Thoughts on 350
(Letter to Bill McKibben)
Bill McKibben visited Wellington New Zealand on May 1 2009 and spoke to a large lecture room filled to overflowing at Victoria University. Bill received a warm reception from the largely youthful audience. The essence of his speech is contained in this interview on the Alternet (posted May 5), in which as he tell his story of how he became mobilised to educate about climate issues.
In this letter to Bill I recount my own journey of how I came to the realisation that our communication of the nature of energy in general and the nature of our atmosphere in particular lacks science and is fatally flawed. I explain how it is I came to be released to explore this phenomenon in depth and how I came upon what I am tentatively calling the Sustainability Principle of Energy. I provide a brief indication of how this principle can be applied to the "350 " symbol so that it generates beauty and joy in our lives.
The posting of the initial letter to Bill was delayed three days, during which time a friend posted me a link to a May 2 New York Times article discussing the sustainability of "climate" language. My post script amplifies how the Sustainability Principle of Energy provides a much deeper rationale for the failure of our current uses of symbols such as "global warming", "energy efficiency" "environmentalist" etc and how it points to far less risky uses of these symbols.
Letter to Bill
2 May 2009
I will write this
while you are fresh on my radar though I know you are in the middle of
an exhausting tour. Perhaps flag this letter for when you get home to
the silence of Vermont.
I am the
stuttering, squint-eyed, balding, half tooth old git in school
janitor’s motley clothing and work boots that approached you last
evening in Wellington after your excellent lecture here.
As mentioned I
have a microbroadcaster that can be heard by large portion of homes in
the Miramar (airport) peninsula of Wellington City. (potential audience
perhaps 28000 people).
programmes pointing up the current insanity of our use of our carbon,
electrical and solar potentials and which provide programmes pointing to
more sustainable visions of these potentials. I figure it is essential
that the discussion is framed within compassion and so I splice the
programmes with others on Buddhism, (I rate the Buddha as the greatest
psychologist and greatest educator in known history), Fritjof Capra,
Alan Watts, et al.
Your interview on
the Reality Report with Jason Bradford is in the broadcast cycle, and as
mentioned, it goes out every few days at random hours. And as I
mentioned a few of us have these microbroadcasters doing this and we
cover the southern half of Wellington City. This is why a truck driver
delivering timber to the school that I am janitor of raved to me of
these “amazing programmes” he listens to in the timber yard in the
day (he was stunned to learn their humble source) and parents tell me
they have “just tuned in to this really interesting talk on
meditation” as they drove their kids across town to our school.
You may not have
realised where you were at during your brief stay in Wellington. It is
not what it seems. It is a hotbed of what Americans call Neo
Conservatism* for 20 years now and it has been pivotal in establishing
current global strategies. Living here has afforded me unique insights
into global processes.
For instance I
worked for two decades as a meter reader in the Bulk-gen electricity
industry or in what Neocons now symbolise as the “energy sector” or
the “power sector” or “energy companies” or other Energy
about 90 years New Zealand’s local electrical grids were owned and
operated by democratic and freehold community cooperatives and these had
amazing intelligence potential. 60 cooperatives between them served
every region in New Zealand and all participated in the national
Electricity Market. The NeoCon Electricity Reform legislation of the
1990s disenfranchised every community and now not one community owns its
grid and its intelligence anymore while both household debt levels and
carbon pollution escalated on an unprecedented scale. The country you
have just visited retains only a fading apparition of the democracy it
I am sure you
know of Enron. Well in Wellington we had OnEnergy. Our Councils and
community boards were pressured to transfer control of their local grids
and or its intelligence to overseas banking conglomerates. TransAlta
(Calgary) assumed control of all these assets in the Wellington region
and much of the assets of Christchurch. It restructured them in 1995-99
to form the largest “energy retailer” in NZ, effectively owning one
third of all the nation’s homes (approx 520,000 customers).
University staff and its graduates working for the likes of Arthur
Andersen and Co, KPMG et al, acted as the shock troops for the NeoCom
reforms in what they call the “creation of a competitive Electricity
Market system” in New Zealand. In reality the restructured Electricity
Market is restricted to about 10 large private corporations now instead
of all New Zealanders (60 co-ops plus half a dozen large corporations).
