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  Presentation to NZ Minister Of Energy

(David Parker 10 October 2006))


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My prime concern is that our children know science so they are better able to understand the nature of energy and how to use it so climate balances are conserved.
-Dave McArthur

What was:

Energy Action 2008/Energy Action Australia

Click on photo to view full range of posters in programme.


1)    Now outdated though probably still without peer. (E.g. comment Jonathon Poritt* 2006)
*Speaking at the NZAEE national conference in Auckland Jonathon spoke of his difficulty in retaining hope, having just read James Lovelock's latest book during his journey to New Zealand. He went on to say that on a recent visit to a school in Scotland he saw something that did give him hope - the children had begun calculating the impact of their activities on carbon emissions and displaying the results. The Energy Action programme, backed by 80 lesson activities, enabled children in NZ schools to do this a decade ago.

2)    Creation (c1995) and distribution of resource funded by community Trusts now extinct. In particular Hutt Mana Energy Trust, also Capital Power (WCC), South Power (CCC) etc. Motivated by community desire to make more intelligent use of Bulk-generated electricity, Gas and Water and need to access “energy efficient” products and practices.

3)    TransAlta inherited programme when it assumed ownership of the above community Trusts.

4)    2000 Revised and Expanded: Original resource lacked science and reflected core interests of Trusts i.e. “energy” and “power” defined as Bulk-generated electricity. Climate component was expanded to support Climate Change Office materials for Level 4 (Climate Impact Report 2000). Pete Hodgson presents Grant Dunford, creator, with communication award

5)    2000 Funding ceases. Reasons:
- Undermines Electricity Reforms (The focus on community empowerment and energy efficiency threatens corporation profits eg of TransAlta- NGC-OnEnergy, Meridian Energy etc)
- Undermines EECA ( Energy Action teaches primacy of the Principle of Conservation.)
- Seen to threaten NZAEE, Green Party, Enviroschools Trust interests. (Existence of Energy Action considered an obstacle to their Enviroschools product.)

What is:

(Or why NZ carbon policy and stats are what they are)  

Click to see examples shown Minister

(1) Climate Change Office posters and booklets.
-Based on Greenhouse/Blanket Education Model.

-Portrays Earth as sick, not human behaviour.

-Omits dominant Warmer Trace Gas = water vapour.
- Teaches EECA i.e. humans can conserve energy.
- Teaches energy efficiency= using less energy.

-Promotes use of incandescent light bulbs i.e. status quo.


(2) Enviroschools

click to view Enviroschools themes

-Based on five themes - excludes atmosphere (Deliberate decision)
-Lacks science eg  “energy”, “power” = Bulk-generated electricity; teaches against Principle of Conservation of Energy. (Deliberate decision)
(Note Jonathon Poritt’s 2006 commentary re lack of carbon component in Enviroschools*.)

*Jonathon in his key note speech noted that he had spent the previous couple of hours being shown all the wonderful things Enviroschools is doing and not once in that time had there been a single mention of the great issue of our times - our use of carbon!


(3) Genesis Energy –Royal Society Education Module 



(Recently pulled after 5 years. Reason given: “not working”)

-Lacks science 

-“Energy”, “power” = Bulk-generated electricity


-Omits controlling role of retailer in utility grid use.
-Role of atmosphere in combustion (a) excluded in early model, (b) minimised in later model.


-Generator dams remain full regardless of outflow, inflow. No atmosphere.

(4) Meridian Energy Wind turbine models, Generation Island
-Lacks science eg  “energy”, “power” = Bulk-generated electricity.

-Omits controlling role of retailer in utility grid use.
-Teaches against dwelling-scale electricity generation.

(5) Contact (Positive) Energy.


- Lacks science;

- Actively destroys “positive energy” symbol.

 -“Energy”, “power” = Bulk-generated electricity
-Frames “energy debate” as Bulk-generated electricity supply and use.
-Teaches against energy efficiency strategies (It is a gross non-truth to say costs and benefits have a direct see-saw relationship.)

(6) NZ Consumers’ Institute

Click here to view sample Powerswitch advice and commentary.

-Lacks science eg  “energy”, “power” = Bulk-generated electricity.

