Invitation: Join the Review Call.
last update April 2010
to the fun.
to the fun.
join the call for a global review of how we symbolise the nature of
energy and how our climate works. Why? There is a simple reason: every society that failed to
embrace the fundamental principles of physics has self-destructed. We
are not exempt from the wisdom of those principles and there are many
signs* that our current uses of our prime symbols lack science and put us at grave peril.
how to conserve our prime symbols can help you avoid experiencing
needless deprivation and misery
while enabling you to enjoy a much
richer and more sustaining life.
*Signs for concern?
Witness of this
reality can easily lead to despair. This call for a review of our vision
is born of hope. It is made in the knowledge that when we enjoy the
state of being called science then our awareness of physics invigorates
and sustains us. This includes all people, no matter their literacy and
numeracy. It includes your own good self. Despite what our schools may
have taught you, the fact remains you too enjoy the state of being
called science. You are equally capable of understanding the great
Principles of Physics as anyone, for our appreciation of them most
essentially involves our spirit. Intellect is but a trace element of the spirit.
To refresh your
We have the
Conservation Principle of Energy, the nearest we have to a natural law.
Its fundamental messages are that energy is so bounteous it can usefully
be considered a constant (it cannot be created or destroyed) and it
continually transforms (all is constant change). The Conservation
Principle has never been faulted, despite being subjected to millennia
of the most intense and ingenious scrutiny human beings are capable of.
The human form remains as mortal as any other of the myriad forms in the
universe(s) and no one has ever created a perpetual motion machine.
We can understand
the nature of energy from many perspectives, including thermal,
electrical, gravitational and other potentials.
Each is just another way of describing change, including change
that could occur. For instance the fundamental insights of
thermodynamics are that thermal energy continually moves from warmer to
cooler regions and that all forms, whether they be atoms, human beings,
planets or galaxies are constantly warming as they are cooling. If the
balance between warming and cooling ceases to exist then so does the
form. This is the way of our universe(s).
We have the
Uncertainty Principle of Energy and again we are surrounded by proof of
its truth, not the least being our TVs, computers, nuclear fission
devices etc. It is your spirit rather than your intellect that enables
you to embrace the Uncertainty Principle, including its implications
that all is interconnected and that we are each stewards of our actions
amidst the flux.
In brief the
great principles of physics suggests that reality involves an immense
potential involving perhaps multiple universes in which continual
transformation occurs. All is change and somehow we each need act as
stewards of our actions within the flux if we are to survive and enjoy
harmony with the flows and balances that sustain us. The review will
explore and take into account the insights afforded by contemporary
research in physics and psychology. A proposed framework for the review
includes the following objectives.
Establish the probability that information is physical.
Explore the implications of the notion of “mirror neuron
(5) Explore contemporary fMRI insights into the role of the hidden or subconscious brain.
Establish the probability that the Conservation and Uncertainty
Principles are sustained.
Draw these insights into a principle that can form a practical
guide to sustainable uses of symbols.
Symbols for Review
Potential Benefits of
benefits of conserving the fuller potential of our prime symbols are
enormous. The following short list offers only a trace glimpse of the
wonderful transformation that can occur in our lives.
Form of Review.
I have no idea
what the ideal form of such a review is. I do know an immense wisdom and
associated capacity for action resides in the billions of human beings
that inhabit this planet. I also know that, as ever, word-of-mouth is an
incredibly potent means of communication and the Internet can enhance
this potential. This wisdom and communication potential can combine to
form a very sustainable force in our lives.
Such a force can
have many manifestations. Almost certainly they involve you as a citizen
acting as steward or conservator of the potential of our prime symbols
in your communities. These might include communities formed around your
role as a politician, an editor, an educator, a parent, an Internet
forum member, an academic, a craft, a trade or other role.
question of the conservator is, “How can I best conserve the potential
of our prime symbols so they work to sustain me and enable me to enjoy
maximal harmony with all?”
A secondary motivating question is, “Are my current uses of our prime symbols truly sustaining me?”
Above all be mindful in your daily use of these symbols and conserve their vast potential.
