Return to the Welcome Page

  Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy



Return to Update Page

 The Sustainability Principle of Energy



 The Symbol Use Guide
Making our  uses  of our prime symbols work for us - An inventory  illustrating the Sustainability Principle in action



Link here
 to a more in-depth discussion of 
sustainable uses of key symbols - including

energy energy efficiency
global warming

Peak Oil
exponential growth







 Death of the Death Waves
Bonus Joules goes cold and hot and discovers life on Earth is but a trace existence.

Click on any cartoon

Chapter Six - Land of the Lost Trace Gases - Discovering the Trace Gases.

JOURNEY Index      

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


Blog by Dave McArthur 25 March 2010   

Tonight I have joined over 2000 of our Capital City’s most educated folk in the Wellington Town Hall to experience the most sophisticated advertisement for jet travel I have experienced since Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. The promoter this time is to be Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, PRS, Astronomer Royal, Master of Trinity College at Cambridge and president of the Royal Society in London. 

Martin Lord Rees, as the ticket describes him, is materialising here in Wellington at the behest of the NZ Royal Society. Tonight he is going to talk about the world in 2050. Last night (Monday 22 March) he addressed a packed venue in Christchurch and no doubt the educated elite there sat in similarly reverent way awaiting the performance. I am reminded for some reason of those free lectures promoting religions and courses that will provide you with the meaning in life and make you immensely wealthy (if you pay for the secrets). 

As we file in we pass tables groaning under stacks of Bill Bryson’s new book “Seeing further: the story of science and the Royal Society London”. 

Messages extolling the Royal Society and the McDiarmid Institute scroll by on a huge screen above the lectern.

The lights dim and a series of very important New Zealand “scientists” provide introductory testimony to the venerable history and role of the Royal Society. These strong men speak of how they trembled in fear and awe as they signed their names using the quill and ink on the ancient parchment when they were admitted as Fellows of this most august of institutions. They expound on its great history in promoting science and Martin Lord Rees arrives at the lectern to affirm their claims, stating the Royal Society of London has been for three and a half centuries the foremost agent of science in the world. There is no hint that the Society has also been at the heart of the British Empire, one of the most destructive and brutal empires in history. 

Everyone claps his or her appreciation of the Royal Society. When a speaker observes that the full house shows science is alive and well in Wellington everyone applauds in self-congratulation.  

There are many women in the audience and the row in front of me consists entirely of women. I wonder how many observe the fact that only men cross the stage to speak at this ceremony and Free Masonry, from which the Royal Society was born, tends to be exclusive of them? 

Martin is precise and articulate in his delivery. I watch him on the large screen and have to remind myself on occasion that he is actually present in the room, albeit as a diminutive figure behind the lectern. He could easily be in Britain speaking to us. His alter-presence on the screen is characterised by his sharp, keen eyes and the side of his mouth continually tugs and plays in a way suggesting a constant quirky humour.

Afterwards I ask the person seated beside me, one of NZ’s most prominent “science educators” if he learned anything. He replies, “ I learned he is a nice man who cares very much about people”. He does not respond further than that. That, in many ways, sums up my experience. Martin Lord Rees is described as the most “eminent scientist” of our time and I know many self-described “scientists” revere him. In retrospect I cannot think of a single new insight I have gained from him into the human condition and how humanity might survive to 2050. 

You may have gathered by now I am not the most ardent adherent of the Royal Society religion. I am mainly here to observe a social phenomenon. This said I am also here because I am open to any chance to gain new insights into how we can survive the passing of the Cheap Mineral Oil/Gas Era. I am little disappointed and not surprised that my notebook ends up with not a single record of a novel insight or revealing statistic.  

Martin Lord Rees speaks of the great challenge energy is but does not define his use of the “energy” symbol. Perhaps he assumes his learned audience all know what energy is. He alludes to but does not really spell out the implications of our depletion of cheaply extracted mineral oil. Perhaps again he assumes and respects our deep knowledge of the potentially drastic implications.  

Then again, a little psychoanalysis of his language suggests the possibility he might be in deep denial of the implications of his destruction of 300-500 gallons on high quality mineral oil flying to and from New Zealand. That’s wealth with the energy equivalent of a quarter of a million man-hours of labour. I wonder how many in this highly educated audience register this possibility? The group walking with me to the venue had spent their whole time discussing which airline automatically gives you air points and the great deals they get. 