University championed the creation of OnEnergy.
OnEnergy collapsed within a month of Enron’s collapse in 2001
with perhaps proportionally even greater disastrous impacts on the local
communities it served here. Victoria later awarded honorary doctorates
to the Mayor of Wellington and the NZ Finance Minister who most enabled
these Electricity Industry Reforms and the creation of OnEnergy.
Electricity Reforms NZ had one of the most intelligent electrical grids
in the world and in the 1990s the community co-ops funded the most
advanced school-community based “climate education” programme in the
world. Again folk at Victoria University were pivotal in the destruction
of that programme. They used their powerful roles in the NZ
Environmental Education industry to replace it with a national
Environmental Education resource that contains no reference to the
atmosphere in its curriculum framework and that teaches the merchant
bankers’ definitions of the “energy” and “power”
symbols and very unintelligent uses of our electrical potential.
Similarly folk at
Victoria University and New Zealand negotiators were pivotal at Kyoto in
forcing the carbon trading regime on the world. I have considerable
insight into the ethos of this regime because I experienced the Enron
-Arthur Andersen and Co psychopathy and, as you probably know, the
carbon trading structure was invented by Enron to serve their narrow
interests. To quote their own representatives at Kyoto, they got
everything they asked for at the global summit via Bill Clinton and Al
My employment in
the Bulk-gen electricity industry “ceased” in 1997 and in the
process I lost my income, my career, had all my work records
“binned” to discredit me and lived for years that my family would be
raped and home “trashed” if I did not “keep right out of the
electricity industry”. In 2000 my family became estranged, which was a
heartbreaking relief because my existence as an honest man in this
country no longer put them at major risk. Similarly the family home,
built with our own hands, was sold and is now safe. This was not an
uncommon fate for honest people during the NZ Economic Reforms of the
1980-90s. As with many others of my age group I became virtually
Now I am not a
writer as you are but I do have a fascination with the power of symbols
of all sorts in our lives and this includes written, spoken, drawn, film
and other symbols. More widely I believe symbols are vital in the
transmission of life and in enabling all forms of procreation from the
cell level up. I also attempt to keep abreast of the latest research
into the quantum physics of neural psychology. It turns out that the
loss of my career, family and employment prospects has released me to
explore the power of symbols to a level that few others have.
In particular I
have experienced first hand, as few academics have, exactly how the
merchant bankers who took over our electrical industry re-engineer key
symbols such as “energy” and “power” to serve their narrow
short- term interests. Also back in the early 1990s I had become most
intrigued with the new emerging uses of key symbols to describe climate
processes and sensed there was something profoundly counterproductive
occurring. I began searching for a causal pattern to explain this
This century I
have had the opportunity to extend my analysis to, for instance, the
symbol use of the Enronian carbon traders that proliferate here in
Wellington, the Government Climate Change Office (Andy Reisinger et al),
Victoria University (Ralph Chapman, Jonathan Boston et al) and so called
“climate scientists” such as Jim Salinger, Martin Manning, Kevin Trenberth,
Peter Barrett, our NZ Royal Society et al.
I combined this
with analysis of the considerable array of climate education resources
that now flood our communities and concluded that there is a positive
lack of science underpinning the communication.
To summarise well
over 10,000 of unpaid research this century I concluded the dominant
symbol use reflects a primal denial of our roles as stewards amidst
In brief, people
like Al Gore deny the change they call for. In fact I tested my insights
by publicly predicting the release of An Inconvenient Truth would
result in an increase in car and jet travel in New Zealand, the
rejection of carbon taxes in favour of carbon trading – all this
despite my concurrent prediction mineral oil prices would rise
dramatically through the period. All these hypotheses were supported
with record car sales in the following period, jet travel rose 16% and
the carbon-trading ethos was adopted as national strategy by an almost
adoption of Carbon Trading ethos in late 2008 occurred even as a flood
of evidence was occurring that reveals the devastating impact of
“market driven” policies. (1)
And of course as
we now know my 2004 predictions that mineral oil would more than double
to $US80 a barrel in 2008 were accurate too.