I sustain this
work by working as a school janitor and my failing eyesight makes
reading difficult. I welcome your insights even if I cannot respond in
detail. You are welcome to join with me at davemcarthur1at
gmail.com. You may be wondering how one begins such a profound review. I
provide a prototype template in the form of the Sustainability Principle
of Energy (see my latest essay- Enjoying
the bliss, which is energy) and a sample index of symbol uses at
In conclusion: I
do not know the ideal form of the review – that is for you to decide.
Your action will eventually be aggregated with many others to form
national and global reviews. I am concluding we can make far more
sustainable uses of our prime symbols based in deep psycho-physics. The
rewards do not just include our survival as a species. They also include
the experience of inspiring insights and a sense of marvel of our
existence. Welcome to the fun.
Background Links to Signs of Concern
destroy on average 14 barrels per capita per anum The global average per
capita is 4.5 barrels.
“Unless we learn the lessons, that markets are inherently unstable
and that stability needs to the objective of public policy, we are
facing a yet larger bubble.
The following list is random in that it reflects my reading patterns and my locality in Wellington, the Capital City of New Zealand. It is also random in that it reflects my limited capacity to communicate with individuals.
Bill McKibben Founder 350, author Eaarth
Radio New Zealand National - Afternoons
Radio New Zealand National - Nights
Radio New Zealand National -Saturday Morning
Radio New Zealand National - Sunday Morning
Shankar Vedantam Washington Post author "The Hidden Brain".
Anthony Hubbard Editorial Writer Sunday Star Times
Editors - Grist e-Magazine
Tod Brilliant - Communications and Strategy - Post Carbon Institute
EElist (NZ Environmental Educators forum)
Ailun Yang Greenpeace China
Radio New Zealand National -Mediawatch, Ideas
Ralph Chapman -Associate Professor, Director Environmental Studies Victoria University NZ
Google Incorp - Letter here
Up to top
Commissioner for the Environment
12 May 2010
I have just
listened to a Radio NZ interview with your predecessor, Dr Morgan
Williams in which he emphasised the role of education in the promotion
of sustainable behaviour and the need for care with how we frame
“environmental” issues. This morning I have also just read George
Monbiot’s latest article “Money’s Hunger” in which he writes:
“So the Dark Mountain project, whose ideas are spreading rapidly through the environment movement, is worth examining. It contends that “capitalism has absorbed the greens”(6). Instead of seeking to protect the natural world from the impact of humans, the project claims that environmentalists now work on “sustaining human civilisation at the comfort level which the world’s rich people – us – feel is their right.”(7)
Today’s greens, it charges, seek to sustain the culture that knackers the planet, demanding only that we replace old, polluting technologies with new ones - wind farms, solar arrays, wave machines - that wreck even more of the world’s wild places. They have lost their feelings for nature, reducing the problem to an engineering challenge. They’ve forgotten that they are supposed to be defending the biosphere: instead they are trying to save industrial civilisation.
That task, Paul Kingsnorth, co-founder of Dark
Mountain, believes, is futile…”
I had never heard
of the Dark Mountain project before. However my own work involving the
sustainable use of our prime symbols also indicates that the work of
“environmental activists” and the Green Movement may well be very
counterproductive. Indeed it indicates that as a group we may pose the
greatest risk to humanity. This is because “environmental educators”
are in the forefront of generating unsustainable uses of our prime
symbols in our schools and communities.
explanation for this behaviour is that “environmental activists” are
especially vulnerable because they experience enhanced awareness of
their impacts on the global balances and flows that sustain humanity.
The dissonance between this sentience and their actions is thus a much
more intense experience. This heightened intensity is manifest in their
adoption of more extreme uses of symbols used in denial of
possibility in mind I am writing to you in your capacity of
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to invite you to join in
a call for a national review of how we use our prime symbols. These are
the ones that express and shape our worldview such as energy, power,
electricity, greenhouse, market, conserve, carbon, science, energy
efficiency, warming, cooling, etc. Typically they are used in the
popular discourse of how our universe works in general and how our
climate systems work in particular. There are also vital symbols such as
trace, use, exponential, conservation principle of energy and
atmospheric that are rarely used in the discourse.