-Promotes myth of competitive market (Obscures fact 99.9 % of consumers are now excluded from intelligent involvement in Electricity Market since 1993)

-Just one bottom line =$$$. (Ignores social /environmental factors, penalises companies that invest in long term resource conservation.)

-Corrupt. (Institute promotes itself as fiercely independent and completely free of sponsorship. The truth is this education programme is heavily sponsored.)

Psychology (Advertising) 101

(1) A symbol can take many forms – word, picture, smell, gesture, sounds etc. All generate a common response. (Example given: greenhouse)

(2) The active response to a symbol is, for the most part, determined by our primal (subconscious) associations with the symbol. The emotional association /response to a symbol tends to dominate decision-making.

(3) Our mirror neurons play a powerful role in the decision making process. We model what we see.

(4) The response to a symbol use is best measured by what people do rather than what they say i.e. the walk counts, not the talk.

(5) It is all about ringing the right bells i.e. primal resonance and about the framing of the content and discussion.

NEECS v Kyoto national strategies

 –Resolving the Conflict.

July 2001 NGC-OnEnergy (Merv English CEO) withdraws long- standing commitment to fund Energy Action 2008.

December 2001 I am made redundant from Negawatt Resources Ltd. Continue work on the dole while waiting alternative funding.

Jan 2002. Marian Hobbs views prototype Energy Action 2008 at NZAEE national conference at Hamilton.  Very impressed. Wants all correspondence with Government officials. Supplied.

May 2002. Climate Change Office publishes primary school booklets. I forward Marian a brief cartoon critique. Marian promptly responds with letter informing me she has given instructions to her officials that representatives of all Government Departments involved be immediately convened in a meeting with me.

 May–October 2003. Remain on dole waiting meeting. Research Government NEECS and Kyoto Strategies.


(1) Both strategies lack science in that they are not supported by serious research.

(2) The strategies are in conflict with each other.

(3) Greenhouse Education Model contains profound flaws. Teaches against reality which is that:
Atmosphere = enhanced convection capacity
 Insulation = suppressed convection

i.e. communication of the risk of more extreme weather events conflicts with communication of best use of air in dwellings.

(4) Both strategies need be based on Science: in particular the Thermal Capacities of Air
Air = high convection capacity
Air = low conduction capacity

(5) We should reserve Greenhouse/Blanket Education Model for communicating insulation in dwellings, clothing, horticulture and technology in general.
(Using suppression of air convection. See Note *1)

Click to view page


(6) Use Trace Education Model for communicating Kyoto. (Lesson activities based on comprehension of tiny proportions/ high leverage.  See Note *2) Click here to see rationale posters

Note *1 Recent Research by the Frameworks Institute (not yet published) advises against the use of greenhouse symbol to evoke climate processes. See attached article.

Note *2 This is the basis of comprehension of Chaos Theory (weather and climate systems), Civil Defence (compounding of earth/water/air forces with speed) and economic theory (compound interest, debt management etc) . 

Also air molecules are able to move freely because they are only a trace proportion of the air space.

Trace gases (<o.1% of atmosphere) retain almost all its thermal energy. 

Trace Education Model does not confuse Kyoto strategies i.e. does not suppress ameliorating behaviour as the Greenhouse Model does.

October 2002. Give up on meeting with Marion Hobbs. Write to Helen Clark requesting meeting to show her NEECS-Kyoto work.

Nov 2002. Receive invite to attend meeting 14/11 with reps of Min of Ed (too busy to attend), EECA, Mfe, Climate Change Office, Royal Society NZAEE. 

NZAEE President (Pam Williams) stops my presentation after one minute – condemns it as “just science” and says that I do not know what I am talking about. Meeting effectively ends. No minutes kept by Mfe.

The Re-engineering of the energy and power symbols

2003-2004 on dole. Continue work re symbol use.

In brief: both these vital symbols have been colonised and redefined by bankers of the fossil fuel/Bulk-generated electricity sector to serve their medium term interests. This results in a gross loss of science in the community and denial of the Principle of the Conservation of Energy (See Note #1.)

