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         Thoughts on 350
         (Letter to Bill McKibben)



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Sustainability Principle of Energy


Link here
 to a list of 
sustainable uses of key symbols - including

energy energy efficiency
global warming

Peak Oil
exponential growth









Bill McKibben visited Wellington New Zealand on May 1 2009 and spoke to a large lecture room filled to overflowing at Victoria University. Bill received a warm reception from the largely youthful audience. The essence of his speech is contained in this interview on the Alternet (posted May 5), in which as he tell his story of how he became mobilised to educate about climate issues.

In this letter to Bill I recount my own journey of how I came to the realisation that our communication of the nature of energy in general and the nature of our atmosphere in particular lacks science and is fatally flawed. I explain how it is I came to be released to explore this phenomenon in depth and how I came upon what I am tentatively calling the Sustainability Principle of Energy. I provide a brief indication of how this principle can be applied to the "350 " symbol so that it generates beauty and joy in our lives.

The posting of the initial letter to Bill was delayed three days, during which time a friend posted me a link to a May 2 New York Times article discussing the sustainability of "climate" language. My post script amplifies how the Sustainability Principle of Energy provides a much deeper rationale for the failure of our current uses of symbols such as "global warming", "energy efficiency" "environmentalist" etc and how it points to far less risky uses of these symbols.

Letter to Bill

2 May 2009

Hello Bill

I will write this while you are fresh on my radar though I know you are in the middle of an exhausting tour. Perhaps flag this letter for when you get home to the silence of Vermont.

I am the stuttering, squint-eyed, balding, half tooth old git in school janitor’s motley clothing and work boots that approached you last evening in Wellington after your excellent lecture here.  

As mentioned I have a microbroadcaster that can be heard by large portion of homes in the Miramar (airport) peninsula of Wellington City. (potential audience perhaps 28000 people). 

I broadcast programmes pointing up the current insanity of our use of our carbon, electrical and solar potentials and which provide programmes pointing to more sustainable visions of these potentials. I figure it is essential that the discussion is framed within compassion and so I splice the programmes with others on Buddhism, (I rate the Buddha as the greatest psychologist and greatest educator in known history), Fritjof Capra, Alan Watts, et al. 

Your interview on the Reality Report with Jason Bradford is in the broadcast cycle, and as mentioned, it goes out every few days at random hours. And as I mentioned a few of us have these microbroadcasters doing this and we cover the southern half of Wellington City. This is why a truck driver delivering timber to the school that I am janitor of raved to me of these “amazing programmes” he listens to in the timber yard in the day (he was stunned to learn their humble source) and parents tell me they have “just tuned in to this really interesting talk on meditation” as they drove their kids across town to our school.  

You may not have realised where you were at during your brief stay in Wellington. It is not what it seems. It is a hotbed of what Americans call Neo Conservatism* for 20 years now and it has been pivotal in establishing current global strategies. Living here has afforded me unique insights into global processes. 

For instance I worked for two decades as a meter reader in the Bulk-gen electricity industry or in what Neocons now symbolise as the “energy sector” or the “power sector” or “energy companies” or other Energy Gobbledygook/Banker Spin. 

Traditionally for about 90 years New Zealand’s local electrical grids were owned and operated by democratic and freehold community cooperatives and these had amazing intelligence potential. 60 cooperatives between them served every region in New Zealand and all participated in the national Electricity Market. The NeoCon Electricity Reform legislation of the 1990s disenfranchised every community and now not one community owns its grid and its intelligence anymore while both household debt levels and carbon pollution escalated on an unprecedented scale. The country you have just visited retains only a fading apparition of the democracy it once enjoyed. 

I am sure you know of Enron. Well in Wellington we had OnEnergy. Our Councils and community boards were pressured to transfer control of their local grids and or its intelligence to overseas banking conglomerates. TransAlta (Calgary) assumed control of all these assets in the Wellington region and much of the assets of Christchurch. It restructured them in 1995-99 to form the largest “energy retailer” in NZ, effectively owning one third of all the nation’s homes (approx 520,000 customers).  

