The Sustainability Principle
 of Energy


Home   First draft Aug  2010

About this Work and Updates  

  Online Etymology Dictionary


The Power of Symbols

What is a Prime Symbol?

Variations on the Wisdom Of Confucius

How to Conserve
the Potential

The Human Condition

General Theory

Practical Application

Index of Denial/Acceptance

The Joys in 
Are you vulnerable to denial?
Review Call
Evaluate your
teachers /media
The Compassionate Curriculum
Defining some Prime Symbols


Energy Efficiency









Climate Change





Peak Oil
Principle of Energy





















 Enjoying True Hope
(A Practical Guide)

Hope is a state of being, an intangible experience. We know it is vital and informs our lives even as it remains indefinable. In this it is like energy – we are each intimately familiar with it yet no one knows what it is. It is a paradox.

As with energy, we are keenly sentient of the presence and absence of hope in our lives. When we are aware of hope we speak of being filled with hope and say, “I feel hopeful”. When we are aware of the lack of hope we say, “Every thing is hopeless. I despair”. Our sensation of hope continually varies, just as energy is continuous change. What seems hopeless in one moment can seem hopeful in the next. What one person sees as “real hope” another person sees as “false hope”. Some say, “God is hope” while others say, “God does not exist” and yet they may remain hopeful. Hope, like energy, seems to be all in the experience and thus it cannot be fully expressed in words. Indeed it may be beyond any symbol. 

So why and how do we write about hope – surely it is a hopeless endeavour? If hope is indeed a paradox like energy, then it is beyond the bounds of thought. Thought cannot alone embrace how something can simultaneously be what it is not. Yet somehow we survive in a world of paradox in which darkness is of light, silence is of sound, birth is of death, the in-breath is of the out-breath etc. Somehow we transcend the limitations of thought and live with paradox. We survive but how?   

The Power of Symbols

Our ability to communicate using symbols is one reason we survive, a symbol being a shared crystallized quantum of meaning. A symbol is something that represents something else by association, resemblance, of convention. A symbol is a living thing, arising as it gathers meaning and passing as it loses meaning.  

Every sentient form uses symbols to survive and procreate. That is how cells have sustained their fundamental form through a billion years of galactic, solar, tectonic, atmospheric and other epic change. Communication within cells and between cells enables the living fabric of the planet. We are informed. We are information. Information is physical, a force, and continuously reshapes us, simultaneously enabling us to reflect and be in harmony with reality - the universal change. It charges us with meaning and we experience vitality. We are livened in the universal potential. 

Information can also reshape us in ways that disable our capacity to reflect and be in harmony with reality. Unsustainable information works to reshape an organism or species so it acts in ways that are dissonant with reality. This is manifest, for instance, in the aging process of DNA, especially mitochondrial DNA, as the quality of their information diminishes. Our cells tend to experience a loss of meaning and thus vitality as the quality of their information decays. 

The discussion this far may seem obvious and unhelpful in our quest to know and enjoy hope. And, of course, these are mere thoughts in the form of words. However the possibility now occurs that we are more mindful of the vital role of symbols in our lives and the value of conserving their potential to sustain us. For millennia sages such as Confucius have advised that our prime civic act is “the correction of language use”.

Tzu Lu said:
"The ruler of Wei wants you to become a member of his government. What will you work on first?" Confucius said: "The correction of language use [rectification of names]." Tzu Lu said: "You don't mean it! Why should that be your first priority?" Confucius said: "If language is not used correctly, then what is said won't be understood. If what is said is not understood, then the work of the state cannot be carried out successfully. If the work of the state cannot be carried out successfully, then the rules of propriety will not be observed and music [that is, culture] will not develop. If propriety does not prevail, and if music [that is, culture] does not develop, then criminal punishments will not be imposed in accordance with justice. If criminal punishments are unjust, then the people will be disoriented in their actions. Therefore, the Chun-Tzu must see to it that language is used correctly and that what he says is carried out in practice." 

They advise that if we fail to care for our language, then all our endeavours fail us. They were keenly aware of the limitations of thought and thus words. Still they put great store in sustainable language, in careful symbol use. My brief reading of their works suggests they realised the paradox of the human condition: the more we embrace our limitations the more we are liberated from them. It is in this spirit that I continue. 

I have suggested that we are information, which we communicate using living things called symbols, approximations of reality. We can each be seen as an Information Being, just as we can be seen as a Thermal Being, a Carbon Being, an Electrical Being etc. We are each unique, formations of knowledge. We are each discrete fluxes of information, oscillating in the ebb and flow of the greater flux of information, which is the universal veneer of life shimmering around our planet. We arise from the sentience of Earth and pass into it.   

The Human Condition

I will not attempt to discuss the hows and whys of our emergence as unique, discrete Information Beings. That is beyond the realms of the deepest psychology and quantum physics. However it is perhaps valuable in this short essay on hope to discuss the general human condition and how we process information. 