Examples symbol uses that destroy science:

(1) Power = Bulk-generated electricity. Since c1920s (Confuses power form with power. This works directly against the awareness of distributed generation options i.e. small-scale generation at point of use employing a range of energy sources.)

(2) Energy = tradeable activities only, especially Fossil Fuel and Bulk-gen electricity use. Since c 1950s. (Confuses energy form with energy. This works directly against the awareness of distributed generation options i.e. small-scale generation at point of use.)

(3) Energy is scarce. (Untrue)

(4) Energy = Fossil Fuel (Excludes atmosphere from energy equation)

(5) Humans can conserve energy. (There is not one single example known where a human has breached the Conservation Principle i.e. has created a perpetual motion machine, achieved eternal life in this form etc.)

Note #1. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed and is constantly transformed. The Conservation Principle is as near as we have to a natural law. Key ideas: 

(1)Energy is bounteous.

(2)The amount of energy remains constant.

(3)Change is constant.

(4)All forms are mortal.

(5)There are many forms of energy.

(6)In practice, this means we have many options.

(7)We need conserve useful energy forms

(8)The issue is not how much energy we use that matters. The critical issue is that our use of resources conserves the environmental balances that sustain us. See Clayton Cosgrove statement re “need to use less energy” in homes (4 Oct)

2005-6 Recent work: a new Principle of Energy?

(Tentative name The Survival Principle)

“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 mirror reality.”

Put another way, the denial of change results in disharmony with all environment and the latter is reshaped so that humans are more at risk of starvation, warfare, pollution, disease and misery. We are less able to mirror the balances that sustain us.

A corollary of this principle:

When a communication is framed with symbol uses that deny change, then the communication will tend to work to suppress science and destroy the knowledge content inherent in the communication. In other words the communication generates nonsense and maladaptive behaviour.

The Survival Principle of Energy emerged from the collation of a list of common symbol uses that generate nonsense (non-science) See attached list. It derives directly from the Conservation and Uncertainty Principles.

I sought to identify common factors in the symbol use and the behaviour drivers of the behaviour of the choice.  In brief, the common factor is that all symbol uses contradict the Conservation Principle and/or the Uncertainty Principle.  

Key hypothesis: The confusion reflects dysfunction (conflict) at the primal level in the user. The fundamental drivers are a denial of change (mortality) and a desire to avoid responsibility for the consequence of actions.

Application of Survival Principle of Energy. 

Example: EECA and current review.

  1 Objectives from the framework paper of the National Energy Strategy review

The framework paper identifies eight main objectives for a replacement Strategy:

  1.                  A weighting towards actions that deliver energy efficiency, reduce energy use and promote, where appropriate, prudent energy conserving behaviours;


Already the debate is set within an impossible framework. It evokes images that humans can conserve energy, which is a violation of the Principle of the Conservation of Energy. It confuses our capacity to conserve valuable energy forms with the impossible notion that humans can conserve energy.

The focus on reducing energy use is unhelpful and needless. Again the debate is framed in conflict by confusing energy with the forms it takes. The issue is not how much energy we use. It is how our use of energy affects the environmental balances that sustain us.  It is possible to alter our behaviour so that we use more energy and yet reduce our impact on environmental balances. For example, it is possible to maintain higher temperatures in homes using careful use of resources such as solar and air (insulation) while reducing the demand for other resources such as Bulk-generated electricity, Gas etc. The net number of joules used is increased while the impact on environmental balances is reduced

To teach as EECA does that we must reduce the amount of energy we use is unhelpful because:

(1) It is the language of deprivation. In doing so it denies one of the great messages of the Conservation Principle i.e. energy is bounteous.

(2) It plays into the hands of sector groups who generate concepts of “energy crises” to sell their products.

(3) It obscures the fact that legislative, behavioural and other changes can result in more energy being used at reduced or no environmental cost.

(4) It is an insult to deprived people who do not even have the basics.

Conclusion: The review is at high risk of being counterproductive of its stated objectives


1.                  A weighting towards actions that use resources so that the environmental balances that sustain us are conserved.

Measuring energy efficiency:

Current economic measures means the efficient use of resources results in a reduction in the GNP figures i.e. energy efficiency is framed as negative. This is unsustainable.

