Monday, August 10, 2020

Nature's Law

Things will never be the same. The three greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are increasing rapidly. Nitrous oxide, a byproduct of chemical fertilizer manufacture, is both increasing global warming and destroying the ozone layer. Many species of life are going extinct. A new world is being born; let's work together to make it better. The world economy may collapse. We need to recognize that we are all part of the family of man. If we don't stop warring, we're goners. Working together as one we have incredible power. During times of emergency people can find community sharing. Nature, of which we are a part, is more about love than fear. The whole Universe is conscious; Saint Francis of Assisi knew this - "Brother Rat and Sister Moon." Charles Darwin's book The Origin of Species, with the phrase, "survival of the fittest", has been often misunderstood to mean that we have to fight, actually has that phrase only three times while having the word, "love" 87 times. He loved Nature and wrote a whole book about earthworms. During the Great Depression, people survived by sharing. You've got gas, I've got a truck, someone else has potatoes, someone else has land, someone else has tools, others have other vehicles and machinery. We live in a world of plenty and we're acting like we're full of needs. There is no shortage of food, for instance; it's a distribution problem. When Cuba's economy, subsidized by the Soviet Union, fell apart after that country went bankrupt, Cubans lost an average of 40% of body weight. But Cuba did not fall apart. It got off of chemical agriculture and combined organic ag (rural and urban) with bicycles, buses, and sharing. No one starved to death and the country recovered to the extent that Jimmy Carter said they had achieved an excellent educational system. Spain, in 1934 to 36, thrived in spite of the fact that things had become so expensive nobody could afford them. They survived by seeing that they were all in the same boat. Money was not needed. The banks were not needed. The police had little crime on their hands as people helped each other. The original ideals of communism also involved cooperation. We have everything we need. My two favorite words are composting and bioremediation. Hazelwood is embarked on the goal of getting all of our organic waste returned to the soil, to improve both the nutritional and microbial and immune status of our neighborhood. Please don't put your kitchen scraps, grass clippings, wood chips, and leaves into the garbage cans to go to the landfill; we need them. We have the ambitious goal of getting all that composted. Nature, Gaia, cleans soil by biodegrading (rotting); what Man made, Nature (or God, if you will) can unmake. The entire Earth has been affected by man. Our pollutants are everywhere. But we can heal. Everybody's Garden is being rejuvenated and improved with the help of Grounded Strategies . Rose-of-Sharon, thyme, arugula, sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke), cucumber, tomatoes, garlic, basil, hot pepper, chamomile, roses, dill, collards, kale, strawberries, peppermint and apple mint, horseradish, 3 apple trees, 6 peach trees, 2 apricot trees, sunflowers, parsley, borage, sage, corn, lambs quarters, purslane, canna and amaryllis flowers, fig trees, lemon grass, iris (purple flag) flowers, oregano, thyme, asparagus, daylilies, chamomile, arugula, currant plants. Not all of these are doing well or producing right now.

Friday, July 10, 2020

August GreenWay article


As "our" ecosystem collapses, the smallest forms of life have an advantage. Microbes can reproduce every ten minutes, and so also mutate to adapt much more frequently. We may extinct most larger species, even us, but we will never get rid of the single-cell organisms. There are species of microbe able to withstand thousands of times the amount of radioactivity as us. One such is deinococcus radiodurans, nicknamed Conan the Bacterium.

A more common use of the word "bug" refers to insects - butterflies, moths, bees, ants, flies, ladybugs, stinkbugs, mayflies, fruit flies, spiders, tics, potato bugs, and others. The population of these vital parts of Earth's food web have been in decline for many years, and are in steep decline now. “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” ~Albert Einstein

Having become enraptured with microbes since the third grade when my mom and dad bought me a microscope, I have learned how vital they are - in soil, for instance. A really good healthy soil may be one third living organisms - earthworms, bacteria, fungi, viruses, rotifers, nematodes.
Hundreds of years ago, our soil was alive and soft. Strawberries grew everywhere, trees and their leaf litter covered the whole United States. Before we extincted the passenger pigeon skies would be blackened with their flights. Millions of buffaloes in huge herds, along with numerous other kinds of wildlife, with their manures and dying bodies gave a soil so rich none of us in this generation has seen. Doing farm work in West Virginia in the late 1970's, I got to feel soil much softer and richer than what we have today.