Martin Lord Rees broaches the thorny subject of what constitutes a sustainable population. The graphs illustrating our exploding numbers of being speak for themselves. As he points out, perhaps Earth can sustain 20 billion humans all living in high-rise shoebox apartments, eating rice and living in virtual reality. He makes it clear this is not the life for him and probably not for the audience. He is clear that unsustainable use of resources of those assembled requires a drastic cut in population numbers but does not suggest how this will be done. 

Martin Lord Rees spends some time talking of how we must “solve climate change”, which is very different from talking of the value of “living in harmony with climate balances”. He presents graphs of historic carbon concentrations in the atmosphere and speaks of a probable anthropogenic factor. I wait with pen poised to jot down his insights into how we might mitigate perceived negative impacts of our carbon emissions on climate balances. Greater democracy at the community level?  The identification and elimination of psychopathy in our corporations? A revision of our notion of science? My pen hangs poised, unmoving. 

On at least three occasions Martin Lord Rees refers to “global warming” and the warming of the planet, intimating these are unhealthy processes. The only way to make sense of what he is saying is to assume he equates warming with warming up, which of course is a gross denial of the fundamentals of thermodynamics.

He then compounds this denial by repeatedly speaking of the need to “save energy” and develop “sustainable energy”. Both these notions evidence a vast denial of the Conservation Principle of Energy. His framing language reveals major dissonance and denial, reflecting a lack of science. 

This is manifest in his worldview in which he talks about “the developing” nations, as distinct from the “developed” nations. It is possible to presume he includes Great Britain in the latter group. For instance he sees a vital role for the use of nuclear fission plant to manufacture electrical products. He acknowledges the risks of this technology but believes it has a rightful place in Britain, which already has the technology. He sees no need for it in countries like New Zealand, and probably by implication in countries that are not as “developed” as is Britain. 

I wait in vain for Martin Lord Rees to speak out as an esteemed “scientist” against the dangers of Carbon Trading. Instead he talks of carbon sequestering and I remain unclear of his attitude to some of the other engineering solutions he alludes to. He does warn of “the widening gulf between what science can do and what is prudent” and suggests that “..choices should not just be made by scientists”. He is insistent that “science is part of our culture”. 

Now this is where he and the Royal Society Fellows really lose me. All through the evening they talk up the importance of science and the value of this rare group of people they call “scientists”. (See Google Images of "scientists" Is this you?) They all consistently expound the need of working to get science to the people. However there is an unspoken assumption implicit in everything they say. Martin Lord Rees and the other speakers never come out directly and say, “ I am a scientist and you, my dear rabble, are not a scientist”. They completely deny our reality. For instance, our reality is that almost every human being learns a language and we do this amazing endeavour within a few years of birth. It is a process that involves open inquiry, rigorous experimentation, profound reflection, constant sharing and continual refinement of hypotheses that dwarfs the process required to gain, for instance, a PhD in astronomy.  

There is something peculiarly hopeless in this attitude of self-styled “scientists” such as Martin Lord Rees. They can clearly articulate our problems and, to their credit, admit they can offer few solutions.  However they don’t tend to admit the possibility that they may be a significant part of the problems. Having defined “science” as a body of knowledge essentially lacking morality (prudence) that is the domain of an elite called “scientists” and having also touted their vision of science as the way to a sustainable future they then speak of the need for decisions to be made by us “non-scientists”. It’s an impossible self-defeating cycle. 

I could delve deeper into the dissonance and denial that generates this hopelessness. However it is more important in the short time I am giving to this blog to identify a probable positive psychology the Royal Society might like to consider.  

In brief I suggest Martin Lord Rees and all the Royal Societies of the world allow the possibility that every human being is born into the state of science and this enables language, arts, civics and all we know as civilisation to exist. Science is not just “a part of culture”. Science enables culture to exist.  Could it be that every man and every woman is born into and enjoys the state of science to some degree, even as we are non-scientists to some degree? In this context it is exclusive and thus necessarily non-science for any human being to call his or herself a “scientist”. This denies the possibility that all and each of us is a scientist to some degree. 

I also suggest they consider the possibility that the state of science is necessarily moral. It is prudence in action. Knowledge and technology used without prudence occurs in the state of non-science. In this latter state we experience the elements of psychopathy and psychosis latent in each of us. 

I am sure if Martin Lord Rees were to be speaking of his insights into astronomy my notebook would be busy with quotes born of science. Instead it contains only references to a lack of science, as I have detailed. Indeed my conclusion is that his lecture actively destroys the state of science in our community, though it may not affect the state much in his audience in the Town Hall. The prominent “science educator” seated beside me comments as we leave the auditorium that he had observed me analysing the language of the presentation. I tell him the analysis indicates Martin Lord Rees is unsustainable, judging by his use of our key symbols such as Global Warming. He replies to the effect, “I guess he was using language he knows his audience understands”. 

