responses for Radio New Zealand National Interview on Sustainability
Principle of Energy
The Copenhagen Convention on humans’ use of Earth’s climate (December 7-18) had just begun when Robyn Walker, producer of Nights Radio New Zealand National wrote asking if I would talk about the Sustainability Principle of Energy. I knew the Convention would be characterised by massive dissonance and gobbledygook - especially that of the Green Movement attending - and a feeling of confusion in the wider public. Thus I agreed to the interview in the hope that if people learned of the Principle they might better understand the confusion and dissonance. Bryan rang two days before the interview and after a lengthy discussion he proposed the following list of questions. The fact that the interview is rather different and the Sustainability Principle is not directly discussed at all is fascinating and perhaps educational. The truth is Bryan and Robyn treated me with great care and respect. The interview should be heard as a testament to their skill and professionalism in aiding and enabling a novice interviewee to become partially articulate on air.Here is my blog reflecting on the interview and I hope it communicates the enhanced respect I have for their dedication and work.
I will start by asking why energy matters to you.
Great question that
Brian – the way you manage
to combine the energy and matter symbols … its interesting how we
associate the matter symbol both with things material and also with the
experience of meaning and importance. And the why symbol is one of our
most vital too.
Why does energy
matter to me?
Well first I guess
we should clarify what we mean when we use the energy symbol. At school we
are taught that energy is the ability to do work, be active. That’s a
start but generally the discussion does not venture very deep into the
nature of energy. I came out of school thinking “ Oh so that’s
energy…something kind of out there that we can play with in mathematical
equations.” So for some decades I never really actively reflected much on
about the nature of energy. I used the symbol without much thought.
Then about twenty
years ago I began to realise what a potent symbol the energy symbol is. I
became aware that psychopathic corporations were actively re-engineering
the symbol to serve their short-term interests and major alarm bells rang
in me. Then early in 2000 I got a job working for one of New Zealand’s
greatest living and least recognised geniuses – a guy called Grant
Dunford. Early in the 1990s Grant, working with teachers and the community
owned structures like Hutt Mana Energy Trust, Capital Power, South Power
etc created what was by far the world’s leading education programme
teaching the wise use of our carbon and electrical potential. Some
listeners may recall it – it was called Energy Action.
By 2000 it was in
1400 New Zealand schools and Grant gave me the
got the job of revising it. I had just completed a teaching degree
and I had been a meter reader for a decade with what became South Power
and then a decade for the Wellington MED –Capital Power- TransAlta. In
that capacity I used to visit thousands of dwellings on a regular basis
and thus I had unique insights into what our education system really
taught our young people and also I knew well the new politics of the self
styled “energy companies” as well as those of the old community owned
structures. I had long realized our abuse of our climate would come home
to haunt us and so I revised Energy Action and gave it a powerful climate
Of course TransAlta,
who now owned all these community structures had no interest in teaching
wise uses of resources and care of the atmosphere – they were into
burning mineral gas for quick profits. They sold out to Australia Gas
Light -NGC-OnEnergy who ripped the rug from under Energy Action education
programme entirely mid 2001 . And as we all know now, despite all its fine
talk about climate care the Labour Government really did not give a stuff
about the atmospheric balances that sustain us – just check at our
pollution statistics…they also imbedded the Electricity Industry Industry Reforms and its
Ministers told me something called The Market will provide the funds for
education programmes like Energy Action. People who think that are
So with the
community structures destroyed all funding dried up in 2001, the programme
went under my bed where it lies to this day. I was made redundant but I
just carry on with the work doing it on a voluntary unpaid basis for about
forty hours a week ever since..
After the tens of
thousands of hours of research I have done this last few years I guess I
would answer your question like this:
Energy matters to
me because it that which enables the existence of the universes and my
existence as a human being. It’s a weird and wonderful … we all know
energy is vital… We are all very intimate with energy – we experience
it with our every breath, our every movement and yet no human being knows
what energy is…
I find I am not
alone in finding the search for the true nature of energy as incredibly
rewarding and a source of great meaning. Many of our greatest poets,
artists, musicians, philosophers, sages, researchers of all kinds,
what have you… they speak of the awesome nature of energy…
Their finest poems
and music etc are often inspired by their searches to catch glimpses and
experiences of the truer nature of energy.
contain common themes – they associate energy with vitality, vibrancy,
great bounty, enormous possibilities… they speak of it as some state or
experience that is truly mind and spirit expanding..