Amory Lovins  (Rocky Mountain Institute) created the negawatt measure to provide an efficiency measure that would register as a positive contribution to the GNP. Hence multi-billion Negawatt Trade


(1) Nega = symbol of bad, backwards, loss, deprivation.

(2) Focus on Watts (Bulk-gen electricity i.e. elicits associations with electric wall socket, not solar resources.

(3) Assumes Market will make energy efficient use of profits from generation of negawatts. (See Enron for counter evidence)

I have attempted to redesign and improve on the negawatt symbol:

Bonusjoules: tends to be generated when a use of energy is primarly driven by long-term, low- risk considerations. 

Junkjoules: tends to be generated when a use of energy is primarily driven by short-term, high-risk considerations. 

Bonusjoules-junkjoules is a complementary co-evolving measure. We live in a flux of change. What can be considered an efficient use of resources in one period can be considered inefficient in the next period.

2006- The Great Electric-Solar Age

The issue in this Age is not climate change. There is nothing inherently wrong (or right) with climate change. It is the natural order and most sane people sense this is true at their cellular level. The issue is Climate Balance Protection.

The concept of Peak Oil is unhelpful:

(1)            No one can know how much oil there is in Earth’s Mantle.

(2)            The focus is on extraction, not impact of use.

(3)            The Bell Curve lacks hope.

Suggestion: We are now in the Post Cheap Oil Gas Age:

(1)            Oil-Gas retrieval will become a more high risk and expensive activity from now on.

(2)            Combustion of oil-Gas alters the carbon balances of the atmosphere (We are at greater risk of unsustainable changes to thermal balances.)

(3)            The use of oil-Gas enables the sustenance of 5.5 billion of the 6.5 billion humans. (I.e. provides the additional fertilisers, pesticides, food storage and transport required.) 

The Post Cheap Oil Gas Age will probably prove to be of duration of less than a generation. Failure to adapt to it will result in catastrophic collapse of the global human civilisation. At present I suggest the greatest hope lies in transitioning to what may be described as the Great Electric-Solar Age.

Key characteristics: 

(1)            Planned population reduction by voluntary birth control.

(2)            Intelligent uses of electricity in all its forms for thermal needs, food storage, communication and transport.

(3)            Conservation and use of our solar capacity

(4)            Focus on the generation of resources at point of use i.e. community/dwelling level.


Some obstacles to Distributed Generation include:

(1)            Hostile language (symbol use).

(2)            The destruction of solar generating capacity. See photo showing how RMA-Building Code-Wellington City Council permitted the destruction of my access to solar energy.

(3)            The current construction of rooflines so they are not inclined to sun to benefit from future solar-based technology.

(4)            The disproportionately high compliance costs plus large tax disincentives. Example: the NZ Electricity Reforms block the effective use of reversible meters on dwellings (less than 1kw generators). This increases compliance costs by up to 1000% and can result in 2000% increase in our Goods and Services Tax. 

(5)            The NZ Electricity Reforms. Householders must sell on the Electricity Market through one of the Bulk-gen retailers i.e. through companies profoundly hostile to such competing products. Communities can no longer make intelligent uses of their local utility grid.

Summary key ideas:

We are our symbols. Many key symbol uses deny change and that humans are mortal forms.

We need a national review of our current use of key symbols.

Teachers need a resource that shows at a glance key science principles underpinning climate issues from Level One up.

The Principle of the Conservation of Energy is as near as we have to a natural law.

Air =Large capacity for thermal convection.

Air = Small capacity for thermal conduction.

We need understand trace quantities and leverage principles.

Thermal energy constantly moves from warmer areas to cooler areas and never the reverse

We need a Minister for Solar Energy Resources, a Minister for Climate Balance Conservation, a Minister of Electricity Resources and a Minister of Mineral Resources.

The Electricity Reforms are designed to promote inefficient uses of electricity and other resources.

Every act has the potential to generate either bonusjoules or junkjoules and this potential is subject to constant change.

We are now in the Post Cheap Oil-Gas Age. The vision of a Great Electric-Solar Age is a unique source of hope.


Thank you for this opportunity to present a few of the many ideas I have re. the promotion of science in the communication of nature of energy in general and of climate balance protection in particular.  

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