Victoria University staff and its graduates working for the likes of Arthur Andersen and Co, KPMG et al, acted as the shock troops for the NeoCom reforms in what they call the “creation of a competitive Electricity Market system” in New Zealand. In reality the restructured Electricity Market is restricted to about 10 large private corporations now instead of all New Zealanders (60 co-ops plus half a dozen large corporations).  

Victoria University championed the creation of OnEnergy.   OnEnergy collapsed within a month of Enron’s collapse in 2001 with perhaps proportionally even greater disastrous impacts on the local communities it served here. Victoria later awarded honorary doctorates to the Mayor of Wellington and the NZ Finance Minister who most enabled these Electricity Industry Reforms and the creation of OnEnergy. 

Before the Electricity Reforms NZ had one of the most intelligent electrical grids in the world and in the 1990s the community co-ops funded the most advanced school-community based “climate education” programme in the world. Again folk at Victoria University were pivotal in the destruction of that programme. They used their powerful roles in the NZ Environmental Education industry to replace it with a national Environmental Education resource that contains no reference to the atmosphere in its curriculum framework and that teaches the merchant bankers’ definitions of the “energy” and “power” symbols and very unintelligent uses of our electrical potential.

Similarly folk at Victoria University and New Zealand negotiators were pivotal at Kyoto in forcing the carbon trading regime on the world. I have considerable insight into the ethos of this regime because I experienced the Enron -Arthur Andersen and Co psychopathy and, as you probably know, the carbon trading structure was invented by Enron to serve their narrow interests. To quote their own representatives at Kyoto, they got everything they asked for at the global summit via Bill Clinton and Al Gore. 

My employment in the Bulk-gen electricity industry “ceased” in 1997 and in the process I lost my income, my career, had all my work records “binned” to discredit me and lived for years that my family would be raped and home “trashed” if I did not “keep right out of the electricity industry”. In 2000 my family became estranged, which was a heartbreaking relief because my existence as an honest man in this country no longer put them at major risk. Similarly the family home, built with our own hands, was sold and is now safe. This was not an uncommon fate for honest people during the NZ Economic Reforms of the 1980-90s. As with many others of my age group I became virtually unemployable. 

Now I am not a writer as you are but I do have a fascination with the power of symbols of all sorts in our lives and this includes written, spoken, drawn, film and other symbols. More widely I believe symbols are vital in the transmission of life and in enabling all forms of procreation from the cell level up. I also attempt to keep abreast of the latest research into the quantum physics of neural psychology. It turns out that the loss of my career, family and employment prospects has released me to explore the power of symbols to a level that few others have. 

In particular I have experienced first hand, as few academics have, exactly how the merchant bankers who took over our electrical industry re-engineer key symbols such as “energy” and “power” to serve their narrow short- term interests. Also back in the early 1990s I had become most intrigued with the new emerging uses of key symbols to describe climate processes and sensed there was something profoundly counterproductive occurring. I began searching for a causal pattern to explain this dissonance.  

This century I have had the opportunity to extend my analysis to, for instance, the symbol use of the Enronian carbon traders that proliferate here in Wellington, the Government Climate Change Office (Andy Reisinger et al), Victoria University (Ralph Chapman, Jonathan Boston et al) and so called “climate scientists” such as Jim Salinger, Martin Manning, Kevin Trenberth, Peter Barrett, our NZ Royal Society et al.  

I combined this with analysis of the considerable array of climate education resources that now flood our communities and concluded that there is a positive lack of science underpinning the communication.  

To summarise well over 10,000 of unpaid research this century I concluded the dominant symbol use reflects a primal denial of our roles as stewards amidst change.  

In brief, people like Al Gore deny the change they call for. In fact I tested my insights by publicly predicting the release of An Inconvenient Truth would result in an increase in car and jet travel in New Zealand, the rejection of carbon taxes in favour of carbon trading – all this despite my concurrent prediction mineral oil prices would rise dramatically through the period. All these hypotheses were supported with record car sales in the following period, jet travel rose 16% and the carbon-trading ethos was adopted as national strategy by an almost unanimous Parliament.

This formal adoption of Carbon Trading ethos in late 2008 occurred even as a flood of evidence was occurring that reveals the devastating impact of “market driven” policies. (1)

And of course as we now know my 2004 predictions that mineral oil would more than double to $US80 a barrel in 2008 were accurate too. 