They often suggest
energy is beyond our power to symbolise in words, equations, pictures …
At the same time
they find themselves impelled to search for symbols that they can use to
share the experience of energy.
Energy matters to
me because I associate it with great meaning, wonderful mystery, awesome
variety and immense potential.
Energy also matters
to me because I figure every one of us is born to be an “energy
expert”, to develop an awareness of the nature of energy. If an
individual fails to develop a sustainable vision of the nature of energy
then he or she self destructs. If societies fail to develop a sustainable
vision they also self destruct. And if you had not noticed we
Anglo-American nations seem hell bent..
What’s wrong with the way we view and use energy?
I will focus on our
views of the nature of energy because they determine how we use energy.
And when I talk of our view of energy I refer to our total view, not just
our intellectual view .. I refer to our emotional response to energy as
I have just said no
human being knows what energy is. That makes it hard to answer your
question. However we do have valuable guides as to the nature of energy.
They have been pretty much proven over the millennia and their insights
seem very well symbolised in the Conservation Principle of Energy and the
Uncertainty Principle of Energy.
Take the Conservation Principle. It is as near as we have to a law of existence – no idea or symbol has been as been tested like this one – humans have subjected it to every experiment imaginable with every ounce of ingenuity we are capable of and still no one has ever disproved it. No elixor of youth or perpetual motion machine exists…
We were all
taught the Conservation Principle of Energy at school. You know it:
cannot be created or destroyed and it transforms.”
Most of us can
quote a variation of that to pass exams but few in New Zealand actually
live the principle. Our teachers in our schools and media generally rarely
unpack its full meaning.
What is it saying? Can you unpack it a little more then?
It seems to me that it teaches us at least three wonderful
Message number One is that energy cannot be created, conserved, destroyed, saved, renewed
sustained, lost, renewed, generated etc. For instance energy cannot be
sustained because it is by its very nature always sustained. It can’t be
conserved because it is always conserved. Energy is.
Most of our so
called “energy experts” in our schools, government and media deny this – they constantly talk of saving energy,
conserving energy, sustainable energy, renewable energy and other energy
two is that energy is as bounteous as the universe(s). I allow the
possibility there are multiple universes … these are vast systems…
energy is so bounteous it can be considered a constant.
“energy experts”, “energy journalists” and environmental educators
constantly deny this too… they go on about how we face energy crises,
energy failures.. how we are running out of energy…how we must save
This is again
massive denial of the Conservation Principle. They confuse energy with our
unsustainable uses of energy. They blame energy for the consequences of
our poor behaviour.
3 that energy constantly transforms… it is manifest in a vast array of
forms and these constant transform into each other. Again we find
so-called “energy experts” and “energy corporations” deny this
transformation and change.
We have the
phenomena of our school teachers confusing energy forms with energy
perspectives… they teach there are only a handful of forms of energy ..
electromagnetic energy, thermal energy, gravitational energy, kinetic
energy potential energy etc. This is a kind of denial of reality… and
when I talk about reality I define it as the
universal change and transformation involving myriad forms…
contrary to what our teachers say, energy is actually manifest in myriad
forms. We can observe and explore any of those
myriad forms from a number of perspectives – its electrical
properties, gravitational properties, its kinetic properties etc. This
approach makes all the world of difference –it’s a much richer way of
looking at things.
how our schools, “energy
experts” and “energy corporations” deny the Principle by teaching
certain energy forms are
energy – For instance -they symbolise fossil fuels or Bulk generated
electrical products as “energy”.
Comment/question Bryan re our use of mineral oil
Yes our use of
mineral oil is a classic example – we even call it energy – ..thus we
feel free to use it as though it as bounteous as energy .. also calling it
energy helps us deny the fact that to get useful forms of energy we have
to burn the stuff ..by calling oil energy we conveniently omit the
atmosphere from the combustion equation. We end up with the psychotic
behaviour whereby we design and use devices specifically designed to burn
mineral oil in the most wasteful way we can imagine even as we have built
a global food system almost entirely dependent on mineral oil…
make a more dangerous mistake than that one – major
civilisations have collapsed because they confused a form or
resource with energy. …We deny the Conservation Principle at our peril..
and the Green Movement is possibly the worst
Q I want to ask you about this. You think the Green Movement poses one of our greatest dangers….
