The Sustainability Principle
 of Energy


Home   First draft Aug  2010

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Defining some Prime Symbols


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Towards a More Sustainable Language
(Letters Sept 2011)



An article written by Dr Andrew Glikson of the ANU CLIMATE CHANGE INSTITUTE inspired this sequence of letters. In a Climate Spectator article entitled “An Orwellian Climate” Andrew reflects on the poor quality of the public discussion about Earth’s climate processes and how the language is often characterised by Orwellian Speak.

I wrote to Andrew pointing out Orwellian Speak is not just a characteristic of totalitarian societies – the ingenious capacity of the ego for self-deceit is such that we are all eminently capable of this confusing and contrary language. I suggest it is essential to embrace the wily role of the ego if we are to develop the scientific communication of climate care.

Letter to Dr Andrew Glikson

I then figured it might be helpful to engage Professor Tim Flannery, Chief of the Australian Climate Commission, in this discussion. 



Letter to Professor Tim Flannery

While writing this letter the Climate Spectator published an article entitled “The deplorable state of the climate debate”. It is a transcript of a recent Australian Clean Energy Future Senate Committee interview of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb. This inspired a letter attempting to deconstruct his senate submission in a helpful way.



Letter to  Professor Ian Chubb

It then seemed logical to attempt to include New Zealand’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Peter Gluckman in the discussion using a deconstruction of his speech at Victoria University entitled Integrity in Science: Implications from and for the Climate Change Debate

Letter to Professor Peter Gluckman 

These letters are tendered in kindness and good humour.

Dr Andrew Glickson

ANU Climate Change Institu te 

Dear Andrew

I am very interested in your article entitled  “An Orwellian climate”. (Climate Spectator )

You may be interested in the work I have been doing. I will be very brief. 

My credentials: in 1991 I realised our abuse of our carbon potential – mineral oil and gas in particular – and the consequent pollution must end in misery. I determined never to own a car or fly in jets again. With the exception of two short-haul flights Wellington-Christchurch in 2000 I have succeeded.  

Why do I risk alienating you with such seeming righteous statements? It is because these and other lifestyle changes probably enabled insights not possible otherwise. They are probably not possible because of two inconvenient aspects of the human psyche. One is the existence of the ego, a structure of incredible ingenuity. The second is the probable fact that our actions and symbol use are inextricably connected for consistency. The altered lifestyle works to generate a new language that is consistent with it.  

We have a paradox: the altered language also generates new life styles. It is beyond the power of thought to comprehend paradox and so I will simply suggest our use of symbols simultaneously generates and reflects the state of our being. 

In 2000 I had the job of summarizing the 2000 NZ Government Climate Change Impact Report into posters and booklets for our schools. In the process in which I engaged with our leading education and climate experts I became very aware there is no science underpinning the communication of climate processes. 

When all funding ceased for this and related work in 2001 I continued on the dole researching how to establish science in this communication till 2005. Since then I finance the work by acting as a school janitor.  

In other words I have no credentials and the radical insights I offer are easily dismissed. My experience is there is a 99.9% chance that insights of this letter will not be seen.  So be it. I am fortified in the knowledge it takes but one person in the right place to enable a wide transformation of society. 

In some ways Orwell may have been unhelpful. He correctly identified our capacity to re-engineer a symbol so that it expresses contrary meaning. However there is now a tendency to associate such dissonant language with dystopian societies and thus we fail to embrace this capacity as an inherent part of the human condition, a capacity of the ego that resides within each of us.  

The nature of the ego is such that it abhors the notion of change/stewardship and it constantly tricks us into activity that is in dissonance with the flows and balances that sustain humanity. This is reflected in dissonant language. We all constantly use Orwellian Speak. 

I am creating a prototype index of the Orwellian Speak we use when communicating the conservation of the balances and flows of our climate. However as I believe this confused language reflects the universal human condition I prefer to describe it as an index of acceptance and denial of change/stewardship.

