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 A Guide to
Greenwash & Energy Gobbledygook 



Without sustainable images of the nature of energy we cannot begin to envision a sustainable society and develop a Knowledge Economy. Indeed great civilisations have disappeared because they developed flawed images of how energy works.


Note (2009) The Sustainability Principle section has largely superseded this section. Its main value lies in its discussion of the nature of Green Wash and Energy Gobbledygook and it’s recording of examples in New Zealand pre 2006. Most of the examples still exist though some agencies have improved their levels of science.


This section attempts to clarify the images we evoke of energy so all may rejoice in it.


NEW -JUNE 2006:
Detective Time
You be the psychologist - What's going on? Work out why we  destroy science.



10 steps to avoid Energy Gobbledygook and Greenwash 
(Generate Bonus Joules)

A BRIEFanatomy of Greenwash processes.

Five Greenwash Alert Indicators.

 Register of Energy Gobbledegook and Translation
(includes Junk Joules awards for Greenwash). 

Related Links to more gobbledygook commentary and analysis.

Ten Key Ideas and a Major Image Alert
A twenty second summary of some of the most important ideas underpinning the Bonus Joules Website.

PowerSwitch : Switch-off Time?
What Power and who really gets switched off. Switch on to find out why you should switch SwitchPower off. A case study illustrating how you can examine your education resource for its total potential use.

World WildLife Fund Alert
Why the WWF Powerswitch may be switching you off.

Contact Energy!!
Bonus Joules is caught in an implosive blast of positive energy. An exploration of why a gas-electricity company spent $NZ2million (plus) attempting to re-engineer our images of energy.

Climate of Chaos
Who are the contenders for the title of greatest creator of confusion about how our climate works? Reflections on The Day After Tomorrow and the Potsdam Study.



In our use of energy we each generate Bonus Joules (the use of energy characterised by long-term/low-risk considerations) or Junk Joules (the use of energy characterised by short-term/high-risk considerations). These twin considerations are inter-evolving and change with our awareness of the universal energy flux and our role within it.

 Junk Joules tend to work to create entropy or a break down in the order of our knowledge and vision of how the universe works. They do this by acting to reduce our awareness of longer term/lower risk options and a wider vision. This process is seen in Greenwash where the use of symbols is designed to subvert images of how energy works and obscure the negative impacts of human activity on the wider environment. In short, scientific principles are obscured and confused to serve short term-sector interests.


Reduce Greenwash.

Ten simple proposals to counter energy gobbledegook and Greenwash
in Energy and Climate Change communications.

1. Invest in research and find out the primal response of individuals to key symbols (stimuli). What matters is what people actually do, not what they consciously think and say.
Be mindful: that seeming innocuous and convenient “loose” use of a symbol may well be a very carefully engineered manipulation of your awareness by highly skilled PR agencies.
                                                                                                                                                                    2. Teach/talk that energy comes in many forms and can be transformed. We have options. If communicating about certain energy forms then describe them by name e.g. electricity, solar energy etc. Do not confuse electricity with energy itself. In general, think First Principle of Conservation of Energy.

3. Teach/talk energy is the stuff that makes the universe and everything in it work. Power is the rate at which energy makes something work. Power is the rate at which energy passes through a system. If communicating about certain energy forms then describe them by name eg electricity, solar energy etc. Do not confuse electricity with power.

4.Teach/talk fuels. Do not confuse a fuel with energy itself. Do not call coal/oil/gas energy. This obscures the combustion process required to make it them useful energy forms and ELIMINATES THE ATMOSPHERE OUT OF THE ENERGY EQUATION. See Bonus Joule’s journey through Royal Society - Genesis Energy Education model for a classic example of PR spin. Initially their interactive combustion model did not even have chimneys or an air intake fan!

5. Teach/ talk WARMER TRACE GASES. Evoke images of extremely small numbers and quantities. If people don’t understand the word “trace” this is great. Use the opportunity to explain the term describe gases that only exist in a few parts per ten thousand of the atmosphere. Then point out that without them we would be 33°C colder like the frozen moon. Evoke images of powerful leverage.

6. Teach/Talk ATMOSPHERIC EFFECT. Without the existence and movement of Warmer Trace Gases retaining thermal energy, Earths surface would be subject to extreme temperatures and, on balance, would be freezing. Evoke images of air having mass.
DO NOT evoke images of Earth’s atmosphere as a greenhouse, sun-porch, closed car or bottle in the sun. The use of such metaphors is not essential to the communication the energy transformations in the atmosphere and they work to obscure the dynamism of the atmosphere and the role of ozone and water in particular. There use also generates massive learning blocks to the comprehension of insulation see no 7

7. Teach/ talk the Greenhouse education model for communicating about best uses of air  – how to transform solar energy in our homes, how to control thermal energy movement by suppressing air movement as greenhouses do. Use it to evoke images of solar power in our daily lives, “glass power”, double-glazing and general insulation.

8. Teach/talk that water vapour is the dominant Warmer Trace Gas. We would be 20°C colder without it. It is what we know as weather. It’s the climate manifest.  It transfers massive amounts of thermal energy around the globe and very quickly. Teach/talk water vapour before other Warmer Trace Gases. Ensure the role of water is understood. THEN teach/talk how altering balance of gases such as carbon dioxide impacts on water distribution and thermal transfers e.g. melting poles, altered ocean currents, ice ages, ice storms, floods, droughts etc. 

 9. Teach/talk ozone. It is proven that human activities can decimate this vital and powerful Warmer Trace Gas in the stratosphere. Think parts per million. 90% of ozone is found in a relatively narrow region of the stratosphere. When powerful (lethal) ultraviolet waves from the sun strike ozone molecules they are transformed into low energy “heat” waves: The ozone “layer” = unique thermal layer + protective barrier. Ensure all metaphors of Earth’s climate processes accommodate ozone.

 10. Teach/talk Climate Change =Human Effect. Do not confuse Climate Change i.e. long-term changes in climate patterns caused by human activity with climate change – changes in the climate because of seasonal, solar, subterranean and other non-human factors. Communicate role of humans as thermal beings in Earth’s thermal system surface. 

   20 Second Handy Summary

Talking energy? Change in quantity->zero, change in form->infinite.
 DO NOT confuse energy with the forms it takes. 

Talking energy form? Then use name of energy form.

 Talking fuel? Then say fuel – always keep atmosphere in equation.

 Talking Global Thermal Energy Build-up? Then use Atmospheric Effect, Warmer Trace Gases. If relevant, use Human Effect.

 Talking climate? Talk air convection, thermal convection.

 Talking Clothing and Building Insulation? Talk air convection suppression (e.g. greenhouses). Air=poor at conduction// Air =Good at convection

 Talking Earth’s surface energy transformations?  Include ozone and water vapour. Ensure focus in maintained on the dominant role of water in Climate Change.

  These proposals are incorporated found in the alternative programme I propose for Communicating the Nature of Energy and Climate Change.


Five Minute Primer to the Psychology of Greenwash Techniques.

 Our response to the environmental stimuli is dominated by our primal response i.e. our gut “unthinking” response. If this weren’t the dominant response we would be overwhelmed by the decision making process. On balance, subconscious as it is, this response works to keep us “civilised”.