Yes that was a real
shock to me – I always had kind of an affinity with groups like the
Green Party, Environmental Educators, “energy efficiency” experts,
Greenpeace, WWF, climatologists, Consumer
NZ etc. It was major inconvenient to discover from all my research that I
have probably been my own worst enemy, as is the Green Movement in
To give an example,
for decades I thought I was being so helpful visiting thousands of
households as a meter reader teaching people about “conserving
energy”. Now I realise I was little more than a dumb dupe for the
bankers of the Bulk-generated electrical products sector. I realise I had
been actively destroying science in our communities, teaching a denial of
the great Conservation Principle… I still don’t know which was
worse…probably the latter. I did beat myself up for a while till I
realised errors are divine opportunities for learning..
It took a long time
to dawn on me..then I found I was not alone in being my own worst enemy.
I sat through hundreds of hours of lectures by world leading
experts on Earth’s climate , fossil fuel depletion, environmental
education etc and realised that while they might know a lot of details
about their subject their overall communication lacked science.
something weird was going on, especially as often they would be wringing
their hands that they were not getting their message across.
My big jump
occurred when I started asking the question,
there is a big gap between this experts lifestyle and what they preach.
How is this dissonance manifest in his or her use of symbols?
And how might this dissonance be reflected in the audience? ”
A variation on
this question is:
enables this person who knows so much about the dangers of burning fossil
fuels to carry on burning them at such a high rate?”
I began deeper
analysis of their language and their use of the prime symbols such as
energy power change climate warming cooling etc – I was looking for
common patterns and drivers of their behaviour..
I did the same
analysis for hundred of radio interviews, education programmes from Level
one up to university level, government policy media releases ..more
recently I have been using the power of Google’s search algorithms to
analyse our culture …if you want a portrait of New Zealand do a Google
NZ search on a prime symbol like energy or power
… it is also fascinating and revealing to trawl through the
symbol use changes in Government legislation over the last century..
But why do you think the Green Movement is so dangerous?
Well, it is
popularly perceived of as symbolising “care for our environment”. It
is also at the forefront in our schools and communities in promoting
symbol uses relating to the nature of energy and power, how the climate
works, thermodyamics in general – think of symbols like global warming,
energy crisis, energy conservation, zero carbon, greenhouse gas, power
saving, fighting climate change, carbon neutrality, carbon offsetting,
carbon trading, energy efficiency etc..
dawned on me – our use of these prime symbols all have one factor in
common – they all manifest a denial of the Conservation and Uncertainty
Principles and their fundamental messages that all is change and we need
be stewards amidst this universal flux..
I have pulled
all this research into a single principle I tentatively call the
Sustainability Principle of Energy… no time to talk about it now
…visit my website …just do a google on the two words bonus as in bonus
bonds and joules as in energy joules j.o.u.l.e.s – the home page links
direct to discussion and application of the Sustainability Principle as
well as my short Youtube video about it.. yep I know .. it’s the work of
a ham amateur with few skills and needs revising..
Anyway you can
use the Sustainability Principle to psychoanalyse any policy or education
programme. Now I know the Green Movement is peopled by wonderful, often
very dedicated and well-meaning folk. However when I apply the
Sustainability Principle to their work I find it evidences powerful
elements of psychopathy and psychosis. Understand that the principle
enables us to better transcend our egos and to better evaluate whats going
on at the subconscious level and to identify instances of acceptance and
Yes I woul
d like you to enlarge on that more…I am interested in this whole
question of denial..
d like you to enlarge on that more…I am interested in this whole question of denial..
I am not
saying anything new when I say the human mind is capable of great
ingenuity – for good or bad, or… if you like for the sake of this
discussion… for acceptance or denial of the great Principles of physics
I have alluded to.
psychologists have known of our capacity for gross denial for millennia
– you only have to sit under a tree and mediate for a few minutes on the
reality of the sounds around you to
learn how ingenious the mind is at denial – ten minutes later you
realise the mind has played all these incredibly sophisticated tricks to
distract you from reality – you haven’t consciously heard a
sound…you haven’t been in touch with reality at all hardly..
such as fMRI allows us to see through some of these denial rationales.