To be brief: I will simply suggest the physics of the human situation is that change and stewardship are so inextricably linked they can usefully considered the same.  

Basically I research the etymology of the prime symbols used in climate discussion and observe how the meaning alters over time. A general pattern is emerging: the meaning appears to have altered to enable and reflect the excesses of the Industrial Revolution.

I am concluding that the ingenuity of the ego is truly astounding to observe. It can cause us to actively and completely deny the great principles of physics. 

I humbly suggest this grand denial is at the heart of the syndrome you write of. It is endemic in the Anglo-American culture – and consumption statistics suggest it is probably endemic to the wider European culture. My insights are limited because I am only conversant with English. 

We have wise guides in the great principles of physics and I have drawn on them to generate a possible principle that can enable us to transcend the limitations of thoughts and the incredible trickery of the ego. I tend to agree with the proposition that information is physical and thus I am tentatively calling it the Sustainability Principle of Energy.  

It is both a profound psychoanalytic and predictive tool in that it indicates whether a symbol use will tend to be sustainable long term. Here are a few common and profound examples of symbols used in denial of change/stewardship: 

warming = warming up

energy = power

energy = a form

energy = renewable energy

energy = sustainable energy

energy = energy conservation

electricity = Bulk-generated electrical products

energy efficiency = deprivation of energy

science = way of thinking

zero waste

carbon neutrality

economy = diseconomy

and = are (e.g. humans and the environment)


The ego is also ingenious at (a) the projection of blame and (b) self-aggrandizement. Examples of these phenomena include:


climate change = human induced climate change

carbon = malevolent

carbon = pollution

zero carbon = good

global warming = malevolent

climate change = malevolent

energy crisis

energy collapse

power crisis

energy = failure

Carbon Trading (offsetting, neutralising)

Note how the blame for our failure of stewardship/change is projected on other phenomena. We find it convenient to not employ the “use” symbol for it reminds us of our roles as stewards/change.


humans can conserve energy

humans can generate energy

humans can save energy

Earth’s atmosphere = a greenhouse

science is the exclusive domain of a tiny elite of human beings called scientists

More here 

The ego is threatened by the communion of the psyche with all and reacts by fragmenting our sensibility (divide and rule). It tends to be exclusive of nature and thus non-scientific. Thus it will work to deny the probability that there exists a common driver of all the above unsustainable uses of our prime symbols. For instance a common response of climate experts is “ I find the greenhouse symbol of the atmosphere very convenient – people know what I am talking about”. They dismiss my observation as pedantic and fail to appreciate this use is part of a universal syndrome. 

A major point in the evolution of these symbol uses seems to have occurred in the 17th Century. Descartes statement “I think; therefore I am” provided the rationale for denial of change/stewardship that enabled current notions of science and the excesses of the Industrial Revolution. Contemporary excesses are epitomised and enabled by the adoption of the fatally flawed equation in our culture:

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

The ego will tend to dismiss this discussion as incredible and the Sustainability Principle of Energy as simplistic, if not meaningless. However the principle reveals a great hidden order amidst the seeming chaos of our communication as surely as the likes of  Charles Darwin revealed a great hidden order in biological change and Dmitri Mendeleev revealed a great hidden order in the elements of the universe and Luke Howards revealed a great hidden order in the clouds of this planet.  

All these insights enable an enhanced sense of awe and wonder at existence. They all up-turned contemporary paradigms. For instance, analysis using the Sustainability Principle of Energy indicates the so-called Green Movement, of which I have long been a member on a number of levels, is in the forefront in denying change/stewardship. The ingenuity of the ego is such that we easily become our own worst enemy. 

I mention this because the ego is quite capable of generating self-destruction. It may be as you realise the profound implications of the Sustainability Principle the ego will cause you to experience a sense of incredulity and repulsion, if not revulsion. Fear not.  Embrace the possible insights of the principle with equanimity and humour. This is the state of science that enables us to most fully learn and truly reflect.

