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Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy: All images on this site are copyright 2001 and you are free to use them with care. 


Blog by Dave McArthur 4 September 2007

Maybe you are one of those good caring folk who care passionately about the quality of life on planet Earth’s surface. If so, only begin this article if you commit to read it to its conclusion. Please.

My plea is made in all humility. Over the years I have witnessed the traumatised reactions of “environmental educators” “energy experts” and “climate scientists” as they caught glimpses of what the Sustainability Principle suggests. I have seen a wide range of reactions. I have witnessed people go ashen grey in shock and flaming red in indignation and white hot in anger and stupid with embarrassment and mute trembling with disbelief. 

And every time I have felt inadequate in my communication and my ability to convey compassion. Often the first reaction of these folks is to say, “This cannot be!” They then ask what is my authority. I reply with the truth of my situation, “I was a meter reader for a couple of decades”. They allow me no chance to explain that this took me to interface of our education system, our media and the general public as I visited thousands of homes and businesses. They allow me no chance to explain that my vision of energy and power comes from walking thousands of miles of our lands and skies and knowing the immensity of the changes of our universe with every sense in my body. They allow me no authority because I am deemed not to be a “scientist” or even an academic. And so the Sustainability Principle “cannot be” for them.

My plea that you commit to read to the end of the rationale is not directed to these people. They will dismiss the Principle as “mere semantics” and fail to register that its physics is as real as the ground beneath their feet. My plea is directed to those who are open to catching a glimpse of the implications of the Sustainability Principle of Energy. In some cases you may feel your whole spiritual landscape is subject to seismic shifts on continental scale. This can initially feel very disturbing.

I have witnessed good people become distraught as they realise that they may have spent a lifetime teaching against their own objectives. I have felt their anguish as they moaned, “I cannot bear to think how many students I have put wrong all these years and what damage I have done!” and “I know this is true but just don’t think I can face changing what I do”.

In some cases people have admitted the truth they glimpsed but were unable to catch my eye next time we pass and they have sat mute in public discussion of the merits of aspects of the Sustainability Principle. It is clear to me at such times that I have failed to communicate the great potential for hope and compassion inherent in the Principle. Always I am searching for ways to convey that key message.

I mentioned the seismic shift in perceptions that occurs.  For those of you who live in a world of heroes and villains, who live by a script of black versus white, it can be extraordinarily unsettling to confront the possibility that you may have been the villain of the piece all along. Before beating yourself up and going on a guilt trip, please stop and ask, “What if existence is not black versus white but is black and white?” And note that colours and shades exist in profusion around you. That does not occur in a black versus white universe.

If this multi-hued vision still eludes you, gift yourself the time to watch the skilled artist lay down the darkness, the deep shadows on the page. See how the light springs forth and forms appear as by magic. That is the complementary vision of existence inherent in the Sustainability Principle. That is the reality underlying the concept of the bonusjoules-junkjoules concept of energy efficiency.

Perhaps it is helpful to refer you to McArthur Universal map of the world that was created by a namesake of mine in Australia?

In inverting the map of our world witness the change in your perceptions. Suddenly New Zealand becomes prime among nations. Suddenly Stewart Island becomes prime in New Zealand. How does this new perception change your feelings of national pride? How do you now view the oceans that separate nations? If for you Eurasia now seems the base of the world, why did New Zealand not seem the base before? How might these new perceptions affect your behaviour?

So it is with the Sustainability Principle of Energy. It rearranges our perceptions of who is the most sustaining of Earth’s resources. Could it be that the “green movement” with its use of key symbols is the group of people that most enables the “robber barons” to gut our carbon, electrical, solar and other potentials?

And if this is a serious possibility, at what point do we confront our roles? It is too late after our civilisation has collapsed and even as I write our society is employing our vital symbols in ways that put it at massive risk of implosion. Indeed in this month of August 2007 we have stepped right to the edge of the abyss with our carbon-based global credit system imploding at its peripheries. It is being called the Subprime Mortgage Crisis but a more accurate description is the AUOGS or the AUOGT (Addictive Use of Oil/Gas Spasms or Tremors.)