There’s the hilarious example of the brain scans of people watching
Super Bowl advertisements. Women would be saying they hated the sexist ads
that used the bodies of beautiful women to sell products. Meanwhile scans
of their brains show the pleasure centres really lighting up as they
observe the beautiful bodies… and we know those pleasure sensations play
pretty powerful roles in determining our behaviour.
this great capacity to develop incredibly sophisticated systems for denial
psychologists of old also
realised other great insights that modern technology reinforces.
our consciousness is a trace trace element of our total psyche – most of
our being operates at a subconscious level …modern neurophyicists
suggest we are consciously aware of maybe two thousand sensations in any
moment, subconsciously we are sentient of at least fifty billion
And you know
the old sayings – a sharp tongue can fell a six foot man, the pen is
mightier than the sword…
technology indicates that information is physical .. we have so many ways
of measuring that now…all symbol uses in whatever form – words,
metaphors, pictures, smells, sounds, what have you – they are always
manifest in physical ways.. this means our teachers, policy makers and
journalists are really unhelpful when they dismiss their use of symbols by
airily saying “oh its just a metaphor, its just semantics.” The
probable truth is metaphors are as physical and as powerful as bricks or
bullets. We have to use them with equal care.
sages have always said “Actions speak louder than words”.
Modern technology supports the notion that Homo sapiens are very much
mirror beings. There’s a great two part video on Youtube discussing the
discovery that our brains are spliced with mirror neuron systems. Just do
Youtube search on Mirror
Neurons part one.. I recommend all teachers take out time to watch
it over the holidays.. its great stuff and a cause for self reflection –
the video show s how researchers accidentally discovered that the neural
circuits of a monkey registering the experience of an action light up
regardless of whether is picking up a nut itself or watching a human pick
it up. That’s why they initially called them Monkey See Monkey Do
Same with goes
with humans.. human see …human do. Also I also suggest human hear .. human do… we are very good at joining the
dots. When we hear a leader of the Green Party, Jeanette Fizsimons, come
on the radio speaking from Copehagen.. using our fantastic computing power
we subconsciously do the calculations in a few milliseconds and imagine
Jeanette in flight between Wellington and Copenhagen to make sense of her
sudden presence there. And here’s the seeming paradox – the greater
the authority with which she speaks about care for our atmosphere the
greater her endorsement of flying.
surveys show about 15% of New Zealanders can be considered change makers
– they will change their behaviour if they see it makes them better
stewards. Another 60% tend to follow their lead. These so called
change-makers may like flying and find it very convenient and yet have
great qualms about it. And so does Jeanette. The image of Jeanette or
other Green gurus flying allows the so called changemakers release or at
least denial of their personal dissonance and thus jetting through the
atmosphere remains the accepted normal behaviour.
And further seeming paradox –Green Movement folk may actually experience a superior sense of the need to care for the environment…
Thus if their
deeds lack harmony with their knowledge they are more vulnerable to guilt
and dissonance than most. Thus they are more prone than the average person
to adopting symbol uses that deny change/stewardship. The Green Party, for
instance, needed to endorse Carbon Trading more than most… in fact I
applied the Sustainability Principle to Party policy and publicly
predicted the Party would endorse the ETS long before Jeanette et al knew
another way – imagine you are the PR person for a bunch of very wealthy
and psychopathic carbon traders. You know people don’t tend to look to
them for moral guidance. What you need is the endorsement of “green
gurus” to endorse the carbon trades. Imagine your delight when Al Gore
features flying in jets and driving large cars and promotes Carbon Trading
in a movie about climate care… money cant buy that sort of endorsement
for carbon trades involving wasteful mineral oil destruction..
Its all about
symbols… symbols enable the transfer of meaning – symbols enable all
sentient beings to exist..to survive.. to procreate…
Perhaps you could give a quick example of unsustainable and sustainable
use of symbols – briefly talk about greenhouse gas symbol versus say the
trace gas symbol.
OK There are
thousand of hours in this example alone.
use the greenhouse symbol our subconscious sets up a million associations
with a greenhouse – senses and associations of man made structure, calm,
human controlled environment, exotic food etc. Traditionally
greenhouses have been a symbol of great power and dominion over
nature. The classic example is the Great Industrial exhibition in Crystal
Palace in 1861. This
structure was the perfect symbol of the Industrial Revolution and Man’s
triumph over nature.