Your anecdote of “350 man” in Africa is very topical
– last week our National Radio reported NZ tree nurseries are
bulldozing many millions of tree seedlings because of a severe drop-off
of tree planting here as people jockey to maximise their carbon trades.
This reduction is not new and has been occurring on an unprecedented
scale since the carbon trading ethos took hold here in the mid 1990s.
As mentioned to
you last night I have something amazing to communicate to you and my
hope is that as you are a writer and seemingly a man of caring spirit
you will catch a glimpse of my insights.
In brief I have
pulled all my insights together to form a singular principle that I
tentatively call the Sustainability Principle of Energy. To my knowledge
there is nothing like it in the English-speaking world, though since
generating the principle I have found that the wisdom underpinning is
ancient. Basically it is a guide as to whether a symbol use will
increase or decrease our risk long term.
Principle of Energy
“When a symbol use works
to deny change it will materially alter the potential of the universe
(energy) in a way that results in a reduction in the capacity of the
symbol user to mirror reality. When a symbol use works for the
acceptance of change it will increase the capacity of the symbol user to
Sustainability Principle we get:
"The more we accept
change the greater the harmony we know. The more we deny change the
greater the misery we know."
The Principle is
founded in the Conservation Principle of Energy, the Uncertainty
Principle of Energy and the growing consensus of quantum theorists that
information is physical. To the extent these are proven untrue then the
Sustainability Principle fails to hold. It also draws on the new
discipline of Mirror Neuron theory.
The simplicity of
the Sustainability Principle belies its profound insights. While
pointing to where and how our culture’s symbol use lacks science it
also points to where and how our symbol use can be born of a high state
of science. My hope is that, though I am not a writer as you are, I can
engage your interest.
I will illustrate
it later with a brief application to the “350” symbol.
In general it
suggests our discussion of “energy” and “climate”
issues are framed in counterproductive ways. At first glance the
examples of unhelpful symbol uses that I give may seem trivial. In New
Zealand our education, media and climate/energy experts dismiss my
criticism as “mere pedantics” and argue that their symbol uses are
“just metaphors” and “convenient ways of communicating that
fail to acknowledge that the current flawed symbol uses have profound
resonances in our beings, generating and reflecting unsustainable
world-views. For instance if we adopt flawed uses of key symbols such as
the “energy” or “power” symbol then every thing unravels for us
into dissonance from that point on. It can generate the demise of large
These folk thus
put us all at risk because without constant vigilance our symbol uses
tend to reflect our very sophisticated capacity for denial of our roles
as stewards amidst change. To easily they manifest on scale the
psychopathy inherent in every human.
I remain mindful
of the lecture room full of enthusiastic young people last night and it
was wonderful to behold. Most similar public lectures I attend at
Victoria University are attended by a bunch of grey haired old fogeys
like me with just a token sprinkling of youth. It felt great to be in
the minority for a change.
My heart ached
for them throughout your lecture because I know their best intentions
are being subverted on scale. As I apply the Sustainability Principle of
Energy to their emerging world-view it suggests their compassion and
science is being subverted by the language of us older greed-driven
generations. As a result, just as with Al Gore’s so well intentioned
movie, their generous actions will be counterproductive unless there is
a major review of our use of key “energy/climate” symbols.
In particular I
see their wonderful enthusiasm for “350” being subverted by
the psychotic activities of the “carbon traders” and by the equally
unsustainable Nuclear Power/Bulk generated electricity sector – who
are essentially the same oligarchy of bankers that created the current
I will post a few
links to my website where I have draft summaries of my insights for when
you have time to reflect more deeply.
I can suggest in
all humility and kindness that you will find some of the insights at
first deeply distressing and if you persist in compassion then you will
experience more than compensatory inspiration and joy.
My two latest
blogs (links provided) summarise how the wonderful enthusiasm of our
young has been subverted. The earlier blog explains why my cottage
blazed with light the night of the WWF Earth Blackout that so many of
our young folk participated in. The latest blog discusses the common
links between our young soldiers and our young “environmentalists”.