This list of
prime symbols is not exclusive but I cannot imagine how in New Zealand
symbols such as God, love, compassion etc can be included in such
a review. We would probably have to reassess our use of the science
symbol first and question whether our current use of the ‘science’
symbol is sustainable and whether it adequately informs us of how the
arts, language and civics best thrive.
I have been
emboldened to start this campaign after the broadcast of an interview
with the author of “ The Hidden Mind” on Radio NZ Nights recently.
As Shankar Vedantam points out, studies involving millions of people
indicate that most of us are unable to acknowledge the relatively
immense nature of the forces operating in our subconscious.
is a trace element of our psyche. Thus Des Cartes’ notion of “ I am
thinking therefore I exist”, on which our current use of the science
symbol is based, is less helpful than the notion “I am acting
therefore I exist”.
have long known this reality and exploited both our more primal fears
and our grand capacity for self-deceit. There exists considerable
synergy between this exploitation and the activities of “environmental
activists” with the latter being less aware of their roles in the
Ten years ago I
observed that much of the discourse of “energy” and “climate
processes” is framed by widespread denial of the great principles of
Physics and began exploring the phenomenon of cultural denial of
reality. I believe I now have a clear idea of the process and have
concluded that the above symbols are commonly used in ways that evidence
major self-deceit. My concern is that the self-deceit is of such a
magnitude that it puts humanity at grave risk.
observe how we now symbolise fossil fuels and Bulk-generated electrical
products as energy and have based our global trading system on this
delusion. This symbolisation enables us to use these finite resources as
though they are as bounteous as energy and to exclude the atmosphere
from the combustion equation.
observe the confusion and distress, which is the recent Copenhagen
convention. It reflects the dissonance of all parties –especially that
of the self-styled “climate change believers”.
I have long
wondered how I might communicate in a most humane and illuminating way
the difficult topic of the grand capacity for self-deceit of human
beings. I am very aware of the incredible ingenuity of our ego for both
self-acceptance and self-deceit and how these states are manifest in our
use of symbols. Many people experience any discussion of what our use of
symbols might really represent as a personal attack. They react by
either making personal attacks on those who question our current use of
our prime symbols or by dismissing the discussion as irrelevant.
I am hopeful that
works such as “The Hidden Brain” by Shankar Vedantam with its
insights from experiments using modern technology and techniques can now
enhance the discussion.
I empathise with
the defensive responses I have encountered and in an attempt to
ameliorate this inclination to react with personal attack and outright
dismissal I have sought to identify common behavioural drivers of our
use of these prime symbols. I concluded people might be better able to
accept their symbol use as part of the universal human condition if I
could establish a general principle. I figured we need tools that enable
us to transcend our ego and to draw on our most proven wisdom.
Principle of Energy is possibly the nearest we have to a universal law.
Variations of it have existed for millennia and no other symbol has been
subject to such intense and ingenious experiment. The overwhelming
evidence is that all is change; energy is so bounteous it can be
considered a constant; and all forms are very finite - we are mortal
beings. There is also considerable evidence that the Uncertainty
Principle of Energy holds.
I have drawn on
these principles of physics plus recent work in neurophysics, which
indicates information is physical and that our brains are laced with
mirror neuron systems, to propose an additional principle of energy. I
am tentatively calling it The Sustainability Principle of Energy. It is
primarily a tool for transcending our ego and establishing whether a
symbol use will tend to generate sustainable outcomes. It can be used to
reflect and evaluate the relative degree of acceptance and denial of
stewardship/change a person or society is experiencing at the
subconscious level. It can also be consciously used to generate more
sustainable behaviour at all levels.
My statement of
the principle remains clumsy as I attempt to crystallise a range of
insights into a sentence. However it is a very practical tool, as can be
seen by the index of symbol uses that reflect/generate acceptance and
denial of stewardship/change. If nothing else this index provides a
prototype framework of how a national review might be initiated. The
objective is to conserve the fullest potential of each symbol to evoke
the variety and change of existence i.e. convey maximum meaning.