 Most education programmes work to stimulate the intellectual response whereas the PR industry ignores this response and focuses on manipulating the primal response – as spelled out beautifully by the psychologist who masterminded the creation of the SUV market for the oil sector.

 The language (symbols) of energy has been radically re-engineered again over the last three decades to promote the interests of the fossil fuel and main grid sectors. I know of no public research on the topic but the logic of the re-engineering process also points to the evocation of greenhouse images of Earth’s climate process working to serve the interests of these sectors too. That is why is this image now dominates media and formal education. 

PR objectives and these short-term sector interests do not necessarily coincide with the sustainability of human life on Earth.

Some potent PR techniques:

Associate product with vital needs. (Energy, being vital to all, is the ultimate need.)

Associate product with power. (Grid-sourced electricity = Power)

Create focus on product and reduce focus on alternative products. If possible make product name generic e.g.  Main-grid power/fossil fuel =energy, power; Batts= insulation.

Manipulate individual’s sense of deprivation and abundance. (Obscure abundance of energy forms and create “energy crisis” as required.)

Obscure negative impacts of product. (Show fossil fuel fired plant with no chimney, SUV in pristine arctic setting with no exhaust fumes, “rebrand” fuel as energy itself and thus remove any reference to atmospheric mining operations.)

Associate product with experiences of comfort, well being and control. (Associate fossil fuel use with the common experience of greenhouses.)

Promote confusion of scientific principles and knowledge generally to achieve the above. In general the greater the ignorance of basic scientific principle the more malleable the target audience. (Obscure Principle of Conservation of Energy, thermal properties of water and air.)

Countering PR forces: understand and live with the knowledge that any symbol you use –text, sound, illustration, photo, cartoon etc evokes an image that has a powerful primal response. 
For instance, the image of a greenhouse can be evoked by stimuli (symbols) in various forms - by the word “greenhouse”, by an illustration or photo of one or by actually sitting in a greenhouse. 
Whatever the form the stimuli take, they all evoke a common response, particularly at the primal level.  At the base emotional level this can be a sense of comfort/ security or a sense of discomfort/alarm. The overall response generated is manifest in what the individual does, not what they articulate.

 The PR industry understands well that it is most vital to know what the primal response is and how to stimulate it. Understand that a wide range of education agencies evidence little comprehension of basic PR processes. The range includes the Climate Change Office, EECA, The NZ Environment and Education Ministries, NOAA, the IPCC, etc. 


Five Greenwash Alert Indicators

General rule: 
Greenwash works to obscure scientific principles and break links in knowledge.

(Science works to clarify scientific principles and make links in knowledge.)

 1. Choice of symbols obscures fundamental scientific principle.

“Humans can conserve energy” is in direct conflict with principle that energy by its nature is conserved and can neither be created nor destroyed.

PR objective:  create and manipulate sense of scarcity and abundance.

Science antidote: Energy is bounteous and comes in many forms. Conserve valuable energy forms.

2. Choice of symbols confuses use with object of use.

“There is an energy crisis” is in direct conflict with principle that energy by its nature is conserved and can neither be created nor destroyed.

PR objective:  Maintain focus on existing uses of energy and divert focus from alternative uses. Enhances malleability of target audience through enhanced sense of confusion and insecurity.

Science antidote: “There is an energy use crisis”.

 3. Choice of symbols obscures/destroys key scientific links.

“Coal/gas/oil/wood/foods are energy” removes the atmosphere from the energy equation of combustion.

PR objective: Associate product with the ultimate life giving force. Minimise awareness of relationship between use of product and impact on the atmosphere.

Science antidote: “Coal/gas/oil/wood/foods are fuels”. 

4. Choice of symbols reduces links to wider data and subverts communication of scientific principles.

“Visibly Polluting Vehicles are Bad” education programmes ignore the larger pollution equation and eliminates a valuable teaching tool for communicating the invisible.

PR objective: Obscure negative environmental (including social) impact of product. 

Science antidote: Research total impact of product and conserve tools that make the invisible visible.

 5. Choice of symbolic activity obscures prime investment activity.

“Public/environmental service” investment activity is not directly related to dominant use of the environment e.g. Gas, coal or oil companies are involved in bird conservation programmes rather than atmospheric research and education.

PR objective: Obscure dominant negative impact of company on the environment.

Science antidote: Research relative investment patterns of company, including PR and lobbying investment. Research the prime impacts on environment, including social milieu.




  Register of Energy Gobbledygook and Translation.

 This is an index of energy gobbledegook. It provides common examples of language use and image evocation that create confusion, work as Greenwash and generate Junk Joules. 

The examples are randomly selected in that they reflect my reading and listening patterns and have a pen handy to record the evocation of the image.The most meaningful education is based on our daily experiences and no personal embarrassment is intended.. These true statements should be viewed as learning opportunities. In general, a commentary is provided with a translation that might make more scientific and common sense to the layperson. 
Where the use of the image works to serve mainly high risk-short term objectives it may be given a Junk Joules Award.

ACT Party NZ Press release 02/04/04
"The biggest problems in the energy sector are access to fuels and inappropriate governance."

This is not a reference to farmers or their stock having insufficient access to food or to steel smelters running short of coal. The release is really about the use of one energy form – electricity.
TRANSLATION: “The biggest problems in the main-grid electricity sector are access to fuels and inappropriate governance.”
Junk Joules award for services the fossil fuel/main-grid sector.

ACT Party NZ Press release 10/02/04
“Prime Minister’s Statements on Energy Alarming”.

The headline really introduces commentary on the Prime Minister's attitudes to the "market" model of electricity generaton and distribution.
TRANSLATION: “Prime Minister’s Statement on Main-grid Electricity Market Alarming”.

Amory Lovens (Rocky Mountain Institute) on Sunday National Radio 10/10/02 
"Smart companies realise they can profit by saving energy and not using it."

Smart companies realise they can profit with the efficient use of energy."

BRANZ press release 09/06/04
“ Now in its seventh year, the internationally-recognised HEEP study monitors all energy use (electricity, natural gas, LPG, solid fuel, solar water heating) as well as room temperatures, in New Zealand households from Kaitohe to Invercargill.”

I very much like to believe this study will yield valuable insights and hope the above statement is inaccurate. If it is accurate, the study will most serve the interests of the main-grid & fossil fuel sectors. The study will have failed to produce insights into the ability of homes to generate valuable energy forms. In some cases, well sited and designed dwellings provide the bulk of the energy forms required to maintain the interior climate. Comparing the performance of these with the performance of poorly sited and designed buildings can provide very valuable insights into sustainable practice.
: “ Now in its seventh year, the internationally-recognised HEEP study monitors some energy uses (electricity, natural gas, LPG, solid fuel, solar water heating) as well as room temperatures, in New Zealand households from Kaitohe to Invercargill.”

BRANZ press release 09/06/04
“Much of the energy debate has centred on improving supply, but it is demand for energy that creates the problems”

The press release was stimulated by reports that New Zealand’s main grid might not be able to transmit sufficient electricity at times of peak demand. BRANZ is attempting to generate awareness of effective “demand responses”. However, the choice of key symbols in its statement works directly against that objective. The use of terms, such as power and energy instead of the term electricity, works to support the interests that dominate main-grid use i.e. the “the bulk-supply side”. For over a century, this sector has assiduously cultivated an association between their products and all the images that power and energy evoke in the wider population.
This key quote from BRANZ’s statement works against its own objectives in other ways too. The main-grid sector, in particular the bulk electricity generators and retailers, benefits when the debate is couched in terms such as it is the demand for energy that creates problems. The so-called power companies and energy suppliers of the main-grid sector are then even better positioned to argue that as power and energy are electricity, they logically are the solution to any problem of demand.