(1)            Your anecdote of “350 man” in Africa is very topical – last week our National Radio reported NZ tree nurseries are bulldozing many millions of tree seedlings because of a severe drop-off of tree planting here as people jockey to maximise their carbon trades. This reduction is not new and has been occurring on an unprecedented scale since the carbon trading ethos took hold here in the mid 1990s. 

As mentioned to you last night I have something amazing to communicate to you and my hope is that as you are a writer and seemingly a man of caring spirit you will catch a glimpse of my insights.  

In brief I have pulled all my insights together to form a singular principle that I tentatively call the Sustainability Principle of Energy. To my knowledge there is nothing like it in the English-speaking world, though since generating the principle I have found that the wisdom underpinning is ancient. Basically it is a guide as to whether a symbol use will increase or decrease our risk long term. 

Its draft statement reads:

The Sustainability Principle of Energy

“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.”

 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." 

The Principle is founded in the Conservation Principle of Energy, the Uncertainty Principle of Energy and the growing consensus of quantum theorists that information is physical. To the extent these are proven untrue then the Sustainability Principle fails to hold. It also draws on the new discipline of Mirror Neuron theory. 

The simplicity of the Sustainability Principle belies its profound insights. While pointing to where and how our culture’s symbol use lacks science it also points to where and how our symbol use can be born of a high state of science. My hope is that, though I am not a writer as you are, I can engage your interest.

I will illustrate it later with a brief application to the “350” symbol. 

In general it suggests our discussion of “energy” and “climate” issues are framed in counterproductive ways. At first glance the examples of unhelpful symbol uses that I give may seem trivial. In New Zealand our education, media and climate/energy experts dismiss my criticism as “mere pedantics” and argue that their symbol uses are “just metaphors” and “convenient ways of communicating that everyone understands”.  

These experts fail to acknowledge that the current flawed symbol uses have profound resonances in our beings, generating and reflecting unsustainable world-views. For instance if we adopt flawed uses of key symbols such as the “energy” or “power” symbol then every thing unravels for us into dissonance from that point on. It can generate the demise of large civilisations.

These folk thus put us all at risk because without constant vigilance our symbol uses tend to reflect our very sophisticated capacity for denial of our roles as stewards amidst change. To easily they manifest on scale the psychopathy inherent in every human. 

I remain mindful of the lecture room full of enthusiastic young people last night and it was wonderful to behold. Most similar public lectures I attend at Victoria University are attended by a bunch of grey haired old fogeys like me with just a token sprinkling of youth. It felt great to be in the minority for a change. 

My heart ached for them throughout your lecture because I know their best intentions are being subverted on scale. As I apply the Sustainability Principle of Energy to their emerging world-view it suggests their compassion and science is being subverted by the language of us older greed-driven generations. As a result, just as with Al Gore’s so well intentioned movie, their generous actions will be counterproductive unless there is a major review of our use of key “energy/climate” symbols.  

In particular I see their wonderful enthusiasm for “350” being subverted by the psychotic activities of the “carbon traders” and by the equally unsustainable Nuclear Power/Bulk generated electricity sector – who are essentially the same oligarchy of bankers that created the current fiscal collapse. 

I will post a few links to my website where I have draft summaries of my insights for when you have time to reflect more deeply. 

I can suggest in all humility and kindness that you will find some of the insights at first deeply distressing and if you persist in compassion then you will experience more than compensatory inspiration and joy.  

My two latest blogs (links provided) summarise how the wonderful enthusiasm of our young has been subverted. The earlier blog explains why my cottage blazed with light the night of the WWF Earth Blackout that so many of our young folk participated in. The latest blog discusses the common links between our young soldiers and our young “environmentalists”. Again I am mindful of the fresh young faces of your audience. 

Thank you Bill – I very much appreciate your attention. I wish you all the wisdom of the universe as you travel around the world engaging our young people. It may be there will be moments when you have a sense you need to stop, reflect and review the risks you take with your venture. At such times you may find the Sustainabilty Principle of Energy most helpful as it reminds you of a greater and more vital vision of our existence. 