In brief: in any moment a human being is sentient of perhaps more than 50 billion movements or transfers of information. The human body alone consists of ten trillion cells and we host perhaps a hundred trillion microbe cells. Almost all this immense sentience occurs at a subconscious level of a human being, the information processing being governed by patterns of behaviour and structures formed over eons. In any moment we are conscious of perhaps two or three thousand of those myriad, myriad sensations. Consciousness is a trace element of our being. 

With human consciousness comes self-consciousness, thought and the associated sensations of “I”. Perhaps these aspects of our psyche can usefully be illustrated with this image: they are the conglomeration of the brief sparkles on the wave tips of the vast ocean of the subconscious information flux.   

The “I” can register the sparkles of this subliminal psychic ocean to know it exists and yet can never be part of our great subconscious being even though it born of it. This too is a paradox, which means it is beyond the realm of thought.
Similarly thought and the sense of “I” affect our interactions with other dimensions of our existence such as the oceans of water on our planet and the oceans of stars in the sky. We know they exist and we are of them. However our conscious knowledge forms a schism in our experience of them. 

Previous to the Industrial Revolution our ancestors embraced this schism. We see this in the etymology of the “science” symbol:

“…from O.Fr. science, from L. scientia "knowledge," from sciens (gen. scientis), prp. of scire "to know," probably originally "to separate one thing from another, to distinguish," related to scindere "to cut, divide," from PIE base *skei- (cf. Gk. skhizein "to split, rend, cleave," Goth. skaidan, O.E. sceadan "to divide, separate;"… Main modern (restricted) sense of "body of regular or methodical observations or propositions ... concerning any subject or speculation" is attested from 1725; in 17c.-18c. this concept commonly was called philosophy.”

We see here an evolution in the use of the “science” symbol that has arguably reflected and generated the excesses of the Industrial Revolution. Previously science (knowledge) was associated with a state of being which includes sensations of division or separateness. However as the Industrial Revolution evolved the “science” symbol was stripped of this deep meaning of the human condition and redefined as simply a way of thinking. This neutering of the ‘science” symbol can be traced to Descarte’s statement, “ I think, therefore I am”. Thought came to dominate our culture and information processing i.e. “science” became an intellectual activity rather than a profound moral process informing our actions. 

The Ego

Some symbolise this trace conglomeration of activity involving thought and sensations of “I” at the interface of our subconscious and conscious as the “ego”, which is the Latin word for “I”.  The ego, which exists in all human beings, is characterised by the sensation of separation from the universal flux. It is a paradox in that it exists because of its knowledge of reality even as that knowledge disconnects us from reality.

To reiterate, thought cannot countenance paradox and thus, being bound by thought, the ego cannot truly reflect on itself. The ego arises with sensations of disconnection from all and passes with sensations of connection with all. Thus the ego is characterised by sensations of dread of mortality and stewardship, for these are reminders of our connection with all, with reality. In reality all things arise and all things pass in the universal flux. 

The ego is a potent force in our lives. It acts as a gatekeeper at the borders of our conscious and subconscious, affecting the flow of information between these two realms. It acts as a repository and controller of our knowledge and associated symbol use. If we are not careful it can act as the sole repository and controller of our sensibility, which is dangerous because the ego is inherently self-interested and lacking sensations of stewardship. Without care the ego can easily destroy us. 

The questions arise:
How do we care so we are sustained as human beings and as a species?
What is the nature of hope and its role in our survival? 

A first step to answering these questions is to embrace the existence of the ego and its limitations. I have alluded to some of those limitations – its fundamental abhorrence of notions of change (mortality and stewardship) plus its inability to reflect on itself and its integral thought process. Perhaps its greatest limitation and risk to us is, paradoxically, its incredible ingenuity. 

With self-consciousness comes the capacity for self-deceit. The ego, acting as it does at the interface of the vast subconscious and the trace conscious elements of the human psyche is capable of generating rationales and deceits that are literally incredible, for they are unthinkable. We cannot be conscious of all the myriad sensations associated with the processing of 50 billion pieces of information in any moment. Our conscious knowledge of them tends to be determined by the filter of the ego. 

This is why we are capable of behaving in ways contrary to our stated beliefs. Indeed it is eminently possible for human beings to say one thing and act the opposite without even being conscious of the contradiction. Such is the power of the ego in the processing of our information. It can generate dangerous delusions and immense misery. It can cause individuals and societies to despair and perform self-destructive acts. Existence seems to lack meaning and they experience hopelessness. Barbarism prevails. 

Indeed as we contemplate the power of the ego it is possible to feel somewhat hopeless. It may easily seem we are bound in incredible ways in a fatal psychosis. How can we ever escape or fight it?  An insistent voice within may well be saying this discussion is increasingly meaningless and there are more urgent matters to attend to. That voice is of the ego as it seeks continuous dominance of our lives. 