So we teach
our children that atmosphere is a greenhouse – a place of suppressed air
convection. Meanwhile our Climate Change office and NIWA is teaching that if we heat up air we get enhanced
air convection and more risk of extreme events. These education strategies
are in direct conflict. And then EECA is teaching we need to insulate our
homes but our builders, plumbers etc have learned insulation works like
the atmosphere which they know from experience moves freely. Total
I suggest we
conserve the greenhouse symbol for communicating how we can control air
convection and thermal transfer in human structures.
of the Warmer Trace Gases. Then we have to start teaching what I call
trace theory – how tiny portions through the magic of leverage can have
large impacts –it generates a very different school syllabus. It sets
kids up to understand exponential growth and chaos theory – in other
words how our weather etc really work..
How do you use energy?
Do you mind if
I rephrase the question “How do I use resources?” I am very aware of
how the energy symbol has been colonised and distorted by a few greedy
bankers. It is too easy for me to become their agent when talking about
I look for
guidance in the great energy principles I have spoken of. I also draw
guidance from the variety of forms and the patterns of the flows of the changing clouds, seas, streams and forests. I hope that
makes me a more democratic and tolerant person. I tend to ask, can this
planet support this activity if 6.7 billion people mirror me?
As a result I
decided in 1991 I would never buy another car again and tried to stop
flying – much as I adore the act of flying. I did do a couple of flights
from Wellington to Christchurch under social pressure but finally swore
off it altogether. As a recent speaker said on your programme once you
stop flying all sorts of new doors open – this is so true – your
subconscious is freed up to release wonderful ideas you could not know if
you were still flying, driving cars etc.
I took the
south wall right off my house last summer to insulate it properly as part
of a programme to turn my thermal shack into a real home. I now shower
only every second day and find I can be just as clean – and perhaps
healthier. I haven’t been in a butchers shop in a decade though I eat a
couple of small cans of sardines a week…I
am fortunate that I can walk to work and probably have lowered my
pollution and mineral oil destruction by over 90% this decade.
Its not been
easy, New Zealand society punishes people like me in many ways and it can
get a bit lonely at times. However I have never felt so good in myself.
Our national use of resources shows many of the classic signs of addictive
behaviour. It’s a bit like when I gave up smoking tobacco – suddenly I
could smell the roses and taste the food and I felt released…free... I
find I am often filled a sense of great privilege and bounty now…no jet
can take you there…
And how do you think New Zealand can better use energy?
OK Here’s my
First up –
The recent Education Curriculum Framework review is just a rehash of the
fatally flawed policies that have produced a nation of people have
destroyed most of the forests and soil of New Zealand this last hundred
years and who use resources at five times the rate the planet can produce
them and who destroy irreplaceable resources at 10 times the rate of most
people on Earth. We need a new review that measures success by what people
do, not just what they say and we need a framework that enhances our state
of science, not destroys it as the current one does.
–as a nation we walk around fixated on the ground – we are addicted to
extracting adn destroying our soils and minerals. I hope we can lift our
heads up and gaze to the heavens more – then we will start reshaping all
our legislative and other structures so we are able to maximise our solar
–get rid of the oppressive Electricity Industry Reform legislation and
embrace democracy. Our addictive use of carbon generally and mineral oil
in particular is driving our nation bankrupt –and nations that cannot
transition to what I call the Great Solar-Electric Age are set for misery
and war. We have to root out all the legislation currently blocking
communities make sustainable uses of their local electrical potentials.
And that includes rejecting internet copyright pressures.
Fourth up – enjoy compassion and democracy and we will be far more able to enjoy the marvellous potential, which is energy. Currently NZ is a world class case study in unsustainable behaviour and I don’t think we really feel good about ourselves. Its much more fun enjoying a sense of harmony and being a sustaining model for all of humanity.
Energy?” 1:The Grand Denial
Energy?” 2:The Potential, which is Energy
The third video, by far the most important and vital one, explains some of the rationale behind the Sustainability Principle of Energy.The Sustainability Principle of Energy
The Carbon Trader Disease