Again I am mindful of the fresh young faces of your audience.
Thank you Bill
– I very much appreciate your attention. I wish you all the wisdom of
the universe as you travel around the world engaging our young people.
It may be there will be moments when you have a sense you need to stop,
reflect and review the risks you take with your venture. At such times
you may find the Sustainabilty Principle of Energy most helpful as it
reminds you of a greater and more vital vision of our existence.
Re. the “350”
symbol. My first impression when I heard I was that it is helpful. You
are correct that the number 350 is understood across a wide range of
cultures. The question is what does it mean in the context of
communication of climate processes. What other symbols must it be linked
with to expand consciousness of the issues, to make helpful sense?
In New Zealand and similar cultures there is a great resistance to the use of the “trace” symbol. I first encountered this several years ago when I worked with Andy Reisinger, then of NZ Climate Change Office and now of Victoria University. I was creating posters for our junior schools summarising The 2000 Climate Change Impact Report for the Climate Change Office.
officials and our climate experts insisted on the use of the
“greenhouse” symbol and refused discussion and use of the
“trace” symbol. As someone new to their world I was puzzled by this
resistance and detected a major lack of science underpinning their
preferred use of the “greenhouse” symbol. I now have a clear
understanding of their psychology and the drivers of their behaviour. I
have articulated this on my website.
In brief the
Sustainability Principle suggests it is unhelpful if the “350”
symbol is linked to the “greenhouse” symbol as together they
will tend to resonate to generate maladaptive patterns of behaviour.
However if the “350” symbol is linked to the “trace” symbol then it will tend to be helpful and promote less risky behaviour. You see, while every one knows what 350 objects are, the objects themselves have great variance. 350 rampaging elephants are very different to 350 dandelion seeds floating on the wind.
In this “climate”
case the 350 objects are parts per million of air molecules. Now
everyone has a different sensation of what 350 parts per million feels
like and the accurate reflection of this reality depends very much on
their experience of “trace” existences.
For instance an
African child with no TV, radio or other distractions and who is
fortunate to experience clear skies may have lain under a tree night
after night and counted a million stars in the sky.
When they were
children world-class climate experts may never have had the time to do
this and perhaps their skies were too polluted to see the stars anyway.
Also they may
well have grown up in a culture of debt creation (USA, UK, NZ, Australia
et al) In our cultures usury is glorified and an oligarchy of merchant
bankers rule. They control our media and education systems and
deliberately suppress the popular awareness of how interest rates
accumulate at exponential rates and how leverage really works. It is not
in their narrow, short-term interests that people comprehend how debt
accumulates through trace changes. They know, for instance, that there
is no way the Glass-Steagall legislation would have been revoked in 1999
if people understood the Trace Theory (Small changes and leverage) or
the trace existence of mineral oil/gas.
As a result the
latter world-class climate expert is less able to fully live what 350
parts per thousand is like than is the African child.
Sure the expert knows the figures and can recount them but they
are not associated with the primary drivers of humility, awe and
compassion that enable science and sustainable behaviour. The expert
cannot imagine a world in which they do not drive cars, fly in jets etc.
And this is reflected in their use of symbols. In fact their very
existence as climate experts who drives cars/flies jets etc acts as
symbols that model and promote this behaviour of denial of
change/stewardship. Thus we find they tend to use symbols such as:
the “atmosphere = greenhouse” rather than “atmosphere
effect” rather than “atmospheric thermal effect”;
“greenhouse gas” rather than “warmer trace
balances” rather than “trace balances of the air” or
“vital thermal balances of the atmosphere” ..
This is why I
doubly appreciated your story of the humble man in Africa who planted
out 350 trees even though his own life reflected a fundamental harmony
with sustaining carbon balances. By comparison the “climate”
experts each destroy carbon resources such as mineral oil at an
atrocious rate and each expert often has more negative impacts on
atmospheric and other balances than ten thousand such people as our
friend in Africa.
analysis suggests it is wise to pick a symbol that people have few
associations with such as the “350” symbol. This gives you
great freedom to extend its power. The Sustainability Principle suggests
it is helpful if caveats for stewardship/change are attached to it if it
is to remain a sustaining force.