: “Much of the electricity debate has centred on improving the main grids’ ability to supply it. However the problem really lies with our choice of sources of useful energy forms.”

BRANZ National Radio 25/07/ 03
“Fridges use up a certain amount of energy over its life…..
Secondary fridges use up an incredible amount of energy.”

The amount of energy in the universe has almost certainly stayed constant over the life of any fridge. What may have changed is humans’ access and ability to use valuable energy forms.
TRANSLATION: “Fridges use a certain amount of electricity over its life….Secondary fridges use an incredible amount of electricity, usually sourced off the main grid.”

BRANZ National Radio 25/07/ 03
“A spa pool is taking up a lot of energy.”

This statement was made in the context of spa pools' use of electricity and the impact on bills. Using geothermal or solar sources to warm the spa may have minimal impact on the environment.
TRANSLATION: “ Spa pools that are heated using main-grid electricity can be very expensive to operate”.

BRANZ National Radio 01/08/03 (?)
“The climate is getting buffeted by more energy”.

TRANSLATION: “ The build-up in thermal energy on Earth’s surface (probably because of additional Warmer Trace Gases) is resulting in more extreme weather patterns and events”.

BRANZ INSIGHT National Radio
“We are not having the energy companies knocking on our door.”

The Building Research Association of New Zealand. An extremely wide range of companies are involved in the building industry and all are specialists in uses of different forms of energy – smelting companies provide steel, aluminum, window glass and insulation; farming companies supply timber, design companies dictate energy transformations while other companies supply fuel and electricity. In the context of the programme, BRANZ was probably referring to and inadvertently promoting the interests of Gas and main-grid electricity suppliers.
TRANSLATION:“ We are not having the Gas (fuel) and main-grid electricity companies knocking on our door.”

Business News National Radio 09/05/04
“…factors responsible for the rise in oil and fuel prices globally.”

Business News often confuses energy forms with energy itself and the programmes use of symbols is tends to be driven by the advertising agencies of the main-grid & fossil fuel sectors. This suggestion that oil is somehow something different to a fuel only compounds their confusing broadcasts.
This tendency work to skew the information reported and listeners should be aware that this works against the balanced coverage of demand-side initiatives (versus supply-side initiatives) in energy use generally.

: “…..factors responsible for the rise in oil and other fuel prices globally.”

Centre for Energy Research (Massey University) – National Radio 2004
“We are full of renewable energy today.”

No, the Centre has not produced research that utterly revolutionises our understanding of how energy works. Its life as usual, folks. The spokesperson was saying solar and wind based sources of energy that day in his region provided many opportunities to transform those energy forms into forms of energy that human can use. He probably was not referring to our ability to use ‘hydro-electricity as it was not raining that day.
: “ There’s great opportunities to make direct use of the sun and wind today.”

Centre for Energy Research (MasseyUniversity) – National Radio 2004
“……not using power to open doors and instead using a bit of human power to push them open.”

This is a very strange suggestion. If human power is not power, then what is it? My old dictionary says power is any form of energy available for doing work. Physics: The time rate at which energy is converted is transferred or converted into work. My dictionary gives 13 definitions and not one of them makes sense of its use in this statement.
The movement of doors can be powered by a range of mechanical, water, air and electricity based technologies. There is the possibility the speaker has been confused by some of the Energy Gobbledegook generated in the century since Edison by the Main-Grid & Fossil Fuel sector.

: “…. not using main-grid electricity to open doors and instead using a bit of human power to push them open.”

Centre for Energy Research (MasseyUniversity) – National Radio 2004
“…use low energy using light bulbs.”

Technically this symbol use is fine and it may be OK for academics to use the phrase among themselves. However the phrase is unhelpful out here in the real world in which a bitter war for domination of the global use of energy forms is raging. Out here the Main-Grid & Fossil Fuel sector invests much in defining energy as their product. This use mainly works to promote limited sector interests.
: “…..use small/low electricity using light bulbs.” Or better “…use electricity efficient light bulbs.”

Centre for Energy Research (Massey University ) – National Radio 2004
“Wind power doesn’t produce gases.”

The speaker was talking about using windmills to generate electricity. The construction and maintenance of wind mills do alter global gas balances – less than many forms of fossil-fuel based generation but much more than the ink used to write legislation ensuring individuals can use their buildings as generators to provide their needs.
On a wider level, the movement of air around the globe has a vital role transferring thermal energy and enabling living matter with its gas use.

“Wind generated electricity does not directly produce gases/alter global gas balances.”  

Centre for Energy Research (MasseyUniversity) – National Radio 2004
“Renewable energy is distributed all over the country.”

Energy, by its nature, is constant and renewable. Hence this symbol makes no more sense than a sentence saying, “Energy is distributed all over the country.”
: Renewable sources and forms of energy are distributed all over the country.”

Centre for Energy Research (MasseyUniversity) – National Radio 2004
“The new forms of renewable energy are getting cheaper.”

Salespeople for everlasting life cults, perpetual motion machines and eternal health elixors have always claimed their product is cheap at their price. 
It is easy to avoid having your product confused with shysters and hucksters. Simply say what you mean and describe the uses, the sources or the forms of energy as renewable.
The statement can be questioned too if it refers to the use of renewable forms of energy. Population increases, urban migration, economic systems that give zero/negative value to direct solar-based uses of energy and planning codes that are hostile to the use of buildings as generators means it is becoming more difficult to use renewable sources of energy.

: “The technology for using renewable forms of energy is getting cheaper.”

Checkpoint (Australian commentator) National Radio 28/8/03  
“ Having the flame close to the energy source obviously adds to the risk.” 

This referred to the use of LPG heaters in the home.  LPG heaters combine the atmosphere and LPG gas in combustion to generate heat. The LPG is only one part of the energy equation. It is difficult to isolate the flame from the other part –oxygen-carrying air.
TRANSLATION: Having the flame close to the LPG tank obviously adds to the risk.
Junk Joules Award for services to the Gas Industry with special citation for obscuring atmosphere mining activities. 

CNN News 26/12/03
“We have seen oil prices surge this year – what is ahead for the energy market?”

This was a repeated advertisement for what turned out to be a discussion on global oil use with three oil traders/commentators.
TRANSLATION: “ We have seen oil prices surge this year – what is ahead for oil market?”
Junk Joules Award for service to the oil Industry  (Citation – beautiful redefining the fuel, oil, as energy itself.)

Consumer Institute Kim Hill National Radio 19/07/03 
We did a story about how we should eat less energy”

TRANSLATION: We did a story about how we should eat food containing fewer calories.

Contact Energy website.  21/04/04
All about energy. 

The reader will find out little about energy – in fact. energy is defined as gas and electricity. Similarly Contact Energy defines the Energy Industry as the Gas and grid-based electricity sector.
TRANSLATION: “Contact Energy’s view of the Gas and Electricity industries.”