This is probably correct. I suspect most of the audience is here to pay homage to this “great scientist” and to be reaffirmed in what they believe. Every time any of the speakers mentions Britain each of our brains defaults for a subliminal microsecond to an image of the dapper little figure of Martin Lord Rees seated in a jet powering through the atmosphere to us. That’s how our brain works and makes sense of myriad data. The act of flying becomes associated with his smiling, assured, caring and articulate presence. He forms the perfect ad for air travel, facilitated by Government funds to the Royal Society, our universities and other “scientific” institutes. If I were the PR for the Carbon Traders and the jet industry I would be cracking the champagne as I watched Martin Lord Rees board at Heathrow or wherever.  

This audience of 2000 is probably in the elite 5% of resource destroyers on the planet and, for instance, as a group probably destroy over 100 barrels of mineral oil each day of the year. He is exactly what this audience needs, for he talks their language of denial of this reality. Non-science breeds non-science. Most will probably go home sated. The fact that he offered no real prognosis or predictions will not be of concern as early on in his presentation Martin Lord Rees illustrated that “scientists” are poor at predictions. An example in the series he gave was Ernest Rutherford’s prediction that there would be no practical applications for nuclear fission. 

As we stroll away from the meeting I mention to my companion I have just written another essay explaining the Sustainability Principle of Energy and if correct it means we will have to radically revise the new NZ National Education Curriculum Framework and toss out or put major caveats in many of the books bought for our schools this last decade or so. He looks a bit gloomy for a moment and then says things are so busy at the moment he will struggle to find time to read it. Which is exactly why I argue the quality of generosity of time and reflection is one of the several requisites for the state of science to exist. 

The thought occurs as I write. At the end of his presentation Martin Lord Rees stated, “ We all need to debate energy”.  I will send the essay to the NZ Royal Society to test their reaction. Its implications will be extremely inconvenient for them as they challenge some of the core beliefs of members. Judging by past responses when I attempted to alert them to how the Society destroys science in our schools my essay will be greeted with a profound silence.  

I have just visited their website and see it is profoundly woven through with links to CarboNZero.

About Us
Medals & Awards 
Rutherford Foundation
For teachers & students 
Publications & shop 
International & Business 
News & Events 
Join the Royal Society 
Contact us

This is arguably one of the most dangerous and psychopathic institutions on the planet. And the notion of zero carbon evidences profound psychosis too – it is a delusion to think human beings can ever have a neutral or nil role in the great carbon flux. 

I note links also abound to Genesis Energy, one of New Zealand’s biggest polluters. For example:

 And as I show in my video on the nature of energy The Grand Denial, the NZ Royal Society is a prime agent of denial of the Conservation Principle, confusing energy with power with electricity with Bulk-generated electrical products. 

The Royal Society has a long tradition of being a reactionary force. I often wonder the reception our NZ Royal Society would now give someone like Luke Howard, “Father of the Clouds”, if he came along with his brilliant essay On The Modification of Clouds.  

Would they dismiss him because he is not a “scientist” and is just a chemist? At least Luke had a bunch of enthusiastic Free Thinkers in the form of the Askesian Society to debate with. Will they dismiss my essay Enjoying the Bliss, which is Energy because I am not a “scientist” and am just a school janitor? Time will tell. Read my next blog. 

Radio New Zealand is broadcasting Martin Lord Rees’s address on Easter Sunday morning. I hope this blog allows you an extra perspective if you listen to it. Do not be alarmed if you experience sensations of diminishing hope. Do not despair. Simply remain mindful of the state of science you were born into. Embrace the scientist within and hope will be sustained. 

Footnote – the cartoon strip that accompanies this blog is serendipity. I drew it about seven years ago as part of a series in which I attempted to show our top educators, including the Royal Society, the fallacy of their claims that there is no alternative to using the greenhouse symbol to communicate climate processes. The cartoon of Earth in a blanket is a replica of an illustration in a Ministry for the Environment teaching booklet put into 3000 NZ primary schools – fully endorsed by our top educators. It is normal for the Royal Society to give its stamp of approval to such publications. The “Feverish Earth” illustration is chronic in the ways it destroys the state of science our children enjoy.



 The Sustainability Principle of Energy

2010 Essay introducing the Principle
Enjoying the Bliss, which is Energy

The Symbol Use Guide
Making our  uses  of our prime symbols work for us - An inventory  illustrating the Sustainability Principle in action


Return to Update Page

Return to the Welcome Page