Listening to the
Radio NZ interview with Morgan I was mindful of the attempts I made to
communicate the need for such a review during his decade as PCE. He
never acknowledged receipt of my letters though his secretary did inform
me that he had received and flagged them.
During his tenure
I attended lectures he gave and seminars he participated in. I have read
his literature on education and on our use of our electrical and carbon
potentials. As I analysed his symbol use I observed a powerful tendency
for it to deny the change he called for. His symbol use perhaps
reflected his lifestyle but it did not reflect reality and the world he
I will provide a
couple of examples.
In his role as
PCE Morgan gave consistent and powerful endorsement to both a national
education programme called “Enviroschools” and its chief proponent
–the NZ Association for Environmental Education.
As the Enviroschools
symbol suggests, this teaches our children about the care of their
school environment. It has/had** two additional profound features: the
resource makes no reference to the atmosphere and it associates the energy
and power symbols with Bulk-generated electrical products. In
other words its language is in direct denial of the Conservation
Principle of Energy and is exclusive of, for instance, a wide range of
electrical phenomena and small-scale generation of electrical products.
also commonly teach that humans can save and conserve energy. This too
is a direct denial of the Conservation Principle and personal
In this context
the PCE’s endorsement of Enviroschools was consistent with Government
policy during his tenure. This deemed that stewardship of the atmosphere
is not an individual responsibility and “The Market” (the ETS) will
care for us. It deemed that stewardship of our local electrical
potential is not an individual or community responsibility and “The
Market” (The Electricity Industry Reform structure) will care for us.
This policy has now been imbedded in the legislation and culture of New
Zealand so thoroughly that, for instance, not one of the previous 60
communities representing all New Zealanders pre-1993 now owns its local
to “market driven solutions” (to use a phrased much beloved by
long-time Minister of Energy and Climate Change –Hon Pete Hodgson)
amount to a widespread disenfranchisement of New Zealanders and a
profound destruction of our capacity to act as stewards of our
resources. Morgan’s tenure as PCE began before the 1998 Electricity
Industry Reform Act and he implicitly supported it throughout, despite
being alerted to its fatal flaws.
Towards the end
of his tenure Morgan began arguing overtly for more small-scale
(dwelling) generation of electrical products. However his language
worked directly against this objective and he was unable to articulate
to barriers formed by the Electricity Industry Reform legislation to
this activity. He failed to comprehend that programmes such as
Enviroschools, which he endorsed, taught directly against such activity
and created a hostile atmosphere in our schools, universities and
communities to dwelling-scale generation of products.
Morgan failed to acknowledge proven national education programmes such
as Energy Action from the 1990s that taught our children how to
calculate how their use of a resource affects their carbon pollution. He
failed to support the revised version Energy Action 2008 that would have
taught our children that energy efficiency is not about harmony, not
deprivation (See EECA, Electricity Commission, Ministry for the
Environment, Contact Energy et al), and that energy comes in a vast
array of forms, including potentially useful forms. It would have taught
there are many electrical phenomena and these offer a great array of
potential sustainable uses.
programmes ceased for lack of funding in 2000.
I would like to
emphasise this commentary is not personal to any individual or
institution. This is proven by the fact that I apply the same analysis
to a range of similar “environmental” institutions – including
Greenpeace, WWF, NZAEE, EECA, the Green Party, EDF, Consumer NZ, MfE-Climate
Change Office, The Sustainable Energy Forum, Greater Wellington Regional
Council, NIWA et al. They all evidence similar patterns of denial of
The Office of the
PCE under your administration has explicitly endorsed the ETS with its
psychology of offsetting and trading away personal stewardship of our
use of our carbon potential. The recent analysis of “smart” metering
fails to differentiate between “smart” metering (which can easily be
Fascist) and “intelligent” metering (which necessarily involves high
levels of democracy). There is an implicit acceptance of the current
legislation, which actively suppresses the nation’s capacity to make
intelligent uses of our electrical potential.