However in the sensation of hopelessness a possibility occurs: the potential to experience hope, just as we experience light and sound more fully in their absence. In that possibility is potential liberation from the demands and restrictions of the ego and thought. This is the beauty of paradox. And as mentioned we continually live with paradox.

 The painter within us values dark and light equally. The musician within us values sound and silence equally. The philosopher within us values equally the yin and yang of the forces of existence -including the forces of the ego and the non-ego. 

Embracing the ego with all its limitations and incredible ingenious trickery enables us to transcend it. The ego cannot be fought or bought off or thought away. It can easily generate sophisticated mechanisms and rationales that counter such attempts. However it has no counter for the experience of compassion with its properties of kindness, sharing, connection, humility, acceptance, inquiry, generosity of time, tolerance and gentle humour. 

The experience of compassion is the most potent liberating force in our lives and enables us to enjoy the state of being, which is science. Here the “science” symbol is used with its fuller meaning: science is a moral state of being. In the state of science we are enabled to develop all manner of arts – including sustainable language and technology and civics in general. Here too the “arts” symbol is employed with its fuller historic meaning: art is skill, complete and suitable.

Transcendence through physics 

Which brings us to the question: if stewardship of language is primary to our survival as a species, then how do we transcend the deceits and self-interested dictates of the ego so we can conserve the potential of language and be sustained? The answer paradoxically lies in the ingenious and incredible capacities of the ego. (Smile) It has generated a symbol that is as near as we have to a universal law. The symbol is the Conservation Principle of Energy, which advises us that energy is so bounteous it can usefully be considered a constant and it continuously transforms. All is change. In brief, energy cannot be created or destroyed though it constantly changes form. 

Such a notion, with its intimations of the mortality of the human form and reminders of our role as stewards of the forms that sustain humanity, is an anathema to the ego. It works strenuously to deny this principle of physics and thus it is probable that no notion has been subject to such intense scrutiny during the existence of human kind. The Conservation Principle of Energy has endured despite countless, varied, passionate, ingenious attempts to disprove it. No one has yet invented a perpetual motion machine. No one has yet discovered the elixir of eternal youth. In our state of uncertainty the principle is as near as we have to a universal law of existence.

The Conservation Principle forms a great and wise guide that presents us with choice. It liberates and offers us transcendence. Societies that have chosen to embrace the insights of the Principle have tended to be more resilient. Those that have chosen to dismiss its insights have done so at their peril. 

Hope is intimately associated with the sensations of choice, transcendence and will power. At first glance there seems no role for willpower and choice in our use of language because, as with all, our use of symbols involves paradox. How we employ our symbols reflects our state of being even as our use of them works to generate our state of being. This presents us with a conundrum – one the ego can easily exploit for its own narrow interests. 

The Conservation Principle of Energy provides us with a way of transcending this paradox. It reminds us of the immense universal potential, which is energy, and how existence is continuous change.We can choose to use language that reflects this reality. Our symbol use will then tend to reflect and generate a state of being more in harmony with the universal flux.

Or we can choose not to use language that is in accord with the Conservation Principle. Always the ego is working in most ingenious ways to deny the essential insights of the principle and finds us ample reasons to ignore its wisdom.

However we have the choice and to the extent our language is in harmony with the universal principles of physics we will tend to be sustained. In this sense of choice we enjoy the sensation of options. In being sustained we enjoy the sensation of bounty, of possibility, of potential, of hope. 

A practical guide to enjoying hope is summarised in this statement:  
A symbol used in acceptance of change enhances the capacity of the user to mirror reality and enjoy harmony. A symbol used in denial of change destroys the capacity of the user to mirror reality and enjoy harmony.

Henceforth I will allude to this statement as the Sustainability Principle of Energy until the statement is proven flawed. 

The reality alluded to is the continuous universal change, the constant transformation of all things, the grand flux of existence.

In this reality human beings are transient forms, as are all other forms. The universal flux provides the benchmark with which we evaluate our use of symbols. To the extent our language reflects the continuous transformation, we are more likely to be sustained. 

Energy, as manifest in a galaxy.
The universe contains around 50,000,000,000 galaxies, 
each of which has between 100,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000 stars.


Hope in the "Energy" Symbol

Let us briefly evaluate our use of the “energy” symbol as a practical example of this evaluation process. Is our culture sustainable?   


We commonly symbolise energy as failing us.

The Conservation Principle of Energy advises us that energy is so bounteous it can be considered a constant and, by its very nature, energy is conserved, sustained.  The language of our culture is in complete denial of the principle and speaks of humans “conserving” and “sustaining” energy”, of “energy failure”, of “wasting” and “losing” energy, of “running out of energy” and “energy collapse”  etc. We speak of "energy crisis" rather than a crisis in our use of energy.



The "energy sector" or "energy industry.

