that area easy to see, life still, uh, finds a way.

Taking steps to stop adding to the harm is more than just a gesture of goodwill to the rest of the planet’s residents – simply making sure they’re able to go about their lives, in turn, makes it possible for us to do the same. In a lot of ways, it’s as simple as making sure you don’t eat everything in the forest, so that you know there will be more to eat next year.

If we take care of creatures like these grumpy-looking sculpin, they will help take care of us, without even trying.

Thank you for reading. If you find my work interesting, useful, or entertaining, please share it with others, and please consider joining the group of lovely people who support me at Life costs money, alas, and owing to my immigration status in Ireland, this is likely to be my only form of income for the foreseeable future, so if you are able to help out, I’d greatly appreciate it. The beauty of crowdfunding is that even as little as $1 per month ends up helping a great deal if enough people do it. You’d be supporting both my nonfiction and my science fiction writing, and you’d get early access to the fiction.