This said, the
Office of the PCE exhibits much less denial than some of the other
I noted on
several occasions that Morgan spoke of “humans and their
environment”, which teaches directly against the notion that “humans
are their environment”.
It is common for
environmental educators to dismiss this observation as “petty
semantics” – they argue there is little difference between “and”
and “are”. (These same people might argue there is a huge difference
between the statements “Human activities can affect climate
balances” and “Human activities are affecting climate balances”.)
I will make a
couple of quick observations about the use of the humans and the
educators talk a lot about promoting a sense of inclusiveness and
enhancing in students an appreciation of the interconnectedness of all
things. The substitution of the and symbol destroys the paradox
inherent in the statement “Humans are their environment”, this
paradox reflecting the general paradoxical reality of our existence. In
other words, they frame the environment symbol in exclusive and
with Morgan mentioned your proposal that New Zealand should conduct
audits of the quality of our environment. I agree. I have long argued
councils should have to provide an annual audit of their urban solar
generating capacity along with their finance accounts. Satellite
surveillance increasingly has the capacity to provide audits of the
carbon quality of our soils too. Reasonable audits of the state of
electrical potentials are possible in democracies.
However I suggest
the most vital audit of all is the measure of how we are conserving the
potential of our prime symbols and thus perhaps this invitation is
timely with your proposal.
insights from quantum, computer, neural and other areas of physics
provide increasing evidence that information is physical and thus we may
well be able to improve our definition of what a symbol is.
define a symbol as a quantum of crystallised, shared meaning. Symbols
inherently contain information and they enable life forms to survive and
procreate. For instance their ability to generate symbols has enabled
our cells to sustain their form for a billion years through all manner
of change. Meaning is retained in a crystallised form, which is organic
and continually changes in response to universal changes. The
sustainability of the symbol depends on how well it continues to reflect
reality i.e. how well its meaning retains harmony with the flows and
balances that sustain the users of the symbol.
At the level of
human consciousness a vast amount of meaning/knowledge is crystallised
in the prime symbols listed above. Essentially each is a worldview and
these worldviews tend to overlap in the meaning they communicate. And
being part of the paradox of existence each symbol both reflects and
generates the forms energy is manifest as. They transform our individual
psyche even as we transform the universe(s). We are the universal
Educators, Government policy makers and media who dismiss this
consciousness of the power of symbols as “petty semantics” and
“just semantics” deny stewardship/change. They fail to appreciate
the interconnection of all, including human beings. They fail to realise
that the image a symbol use generates in the brain is as physical as the
concrete being poured to create a huge dam across a great river, the
dairy cow effluent draining into a creek, the food we eat and the
vibrations of our solar system.
I will qualify
the next paragraph by stating that it is probably beyond the human ken
to know what begets what. We live in uncertainty.
The huge dam, a
symbol in itself, reflects and is generated by symbols reflecting our
shared worldviews. The integrity of the construction of both the dam and
the worldview from whence it came is subject to the same principles of
physics. If either is flawed then we will tend to be at greater risk. In
New Zealand we apply rigorous audits to the process by which the dam is
constructed and operated. We apply extensive audits of the flora, fauna,
landscape and water flows in the region of the dam. We apply no audit to
the symbol uses that generated the dam in the first place. And if the
Sustainability Principle of Energy holds then it is highly probable that
the current symbol uses involved are fatally flawed.
general the proposed principle indicates our current use of our prime
symbols is a certain recipe for escalating misery for all. It suggests
the framing of many of our major institutions and a considerable portion
of recent education materials are very unsustainable and urgently
principle also indicates that such an escalation into misery is
avoidable and such a review will be very helpful. Indeed the review I
propose has the potential to bring much more joy, awe and fun to our
lives. This is because the conservation of the potential of our prime
symbols enables us to generate a far greater number of sustaining
images. (If we do not have a symbol for an option then it cannot be
manifest.) The active application of the Sustainability Principle
promotes enhanced sentience of the myriad forms of energy that exist and
thus we are awakened to a greater range of potential resources. In
sensing more options we enjoy greater hope. We feel more alive and able.