For instance, the
current “carbon trading” ethos is destroying science on scale by
promoting the notion that the tradeable carbon atom is the dominant
“greenhouse” in the atmosphere. The reality is water vapour is
arguably the dominant Warmer Trace Gas in the atmosphere and if, for
instance, solar radiation levels vary significantly from the current
generally sustaining levels and water vapour formation is impacted then
the “350” symbol will lose its value. It is helpful if users of the
symbol remain mindful of this caveat acknowledging acceptance of change.
In summary the
“350” symbol need communicate:
Air molecules exist
The nature of air molecules, including their capacity to move
Air has high capacity for thermal convection and poor capacity
for thermal conduction.
The Warmer Trace Gases – some “trace gases” - have a
powerful capacity to retain thermal energy and act as warmers of
What 350 parts in a million really feels like.
And an appreciation of the power of leverage i.e. small changes
of tiny portions can have very large impacts.
A sense of the joy of harmony.
of “350” with the “trace” symbol will probably tend to
accomplish many more of these objectives in primal ways than an
association with the “greenhouse” symbol will. Indeed - I have not
space of it here –the Sustainability Principle suggests that this use
of the “greenhouse” symbol acts to destroy comprehension of
the thermodynamic of the atmosphere. It also suppresses awareness of,
for instance, how we can ameliorate the impacts of our activities on the
atmosphere using insulation in our dwellings and other structures.
I will briefly
explore what the Sustainability Principle indicates of another aspect of
the “350” symbol. I refer to its association with the “carbon”
First to place a
context: Acceptance of stewardship/change involves an awareness that
carbon is a common element in the universe, is a foundation element of
life and is subject to constant transformation, change and flow. Our
role as stewards involves being aware and responsible for how our
actions affect the balances of these changes and flows. Currently much
of our language reveals a denial of this reality - the reality in which
our oceans, air, soils, rocks and biomass are part of this flux of
carbon - in which we live AND die.
Thus carbon is
symbolised as evil, demonised as the enemy. Our schools/universities,
media and policymakers talk of “zero carbon economies”,
“decarbonising our world”, “being carbon neutral”
“combating/fighting/banning/stopping climate change”, “low carbon
cities” and in general depriving ourselves of carbon. The average
person detects the non-science in this and rejects it, though in the
process their comprehension of the role of carbon in our lives is
As it stands the “350”
symbol seems free of such denial of stewardship/change. If “350”
becomes associated with the above symbol uses then it will tend to put
us all at greater risk. In particular if it is colonised by the carbon
traders then it is almost certain to become a destructive force (If
information is physical then symbols are material and are thus forces.)
If you are
interested I have draft summaries on my website why the “carbon cap
and trade” symbol is a manifestation of the psychopathy that exists in
every human being. I explain why the “carbon trading market” can
only put a price on a carbon resource but never a value. The Carbon
Trading Market is simply a device for transferring wealth from those who
act as stewards of carbon to those who most destroy our carbon
resources. Its brief history illustrates this.
Indeed my current
conclusion is that if the Carbon Trading ethos is adopted universally
this year then catastrophic global warfare is inevitable by 2013.
People will relinquish stewardship and accept the market price of
carbon forms like mineral oil/gas. The run on savings will collapse the
banks while simultaneously the demand for these mineral resources will
far outstrip supply. Though I am relatively poor by New Zealand
standards I can easily, in theory, increase my rate of destruction of
mineral oil many fold to my previous levels. I might as well save my
remaining precious time and money using cars and jets again and live it
up while I can.
Bill. The Sustainability Principle inspires me otherwise and it suggests
that other associations of the “350” symbol that will tend to put us
at less risk. I have something greater to live for.
As mentioned we
exist in a carbon flux of transformations. Our role as stewards within
this flux is to constantly find value in each carbon form, regardless of
the Market Price. It is not how much or how little carbon we use. It is
whether our use of the resource models and reflects an essential harmony
with the carbon flows and balances that sustain us. I, for instance, see
a future when I make much greater use of carbon. It will be used to
insulate my dwelling, transform and store solar energy, create mass
transit systems, archive knowledge and transmit electrical products.