The Conservation Principle advises us that energy is manifest in myriad, continuously changing forms and though all are of energy none is energy. The language of our culture is again in complete denial of the universal change, for it commonly symbolises fossil fuels and Bulk-generated electrical products as “energy”. In so doing we fatally confuse energy with a form. As a consequence we tend to use that form as though it is as bounteous as energy and not subject to transformation. Often our use conveniently excludes the atmosphere from the combustion equation.   


A search on "power industry" generates  pages of these associations.

The Conservation Principle advises that energy is the potential of the universe(s) and that power is the measure of the rate at which it is manifest. The language of our culture profoundly confuses these symbols. Indeed our culture is based on the insane, confused equation:

Energy = fossil fuels = power = electricity = Bulk-generated electrical products

This is the equivalent of saying the potential of the universe (energy) =finite forms (fossil fuels)= a measure (power) = a non-existent form (electricity) = finite forms (Bulk-generated electrical products).   




Our symbols confuse conserving valuable energy forms with conserving energy

The Conservation Principle advises that it does not matter how much energy we use but that we use it in ways that conserve the flows and balances that sustain us all.

The yin yang symbol: the most sustaining pictorial symbol in known history?

By contrast the language of our culture associates energy efficiency with using less energy and deprivation in general. Energy efficiency is symbolised as a cost and “drag on the economy” rather than a creative, harmonious way of being.   



The ultimate denial of change: energy is not a resource.
 NZ Minister of Energy and Reources (far left)

The Conservation Principle advises that energy is sustained and inherently renewed. A resource is something that arises again and again and again. Thus energy is the ultimate resource. Yet nations such as New Zealand have Government Ministries of Energy and Resources, which is complete denial of change and non-science. With the excesses of the industrial Revolution any object that can be traded came to be called a resource in the 1790s, even if it may not arise again in the life of the planet.   


The Common Factor

The common factor in these symbol uses is the consistent denial of the Conservation Principle of Energy and the essential change of the universe(s). These uses all diminish the fuller meaning of the symbols and thus act to prevent the greater manifestation of the universal potential. This behaviour is a profound example of how the ego can dominate our sensibilities and the result is we destroy many of our most sustaining possibilities.  We, for instance, build vast centralized systems involving incredibly wasteful, polluting uses of valuable finite minerals that benefit a very few people for a very short period. We, for instance, procreate without consideration of the limits of ecological systems to sustain our children. We experience sensations of fear and deprivation amidst plenty. 

Indeed these symbol uses reflect and generate a disconnection with reality such that we behave in truly delusional and addictive ways. We experience false hopes. For instance, we believe a sociopathic construct called “The Market” knows better than us and acts as a steward for us.We “hope” technology will act as a steward for us and counter our waste and pollution.

We call a diseconomy, a system founded in planned inefficiency and obsolescence, an “economy”.

We symbolise those who most wastefully destroy vital minerals and resources as “conservatives”.

As discussed, we redefine science as just a way of thinking rather than a profound moral way of being.

We build huge credit, transport, agriculture and other systems based on the delusion that there exists eternal mineral oil at 0.1 cents a manhour of its energy equivalent. This undoubtedly forms the greatest Ponzi in known history – no such material exists.

We symbolise fossil fuels and Bulk-generated electrical products as “the energy sector” and the “energy generators” while we slaughter our fellow human beings so as to control “energy” and have “energy security”.   

Hope in the "Carbon" Symbol

Wherever we waste and pollute we find this dissonant behaviour is reflected in our use of language. For instance our abuse of our carbon potential is reflected in our belief in “zero carbon” and “carbon neutrality”. These are denials of the reality of carbon, the essential change which is the universal carbon flux. A primary aspect of stewardship is the acknowledgement that no human activity is neutral – it affects the universal flux for better or worse.
Our abuse is reflected in our belief in “carbon offsetting” and “carbon trading” and the Carbon Market as our salvation. This is a classic abdication of our roles as stewards amidst the carbon flux.

We demonise carbon and speak of “fighting / combating / stopping carbon” and of the need to aspire to a “low carbon economy”, a "zero carbon state" and even a "post carbon world. 

We are Carbon Beings and this association of carbon with malignancy illustrates how the ego is well capable of generating self-hatred in its denial of reality. 

We speak of the need to “put a price on carbon” rather than valuing carbon forms. We allow prices rather than values to become the motivators of our behaviour, even if those prices are set at insane levels by a few psychopathic merchant traders. 

The reality is carbon is a universal element and forms the basis of living cells. We are Carbon Beings existing in a wonderful carbon flux, a vibrant interplay of carbon forms and flows.  The carbon potential is what it says: potent with possibility. To associate carbon with malignancy limits our potential and, as suggested, is a form of self-hatred. Perhaps another name for this state is hopelessness. 

