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Draft responses for Radio New Zealand National Interview on Sustainability Principle of Energy
(Nights with Bryan Crump -17 December 2009)


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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.

Draft response

Q 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 education component. 

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 delusional… 

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.  

Their revelations 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.. 

Q 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 well… 

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:

“Energy 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.  

Q What is it saying? Can you unpack it a little more then? 

It seems to me that it teaches us at least three wonderful messages. 

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 gobbledygook.. 

Message number 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.

Our so-called “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 energy etc.

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.  

Message number 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… 

You see, 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.

Also notice 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”.  

Q 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 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… 

You cannot 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 general.  

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.

I sensed something weird was going on, especially as often they would be wringing their hands that they were not getting their message across.

It occurred to me they get their message across perfectly well but it is not the one they think it is.

My big jump occurred when I started asking the question,

 “Clearly 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:

“What 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.. 

Q 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.. 

Slowly it 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 denial… 

Q Yes I woul 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.

Great 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.. 

Technology 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. 

Societies have this great capacity to develop incredibly sophisticated systems for denial too.. 

These great psychologists of old  also realised other great insights that modern technology reinforces.

They realised 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 activities. 

And you know the old sayings – a sharp tongue can fell a six foot man, the pen is mightier than the sword… 

Well, modern 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.

And ancient 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 neurons 

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.

You see 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 they would. 

Look it 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 survive.. to procreate… 

Q 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.

Everytime we 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 circular confusion…

I suggest we conserve the greenhouse symbol for communicating how we can control air convection and thermal transfer in human structures. 

Instead talk 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.. 

Q 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 energy. 

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… 

Q And how do you think New Zealand can better use energy? 

OK Here’s my Christmas list.

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. 

Second up –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 potential. 

Third up –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.


 Video Links

“What is Energy?” 1:The Grand Denial

“What is 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


  Compassionate Curriculum Framework

  Sustainability Principle of Energy

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Without symbols there is no civilisation.


Symbols enable us to communicate and reflect reality.


By maximising the potential of symbols we can enjoy the greatest harmony with all.


Failure to conserve symbols and  the flawed  uses of symbols destroys civilisations.


Symbol use born of compassion works to sustain humanity.