Plants currently growing in Everybody's Garden:
Rose-of-Sharon, thyme, arugula, cucumber, tomato, sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke)
lambs quarters, purslane, fig, peppermint, apple mint, lemon grass, hot pepper,
pea, garlic, basil, chamomile, roses, dill, collards, strawberries, rappini, horseradish, apple, peach, apricot, mustard, kale, iris, sunflower, parsley, borage, sage, and corn.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Health and Freedom

Ecologists have known for decades that there is now an increasing likelihood of emerging infectious diseases due to the simplification of the Earth ecosystem now going on. Just as predator-prey relationships in a diverse ecosystem serve to keep in balance e.g. rabbits and wolves, so also at the microscopic level a complex microbial community serves to suppress though not eliminate disease.

Did we really expect to get away with destroying Nature for short-term small-context goals? Mother Earth is chastening us, forcing us to stop and think about what we have been doing. We're being spanked. From pet rocks to leaf blowers to pesticides to nuclear power plants (which Einstein called 'A hell of a way to boil water') to lawn mowers to high fructose corn syrup to white bread (which has pretty much all the good taken out of it, leaving only starch) to added sugar to artificial insemination to drugs to kill pain rather than finding out what's causing it to soft drinks that wreck your health to prosecuting wars rather than making peace with our enemies to becoming addicted to drink, drugs, caffeine, a new car every year, fossil fuels, long-distance transportation such as vacations to distant places to shipping garlic from China rather than growing our own to being fear-mongered into thinking we need deodorants to cover our own natural body smells to polluting our air and water to be spread all over the Earth and think we were going to get away with it?

Eat less meat. There is plenty of protein in greens such as lambs quarters, kale, spinach, collards, etc. Nutritional yeast has a delicious cheesy taste and has high protein and b-complex. Sprouted grains made into bread or eaten raw or in soups add vitamin e and other nutrients.

Our soil has become so degraded that most people alive at this moment in history don't even know what good soil looks, feels, and smells like. We need to stop putting biodegradables such as cardboard, paper, and food scraps into our municipal solid waste stream. We humans are conscious animals in a conscious universe; we need to re-join with the other animals in allowing our manure and urine to be returned to feed the soil. Only by re-uniting with the rest of Nature will be become grounded enough to survive this time of great change.

Jim McCue
composter and biotech researcher

Friday, March 06, 2020


Various types of sugar - fructose, sucrose (table sugar), glucose, galactose, lactose, maltose, dextrose - are synthesized by Nature in a variety of plants - grasses such as the corn and cane plants, beets, fruits, milk, avocados, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower. Nuts also contain sugar. It's in honey made by bees. And the human body makes it also - e.g. via the breakdown of potato starch, protein or fat.

In my opinion, added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup (which has toxic mercury contaminating it) do much damage to health and are not worth the temporary pleasure of sweet taste. As you wean yourself from added sugars, you'll notice all your naturally sweet foods will taste better. Mothers know to allow desert only at the end of a meal, as it will kill taste for anything else.

We humans are an adventurous bunch, all the time tinkering with stuff and disturbing the status quo. I remember when televisions were still black-and-white and the antennas were called "rabbit ears". In those days, you had to adjust the picture so it wouldn't roll. I'd go behind and play with it to get a better picture and sound and my mother would say "Why can't you leave well enough alone?" because my messing around had interrupted us all watching the program.

Can we at least agree we on Earth are in a crisis? Our tendency to blame each other reminds me of the old comedy routine in which Laurel says to Hardy "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." But the Chinese word for "crisis" includes both "emergency" and "opportunity". We are emerging into a new age, both the death of the old and the birth of the new. Let's rise above our differences and work together for the whole.

