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Climate Change Education  Evaluator

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Blog by Dave McArthur 21 June 2008

Do many of our “climate” and “energy” experts not make sense to you? Here is a simple test to separate their science from their self-serving spiels.

The beauty of the test is that you do not need great intellect or formal education to apply it. Indeed some of the people who are least capable of using it are those with the highest formal qualifications who earn their income as experts on the fields of “climate”,  “energy”, “environment” and “economics”.

The main qualities you need are spiritual – a sense of openness, honesty, fearlessness and a love for life in general. A sense of humour is useful too. It is helpful to be able to smile at the great capacity of human beings to delude themselves about all manner of things. In particular it is great to be able to laugh at the ingenuity with which we create vast structures of symbols and systems of rationalisations in our attempts to delude ourselves that we are not mortal and that we are not stewards of our actions.

“Climate” and “energy” experts are no different to the rest of us. Yes, they may have enhanced knowledge of how the climate works, the limits of some resources and the ways that human activities are unsustainable. At the same time if every human being for several generations adopted the lifestyle of these experts then it would take the equivalent resources of many dozen planet Earths to sustain their activities.

Deep in their psyches these folk know they fail as role models and are a living lie. The disharmony between their talk and their walk generates considerable dissonance in lives of these experts. This is reflected in their choice of the symbols they use to communicate climate/energy issues. Thus we have this fascinating phenomenon where even as our “climate” and “energy” experts are calling for change and stewardship their use of symbols actively denies both the change and stewardship they call for.

A recent classic example was the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” in which Al Gore became the perfect advertisement for car and jet travel and denied the fundamental thermodynamics of Earth’s atmosphere even as he called for us to take greater care of our atmosphere. Several times he wondered why he has not been able to get his message across over the decades. The truth is he gets his message across very clearly and it is a reflection of the dissonance he experiences. In New Zealand there was a predicted surge in car imports, jet travel and support for carbon trading in the year or so after the movie.

This simple evaluator enables you to assess the value of the vast array of “climate change education programmes”, whether they be in the form of formal school programmes, media articles, movies, books etc. It identifies some of the key symbols used to frame the discussion of “climate issues” and indicates how they might be used to promote the acceptance and the denial of change and stewardship.

The wisdom underpinning the evaluator is ancient and well proven. It is at least two and a half thousand years old and is proven by the fact that it has underpinned some of the most sustainable large-scale societies in recorded history. These occurred in India and China. It is worth noting that as the current Government of China observes the increasing lack of morality and stewardship with the consequent desertification, flooding, air pollution and soil degradation that is being caused by the adoption of Euro-American lifestyle it is quietly permitting this ancient wisdom to re-emerge.

The education system in New Zealand, my homeland, reflects and generates one of the most unsustainable societies on Earth. This is manifest in the car and jet use, deforestation, carbon emissions, agriculture and dwelling performance of the nation as well as its status as a world leader in the promotion of the carbon-trading ethos.

 This failure as a people does not occur in a vacuum and the evaluator reveals the fundamental flaws in the education system and almost all of New Zealand’s institutions. These include all its political parties, Government departments, universities, NGOs and media. In particular it reveals the true nature of institutions such as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), the Royal Society of New Zealand, the New Zealand Education Curriculum framework, the Climate Change Office and many supposedly “green” NGOs and private companies that describe themselves as “energy consultancies” and “climate change” educators . 

You will find the evaluator valuable in a number of ways. The prime value is that the evaluator works to restore your confidence in your own capacity as a scientist. No longer do you need to question your ability to understand the world when you hear and read these “climate” and “energy” experts claiming that global warming and climate change are bad and that we need to conserve energy and power because they are scare and in crisis. It is not you that is confused and lacking science. Rather it is these experts, the media and politicians that lack science.

The evaluator is particularly helpful to you if you are young. It reinforces the state of science you were born into and you can avoid the confusion and denial that is endemic to older generations.  It also opens up a cornucopia of possibilities and reduces the degree of the risks that our current culture inflicts on you. Finally, but not least, it opens up a wider range of possibilities that will enable you to experience much greater joy and meaning in life.

From a national point of view the evaluator enables nations to learn from and avoid the mistakes of New Zealand. In particular it promotes more sustainable uses of our carbon, electrical and solar potential and helps people transition beyond the Age of Cheap Mineral Oil/Gas into a more sustainable era. Fundamentally it does this by providing symbol uses that resonate hope and love. These in turn generate more realistic strategies based in science.

On a general note, it is helpful to understand that the use of symbols reflects the deeper nature and state of the individual and at the same time their use works to transform the being of the individual. Hence there is double value in conserving the potential of all our key symbols.

This evaluator resource is the result of tens of thousands of unfunded hours of research. The Sustainability Principle of Energy, which generated the evaluator, emerged directly from the analysis of thousands of documents, hundreds of lectures and countless discussions with a wide range of New Zealanders. While the lack of funding caused personal deprivation this was balanced by the freedom with which I could apply science in my questions and was not limited by the funding, ego, career, lifestyle and other dictates of our psychopathic institutions.