Re. the “350” symbol. My first impression when I heard I was that it is helpful. You are correct that the number 350 is understood across a wide range of cultures. The question is what does it mean in the context of communication of climate processes. What other symbols must it be linked with to expand consciousness of the issues, to make helpful sense? 

In New Zealand and similar cultures there is a great resistance to the use of the “trace” symbol. I first encountered this several years ago when I worked with Andy Reisinger, then of NZ Climate Change Office and now of Victoria University. I was creating posters for our junior schools summarising The 2000 Climate Change Impact Report for the Climate Change Office.  

Andy, other officials and our climate experts insisted on the use of the “greenhouse” symbol and refused discussion and use of the “trace” symbol. As someone new to their world I was puzzled by this resistance and detected a major lack of science underpinning their preferred use of the “greenhouse” symbol. I now have a clear understanding of their psychology and the drivers of their behaviour. I have articulated this on my website. 

In brief the Sustainability Principle suggests it is unhelpful if the “350” symbol is linked to the “greenhouse” symbol as together they will tend to resonate to generate maladaptive patterns of behaviour. 

However if the “350” symbol is linked to the “trace” symbol then it will tend to be helpful and promote less risky behaviour.  You see, while every one knows what 350 objects are, the objects themselves have great variance. 350 rampaging elephants are very different to 350 dandelion seeds floating on the wind.

In this “climate” case the 350 objects are parts per million of air molecules. Now everyone has a different sensation of what 350 parts per million feels like and the accurate reflection of this reality depends very much on their experience of “trace” existences. 

For instance an African child with no TV, radio or other distractions and who is fortunate to experience clear skies may have lain under a tree night after night and counted a million stars in the sky.

When they were children world-class climate experts may never have had the time to do this and perhaps their skies were too polluted to see the stars anyway.

Also they may well have grown up in a culture of debt creation (USA, UK, NZ, Australia et al) In our cultures usury is glorified and an oligarchy of merchant bankers rule. They control our media and education systems and deliberately suppress the popular awareness of how interest rates accumulate at exponential rates and how leverage really works. It is not in their narrow, short-term interests that people comprehend how debt accumulates through trace changes. They know, for instance, that there is no way the Glass-Steagall legislation would have been revoked in 1999 if people understood the Trace Theory (Small changes and leverage) or the trace existence of mineral oil/gas. 

As a result the latter world-class climate expert is less able to fully live what 350 parts per thousand is like than is the African child.  Sure the expert knows the figures and can recount them but they are not associated with the primary drivers of humility, awe and compassion that enable science and sustainable behaviour. The expert cannot imagine a world in which they do not drive cars, fly in jets etc. And this is reflected in their use of symbols. In fact their very existence as climate experts who drives cars/flies jets etc acts as symbols that model and promote this behaviour of denial of change/stewardship. Thus we find they tend to use symbols such as:

 the “atmosphere = greenhouse” rather than “atmosphere = atmosphere”;

“greenhouse effect” rather than “atmospheric thermal effect”;

 “greenhouse gas” rather than “warmer trace gas”;

“greenhouse balances” rather than “trace balances of the air” or “vital thermal balances of the atmosphere” ..  

This is why I doubly appreciated your story of the humble man in Africa who planted out 350 trees even though his own life reflected a fundamental harmony with sustaining carbon balances. By comparison the “climate” experts each destroy carbon resources such as mineral oil at an atrocious rate and each expert often has more negative impacts on atmospheric and other balances than ten thousand such people as our friend in Africa.  

My preliminary analysis suggests it is wise to pick a symbol that people have few associations with such as the “350” symbol. This gives you great freedom to extend its power. The Sustainability Principle suggests it is helpful if caveats for stewardship/change are attached to it if it is to remain a sustaining force.  

For instance, the current “carbon trading” ethos is destroying science on scale by promoting the notion that the tradeable carbon atom is the dominant “greenhouse” in the atmosphere. The reality is water vapour is arguably the dominant Warmer Trace Gas in the atmosphere and if, for instance, solar radiation levels vary significantly from the current generally sustaining levels and water vapour formation is impacted then the “350” symbol will lose its value. It is helpful if users of the symbol remain mindful of this caveat acknowledging acceptance of change. 