Some refer to sugar as an addictive substance. The School of Hard Knocks has taught me addiction is no joke. At this time of great change, we each will be better off working to minimize our addictions to: fossil fuels, sugar, cocaine, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, opiates such as heroin, long-distance travel and transport of foods and other goods, processed food, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, clothes dryers. Cooperation is much more efficient than competition (in the long run and big picture)

Monday, December 30, 2019


We need to stop feeling helpless. Everything we do has an effect. Everything is connected by cause and effect. You never know what may be gained by positive action. This common attitude of fatalistic passivity that blames others or "the system" or the government or the Democrats or the Republicans or one's lack or money or health or low position on the totem pole - this assumption of one's powerlessness - is a limiting belief.
We can slow, even reverse, the catastrophic course we're on. Stop mowing lawns. Stop cutting down trees, except where absolutely necessary. Stop believing we're going to be able to keep on burning things for energy; we don't need to.
The transition is going to be radical no matter what we do. Stop traveling except when necessary. And when you travel car pool, use public transit, choose trains over air travel, eat locally grown, naturally grown food. Stop wasting your waste; organic waste can be composted, made into biochar, returned to the Earth, or otherwise made use of.
It's much more efficient in the long run and big picture to share rather than to amass wealth or property or possessions.
Stop eating junk food and cut way back on the amount of meat (especially industrial meat) you eat. Industrial large-scale production can be good, but not making garbage such as junk mail which is almost always thrown away unread. Thousands of acres of forest are destroyed to make this junk mail. Fermentation processes can use CO2 to grow algae for either food or non-combustion energy such as hydrogen via fuel cells. A fuel cell factory was being considered for Hazelwood before this new technology was put down by the second Bush administration. We can have clean manufacturing.
Many of those on the left are emphasizing problems while neglecting solutions. An example is in the field of bioremediation. As early as the 1970's, scientists were gathering finding microbes and microbe mixes capable of hastening the biodegradation of hydrocarbons and synthetic organic toxics, and (via chelation) making metals less toxic or bioavailable (and sometimes changing them to mineral nutrients for the plants and animals in and on the soil). There is now a whole industry based on bioprospection microbes that have survived and mutated to be able to use pollutants as nutrients. The area most polluted from the J&L mill on the land now called Hazelwood Green underwent what is called, "natural attenuation" - that is, the local microbes learned to consume pollutants so well that they were actually slowly composting, making the area 8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in the process. 30 test wells on the whole former mill site yielded the conclusion that the pollutant levels flowing into the Mon River were within government guidelines.
Good news re Everybody's Garden: Grounded Strategies will be having young people of various ages help while learning. We hope to either build or buy or get donated picnic table(s), benches, a grape arbor, and signage to point out which plants are growing, how to tend them, and how to use them. A community garden in the Hill District had this kind of very attractive signs around that garden.
Rather than look at each of our limitations as bad, we can rather see that each has a unique gift. As I age, I'm learning to see my physical limitations as a bit of a graduation from farmworker to gardening and farming teacher.
I am calling for positive action to be funded. Money properly spent can do wonders. We're seeing Earth-wide the effects of an ungoverned money system.

Jim McCue
composter and biotech researcher

Monday, December 09, 2019

The Fix We're In

Planet Earth has a future, humans maybe not. If our species survives these next few years, it will because we have evolved spiritually.

We will have outgrown war. I think the Biblical reference to a "Garden of Eden" refers to a past epoch in which there really was "total harmony amongst Nature". "Survival of the fittest" is not set in stone. Charles Darwin, a great lover of Nature who wrote a whole book on earthworms, in his book "The Origin of Species" used the phrase "survival of the fittest" only 3 times, but used the word "love" more than 80 times.

The pain we are going through at present - high-tech war; climate change; ocean acidification; ecosystem collapse; destruction of the soil upon which we depend; refugees from both war and weather; more and more money possessed by fewer and fewer people while the rest become less economically stable; corrupt governments,... - this perfect storm of interconnected troubles - are the birth pangs of a new and better age.

It hasn't sunk in with most people yet that the changes are coming MUCH faster than expected because of the interaction of all of these problems.

But that doesn't mean we are helpless. On the contrary, human progress has gotten so far that, working together, we have enormous power.

As the Christian "God is Love" gets together with the "Love Revolution", we will find that there's a lot less differences between peoples than has been made out. As an example, the words, "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" are correlated with three words in India. A book published in the 1940's, Autobiography of a Yogi, has advanced science, including quantum mechanics, that our overly materialistic scientists here in the West are only now catching up with. Yogananda, its author, not only quotes the great scientists of the time but visited saints of all cultures, including Christian, and witnessed their miracles. Albert Einstein said there are two types of people - those who don't believe there are such things as miracle, and those who believe that all reality is miraculous, and that he was of that category. He thought everything was miraculous. There are people in India who believe Jesus visited India during the 30 years he went missing.

