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" What is Energy?"

Welcome to an exploration of this most marvellous of questions. 

The Bonus Joules website is devoted to revealing the nature of energy so humanity may thrive and our daily lives be filled with wonderment and awe. It is an exploration of what is energy, power, electricity, global warming, climate change, "smart" meters and grids, science, education, sustainability, energy efficiency and much more.


 The Update Page
Overview of recent additions -
the Blog ,
Articles  etc


 Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy
Join the cartoon journey through the Energy Gobbledygook of our age in search of reality:


Thinking Electrical -creating intelligent grids


Teaching and communicating Climate Change & Best Uses of Air


From the Sustainability Principle we get:


"The more we accept change the greater the harmony we know. The more we deny change the greater the misery we know."



“To the extent we are Mirror Beings (our brains are laced with mirror neuron systems) and we have an ability to mirror the world around us, we are stewards of our actions – whether we like it or not."    


“Actions speak louder than words because they form symbols that reveal and evoke the vast wordless world within in each of us.”



“Symbols are crystallised information and without them there is no civilisation.”



“ If we have no symbol for a form of energy then its potential cannot be manifest."

May 30 2009

Dear Reader,

Thank you for a moment of your time and I take this opportunity to assure that you have arrived at a remarkable place, no matter your vocation, your education or your background in general. This is a place for any person with an of open spirit and an exploring mind.

I know you are extremely familiar with energy. I am certain you feel it is the essence of your experience of existence, as it is with all human beings and indeed, as it is with all sentient beings. I am equally certain that you cannot describe what energy is. You may try to symbolise what energy is in words, in music, in dance, in paintings and drawings, in mathematical equations or in religious ritual but always something in you will recognise that all these symbols, even if combined in concert, fail to communicate a fulsome answer to the question “What is energy?”.

Should we be concerned about this failure of our symbols? The answer is no and yes.

It perhaps need not be a concern for a range of reasons.

  • The Conservation Principle reminds us that we are trace mortal beings amidst the universal flux of continual transformations. Humility liberates.

  • The Uncertainty Principle of Energy reminds us that our act of observing the universe(s) affects how its potential is manifest. We are active participants, both knowing and ignorant. Compassion liberates.

  • Despite the uncertainty and trace nature of our existence as human beings the fact remains: we exist.

Equally this failure perhaps needs be concern for a range of reasons.

  • Symbols enable civilisation to exist. Indeed no life form can survive and procreate without the capacity to use symbols.

  • We each have a unique experience of the nature of energy and find unique meaning in the energy symbol. Thus it is vital for the survival of communities that they share a consensus of the meaning of the “energy” symbol and that this consensus meaning accurately reflects reality - the vast flux of continual change, which is the universe(s).

  • Past civilisations that have made flawed use of prime symbols such as the energy symbol have generated great misery and their premature demise.

I am 61 years old. I have witnessed the explosion in the number of human beings from about 3 billion humans to 6.7 billion. I have witnessed the associated despoilment and destruction of Earth’s resources. 

In my lifetime we have destroyed in most wasteful way, for instance, most of easily extracted mineral oil/gas on this planet and the immense wealth potential of that resource is now largely air pollution. Our current practices mean that without mineral oil 6 billion people would soon perish. In my time we have even begun to symbolise mineral oil as energy!

In 2000 I perceived the risk of the catastrophic collapse of human civilisation was so high I found it overwhelming to contemplate. I asked in open prayer of the wisdom of the universe(s) “What would you have me do? Where would you have me go? What would you have me say and to whom”? The unimaginable answer came soon after and it came in the form of the magnificent question: “What is energy?”

This website is a repository of the information and insights gained from over 20,000 hours of mainly unpaid research into this vital question. By 2007 I had analysed thousands of uses of key symbols by all manner of world experts in all manner of media. I began to detect common drivers of behaviour underlying our use of symbols and these coalesced into a general principle of energy that I tentatively call

The Sustainability Principle of Energy 
(including the 2007 draft rationale underpinning the principle)

Read the 2010 Essay

Enjoying the Bliss, which is Energy.
How to transcend the elements of our ego that deny the bliss. 

Read the 2009 ESSAY 
introducing the Sustainability Principle of Energy

(An easy-to-read illustrated introduction)

VIDEO - The Sustainability Principle of Energy
10 minute Youtube video featuring the great ideas underpinning the principle

The Principle generated  an

Inventory of Sustainable Uses of Key Symbols
(illustrating elements of acceptance/denial of change/stewardship in each symbol use)

and strategies for

  Evaluating climate change education programmes.


Since formulating the Sustainability Principle I have discovered it is supported by the insights of the greatest psychologists and physicists of known history. The Principle is a source of great hope even as its revelations can seem radical. Initially I was shocked and dismayed when the emergence of the Sustainability Principle confronted me with the reality that most of my own well-intentioned activities over the decades had been completely counterproductive. It suggests, for instance, that we members of the so-called Green Movement are own own worst enemies and we may pose the greatest risk to humanity.

Thus I pray you experience compassion as you explore the implications of the Sustainability Principle of Energy and are kind to yourself as you would be to others. If you persist and are true to the Principle then be assured the rewards are immeasurable.

This website reflects my relative lack of means (money and skills) and my decades-long concern that our abuse of our atmosphere plus our wasteful uses of our solar, electrical and carbon potentials puts us at extreme high risk of needless and catastrophic warfare in 2013. Its layout reflects the development of my work, pioneering uses of the Internet in 2002 and my resolve that the work should be accessible to those without broadband.


The Update Page 2005-2009 

reveals in articles and blogs the more recent development and refinement of the Sustainability Principle of Energy and its application.


The blogs and other writings have proven prophetic, for instance, I predicted as early as 2004 that mineral oil prices would reach $US80 a barrel in 2008, resulting in the implosion of economies in which prime systems are based on $US25 a barrel. This has occurred on scale. Also the early prophecies that the Carbon Trading ethos will be proven to be fatally flawed have been supported by events and the adoption of this ethos is amplifying the economic implosion.

The overall thrust of the website is to illuminate ways how humanity can transition from the Cheap Mineral Oil Gas Age to what I symbolise as the Great Electrical Solar Age in which we make sustainable uses of our wonderful carbon potential. The key message is that sustainable transitions are born of the state of compassion.

And while I am still unable to answer the question “What is energy?” I am now able to gift to you a wonderful guide to this epic transition in the form of the Sustainability Principle of Energy.  Which in turn liberates us from our current education impasse by providing us with new visions such as


The Compassionate Curriculum 
(including the rationale for the framework)


Keep talking, singing, dancing and living in the awareness that love, like energy, is truly bounteous. Be mindful:

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in."

Leonard Cohen in Anthem

We are mortal beings imprisoned by illusions born of our capacity to deny our roles as stewards amidst change. Even these illusions are not perfect and they too have cracks that allow the light of reality to get in. May the Sustainability Principle of Energy allow you glimpses of that wondrous light.

Thank you again and enjoy the rewards of stewardship and the beauty in change.

Dave McArthur


Visions (includes links to a five step analysis of the sustainability of an education resource. Example use is the proposed Wellington Marine Education Centre.


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The Cartoon exploration of the nature of energy Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy is copyright 2001 and, as with all other material on this website, you are free to use it with care.

Warning -All material needs editing and reviewing. My apologies for sudden changes in font.