The reality of our carbon potential, as with energy, is that it does not matter how much carbon we use but rather that we realise the carbon potential with harmony. As Information Beings, this realisation opens us to immense sustaining possibilities, such as using carbon to store, transfer and process information, electrical products, solar energy and other resources on an unprecedented scale. In this context carbon is a foundation of life and source of hope. 

To reiterate: whenever we waste and pollute any of our many potentials this unsustainable behaviour is manifest in our symbol use. We fail to enjoy our potential. 

 Hope in the “Electricity” Symbol

Another obvious example the psychological phenomenon of denial of reality is our abuse of our electrical potential. We employ the “energy”, “power” and “electricity” symbols interchangeably in the insane equation mentioned earlier. The reality of our electrical potential is that it is just one perspective of existence.

And there is no such stuff as “electricity”! What does exist is a wide range of electrical phenomena with completely variant properties, each of which offers different potential uses. To symbolise one form such as a small range of electric currents as “electricity” obscures and denies us the awareness of the wonder of the universal electrical interplay and marvellous possibilities.   

Hope in the "Solar" Symbol

Our prevailing abuse of our solar potential demonstrates the scale of this behaviour of denial. Our solar potential amounts to an average of 164 Watts per square meter over the entire earth each 24 hours and there are myriad ways we can use it. Yet we are almost blind and dumb to this immense potential. Our language is that of a people who look to the ground only for sustenance. We symbolise a few minerals of the Earth as “energy” but not our sun. We have Government Ministers for “Energy and Minerals”, Agriculture, Forests and even Ecology Conservation but never Ministers for conserving our solar potential. This obsessive behaviour is manifest, for instance, in the widespread design and use of dwellings that wastes and destroys our solar potential on scale. The consequence is needless poverty, warfare and pollution.   

Hope in the Civilised Use of Symbols

These examples of unsustainable symbol use remind us of a general characteristic of our nature as Information Beings: before we can use anything we need information about its existence. An object cannot be manifest to us if we do not have a symbol expressing its nature. Its potential cannot be revealed to us. This suggests a general principle that sages such as Confucius alluded to. This advises us that we maximise the possibility of sustained survival and enjoyment of civilisation when we use language with care and conserve the potential of our symbols. 

Again this involves paradox that can be perhaps illustrated with our use of the “energy” symbol. As discussed, our culture commonly confuses energy with a few of the countless forms it can be manifest in and this leads to extremely dangerous, ego-driven behaviour. We are blinded by our language and deny the existence of other forms of energy, each of which retains a wide range of potentials. We are insensitive to the vitality of these other forms for we have disassociated them with energy. 

Stewardship involves giving each form of energy its own symbol so its nature is revealed. Thus, for instance, the oil produced in the earth is known as “mineral oil” and is distinguished from oils derived from, for instance, vegetation. Each type of oil is a unique form and our sustainable use of it requires differing ways of stewardship.
The solid carbon elements of the earth are known as “coal”, which reminds us it is a finite form that often must be combusted with air to provide useful forms of energy.

The electrical products that are produced using large devices such as dams, furnaces and industrial wind turbine conglomerates are known as “Bulk-generated electrical products”, a reminder they are finite forms and just one of a range of products such as “Dwelling-generated electrical products”. 

The paradox is that the more care we take to symbolise each form of energy the less we will speak of energy. Ultimately energy becomes associated with the sensation of the universal potential. The symbol becomes a reminder and expression of the bounteous nature of existence. This is because enhanced possibilities become manifest with each careful refinement of our symbol for a form of energy. In brief we experience a greater sense of potential, possibility, options, bounty and freedom. This is the experience of hope. 

The same paradox occurs when we are mindful and give care to conserving the potential of all our symbols, not just the “energy” symbol. Another powerful example is the “power” symbol. Power is the rate or measure at which the universal potential is manifest.  Power is not the form being measured and all forms can be used as measures. 

All manifestations of the universal potential, that is all forms of energy, are forces of one kind or another, a force being an amount of energy realised in a period of time. Thus, for instance, the measure of the forces of an electrical current might be watts or joules-second. The measures of the useful forces of a motor might be in watts or horsepower (745.7 Watts) or manpower (75 Watts) or antpower or elephantpower or foot-pounds-second or whatever. 

Every form can be used as a measure of the universe and by giving each measure its own symbol expressing its nature we are reminded of the bounteous nature of energy. This is gift of care is stewardship.

And each measure can be translated into any other measure, as we have seen. This reminds us of the interconnected nature of all forms as well as their immense variety and different potential. Again the paradox, the greater the care we give to conserving the potential of the “power” symbol the less we employ it while it becomes an increasing reminder of the wondrous nature of energy, of which it is the measure. 

Conservation of the “electrical” and “electricity” symbols is worthy of mention as electrical phenomena are so potent with possibility in our society. An appreciation of this potential is critical to the survival of humanity now the short era of Cheap Mineral Oil/Gas has passed. Many of our contemporary systems are thus at desperate risk of collapse.