In summary the “350” symbol need communicate:

(1)            Air molecules exist

(2)            The nature of air molecules, including their capacity to move relatively freely.

(3)            Air has high capacity for thermal convection and poor capacity for thermal conduction.

(4)            The Warmer Trace Gases – some “trace gases” - have a powerful capacity to retain thermal energy and act as warmers of Earth’s surface.

(5)            What 350 parts in a million really feels like.

(6)            And an appreciation of the power of leverage i.e. small changes of tiny portions can have very large impacts.

(7)            A sense of the joy of harmony. 

The association of “350” with the “trace” symbol will probably tend to accomplish many more of these objectives in primal ways than an association with the “greenhouse” symbol will. Indeed - I have not space of it here –the Sustainability Principle suggests that this use of the “greenhouse” symbol acts to destroy comprehension of the thermodynamic of the atmosphere. It also suppresses awareness of, for instance, how we can ameliorate the impacts of our activities on the atmosphere using insulation in our dwellings and other structures. 

I will briefly explore what the Sustainability Principle indicates of another aspect of the “350” symbol. I refer to its association with the “carbon” symbol. 

First to place a context: Acceptance of stewardship/change involves an awareness that carbon is a common element in the universe, is a foundation element of life and is subject to constant transformation, change and flow. Our role as stewards involves being aware and responsible for how our actions affect the balances of these changes and flows. Currently much of our language reveals a denial of this reality - the reality in which our oceans, air, soils, rocks and biomass are part of this flux of carbon - in which we live AND die. 

Thus carbon is symbolised as evil, demonised as the enemy. Our schools/universities, media and policymakers talk of “zero carbon economies”, “decarbonising our world”, “being carbon neutral” “combating/fighting/banning/stopping climate change”, “low carbon cities” and in general depriving ourselves of carbon. The average person detects the non-science in this and rejects it, though in the process their comprehension of the role of carbon in our lives is diminished. 

As it stands the “350” symbol seems free of such denial of stewardship/change. If “350” becomes associated with the above symbol uses then it will tend to put us all at greater risk. In particular if it is colonised by the carbon traders then it is almost certain to become a destructive force (If information is physical then symbols are material and are thus forces.) 

If you are interested I have draft summaries on my website why the “carbon cap and trade” symbol is a manifestation of the psychopathy that exists in every human being. I explain why the “carbon trading market” can only put a price on a carbon resource but never a value. The Carbon Trading Market is simply a device for transferring wealth from those who act as stewards of carbon to those who most destroy our carbon resources. Its brief history illustrates this. 

Indeed my current conclusion is that if the Carbon Trading ethos is adopted universally this year then catastrophic global warfare is inevitable by 2013.  People will relinquish stewardship and accept the market price of carbon forms like mineral oil/gas. The run on savings will collapse the banks while simultaneously the demand for these mineral resources will far outstrip supply. Though I am relatively poor by New Zealand standards I can easily, in theory, increase my rate of destruction of mineral oil many fold to my previous levels. I might as well save my remaining precious time and money using cars and jets again and live it up while I can. 

Don’t worry Bill. The Sustainability Principle inspires me otherwise and it suggests that other associations of the “350” symbol that will tend to put us at less risk. I have something greater to live for. 

As mentioned we exist in a carbon flux of transformations. Our role as stewards within this flux is to constantly find value in each carbon form, regardless of the Market Price. It is not how much or how little carbon we use. It is whether our use of the resource models and reflects an essential harmony with the carbon flows and balances that sustain us. I, for instance, see a future when I make much greater use of carbon. It will be used to insulate my dwelling, transform and store solar energy, create mass transit systems, archive knowledge and transmit electrical products.  In this future my current use of wasteful mineral mining practices, my combustion of fossil fuel in Bulk-gen electricity plant and my destruction of trees will all be reduced. I will be wealthier even as I am more in harmony with the sustaining flows and balanced of carbon.

Thus rather than promoting ideals of “cap and trade” it is more helpful to talk of “value and cap”, “enjoying harmony with carbon flows and balances” and “enjoying stewardship” at 350. 