Junk Joules Award for self-service to the Gas Industry with special citation for obscuring  key scientific principles, especially the First Principle of energy conservation and transformations.

Contact Energy website.   21/04/04
“Check out our ElecTricks and Energy Saving Tips for more ideas about being smart with energy.”
TRANSLATION: “Check out our Gas/Electricity Use Tips and ElecTricks for more ideas about being smart with your use of these resources.

Contact Energy website.   21/04/04
“Where does my energy go? A typical household of four people can spend $1,200 or more a year on energy. The largest proportion of your energy bill goes on water and space heating.
This chart shows where the energy goes in a typical four person household.”

Contact Energy defines energy as their products – Electricity and Gas. They confuse energy forms and fuels with energy itself. The figures charted are probably just for main-grid electricity. (See EECA). It is unlikely they include the wide range of alternative forms of energy used by householders e.g. solar, chemical and wind. 
TRANSLATION: "How do I use the electricity I buy? A typical household of four people can spend $1,200 or more a year on it. The largest proportion of your gas and electricity bills goes on water and space heating." 

Contact Energy website.   21/04/04
“Being safe with energy.”

This link does not teach you how to ride a bike, walk down stairs, dress for the weather, maintain a healthy diet or build a home.
TRANSLATION: “Being safe with main-grid electricity and Gas”.

Contact Energy website.  21/04/04
”We are also proud to be selected as an Energy Supplier of the Year Finalist in the 2004 EnergyWise Awards through our initiatives and efforts towards good energy efficient practices.”
A wide range of suppliers of valuable energy forms are excluded from entering this category of the EnergyWise Awards notably those in the agricultural sectors.
TRANSLATION:: “We are also proud to be selected by EECA, an agency with confused ideas of the nature of energy, as an Energy Supplier of the Year Finalist in the 2004 Energy Wise Awards through our initiatives and efforts towards good energy efficient practices.” 

David Caygill on Morning Report National Radio 27.3 03
“There is growing concern about energy supplies as the electricity crisis deepens.”

TRANSLATION: “ There is growing concern about our use of certain fuels and energy forms as the crisis in our use of electricity deepens.”

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Climate Change booklet for New Zealand primary schools) 2002
“To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need to think about conserving (using less) energy and being more efficient (using energy wisely)."

Relax. It is not necessary to use less energy to reduce so called greenhouse gas emissions. There are many uses of energy forms that provide very comfortable life styles and do not alter Climate balances.
TRANSLATION: “To reduce greenhouse emissions we need to use energy forms with care.” 

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Climate Change booklet for New Zealand primary schools) 2002
“How could you make your home or school more energy efficient? You could conduct your own fun energy audit.”

This makes for classic confusion of energy and our use of it for our children. What is proposed is an audit of behaviour, rather than an audit of the energy processes.
TRANSLATION: “How could you make your home or school more 'energy efficient'? You could conduct your own fun audit of your use of energy.”

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Climate Change booklet for New Zealand primary schools) 2002
“Imagine the energy wasted if it was the hot tap that was dripping”.

TRANSLATION:: Imagine the extra electricity or fuel costs if it was the hot tap that was dripping.”

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Climate Change booklet for New Zealand primary schools) 2002
“ ‘Standby” energy (for example, lights and clocks on appliances like stoves and microwaves and using the remote to turn off your television and video) account for 10% of the electricity we use in our homes.”

TRANSLATION:  ‘Standby’ uses of electricity (for example…….) account for 10% of the electricity we use in our homes.”

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Climate Change booklet for New Zealand primary schools) 2002
“Some landfills collect methane and burn it to produce energy.”

This booklet is designed for 10-12 year olds – statements like this make it easy for them to imagine that somehow energy is being created.
TRANSLATION: “Some landfills collect methane and burn it to produce valuable energy forms.”

Dominion Post 12 July 2003
“Power companies have donated millions of dollars to charities in the wake of energy savings during recent power problems.”

Short-term profit driven and poor management of valuable national resources resulted in demand for electricity from the national grid exceeding its ability to supply it. Electricity retailers encouraged consumers to reduce electricity consumption. Individual consumers responded by using other forms of energy or going without basic necessities such as warmth and lighting. This saved retailers making large losses on their contracts and they “rewarded” consumers by donating to “charities” such as hospitals.
TRANSLATION: “Electricity retailers have donated millions of dollars to charities (rather than investing in Efficient Energy Use programmes that might result in reduced demand for their product) in the wake of reduced use of main-grid electricity during recent energy use problems.”

Junk Joules Award for Services to the Fossil Fuel/Main Grid sectors with special citation for shonky journalism.

Dominion Post 13/09/03 
joSolid Energy has gone into the renewable energy business...A new company has been set up Solid Energy Renewable Fuels while Pellet Fires will be rebranded “Nature’s Flame”.

TRANSLATION: ” Solid Energy, a coal mining company, has invested in the biomass fuel industry. A new company has been set up, Solid Energy Renewable Fuels, while Pellet Fires will be rebranded "nature's Flame." 

EECA website 2004


This stands for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. It is difficult to discover from its website exactly what ECCA does. On balance, the press statements and use of symbols indicate it works closely with the fossil fuel/–main grid sectors eg BP Oil, Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, Contact Energy, New Zealand Steel, Transpower, Wel Networks, Carter Holt Harvey. 

For whatever reason it appears to have a confused idea of the nature of energy and it is possible it does not really believe we can conserve energy, as its name implies. If we assume it does understand the Principle of the Conservation of Energy i.e. energy by its nature is conserved, then it may be attempting to express the need for care with our use of valuable energy forms. I suggest the following TRANSLATION, as it requires least modification to of expensive graphics
TRANSLATION: EECA (Energy Efficiency and Care Authority)

EECA website 2004
“ECE’s role is to encourage, promote and support the uptake of energy efficient initiatives and new renewable energy.”
The mission statement suggests EECA does not understand the First Principle of Energy. This states that energy cannot be created, renewed or destroyed. It is possible the Authority confuses energy with energy forms as these can be imagined as being created, renewed and destroyed in energy transformations. However it is difficult to make commonsense of the concept of “new renewable energy”.
TRANSLATION: EECA’s role is to promote and sustain the use of energy forms and fuels so future generations enjoy at least the range of options we do.

EECA website 2004
“Renewable Energy. Energy is a Hidden Cost. Renewable Energy is just as it sounds – energy that is recycled or is self restoring.”
This is very difficult to translate. Energy is by its nature constant though the forms it takes may tend to become less useful to us. Some valuable energy forms (e.g. wind and rain) tend to be repeated with a much greater frequency than others (e.g. fossil fuels). As such we can reuse them. Energy is what makes the universe happen and to say energy is a hidden cost has cosmic implications that are beyond me. 
TRANSLATION: "Renewable Energy Forms.  Renewable Energy Forms are just as they sound –forms of energy that are recycled or are self restoring in a short period". 

EECA website 2004
Renewable Energy. Energy supply. Where does our energy come from in New Zealand? Basically from a combination of renewable and fossil fuel sources.”