When we care to explore existence from an electrical perspective we find there exist a grand range of electrical phenomena with great variance of characteristics. There are electric charges, electrical energy, electrons, electric current, electric fields, voltage, electric power, electrical sparks, electromagnetism, electrical science, electrodynamics and electrical charge imbalance. There is bioelectricity, piezoelectricity, triboelectricity (triboelectric effects), thermoelectricity, atmospheric electricity and more. 

In each differing electrical property is additional potential for us to enjoy. As mentioned earlier, it is common to symbolise Bulk-generated electrical products as “electricity” The more we care to symbolise each phenomenon the greater our electrical potential is revealed and, paradoxically, the less we will speak of stuff called electricity. 

One final example of this paradox of language stewardship: the “carbon” symbol. Currently the discourse of carbon in our culture is obsessive. I alluded earlier to how carbon is now commonly associated with malignance. This is because of concern and debate about the possibility that our combustion of fossil fuels may be destroying the thermal balances of the atmosphere that sustain us. It is also because some merchant traders believe they can trade on this general concern for their private profit. Thus perverted notions of carbon dominate our language. 

The reality is that the carbon potential is vast and can be manifest in myriad forms. We deny ourselves this great potential when we call a few of the forms “carbon”. We are deprived of many sustaining options and thus tend to experience sensations of hopelessness. The more we are able to give each form of carbon its own symbol the less we speak of carbon and yet the more we sense its bounteous presence. In that sensation is the experience of hope.   

Summary Ideas

This has been an exploration of how and why we might write about hope. A summary of the key ideas includes the following notions: 
Information is physical and is a force. Thus its flows, balances and impacts are also subject to the great principles of physics. 
Without symbols life does not exist. A paradox of symbols is they simultaneously reflect and generate our state of being. However we can transcend this paradox by actively embracing the great principles of physics, especially the Conservation Principle of Energy. This also involves embracing the ego with its inherent tendency to deny the essential advice of the Conservation Principle, which is that in reality all things are continuously transformed, including human beings. 
The ego fundamentally abhors notions of mortality and stewardship, generating incredibly sophisticated rationales in its denial of them. The experience of the state of compassion enables us to transcend the incredible trickery of the ego and the schism formed by conscious knowledge. 
Compassion informs us so we can experience the state of science, which in turn enables our use of knowledge to better reflect and be in harmony with the universal flux. Compassion infuses information with enhanced meaning and potential. 
Perhaps that sensation of meaning and potential involves the experience of hope? 

With the summary in mind I will briefly discuss the proposed Sustainability Principle of Energy.

A guide to transcending in hope

The Sustainability Principle is founded in the great proven principles of physics with the notion that energy is as bounteous as the universe(s). It is a potent psychoanalytic tool that enables us to see through the ingenious disillusions and “false hopes” generated by the ego. The human psyche tends to consistency despite deceits of the ego and the Sustainability Principle of Energy enables us to identify and see through its incredible trickery. At the same time it provides us with a wise guide to our use of symbols so we are better sustained. 

You can view a sample index of the insights provided by this psychoanalysis and guide at

Symbol uses are categorised as to their harmony with the Conservation Principle of Energy and the universal change it advises us of. When our contemporary uses of our prime symbols are analysed en masse then several intriguing and perhaps challenging patterns become apparent: 

  • The ego can easily make us our own worst enemy. The index reveals that it is quite possible that we communicate our message very clearly but it is not the message we think it is. Indeed it may be a most contrary message to what we imagine it is. Passion and well-meaning are insufficient, for they can easily be founded in self-deceits and false hopes.
  • Symbols used in acceptance of change/stewardship open us to the greater universal potential. By conserving the potential of symbols they in turn provide us with enhanced perspectives of existence and greater possibilities. We enjoy heightened sentience and wisdom. The converse tends to be true when we use symbols in ways that deny change/stewardship and fail to conserve their potential – and the ego will generate ample deceits to convince us to deny reality and abuse the potential of symbols. This denial tends to be a recipe for misery, war and all manner of deprivation.
  • A pattern becomes evident in the ways symbols reflect and generate the state of our institutions. The ego is present in every human being with its elements of psychosis (the inability to truthfully reflect reality) and pyschopathy (the inability to enjoy compassion). Modern corporations are the near pure manifestation of these two elements and this is reflected in their wholesale destruction of the potential of our prime symbols. In this process they redefine prime symbols such as “love”, “energy”, “power”, “carbon”, “electrical”, “market”, “conservation’ and our other prime symbol so as to reflect their own short-term interests, thereby putting us all at risk. As a result these institutions, especially private corporations, work to destroy the state of science in our communities.
  • A deeper pattern involves our perceptions of information. I alluded to how the potential of the “science” symbol has been destroyed, reflecting and generating the excesses of the Industrial Revolution. The processing of information was stripped from its profound moral basis and now science is defined merely as a way of thinking, a distinct body of knowledge which is the domain of an elite of human beings called “scientists”. Our society is now founded in the grand self-deceit that science is a disconnected from our daily activities.
    Our brains are laced with sophisticated mirror neuron systems - our actions are potent symbols.