So Bill, at present the “350” symbol seems potent with possibility for good. If the Sustainability Principle of Energy holds and you apply it to the amplification of “350” so that the symbol becomes associated with a fine sense of wonder and with an acceptance of our personal roles as stewards of an awesome balanced movement of trace carbon elements flowing through our air, oceans and soils then you will create a thing of great beauty. 

I hope you can find use for these thoughts and insights. Here in New Zealand my work is dismissed and, I am reliably informed, ridiculed. That is OK in that, like you, I am a shy person and enjoy life most when I have quiet time to reflect more deeply. This is my weakness and my strength. I like to think I can transcend this situation by reaching across the world to people like yourself.  

Perhaps you have ways of introducing this work to people who advise your leader. I hear him giving speeches in which he speaks of “generating energy” and “the energy sector”. This is non-science; people detect it as such at a subliminal level and thus sense either dismay or dissonance. Either way it is a disconnect. 

As a general rule, all that is born of a spirit of compassion/science inspires and generates hope/harmony. Without compassion there is no science and the state of non-science is one of hopelessness/dissonance. 

I wish you great joy, strength, wisdom and harmony with all. 

In kindness 

Dave McArthur


Note* re use of “conservative” symbol. 

While good people allow this wonderful symbol to be abused we are all at greater risk. We teach in our schools in “Conservation Clubs” that conservation is about caring for the balances and flows that sustain humanity.  Many self-styled liberals use it as a symbol of abuse for those who promote the most inequitable and unsustainable economics. Meanwhile the latter adopt the symbol with pride thereby making a powerful association with the sense of pride and citizenship associated with the “conservation” symbol at Junior School level. 

Personally I reserve the “conservative” symbol for those whose lives are in harmony and conserve the flows and balances that sustain humanity. I refer to those whose lives are in dissonance and destroy these balances as “non-conserva tives”.


Sustainability Principle discussion


 Draft list of sustainable uses of key symbols

 Blog by Dave McArthur  23 March 2009  

 Saturday night Earth Hour 2009 and my home will be a blaze of light, a symbol of harmony with the universe, a beacon of hope amidst the darkness, despondency and despair around me in Wellington City New Zealand in this hour…

Blog by Dave McArthur 30 April 2009                                                

Have you ever asked what we are really commemorating in New Zealand and Australia on ANZAC Day? I recently did and the answer I found has a shocking message for us…

  “What is energy?" Draft Speech Script for President Elect Barack Obama. 



Bill I did not get to send this email to you because I was interrupted for a few days. A friend who knows of my work has just flicked me this (Monday New Zealand): 

Dave Your heart will tingle!

May 2, 2009

Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus

WASHINGTON - The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is "global warming."

The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.

Instead of grim warnings about global warming, the firm advises, talk about "our deteriorating atmosphere."  Drop discussions of carbon dioxide and bring up "moving away from the dirty fuels of the past."  Don't confuse people with cap and trade; use terms like "cap and cash back" or "pollution reduction refund."… 

…. The answer, Mr. Perkowitz said in his presentation at the briefing, is to reframe the issue using different language.  "Energy efficiency" makes people think of shivering in the dark. Instead, it is more effective to speak of "saving money for a more prosperous future." In fact, the group's surveys and focus groups found, it is time to drop the term "the environment" and talk about "the air we breathe, the water our children drink."… 

The research, as reported in the New York Times, may be useful in that it supports the thesis the current use of the “global warming” symbol is unhelpful. However it would seem the researchers are unable to provide a deep rationale why.  

The reason it is unhelpful is because we all enjoy the state of science to some degree and have experiential knowledge of thermodynamics at a cellular level. It is this deep knowledge that enables us to sense the dissonance and denial that is manifest in the use of the “global warming” symbol as in “global warming = bad, evil, must be fought/stopped”.  

Certainly humans have a tendency to coalesce into groups of differing personality types. However I suggest deeper research would indicate it is the “environmentalist” group’s manifestation of dissonance and lack of science that people are responding to. Or if you like, the group’s reflection of fundamental thermodynamics does not ring true.  