New Zealand is an island nation straddling the “Roaring Forties”. The dominant energy forms in our lives can be seen as renewable and come directly from the sun or are from oceans and the atmosphere. We use a very small quantity of renewable fuels such as wood for transport, electricity generation and heating.
TRANSLATION:TRANSLATION: Renewable Energy Forms.  Supply. What forms of energy do we use in the New Zealand transport and heating?

website 2004
"Electricity, however, is mainly a renewable energy, from sources like geothermal, hydro and wind power."

"Electricity, however, is generated using renewable resources such as geothermal, hydro and wind forms of energy."

EECA website 2004
“Hot water is another energy nastie that can very sneakily add to your monthly power bill."
Water heating takes a big chunk of the household’s energy all year round.”

A well-designed and operated household may use large and unmeasured quantities of energy from solar and atmospheric sources for maintaining high levels of comfort in heating and cooling. Hot water heating 
TRANSLATION: "Hot water is another energy nastie that can very sneakily add to your monthly main-grid electricity bill. Water heating can account for a big chunk of the household’s annual bill."

EECA website 2004
In my home its easy to waste energy. "
It is easy to use energy, especially electricity wastefully. Energy-use is so much a part of modern life we barely give it a moments thought." 
TRANSLATION: "In my home it’s easy to waste valuable energy forms. We use modern forms of energy such as electricity with barely a moment’s thought of how they are generated."

EECA website 2004
“A typical New Zealand household spends $1200 a year on electricity – the main form of home energy.”

TRANSLATION: “A typical New Zealand household spends $1200 a year on electricity – the main measured energy form used in homes.”

Eureka! host - NIWA interview National Radio 8/10/02  
“Methane from cow-pits could easily be turned into energy.”

TRANSLATION: “Methane from cow-pits could easily be turned into a useful fuel.”

EECA (New and Emerging Renewable Energy Sources)
“Most places in New Zealand receive an annual average of 2000 sunlight hours. This radiation is available for capture and conversion into energy.”

This quote was in a section entitled Priorites for Future Research. It is near certain EECA is sending  New Zealand down a blind alley here. Radiation is a form of energy and as such can only be converted into other forms of energy. If it were to succeed in converting radiation into energy itself the consequences for the universe are mind-boggling.
TRANSLATION: “Most places in New Zealand receive an annual average of 2000 sunlight hours. This radiation is available for capture and conversion into useful forms of energy.”

Energywise News  EECA 05/04
“Contact took part in a residential insulation upgrade programme in the  South Island that will save 405 householders a total of $22,000 of energy a year.”

It is hard to imagine what “$22,000 of energy a year” is. It is possibly householder expenditure on main-grid sourced electricity and home heating fuels. However it is conceivable householders insulated their bodies so effectively their calorie intake was lowered and total food bills were reduced by $22,000.
: “Contact took part in a dwelling insulation upgrade programme in the South Island that will save 405 householders a total of $22,000 a year.”

Energywise News EECA 05/04
“Transport accounts for 43% of New Zealand's energy consumption and produces 46% of its carbon dioxide emissions.”

New Zealand’s landmass is about 268,000 sq. kilometres and each year it receives, on average, over 4000 gigajoules (GJ) of solar radiation per 1000 square meters. The 1,214,300,000,000 GJ it receives sustains all the plant life that holds our soils in place and keeps the land habitable. New Zealand’s energy consumption is many times higher if we include the energy used to sustain life in the oceans around us . Plants also emit large, unmeasured quantities of carbon dioxide at certain times.
: “Transport accounts for 43% of New Zealand ’s measured consumption of fossil fuels and produces 46% of its (gross?) carbon dioxide emissions.”

 Genesis Energy website 2004
Welcome to Genesis. As one of New Zealand's leading energy companies, Genesis provides gas and electricity to more than 644,000 customers throughout the country.”  
There are only two buttons you can press on the homepage: Get Gas. Get Electricity. You cannot get access to solar energy,
food, plants, glass, water, and the myriad of fuels and energy forms that make our lives comfortable.
TRANSLATION: “Welcome to Genesis. We are one of the leading companies in New Zealand’s Gas and main-grid sector and provide these resources to
more than 644,000 customers throughout the country.”

Genesis Energy- statement National Radio News 10/06/04.
“Genesis Power says….if it does have…..access to the river for 35 years it will not be able to provide the country’s future energy needs.”

This is what I heard standing in the shower. However the Genesis Energy website statement is a little different. It reads: Like other power generators, long term commercial certainty over the operation of our assets is essential to meet New Zealand’s energy needs”, he said.
If a power generator is any firm that uses energy in some form to do work, then National Radio report is grossly inaccurate in attributing Genesis Energy with grandiose aims it does not have. The report suggests that Genesis Energy is, or thinks it is, the answer to all New Zealand’s problems. The general context of their statement does suggest Genesis Energy defines a power generator as a bulk electricity generator. If so, then Radio NZ is accurately expressing Genesis Energy’s essential aim of being seen as the sole provider of answers to New Zealand’s problems.

: “Like other bulk electricity generators, long term commercial certainty over the operation of our assets is essential if we are to make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s future need for main-grid electricity.”

Genesis Energy Customer bill. 2004
“For energy supply at…..”

This term on Genesis Energy bills is so broad and meaningless you could drive a bulldozer through it. In fact you could possibly drive the universe through it. Is it a charge for all forms of energy supplied to or the energy that exists at an address? Is it a charge for an energy system at an address?  Is there an energy supply of some form at the address that is subject to taxes by Genesis Energy? (The name Genesis Energy has such cosmic connotations. Perhaps energy supplies throughout the universe have to pay some sort of royalty to the creator.) It seems there is no limit to what Genesis Energy could be charging the occupants of an address for.
: “For the supply of electricity to….” or “For the supply of electricity and gas to…”

Genesis Energy
Customer bill. 2004

                                        Energy                   Rate                Total
Convenience                         kWh                       c/unit                $
Fixed Charge                         days                      c/day                 $     

My dictionary defines convenience as that which gives ease or comfort; anything handy or labour-saving. All firms attempt to promote positive associations with their products in their customers. However very few of them go to the extraordinary length of quantifying that convenience factor in kilowatt-hours. 
The fixed charge refers to a daily charge for the delivery or supply of the service or product. That makes sense. Why the number of days is a unit of energy though is beyond my ability to explain.

: (Note: simpler formats are possible.)

                                                 Quantity         Rate         Total
Charge for Natural Gas Used           kWh                c/unit$         $           
Delivery charge                              days              c/day          $       

Genesis Energy Customer bill. 2004

   Volume      x      Meter     x    Calorific         = Energy                          Used                   Factor            Value
(M3)                                   kWh/M3          (kwh)

Please read M3 as M to the power of three or as cubic meters. Most people have neither the inclination nor the time to give this equation more than a quick scan. The main message they register is that the bill = Energy, not a few kilowatts of energy but energy itself. This is a most comforting message, especially at a time when Genesis could be associated with fiscal pain. It also works nicely to reinforce an image in which the company is associated with energy, the source of universal vitality.


  Volume      x      Meter     x    Calorific         = Energy       Used               Factor            Value               Quantity        (M3)                                   (kWh/M3)          (kWh)

Green Party NZ Conference Speech 2003 
“How much went to renewable energy in the Budget?”