  • Within this deeper pattern of behaviour a deep pattern of reaction can be discerned. The emergence of the amoral rational of science with the Industrial Revolution generated an ongoing series of reactions to its excesses. For instance poets in the 17th Century reacted in abhorrence to the psychopathic ethos of “science”. In their reaction they became their own worst enemy. Rather than working to restore the potential of the “science” symbol they redefined and diminished the “art” symbol too so it lost its fuller meaning of skill and mastery, of completeness. In their passionate rejection of “science” the Romantic Poets dissociated art from science such that art is now understood to be a separate human faculty, the domain of literature, painting and other such means of searching for the truth of our existence. Our society is now founded in the grand self-deceit that art too is disconnected from our daily activities.
  • Reactions breed reactions. By the middle of the 20th Century the excesses of the Industrial Revolution were such that it was becoming manifest that humans could destroy the ecosystems that sustain us on the planet. Thus was born the global “Environmental Movement”.
    In their passionate reaction to the destruction of these sustaining systems “environmentalists” diminished much of the potential of the “environment” symbol so it became merely associated with the ecology in the 1950s. The result was a grand new disconnection of our action and thought, perhaps best summed up in the common symbol “Humans and the environment”. This denies reality, which is that humans are the environment. 
    The Sustainability Principle of Energy makes evident the ingenious role of the ego in this process of denial. The language of the Environmental Movement is characterised by the grand denial of change/stewardship. Its members play a pivotal and powerful role in our schools, media and communities propagating unsustainable uses of our prime symbols, as can be seen in the index of symbols used in denial. These examples are all drawn from the literature of the Green Movement.
    This pattern too reveals that passion and fine intentions are insufficient. If our language is not founded in the great principles of physics then the most ardent environmentalist can easily become his or her own worst enemy. Thus the gross endeavours of members of the global Environmental Movement tend to put us all at serious risk.
  • The deeper pattern generated by and reflecting the excesses of the Industrial Revolution is manifest in our national education curriculum frameworks. Absent is the notion of compassion. Instead science, social science, arts, language, mathematics, technology and physical education are framed equally as the prime “learning areas”.
    Again we can see the grand sophisticated deceits and confusions of the ego in the framework. Our most powerful pedagogues, however unwittingly, deny the essential change, which is the learning process. They omit the fundamental role of the experience of compassion in sustainable learning and destroy the potential of the “science”, art” and a range of symbols in the process.
  • Our education curriculum frameworks obscure the truth that the experience of the compassion enables sustainable learning because it is this state of being that provides the requisites for the experience of the state of science, which in turn enables the development of all manner of arts, including all manner of sustaining language and civic behaviour. Instead it teaches that science is just another way of thinking and a learning activity like the arts, technology etc

New Zealand Curriculum Learning Areas:
Social sciences 
Mathematics and statistics 
Learning languages   
Health and physical education 
The arts 

The result of this denial is a culture in which most people grow up believing they “just don’t do science”, “are no good at art” and “philosophy is for academics”. We learn to adopt lifestyles that destroy resources at many times the rate the planet can replace them. We bequeath on our children immense debt, pollution and depleted resources. Perhaps our education curriculum framework provides a definition of hopelessness?

False Hope in The Ego

These patterns of language use and associated behaviour all share a common genesis: the ego with its propensity to deny change/stewardship. They all share a common process and consequence: they all involve the unsustainable use of information and the destruction of potential. As we diminish the potential of the symbol it loses meaning and it less reflects reality - the universal potential, which is energy. We become more vulnerable to delusions and “false hope”. Our lives have less harmony and this is manifest in language that is dissonant with the great principles of energy. 

Which brings us to my original question: so why and how do we write about true hope. This essay does not answer this question anymore than we can explain the true nature of energy. However it is possible this exploration of the question has revealed practical ways by which we can enjoy the sensation of real hope. It suggests our experiences of hope and energy are intimately related. If so hope is physical like any other state and our experience of it is guided by the proven principles of physics. We risk experiencing sensations of false hope and even hopelessness when we ignore and deny those principles.   

 Learning Hope in Physics and Compassion

If hope is physical then it can be developed like any other art (skill). We can choose to act as stewards and conserve the potential of our symbols so as Information Beings we experience enhanced meaning. We become more open to potential, to possibility, to options. Developing any sustainable skill requires the experience of the state of science: we continuously experiment, reflect and share in compassion. This is the art of learning. 