And we have very good bullshit detectors – even a child of three demonstrates significant awareness of hypocrisy and inequity e.g. dissonance between words and deeds. Such is the power of our mirror neurons. Too often the lives of Environmental Educators fail to mirror what they preach. 

Which is the more fundamental psychological reason why “cap and trade” cannot be sustainable. 

In 2006 The Frameworks Institute released similar research of the “greenhouse” symbol based on wide surveys. They concluded the symbolisation “atmosphere = greenhouse” does not work for most people and recommended the use of the “blanket” symbol in its place. Again while research may be true their concluding recommendation reveals a lack of underlying science. Blankets are primarily associated with suppressed thermal convection. Again the image/sensations evoked deny change on scale. 

You will note the conclusions in the NYT article about the current use of the “energy efficiency” symbol supports my own action in lighting up my home like a beacon the night of WWF “Blackout = Stewardship” during Earth Hour. If you read my blog you will see that I briefly explain the sociological/historic reasons how and why the symbol has been re-engineered to be associated with deprivation.

 The NYT article ends: 

"...Frank Luntz, a Republican communications consultant, prepared a strikingly similar memorandum in 2002, telling his clients that they were losing the environmental debate and advising them to adjust their language. He suggested referring to themselves as "conservationists" rather than "environmentalists," and emphasizing "common sense" over scientific argument.
And, Mr. Luntz and Mr. Perkowitz agree, "climate change" is an easier sell than "global warming."

Frank Luntz is more correct than he possibly knows re the flaws in our use of the “environmentalist” symbol and the “science” symbol. I doubt he understands the full implications. 

His use of the  “science” symbol reflects our unsustainable culture in which “science = way of thinking; the domain of an elite 3% of Homo sapiens called scientists”. Inclusiveness is a prerequisite for the state of science to exist and this contemporary definition is clearly not inclusive. The definition is not born of compassion and fails to recognise that we all experience the state of science to some degree – the "350 tree man" in Africa probably more so than the world-leading experts on climate. This is the “common sense” that enables civics, art and languages and all that we know as civilisation. That is why the “common sense” symbol is so potent. 

The great psychologists through the millennia have recognised what modern quantum theory is suggesting: we are our environment. All those who enjoy compassion know this to some degree. It is common, particularly among those that call themselves “environmental educators”, “environmental scientists”, “environmental activists” or “ the environmental movement”, to define the environment as something separate from themselves. They make statements such as “people and the environment”. They say, “We are destroying the environment” rather than “We are destroying us”. They say “We have an energy crisis” rather than “We have a crisis with our use of energy”…. 

This is a form of denial of change/stewardship and it is manifest as an increased fragmentation of our consciousness of being. Our state of science and our sense of stewardship wither in this fragmented existence. I often observe the work of “environmentalists” lacks science, in particular with regard to psychology and history. Too often they actively destroy students’ comprehension of the fundamentals of thermodynamics. 

This is a long Post Script, Bill. I hope you are still here.

It seemed serendipity that your visit and the NYT times article coincide. In case it is not apparent at first scan, the essential message of the Sustainability Principle of Energy and the Sustainable Symbol pages on my website is that conserving is about maximising the power of our symbols, conserving their potential as we would the potential of the universe(s) in general. It means constantly revising our use of them so they conserve our options. When we, for instance, describe any energy form as energy itself we immediately deny the existence of a vast array of energy transformations and possibilities. The same occurs  when we confuse power types and electrical forms with power and electricity. It is a recipe for hopelessness. 

This is where people with the skills of poets and writers like you can help people like myself who are not such practiced wordsmiths. It is hard work being careful and precise. I certainly struggle and often my imagination is insufficient. However I do know that when people are able to use symbols so they accurately reflect the vast diversity yet simplicity of existence then we experience great beauty. I hope you find an inkling of such beauty in Sustainability Principle and can help it flourish. I hope you can glimpse how it is a tool that enables us to transcend our immense personal capacity for denial of change/stewardship and the Banker’s Greenwash/Energy Gobbledygook that pervades our media and schools. 

Again – thanks for your time Bill – much appreciated. 


Sustainability Principle of Energy

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