Just as there is probably no flexor of life and youth and perpetual motion machines seem improbable, evoking images of “renewable energy” seems most unhelpful. Perhaps an infinite amount of money could be spent searching for this mythical life.
TRANSLATION: “How much went to developing long-term, sustainable uses of energy in the Budget?”

Green Party NZ Press Release 20/03/04
“This afternoon in the House Ms Fitzsimons will ask Energy Minister Peter Hodgson: "What additional steps will the Minister be taking to promote energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy following the cancellation of Project Aqua?" 
Despite Peter Hodgson bestowing on himself the surreal, grand and impossible title of Minister of Energy, he will be in no position than any other human in history to alter the Principle of the Conservation of Energy. He can only work to affect our use of energy. 
"What additional steps will the Minister be taking to promote the sustainable use of valuable fuels and energy forms following the cancellation of Project Aqua?"

Green Party NZ Press Release 20/03/04
“Surely if 34 million, lifestyle-orientated Californians can be encouraged to permanently slice 14 per cent off their energy consumption simply through changing their habits, then so can 4 million New Zealanders." 
It is possible that Californians have not altered the rate at which they use energy. They may simply have altered their use of it e.g. used their car air conditioner to keep cool or dried their washing using solar rather than main grid sources.
TRANSLATION “Surely if 34 million, lifestyle-orientated Californians can be encouraged to permanently slice 14 per cent off their electricity consumption simply through changing their habits, then so can 4 million New Zealanders." 

Greenparty NZ press release 26/05/04
Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says energy security and sustainability is central to New Zealand’s economic future and should be at the forefront of this week’s Budget.”

This is not really a call for the Minister of Finance to do a fertility dance or let off fireworks when he delivers the budget.
Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says increased investment in the development of sustainable uses of energy is central to New Zealand’s economic future and should be at the forefront of this week’s budget.

In Touch with New Zealand National Radio 05/04
“How much power usage is wasted.”

This is an incredibly difficult question, whatever way it is looked at. Is the time rate at which energy is delivered somehow faulty? Is use itself somehow flawed? I The context would suggest the speaker has become the unwitting agent for main-grid & fossil fuel sector’s publicity machine.
: “How much electricity is wasted?”

Labour Party NZ 2004
“Minister of Energy”

The Labour Government has a position called the “Minister of Energy”. The position primarily involves activities described more accurately by past scientifically literate generations as Mineral Mining, Electricity and Fuels. The minister is not responsible for the wide array of other uses of energy that make up a modern economy and these retain their own portfolios.
TRANSLATION: “Minister of Mines and Mineral Fuels; Minister of Electricity.”

Meridian Energy Website 2004
“Energy Savings Calculator
To find out how much money you could be saving on your power bill each year, complete this quick energy calculator.”

Sorry, this link is only a primitive calculator for estimating your main-grid electricity consumption. Less still does it enable you to calculate any exceptions to the Principle of the Conservation of Energy.
TRANSLATION:Electricity Savings Calculator. To find out how much money you could be saving on your electricity bill each year, complete this quick calculator.”

Morning Report Reporter National Radio 30/07/03
“The energy industry says the building of an oil-fired power plant is a panic reaction.”

The term “energy industry” is a meaningless term and can be ascribed to any industry as all use energy, notably the agricultural sector in New Zealand.
TRANSLATION: “ Some people (named) say the building of oil- fired electricity generator is a panic reaction.”

National Radio News Economics Reporter
“...strip out components like food and energy out of the inflation figures..”

This can be interpreted various ways. Food is something out of this universe. The inflation figures measure something larger than the universe.A more simple reason may be the fossil fuel/main-grid sector PR has confused the commentator.
TRANSLATION:?? “Strip out components like food, fossil fuels and main-grid electricity out of the inflation figures.”

National Radio News 04/02/04
“West Coast mayor says many jobs created if fuel and energy based projects are given the go-ahead.”

No, the West Coast is powered by the same energy as the rest of the universe. Fuel is not distinct from energy.
TRANSLATION: “West Coast mayor says many jobs created if fuel and electricity-generation projects are given the go-ahead.”

National Party NZ Focus on Politics Radio NZ 03/04/04
“Wind is a variable fuel.”

TRANSLATION: “Wind is a variable force”.

PowerCo Press Release 2608/03
Powerco has welcomed the creation of an energy research centre based
at the Auckland Business School, saying it would undertake a task desperately needed in New Zealand. Chief Executive Steven Boulton said he hoped the research centre would alleviate the dire shortage of independent information and analysis on the industry in New Zealand.”

TRANSLATION: None possible – the most intelligent guess is that an energy research centre would research the nature of energy, the basis of all industry and life more generally. 

“The Sustainable Energy Forum.”

No. This is not a forum for a group of people who are chasing the mythical elixir of everlasting youth or dedicated to promoting perpetual motion machines. (See commentary UK Trade and Industry website below) Most of the discussion is about industry-sourced provision of fuels and electricity. There is little discussion of possible community based initiatives in sustainable energy use. The name implies there is a problem with energy rather than energy use. Any translation is radical.
TRANSLATION: ‘SEUF – the Sustainable Energy Use Forum.”  

Solid Energy
"Solid Energy"

Solid Energy is a coal mining company and as such its activities are closely linked to large-scale mining of the atmosphere. From 1901-1987 it was known as State Coal Mines. It then became Coal Corporation of New Zealand and then Coalcorp. In 1996 it was recreated in some extraordinary act of quantum physics into Solid Energy. It now has a subsidiary companying investing in biomass.
: "solid Fuels"
Junk Joules award for service to coal industry (Citation for making nonsense of physics.)

Solid Energy Press Release via SEF 11/9/03
“Note 1:  New Zealand uses around 460 Petajoules (PJ) of energy every year of which about 140PJ is electricity."

For political and practical reasons, a huge range of energy uses are not measured and collated. The statement is meaningless.
TRANSLATION: “Note 1:  The measured use of energy in New Zealand is around 460 Petajoules (PJ) of energy every year of which about 140PJ is main-grid electricity.”

Sunday host National Radio 29/06/03
“What proportion of NZ’s energy can wind realistically account for?”

It certainly could be valuable to calculate the combined quantity of energy that New Zealand receives in all forms such as solar radiation and the mass movement of water and gases. However this was not what the host was really talking about at all.
TRANSLATION: “What proportion of the electricity used in NZ can realistically be generated by wind mills?”

Sunday National Radio 23/05/04
Insight looks at the power sector.”

No, Insight is not looking at who hold the reigns of power or how the fashion sector caters for “power dressers.” It turns out to be looking at the main-grid electricity supply sector and with this choice of symbol Radio New  Zealand is acting as a PR agent for their interests.
: “Insight looks at the main-grid electricity system.”


This is a truly extraordinary concept. The symbol evokes images of a force that transcends, surpasses, is beyond power. In reality, the symbol does not represent something beyond the universe. It is the name given to a company owned by the New Zealand Government that is charged with operating the nation’s central electricity grid. This central grid traverses large mountain ranges and wide turbulent ocean straits and is a notable engineering feat. However it does represent a more fallible and risky national investment in sustainable uses of energy by the individual citizen. The symbol is clearly just the product of the main-grid PR industry and the image is unsustainable.
: “The Central Electricity Grid Co" or "The CE Grid Co.”