In this future my current use of wasteful mineral mining
practices, my combustion of fossil fuel in Bulk-gen electricity plant
and my destruction of trees will all be reduced. I will be wealthier
even as I am more in harmony with the sustaining flows and balanced of
Thus rather than
promoting ideals of “cap and trade” it is more helpful to talk of “value
and cap”, “enjoying harmony with carbon flows and balances”
and “enjoying stewardship” at 350.
So Bill, at
present the “350” symbol seems potent with possibility for
good. If the Sustainability Principle of Energy holds and you apply it
to the amplification of “350” so that the symbol becomes associated
with a fine sense of wonder and with an acceptance of our personal roles
as stewards of an awesome balanced movement of trace carbon elements
flowing through our air, oceans and soils then you will create a thing
of great beauty.
I hope you can
find use for these thoughts and insights. Here in New Zealand my work is
dismissed and, I am reliably informed, ridiculed. That is OK in that,
like you, I am a shy person and enjoy life most when I have quiet time
to reflect more deeply. This is my weakness and my strength. I like to
think I can transcend this situation by reaching across the world to
people like yourself.
Perhaps you have
ways of introducing this work to people who advise your leader. I hear
him giving speeches in which he speaks of “generating energy”
and “the energy sector”. This is non-science; people detect
it as such at a subliminal level and thus sense either dismay or
dissonance. Either way it is a disconnect.
As a general
rule, all that is born of a spirit of compassion/science inspires and
generates hope/harmony. Without compassion there is no science and the
state of non-science is one of hopelessness/dissonance.
I wish you great
joy, strength, wisdom and harmony with all.
Note* re use of “conservative” symbol.
While good people
allow this wonderful symbol to be abused we are all at greater risk. We
teach in our schools in “Conservation Clubs” that conservation is
about caring for the balances and flows that sustain humanity.
Many self-styled liberals use it as a symbol of abuse for those
who promote the most inequitable and unsustainable economics. Meanwhile
the latter adopt the symbol with pride thereby making a powerful
association with the sense of pride and citizenship associated with the “conservation”
symbol at Junior School level.
reserve the “conservative” symbol for those whose lives are
in harmony and conserve the flows and balances that sustain humanity. I
refer to those whose lives are in dissonance and destroy these balances
night Earth Hour 2009 and my home will be a blaze of light, a
symbol of harmony with the universe, a beacon of hope amidst the
darkness, despondency and despair around me in Wellington City New
Zealand in this hour…
Have you ever
asked what we are really commemorating in New Zealand and Australia on
ANZAC Day? I recently did and the answer I found has a shocking message
Bill I did not
get to send this email to you because I was interrupted for a few days.
A friend who knows of my work has just flicked me this (Monday New
Dave Your heart will tingle!
…. The answer, Mr.
Perkowitz said in his presentation at the briefing, is to reframe the
issue using different language. "Energy efficiency"
makes people think of shivering in the dark. Instead, it is more
effective to speak of "saving money for a more prosperous
future." In fact, the group's surveys and focus groups found, it is
time to drop the term "the environment" and talk about
"the air we breathe, the water our children drink."…
The research, as
reported in the New York Times, may be useful in that it supports the
thesis the current use of the “global warming” symbol is
unhelpful. However it would seem the researchers are unable to provide a
deep rationale why.
The reason it is
unhelpful is because we all enjoy the state of science to some degree
and have experiential knowledge of thermodynamics at a cellular level.
It is this deep knowledge that enables us to sense the dissonance and
denial that is manifest in the use of the “global warming” symbol
as in “global warming = bad, evil, must be fought/stopped”.
Certainly humans have a tendency to coalesce into groups of differing personality types. However I suggest deeper research would indicate it is the “environmentalist” group’s manifestation of dissonance and lack of science that people are responding to. Or if you like, the group’s reflection of fundamental thermodynamics does not ring true.