Compassion is essential to the learning process for it opens us to possibilities and enables us to embrace our perceived errors with humility. In particular it enables us to transcend the incredible deceits and trickery of the ego, which dominates the formation of our culture, our language and institutions. 

In this context the act of conserving the potential of our prime symbols is like learning a new language. However in this case we are learning a language anew and this comes with enormous challenges. Instead of learning new symbols and their associated meaning we are learning to give new meaning to potent symbols we have known all our lives while finding new symbols to express the traditional flawed meaning. We have to work with the forces of those around us who actively reinforce that traditional meaning, including our families, neighbours, powerful Public Relations agencies, media, education institutions and other corporations. 

This is no easy task though the rewards are fulsome. It is especially helpful to embrace the ego, which will provide all manner of rationales for retaining symbol uses that deny change/stewardship. When learning any new language we fumble for the appropriate symbols, lapse into our traditional language and confuse the meanings of symbols, often in hilarious or insulting ways. In the more normal situation of learning a foreign language the native speakers of that language make allowance for you and are tolerant of the errors, for they know their language and culture is new for you.

This tolerance is not extended to those who stumble and fumble for new symbols and incompetent meanings of symbols in one’s own culture. People tend to dismiss this searching and fumbling for language as that of a fool. And the ego easily generates sensations of fear of being dismissed as an inept fool. 

It is compassion for one and all that reminds us that such sensations are fleeting and sustains us with patience. We are patient when we are retrofitting our house so it is reshaped, rewired, replumbed and its parts are given new meaning. We are tolerant of the physics of the situation, for we know disruption and temporary inconvenience is part of the transition process. It is helpful to understand that information is physical and retrofitting our language requires the same patience. 

It is also helpful to embrace the possibility that the ego will generate sensations of revulsion at the notion that information is physical and the state of hope is physical like all other things, being subject to the principles of physics.

Click here for commentary on Blake's painting of Newton.

 The ego filled the Romantic Poets with the same revulsion so they associated hope, beauty, truth and love with spiritual states beyond the realms of science and physics, which they associated with barbarism. In reacting thus they set these states of being apart as ideals so they disconnected, disempowered and deprived us of the physicality of existence. 

In this they reflected the ego’s determination that science is not a moral state of being but just a way of thinking. Hope, beauty, truth and love are seen to be ideals beyond science and not an imbuement of our daily lives. Such is the ingenious trickery of the ego. (Smile). The ego has successfully defused and fractured our insights into our natures as Information Beings. We experience this as a loss of meaning. Despite their passionate attempts to convey meaning the Romantic Poets came to be their own worst enemies - just as their modern descendents in the Environment Movement are. 

Reality is a paradox – by embracing the physical nature of existence with its seeming constraints we are liberated. By embracing the principles of physics we enjoy greater potential. By conserving the potential of our symbols in accord with those principles we are sustained in greater sensations of wonder and bounty. Potential. Liberation. Wonder. Bounty. Perhaps this is true hope.


Acknowledgement and Dedication

This essay was inspired by a pre-Christmas posting by the Post Carbon Institute in 2011 that ended with the following quote from Vaclav Havel. It caused me to reflect  to reflect on the nature of hope and to wonder how we could generate a practical guide to true hope. 
The essay is my New Year offering to the world for 2012. 
It is especially dedicated to my parents, Harry and Betty, and my daughter, Bianca. 

My thanks to the anonymous Internet people who provided illustrations and quotes. 



Vaclav Havel (5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011)
" Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope or we don't; it is a dimension of the soul, and it's not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons.... Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."



Recent Reflections

5 October 2011

"An Orwellian Climate"

Letters to Australasian Chief Science Advisors explaining contemporary confusion in climate care communication (Prof Peter Gluckman, Prof Ian Chubb, Prof Tim Flannery, Dr Andrew Glikson ) 


15 September 2011

The 2011 New Zealand Election Campaign

(A letter to New Zealand people alerting them to the dangers of the huge hidden yet in-your-face advertising campaign promoting the sale of our national assets.)


16 March 2011

Thought Experiments re the Carbon Trading Ethos

(Originally designed for the Office of the New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.)


26 February 2011

Letter to Radio NZ

(Contains  reflections on broadcasts and ratings of the sustainability of a wide range of its programmes.)


29 November 2010 
The Joy in the Art of Civics

(Brief reflections on this state of being and the dangers of Environmental Education)


24 November 2010

Celebrating Our Climate   
(Draft one: A climate education framework founded in the Sustainability Principle of Energy offering an alternative vision of how we can communicate the role of humans in Earth's climate processes.) 


13 October 2010

Conversation with NZ Minister of Education (Anne Tolley) re the sustainability of the national education system. Read the Minister's letter and reflections on the flaws inherent in the Education Ministry's response.


4 November 2010

Letter to the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Introduction to the Sustainability Principle of Energy  with discussion of the nature of science.