TrustPower electricity bill. 2004
“Please quote this number when calling 0800 878787: Energy Number 12346789”

For most of last century knowledge of science prevailed and this number was accurately called the Connection Number. This term was equally applicable to Gas, electricity or water meter sites.
TRANSLATION: “Please quote this number when calling 0800 878787 Connection Number 12346789”

TrustPower automated voice reply 2004-04-21
“Your energy number is on the left hand side of your account please enter your energy number now.”

Yes it does sound very important and vital but, no, this number does not privilege you with access to universal energy, only to a useful form of energy -  grid-based electricity. The number simply links TrustPower to the location of your electricity meter.
TRANSLATION: “Your connection number is on the left hand side of your account please enter your connection number now.”

UK Department of Trade and Industry’s New and Renewable Energy Programme website 2004.
to the Planet Energy renewable energy trail. I am the First Energy Lord, and it is my task to guide you through the trail…. What Is Renewable Energy?  
Renewable energy is the name given to energy that will never run out. The main kinds of renewable energy are: the wind, the sun, water, wood and crops and waste.”
As the definition indicates this site is set in another universe far away from our own powered by a type of energy very different to ours. The cosmic implications are boggling. A website set in our universe would be very helpful.
TRANSLATION: “Welcome to the Planet Earth trail of renewable energy forms. I am the First Energy Lord, and it is my task to guide you through the trail…. What Is a Renewable Energy Form? 
A Renewable Energy Form (sometimes known a Renewable) is the name given to energy forms that are recycled or are self-restoring within a short period. The main kinds of Renewables are: the wind, the sun, water, wood and crops and waste.”

United Future Party NZ National Radio 24/3/03
The country cannot withstand an energy shock."

There has been no detectable change in the amount of energy in the universe and no evidence that the Principle of the Conservation of Energy is flawed. The statement is very ambiguous on a range of counts.
TRANSLATION: “The country is unable to alter its use of energy”

US Dept of Energy website 2004. Mission statement.
“Energy efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Bringing you a prosperous future where energy is clean, abundant, reliable and affordable. TRANSLATION: “Energy efficiency and Renewable Energy Forms. Bringing you a prosperous future where our use of energy provides clean, abundant, reliable and affordable resources.” 

 More detailed analysis of World Wildlife Fund PowerSwitch resource. 

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005

This symbol use is misleading, obscuring and unsustainable. In short, it works to reduce sustainable practice and disempowers people. It promotes the very electricity market system the WWF condemns.

“Bulk-gen Alert”

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005 Highlight quote.

“From coal to clean. Wind and solar power generation provides a clean energy alterative for future generations Ó Adam Oswell"

 It is an extraordinary act of arrogance or ignorance to describe energy as inherently clean or dirty. While we are of energy we can never truly know the nature of energy. It is more helpful to describe the value of an energy form in terms of our use of it and how it might impact on the viability of humanity. 

The statement also makes a very confusing use of the symbol “solar power”. Does it refer to the kWh generated by the sun or the electricity generated from solar energy? If it is the former use, then the idea of generating wind is difficult to make sense of.

Also the solar-based generation (including wind and tidal) involve cleaner, not clean activities. The Bulk-generation of electricity from wind and direct solar sources has significant environmental costs.  They still require a considerable amount of energy to construct and operate compared to small-scale distributed generation, ‘smart’ management systems and sane dwelling design. 

Compared to using fossil fuels, a variety of solar-based electricity generation provide a safer use of valuable energy forms and leaves more options for future generations.
Ó Dave McArthur

 WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005
“Power companies fail to respond to global warming crisis as window of opportunity closes.” 

This, the web page’s introductory sentence, is a classic case of Energy Gobbledygook. What is a power company? It is a company that supplies power of some sort. It may be a village co-op growing food to power its people in a sustainable manner as they have for centuries. It may be an insulation/glazing firm creating thermal barriers so dwelling owners can power their building using solar energy. 
In this case, WWF is bestowing the title ‘power company” on Bulk-electricity generators. 
This works to obscure the many forms of power companies possible – including companies that provide small-scale electricity generators. Far worse, it works to reinforce the marketing messages of the Bulk generators that they are THE SOURCE OF POWER! 

This message is further confused by the use of the term “global warming”. To my knowledge there is no crises in global warming with sun spot activity being at comfortable levels at present. Some scientists believe it may increase in the near future and this could have serious implications for communications and electricity networks. It is possible the WWF is referring to a potential crisis for humanity caused by Human-induced Climate Change.

“Bulk-electricity companies (generators and retailers) fail to respond to potential threats to humanity from Human-Induced Climate Change.”

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005

“A new report by WWF shows that the power sector, the biggest single contributor to climate change, is failing to act responsibly in the face of the greatest threat confronting the world in the 21st century.” 

The use of the symbol “power sector” is a sublime endorsement of the century-long campaign of the Bulk-Electricity sector and its bankers to reduce our awareness of life–options to their product. In this use the WWF is working directly against all those sectors involved with sustainable uses of power, especially those using non-electrical means to provide for our basic needs. 

The use of the symbol “climate change” is equally destructive. Most people understand that without climate change we could not exist. Our life is dependent on the transfers of thermal energy around the planet to maintain its over-all climate balances as it rotates around the sun.

Finally, assuming the WWF is only referring to the Bulk-Electricity sector, then the statement may be inaccurate and misleading. It is possible the largest “power sector” is the automobile sector. Some suggest that the combined power of the automobile motors manufactured in 2003 alone was greater than the combined power of all the generators in the Bulk Electricity sector on Earth. In terms of impact on the atmosphere, the automobile sector probably has a far greater impact once all costs are included such as construction, maintenance, distribution, urban development and general infrastructure.

A new report by WWF shows that the Bulk-Electricity sector, a major contributor to potential climate change from human activity, is failing to react responsibly to one of the greatest risks confronting humanity in the 21st century." 

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005
"The report Ranking Power reveals the companies’ overall failure to significantly invest in renewable and efficient energy in order to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."

The sentence is a classic confusion of issues. The first thing to make clear is that there is nothing inherently wrong (or right) with energy. Any efficiency relates to our use of it and this ought be the focus. It is an effective PR strategy to divert blame and the WWF falls into this trap here. 

Similarly there is no such thing as renewable energy as energy is by its very nature constantly renewed. The focus should be on conserved renewable forms and sources of energy. The title Ranking Power supports in most profound ways the Bulk-electricity sectors attempts to dominate public consciousness on numerous levels. In the WWF ranking, the majority of the most sustainable uses of energy forms, and the energy carrier, electricity, in particular are not even given a ranking. 

Finally the use of the term “greenhouse gas emissions” is most unhelpful. It evokes maladaptive images of greenhouses for no justifiable reason. Its blanket use of the “greenhouse gas” symbol obscures the role and the range of Warmer Trace Gases. For instance, we simply do not know the impact of human activities on the dominant Warmer Trace Gas – water vapour. 

The report Ranking the Bulk-Electricity Companies reveals their overall failure to significantly invest in renewable resources and efficient uses of electricity in order to reduce Kyoto Protocol designate trace gases.

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005

“Campaign launches are occurring in over twenty countries today – sending a clear signal that the power sector must change.” 