I hope you
respond to the invite – you can see more details and links to the
Sustainability Principle at http://tinyurl.com/28oxmnh
footnote: it is possible that the rationale for the Sustainability
Principle of Energy and its application may seem very radical. The work
has been described as “completely out of left field”. A possible
explanation is that it is the most advanced work of its kind in the
English-speaking world at least. It is also a product of a set of
circumstances unlikely to occur in the current academic milieu. It is
far in advance of the work of, for instance, the Potsdam Institute, the
Institute for Public Policy Research and the Frameworks Institute.
reputedly the most advanced cognitive-linguistic research centre in the
USA, created the Climate
included George Lakoff and they concluded, for instance, that our
current association of greenhouses with atmospheric processes does not
work for most Americans. They recommended instead using the “CO2
blanket” or “heat trap” symbols instead.
Sustainability Principle suggests these recommendations are also flawed
and that the Frameworks Institute does not have a profound rationale as
that generated by the Sustainability Principle. The latter offers an
explanation for the behaviour that is based in universal principles of
physics and in deep psychology.
Stop Press. Since
writing this letter I attended an illustrated lecture at Victoria
University last evening (13 May) on the topic of “Climate Spin
–Denial in Media and Advertising”. The lecture, in part sponsored by
our Royal Society, was by Judith Williamson, writer, Professor of
Cultural History at the University for the Creative Arts in London.
Judith began by
stating she believed in the existence of “human-produced climate
change”. She said that in any culture there are images that resonate
widely and her duty is “to interpret them at the deepest level”. She
then proceeded to show a series of slides of illustrations involving
polar bears on icebergs, often with backgrounds of setting suns. Such
illustrations have been used by “environmental groups” to create an
association with “climate change”. She illustrated how the polar
bear has such iconic value now that editors commonly resort to using a
picture of a polar bear to symbolise “global warming”. She showed
advertisements of ice scapes encouraging people to tour the polar bears
before they are extinct, to buy technology that helps “fight global
warming” and to see movies (The Day After Tomorrow). She emphasised
how car advertisers in particular are “obsessed” with associating
their products with snow/cold.
Judith then asked
the question, “What does it mean to see climate change through
icescapes?” She suggested the Environmental Movement is fixated on
markers such as melting ice etc, the icescapes make it hard to imagine
what “climate change” means for the rest of the world and the great
irony: the “polar” symbol is the complete opposite of what is really
happening. She suggests the “cultural ubiquity of such ice scenes”
is a denial of a level of imagination for both those who do and those
who don’t “take climate change seriously”. The result is we have
“a limited repertoire to signify climate change” and she points to
Freud’s insight there is no such thing as a negative image – the
absence of ice cannot be pictured without ice.
She suggests our
continual use of the polar bear-climate change icon means we are
perpetually looking backwards rather than forwards” and identifies in
this a “melancholic mode ..a constant sense of loss’, which was so
prevalent in the poetry of the Romantics.
this fixation on loss has locked us into a fear position that affects
our response – including in those who do “accept climate change
exists”. “The human imagination needs to run free forwards… all
are facing a loss of known continuity both in “deniers and believers
of climate change… denial and anxiety are part of the same dynamic –
when a person cannot cope with it is suppressed and lives on in the
subconscious… deniers of climate change say it is not happening and
believers of climate change say it should not be happening… the very
act of fighting it makes it difficult to accept…this links believers
and deniers.. so we develop ways of deknowing by which we are knowing
something but not actually seeing it”.
to Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholy” in which he suggests the ego
identifies with things lost. She pointed out how children of this
generation are surrounded by these “images of loss” and contrasted
this with her own youth in the 1950s and 60s where children grew up
surrounded by pictures of the futuristic, high tech, clean cities and
landscapes of the future. Thus now whenever she comes across an
illustration of a possible future she keeps them to give them to her
young nephews so they can see ways of solving problems.
I will keep my
I found the
presentation most helpful. Judith identifies several very important
factors in our response to our potential impacts on the climate flows
and balances that sustain us.
clearly that regardless of the reality of our impacts on the climate,
the debate itself is transforming us in unsustainable ways.