For six decades we have propagated our species and our debt structures in the belief that cheap mineral oil and Gas are as bounteous as energy. Indeed  during that time many of us have come to call them energy. At the same time we have eliminated the atmosphere out of the energy equation of combustion. As a result humans risk failing as Carbon Beings.

The Sustainability Principle indicates this is a very high-risk strategy. As access to mineral oil and Gas reserves shrink, inflation erupts and the fallacy of the credit system is exposed. Credit evaporates and nations plunge into war and famine. This is compounded by the risk of droughts, floods  and more severe weather events. So I feel some urgency in propagating the Principle, despite my inability to communicate the compassion within it.

Be mindful of your changed perceptions when viewing the downside up view of the world in the McArthur Universal map.  Remind yourself that nothing has changed in terms of land mass – every molecule still has a vital role for planet Earth to exist. Similarly you have a vital role in sustaining civilisation. Certainly what you have done in the past is material in this moment. The future is however manifest by your perceptions now. 

Join me in remaining mindful that over 2000 years ago King Asoka slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people in single military campaigns and then, in a moment of revelation, altered his perceptions so he became arguably a great force for humanity and perhaps one of the greatest “environmental education” teachers of recorded history. Billions of humans have enjoyed finer existences because of him. 

Be mindful as I am of our capacity to change and know compassion. This capacity is greatest when we know and accept in our hearts our trace existence. In this state of acceptance of change, of all forms being mortal, we are able to understand how a symbol can cause a global transformation of the human spirit. We can comprehend that when our use of a symbol is driven by our greed and fear it will resonate to form a dissonant world mirroring that state. When our use of a symbol reflects our love and care it works to generate a multitude of images that mirror that respect.

With that I present the latest draft of some of the rationale of the Sustainability Principle. It reveals the underlying denial of change that drives the behaviour of so many of our “energy experts”, climate experts and Environmental Educators. It elucidates the phenomena in which they make confusing and unhelpful uses of key symbols such as:

Science = detached (amoral) knowledge

Energy = energy form

Fuel = energy

Power = power form

Climate change = bad

Warming = warming up

Global warming = bad

Atmosphere = greenhouse

Warmer trace gases = greenhouse gases

Carbon neutrality =sustainability

Carbon trading = sustainability

Human use = energy crisis

Energy Efficiency = deprivation (using less energy)


It is my intent that as I find time I will show how the Principle can be applied to each of the above flawed uses of symbols. I will also show how it provides us guidance to more sustainable uses of symbols. I have managed to find time to provide one example of the application. It is our use of the global warming =bad symbol

I am sure you aware of how this symbol is pre-eminent in our culture at this time. We are constantly being exhorted to “Fight Global Warming” and to “Stop Global Warming”. Have you ever asked what would happen to life on Earth if the “green movement” were to succeed in stopping global warming? What is it really calling for?  And why? What is it really saying?

So, read more on the rationale underpinning the Sustainability Principle of Energy and know all the kindness there is. 

 FOOTNOTE: the cartoon panel that accompanies this blog was created about 2003. Bonus Joules had journeyed to the New Zealand Parliament to see if the Minister of Energy really is the godhead. The Hon Pete Hodgson had been revealed as just another very ordinary, confused and frazzled politician and our Parliamentary Parties were panicking about what they and our media portrayed as an “energy crisis”. The simple reality was the neo-fascist legislation governing the New Zealand’s use of its electrical and solar potential had resulted in an unsustainable demand for Bulk-generated electricity – a lack of rain in 2003 had resulted in empty storage lakes. 

Bonus Joules is discovering a permanent and complementary companion in Junk Joules. 

In retrospect I now see that much of the essence of the Sustainability Principle was emerging in this particular panel. However while I could see Junk Joules was the power behind the unsustainable governance and legislation I had yet to realise that our unsustainable systems are most enabled by those who are most overtly engaged in campaigning for sustainable life styles. I still had to join the dots between the non-science uses of our great symbols and detect the underlying behavioural driver.


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