Science and spirituality are two angles on the same thing. Those with the most REAL power are those unafraid to love. The fearers and fighters are destroying themselves. Think we're in a catastrophic time? It will get worse until we dismantle and transform the military-industrial complex.

Jim McCue
composter and biotech researcher

Thursday, October 10, 2019

"Our" Earth

Mystics and quantum scientists agree that there is no real separation between parts of the Universe. That is, that, though, for instance, we humans each see others as individuals, in fact we're all part of some harmoniously functioning whole. Though it feels like we're separate, that separateness is an illusion. Time and space are illusions in a sense, though useful to a point.

We are, in many ways, a fallen race. I'm in with those who believe humans have been on Earth for millions of years. And I'm also of the opinion that there have been times in our distant past in which we were even more technologically advanced than we are now.

This is not the first time human fear, greed, violence, competition, and hatred have resulted in catastrophic collapse.

I keep balance in this time of great change by remembering the first sentence in Charles Dickens' book A Tale of Two Cities - " “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

On the one hand, we have absolutely terrifying catastrophes (species loss, parts of the planet going under water, starvation on a scale unprecedented in modern times, wars over resources, forests burning, greenhouse gases exploding in quantity, increasing number and severity of earthquakes). And, though the Earth is dramatically increasing in average temperature, there are times and places which experience unusual cold and e.g. extreme amounts of snowfall, such as Snowmageddon that happened in the Eastern United States a few years ago.

On the other hand, new technologies are coming into use at such a rate that, to older people who think about it, seem absolutely miraculous. I remember as a child in the 1950's that clothes driers were mechanical wringers that you turned the handle of; then they became electric wringers that you didn't have to do the muscle work of turning the handle - you just fed the clothes into the wringer (and made sure you didn't get your fingers caught in it). I remember our family's first electric refrigerator (we lived on Mirror Street in Greenfield). The previous fridges used either running water in an ice house built over a creek or an ice box in the kitchen which had ice brought from e.g. Lake Erie which kept things cold. I remember clothes drying meant you cranked a handle to wring clothes out after they were in the washer, then you hung them up to dry. What's going on now would have stunned Dick Tracy and the Jetsons both. We have instantaneous communication all over the Earth.

It keeps me interested and enjoying life to know that we can handle the massive problems coming over us. One reason I am convinced it's not hopeless is the fact I myself and many others are coming to realize that huge technological advances in our society have been held up by the status quo. Nikola Tesla had an electric car a hundred years ago. What he called "radiant energy" and what he and others called "etheric energy" were referring to what scientists now are calling "zero point energy". Sun, wind, tide, geothermal, and hydro are by no means the only sources of energy now recognized to be possible.

Pittsburgh, Steel City, via great suffering and pollution (purification by fire) from iron created steel, a molecularly more orderly and so stronger material. Western Pennsylvania was where the first oil was extracted and used on a mass scale. We were part of the beginning of the nuclear age, with all it's useful possibilities and violent uses and damaging pollution.

We, having become one of the most polluted cities on the planet, then developed an advanced pollution treatment industry able to help other parts of the Earth. While the first responders to the Chernobyl disaster were using duct-taped department store toy trucks to try to remote view what was going on at the center which had lethal amounts of radioactivity and so couldn't be approached...We had people at Carnegie Mellon walking robots in Schenley Park. We have something to give to the world.

I continue to believe we can establish a paradise on this planet. We are in the Great Purification. Our childish fighting amongst ourselves will stop, via transformation and/or death. My mother, raising seven boys, would respond to our fighting with "Fight nice, now." We need to get back to learning from our differences rather than letting them be occasions for conflict. If we don't get along, we will not survive. That means we have to transform the military-industrial complex. Sometimes we kids fighting would break a toy or get hurt, and my Mom would say, "Good for ya, serves ya right." It's or choice.

As contradictory as it may seem to all you fellow workaholics out there, key to solving problems is to enjoy, enjoy thinking about them, enjoy working on them, enjoy crying about them,...Whatever. Just don't become afraid.

Jim McCue
composter and biotech researcher