And we have very
good bullshit detectors – even a child of three demonstrates
significant awareness of hypocrisy and inequity e.g. dissonance between
words and deeds. Such is the power of our mirror neurons. Too often the
lives of Environmental Educators fail to mirror what they preach.
Which is the more
fundamental psychological reason why “cap and trade” cannot be
In 2006 The
Frameworks Institute released similar research of the “greenhouse”
symbol based on wide surveys. They concluded the symbolisation “atmosphere
= greenhouse” does not work for most people and recommended the
use of the “blanket” symbol in its place. Again while research may
be true their concluding recommendation reveals a lack of underlying
science. Blankets are primarily associated with suppressed thermal
convection. Again the image/sensations evoked deny change on scale.
You will note the
conclusions in the NYT article about the current use of the “energy
efficiency” symbol supports my own action in lighting up my home like
a beacon the night of WWF “Blackout = Stewardship” during
Earth Hour. If you read my blog you will see that I briefly explain the
sociological/historic reasons how and why the symbol has been
re-engineered to be associated with deprivation.
The NYT article ends:
"...Frank Luntz, a
Republican communications consultant, prepared a strikingly similar
memorandum in 2002, telling his clients that they were losing the
environmental debate and advising them to adjust their language. He
suggested referring to themselves as "conservationists" rather
than "environmentalists," and emphasizing "common
sense" over scientific argument.
Frank Luntz is
more correct than he possibly knows re the flaws in our use of the
“environmentalist” symbol and the “science” symbol. I doubt he
understands the full implications.
His use of the
“science” symbol reflects our unsustainable culture in which “science
= way of thinking; the domain of an elite 3% of Homo sapiens called
scientists”. Inclusiveness is a prerequisite for the state of
science to exist and this contemporary definition is clearly not
inclusive. The definition is not born of compassion and fails to
recognise that we all experience the state of science to some degree –
the "350 tree man" in Africa probably more so than the
world-leading experts on climate. This is the “common sense” that
enables civics, art and languages and all that we know as civilisation.
That is why the “common sense” symbol is so potent.
psychologists through the millennia have recognised what modern quantum
theory is suggesting: we are our environment. All those who enjoy
compassion know this to some degree. It is common, particularly among
those that call themselves “environmental educators”,
“environmental scientists”, “environmental activists” or
“ the environmental movement”, to define the environment as
something separate from themselves. They make statements such as
“people and the environment”. They say, “We are destroying the
environment” rather than “We are destroying us”. They
say “We have an energy crisis” rather than “We have a
crisis with our use of energy”….
This is a form of
denial of change/stewardship and it is manifest as an increased
fragmentation of our consciousness of being. Our state of science and
our sense of stewardship wither in this fragmented existence. I often
observe the work of “environmentalists” lacks science, in particular
with regard to psychology and history. Too often they actively destroy
students’ comprehension of the fundamentals of thermodynamics.
This is a long
Post Script, Bill. I hope you are still here.
serendipity that your visit and the NYT times article coincide. In case
it is not apparent at first scan, the essential message of the
Sustainability Principle of Energy and the Sustainable Symbol pages on
my website is that conserving is about maximising the power of our
symbols, conserving their potential as we would the potential of the
universe(s) in general. It means constantly revising our use of them so
they conserve our options. When we, for instance, describe any energy
form as energy itself we immediately deny the existence of a vast array
of energy transformations and possibilities. The same occurs
when we confuse power types and electrical forms with power and
electricity. It is a recipe for hopelessness.
This is where
people with the skills of poets and writers like you can help people
like myself who are not such practiced wordsmiths. It is hard work being
careful and precise. I certainly struggle and often my imagination is
insufficient. However I do know that when people are able to use symbols
so they accurately reflect the vast diversity yet simplicity of
existence then we experience great beauty. I hope you find an inkling of
such beauty in Sustainability Principle and can help it flourish. I hope
you can glimpse how it is a tool that enables us to transcend our
immense personal capacity for denial of change/stewardship and the
Banker’s Greenwash/Energy Gobbledygook that pervades our media and
Again – thanks
for your time Bill – much appreciated.