In discussing our
ego she points to the powerful forces that operate at the subliminal
levels of our psyches.
neurophysics allows us to explore our capacity for self-deceit in ways
unimaginable to Freud’s contemporaries.)
one of the great paradoxes of consciousness – we become aware of our
mortality even as the notion of such transformation is abhorrent to our
ego. Similarly we become aware of our capacity to transform even as the
notion of responsibility and stewardship is inconvenient for our ego.
clearly our capacity for self-deceit and ability to deny the change we
overtly call for – her example being the equation polar scapes =
She shows how our
stewardship of our climate is framed in such a way that people at each
extreme of the current debate actually have the same response.
Her innovation of
the deknowing symbol as in “knowing about something but not
actually seeing it” may well be useful. It could perhaps help explain
the process by which we can think and say one thing and actually do an
entirely contrary thing. For example “climate carers” and “energy
experts” drive cars and jet around the planet exhorting people to stop
driving cars and using jets.
All the above
points are consistent with the insights afforded by the Sustainability
Principle of Energy. However the principle also suggests Judith’s
presentation is not as helpful as it could be.
Judith did not
define what she means when she uses the “image” symbol. She seemed
to define it as pictures in the form of illustrations, photos and other
visual media. A more profound use of the ‘image’ symbol is to employ
it to describe the sensation a person experiences when he or she
receives stimulus from any of our senses. The image created in the brain
can be generated from a range of symbol forms – smell, oral, tactile,
visual etc and the photo, cartoon, smell, word, drawing, sound etc of an
object will tend to generate the same image in the mind.
explain why Judith did not analyse the words in her illustrations.
Indeed she appeared oblivious to the impact of her own choice of words.
She made one
reference to “human-produced climate change” at the beginning.
Thereafter she continuously associated the “climate change” symbol
with malevolence. (Reality: Climate change exists with or without the
existence of human beings and enables life to exist.)
warming” symbol was associated with malevolence on multiple occasions
and Judith failed to observe the profound denial of life this involves
(Reality: Global warming enables life to exist on Earth and is a very
different phenomena to a planetary thermal build-up. Without continual
warming the planet would soon freeze.)
Judith evoked the
image of Earths atmosphere as a greenhouse. (Reality: Earth’s
atmosphere is a very organic and dynamic structure with an enhanced
capacity for thermal convection, the antithesis of rigid, man-made
structures designed to suppress thermal convection).
In brief: the
same processes of denial of change/stewardship that Judith identified in
the illustrations and photos are also evident in her own choice of word
symbols. Such is our incredible and very funny capacity for self-deceit.
Her lecture exposing the denial inherent in the current framing of
climate issues is itself an exemplar of denial. Too easily we become the
media spin we abhor.
I too was brought
up in the 1950-60s surrounded by pictures of gleaming cities set among
pristine, orderly, verdant landscapes above which flowed glowing clean
cars on sparkling motorways. Often these were in children’s books
extolling how nuclear energy would provide us with unlimited resources.
The images these generated in us enabled us to propagate from 2.5
billion to the current 6.8 billion human beings and use mineral oil/gas
as though they are infinite resources.
I am not sure
these images from my youth were sustainable either. I suggest the
greatest gift we can give our children is a sound knowledge of the great
principles of physics. In order for this to happen we must first find
ways to transcend the genius of our egos so our attempts are caring are
underpinned by science. I submit that the Sustainability Principle of
Energy provides us with a unique and practical guide that ten year olds
can understand and embrace. We at least owe to them a review of what are
clearly unsustainable uses of our prime symbols. And I reiterate that
such a review can be a source of great fun and inspiration.
I look forward to
your response. My long-time offer to meet with members of your office to
discuss our symbol use still stands.
Enviroschools. In 2006 Sir Jonathon Porritt came to NZ and observed in
his keynote speech to the NZAEE national conference what I had been
vilified for pointing out over the previous six years: the resource
“did not make a single reference to the most overwhelming issue of our
time – carbon…”.
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