Probably the clearest signal that this sentence contains is the fact that the WWF is very confused about the nature of power, does not understand how the PR industry works and that its signal is subject to a lot of interference. 

“Campaign launches are occurring in over twenty countries today – sending a clear signal that the role of the Bulk-Electricity sector must change.”

WWF PowerSwitch WebsiteFeb 2005
“Developing countries could save 30% of their energy through efficiency.” 

What is this eye-catching message telling Developing Countries they can do? Is this flashing panel saying they can breach the Principal of the Conservation of Energy? Or is it telling them they can store valuable forms of energy more effectively? Is the “energy” it talks of electricity sourced from the Bulk- Electricity sector?  Hopefully none of these. 
What this sentence is doing, placed as it is at the head the “energy efficiency” page, is creating a major association between energy efficiency practice and deprivation. This is a common and damaging definition of energy efficient practice. This use of the symbol energy within the context of the WWF framework is particularly unhelpful. It works to focus attention on to the Bulk- Electricity sector and away from plentiful sources of energy such as solar-sourced forms.

Energy efficiency is behaviour that enhances the quality of life, not reduces it, as this use implies.

“Developing Countries could add 30% value to their lives by the efficient use of all forms of energy.”

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005
“Power production in the future might work a bit like the Internet”

What the WWF is attempting to discuss here is the possibility that electricity use in the future may be on a decentralised basis with generation occurring at the point of use. When your dwelling produces an excess of electricity, you transmit it to the local grid. When your demand outstrips your ability to generate it, you import some off the local grid. Why this WWF use of “power production” is particularly unhelpful is that there are a range of energy forms you can convert into power for warming/cooling and the supply of other basic needs. Some of these power sources are dependent on the intelligent design and use of dwelling and urban space. These factors, part of a greater potential revolution in the use of energy forms,  impact on the intelligence with which you use the local electricity grid. The Internet link is important, as intelligent use will be enhanced by “smart technology” and greater Internet capacity.

“Electricity production and distribution in the future might work a bit like the Internet”

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005

“…power lines”

This use of “power” is part of a wider domination of public consciousness by the Bulk-Electricity Sector. It is linked to symbols such as “power bills”  “power poles”, “power stations”, “power plant”, “power companies”, “power trusts” et”power”cettera. It is increasingly unhelpful as it obscures the fact that the networks we use to transfer energy in the form of electricity have long been used for communication too. Public understanding of this fact is essential for a number of reasons. One is that the use of the grid wires as communicators is essential for controlling peak demand for grid- sourced electricity. The recent restructuring of the Bulk Electricity sector has resulted in the destruction of such communication, as the new imperatives are to maximise profits from bulk sales. Effective demand-control activities reduce bulk sales and thus profits for Bulk-electricity principal shareholders*.

 A second reason is that soon it may be possible to transmit broadband data through the local grid. This gives the owners of the grid extraordinary control over communities.

*”An interesting feature of the New Zealand Electricity Market is that on average, for every extra kWh sold the generators get the revenue from 5 kWh! And, whenever an energy user saves 1kWh, all the other user’s electricity costs drop by the equivalent of 4 kWh source” Rob Bishop Sustainable Energy Forum 24 Feb 05.

“..Utility lines” or, if appropriate, “main grid lines”

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005
“People power” 

This is a link on a side bar of the web page. As such it has a more potent role than the mass of text it wraps. It gives the symbol use exponential power. In this case it is making powerful links between people and the WWF’s definition of power i.e. electricity sourced off the Bulk Electricity sector. This use of symbol and the resulting link enhancement actually dis-empowers people. It obscures the fact that in many of the countries surveyed by the WWF, communities have been disenfranchised from their local and national Electricity Market. As part of this process communities have lost their capacity to invest energy efficiency measures, intelligent communication with the grid and small-scale electricity generation. 

The website does contain small text acknowledging the vital role democracy plays in promoting sustainable uses of electricity. However the dominant impact of the site works to support the short-term interests of the principal shareholders of the Bulk-electricity sector. This small segment of the population works at every level of politics, legislation, media and society in general to control electricity use for their own benefit. The website is fundamentally a powerful tool supporting this group on all the levels mentioned.

"People Potential"

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005
" ‘Global warming is exactly that – global’ ”

This is not a direct use of a symbol involving energy and power. However it is attempting to express the nature of energy and power that enables our solar system. The statement is confusing on a range of levels. Global warming is a healthy process enabling life on Earth. 

I think the WWF is attempting to communicate that when we alter the gas balances in the atmosphere and oceans we alter the thermodynamic balances that enable us. This could result in more extreme weather, including severe cooling effects in some regions. 

WWF’s own text reveals the difficulties their use of the symbol ‘global warming’ creates e.g. “Ironically, this effect of global warming could be a new Ice Age in the part of the northern hemisphere.” Expressed more accurately there is no need to plead irony.

“Human-Induced Climate change has global impacts.” 


WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005
"All our discussions about the future of energy start with the idea that in the future we will be using less overall, through efficiency and conservation."

Such discussions are a waste of time. Astrophysicists are unanimous that energy will last for many billions of years, at minimum. It is more helpful to discuss our use of valuable energy forms. This may reawaken our awareness of solar energy in its various forms as a resource. These include biomass, wind  tidal forms and direct solar energy. Over 4 billion humans are in a poor position to reduce the amount of energy they use. 

Of greater practical concern is the way this use of the symbol "energy" is associated with deprivation. It plays into the hands of marketeers who define their products as energy and create cultures of exclusivity and deprivation fear around them.

"All our discussions about our future uses of energy start with the idea that in the future we will be using renewable sources more effectively and conserving nonrenewable resources."

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005 Sidebar web links
"Humans at risk
Nature at risk"

These two links do not directly use symbols of energy and power. However in this context where symbols used frequently work to divert focus away from human activities, comment is warranted.

It is accurate to say humans are at risk because of our activities. We are. However to say nature is also at risk is to elevate humans above nature. Certainly we can alter environmental balances and destroy those that sustain us. We then die out as a civilisation, if not as a species. Nature is far more enduring than the human species.

"Humans at risk
Other species at risk"

WWF PowerSwitch website Feb 2005
“Meanwhile, the 2004 Bonn conference on renewable energy – the first of its kind – set the international stage for renewables to be a part of the planet’s energy future.”

The symbol “renewables” is a useful for communicating a range of ideas e.g. renewable sources, uses, forms and types of energy. These are profoundly different concepts to the concept of “renewable energy”. The latter is either an impossibility and/or a nonsense. Energy is renewed and renewable. Such inaccurate use of symbols makes it difficult to know whether energy here is defined as Bulk-generated electricity, electricity or what. I still do not know what the Bonn conference was about. 

Similarly there is considerable confusion in the symbol “the planet’s energy future.” Most astrophysicists concur that there is sufficient energy to enable the universe for some billions of years into the future. Most also anticipate Earth will exist for many millenium. It is more helpful to set the international stage for the use of Renewables as part of our use and conservation of the forms of energy that are the most vital for the existence of  humanity.

“Meanwhile, the 2004 Bonn conference on Renewables  – the first of its kind – set the international stage for them to be a part of humanity's continuing existence.”

 More detailed analysis of World WildLife Fund PowerSwitch resource. 


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