Two weeks ago the Director of Environmental Studies of our local university gave a lecture at the Wellington City Council’s celebration of World Environment week. Associate Professor Ralph Chapman of Victoria University spoke of the importance of understanding the psychology of what motivates people to act and called for a new morality.

However he did not provide meaningful insights into what drives human behaviour and nor did he suggest what the nature of a more sustainable morality might be like.

The “climate change” education programme evaluator identifies the fundamental drivers of human behaviour and our capacity to develop complex rationales that deny our mortality and roles as stewards. The evaluator is rooted in notions of science that have profound roots in a morality deeply founded in compassioin (see the Compassionate Curriculum) and proven over millennia.

It could well be that the insights into our psychology and the morality promoted by the evaluator are inconvenient, if not antithetical, to our education institutions. Perhaps our Educators and “scientists” are unable to enjoy sufficient science to make sense of our climate and the universe and they continue to model unsustainable lifestyles because their belief structures are fundamentally flawed? Some have confided to me that this is indeed true and they are trapped in their institutions by all manner of restrictions.

If true this does not mean the situation is hopeless. All the great liberation movements occurred when people got together in their homes and communities and decided to transform their societies. They occurred because people talked to each other and shared their dreams.

So if the evaluator makes sense to you it may be because you are fortunate and enjoy an enhanced state of science. This means you can be the living model that liberates our Educators and policy makers. As one of New Zealand’s leading Educators wrote to me,

“Don’t expect the curriculum to lead a paradigm shift – it could but only in the hands of inspired teachers supported by a radical society”

 This person is saying that it is you and I who will create a sustainable society. So familiarise yourself with its basic principles if the evaluator makes sense to you. Alert your friends and acquaintances to its existence. Our media and education institutions are not going to embrace the resource for it questions the sanity of their current roles. The hope of our children resides in you and I.

Foot note: The cartoon that accompanies this blog illustrates a classic example of the denial of change and stewardship. Those unfamiliar with my blog should know that this cartoon was first created in 2001 as I sought to alert the NZ Royal Society and the wider public that education resources such as this Genesis Energy education module, endorsed by the NZ Royal Society, actively destroy science and put us all at greater risk.

  Photo of Genesis Energy education module on my computer. 

In the Genesis Energy world of our New Zealand  Minister of Energy all you do is pour  coal in at a faster rate and the flames go higher, the turbine spins faster and the little electricity arrows zoom down the wires at an ever faster rate - all without any atmosphere.

It is complete serendipity that this panel should accompany this blog several years later introducing the evaluator of “climate change” education programmes. In the previous cartoon panel I showed how the Genesis Energy interactive website model of a thermal Bulk-generation plant had neither an air intake nor a chimneystack. In this cartoon I take this omission to its logical (scientific) conclusion.

The Genesis Energy symbol is a vast denial of the nature of energy. A large New Zealand corporation that is legally bound to make large short-term profits from burning fossil fuels has adopted the symbol, thereby equating the energy symbol with Bulk-generated electricity. The corporation is a product of the Electricity Industry Reform legislation of the 1990s during which hundreds of “service-minded” New Zealanders in the Bulk-generated electricity sector were sacked and replaced with “profit-minded” personal. I know this from intimate experience of two decades working in the sector and I was one of those sacked in the Reforms.

This Genesis Energy education module is a natural product of the new ethos and personal. Here they pretend to an interest in our children’s welfare while actively working to obscure the role of the atmosphere in the combustion equation of energy. Thus the education module illustrates in graphic detail a denial of change (transformations of the atmosphere are involved in combustion) and stewardship the actions of Genesis Energy affect the balance of the carbon flows.)

After I showed the Royal Society my cartoon of the airless burner Genesis Energy amended the education resource by adding a chimneystack and a small air intake. However the Genesis Energy ethos naturally meant that the graphics in the revised resource minimised the atmospheric transformation that occurs in huge combustion devices like this. I am not saying this was a deliberate conspiracy against our children. It is just how a bunch of people driven by the profit motive tends to think and work. They are just doing their job, which is to provide a strong flow of dividends for the owners of the corporation regardless of the long term social impacts.

 Photo of Genesis Energy education module on my computer. 

In this model wisps of smoke do exit the chimneystack and a small inlet pipe exists by the furnace. The incandescent light bulb glows more strongly as the furnace is fired up. Note that Genesis does not promote the much more efficient compact fluorescent lamps as they easily could have.

I then published a longer cartoon series exposing the Energy Gobbledygook and PR spin of Genesis Energy. It illustrated how if the New Zealand Government, the nominal owner of the corporation, really desired then it could use the education module to educate our children of the impacts of large scale coal burning plant. The module was eventually removed from the Internet and Genesis Energy management informed me “It was removed because it was not working.”

The extra irony of the education module is that it was created at a time when the New Zealand Government was mounting a big campaign to create a “Knowledge Economy” here. From this came the title of the cartoon series “Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy”. Little is heard of this “Knowledge Economy” these days and the web cartoon strip remains a rare reminder of this extensive national campaign in the early years of this century.

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