You will find on the Home Pages links to a prototype video series Climate Care: Its All About the Ego 

You can also find a prototype climate care education framework for Levels 1-4 (age 5-12) entitled Celebrating Our Climate.

I believe it is fair to say there is zero interest in it in New Zealand. I volunteered a trial with six year olds at a school here one hour every fortnight and after a few weeks the teacher said we would have to can the programme because of “curriculum pressures”.

That is OK. New Zealand is a first class exemplar of the Carbon Trading ethos and thus provides unique learning opportunities on how that ethos generates unsustainable language and behaviour.


I hope you can learn from us and catch a glimpse of the profound insights the Sustainability Principle affords us.


Please feel free to forward this on to all those with a potential interest in this subject. Please excuse errors caused by my diplopia.


Thank you for your time, Andrew.


Dave McArthur


Letter to Professor Tim Flannery

Dear Tim

Perhaps I can introduce myself with a little story. For two decades till 1997 I was a meter reader privileged to visit tens of thousands of dwellings in Christchurch and Wellington New Zealand. For the generation who grew up in the 1920s I was the “electric light man”. For later generations I was the “power man”. Perhaps now in this new “energy conscious age” I would be the “energy man”.


I was passionate about reducing our waste of minerals and resources and minimising pollution. I donated hundreds of hours to helping ensure we had avant guard intelligent metering systems. I prided myself in being in the vanguard of the “green movement” and preached to many hundreds of householders and small business operators the many small ways they could “save power” and “save energy”.


In the 1990s the “electricity industry” was privatised. The Wellington Municipal Electricity Department was corporatised to become Capital Power, which was fully privatised and was bought up by TransAlta from North America. TransAlta created the largest “energy corporation” in NZ and sold it to Origin Energy who in 2000 spent a fortune renaming it OnEnergy. It collapsed within a month of its model, Enron, and was split up among the other new “energy corporations” such as Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, Contact Energy and Trust Power.


Tim, you can see there are really two stories going on here. One is the re-engineering of the sensibility of our culture through the recrafting of our language. The second is my own story as an intimate witness to this process.


“Energy corporations” are inherently hostile to the state of science and wise uses of resources. A person like myself was an anathema to the new management. Along with many others I was sacked, my decades of exemplary work records “binned” and my family threatened with legal annihilation, rape (and worse) and having our home “trashed” if I did not “keep right out of the electricity industry”. In 2000 our family broke up and the family home was sold off after years of such threats plus the stresses from my loss of income.


Life is a wonderful mystery and at the time it was hard to see what good could come from this experience. A decade on it now seems possible I was being uniquely skilled by these experiences to explore perhaps the greatest challenge facing us: how do we communicate the true nature of energy and best conserve our solar, carbon, electrical and other potentials? I gained insights into the profound psychopathy of the modern corporate structure and, from my visits to tens of thousands of dwellings, I garnered insights into what is actually learned in our education system. No university can provide such insight.


My first and most major insight was the realization that for all those decades I had actually been my own worst enemy. By communicating to all those thousands of people that we can “save energy” and “save power” I had been in the vanguard of those who destroy the state of science in our communities. I had committed the most fatal error humans can make and completely denied the Conservation Principle of Energy. I had been a shock trooper for Corporate Speak. I had been teaching for exactly the opposite of my objectives.


Initially I was appalled and concluded it was better I had never opened my mouth, or even got out of bed. After a year or two I developed sufficient compassion that I could embrace my counterproductive role and laugh at the trickery of the ego. Now I wake each day asking myself, “How will I be my own worst enemy today?”  The constant ingenious trickery of the ego is now no longer a repressive force but rather a source of liberating humour. So my story with its laughter and learning continues.


Tim, I have been meaning to write to you for several years now. Finally Andrew Glikson’s article in the Climate Spectator this week has inspired me to give my spare time today to communicating with you.

I will paste below my letter to Andrew to save me excess duplication, Reading and writing is a slow and tiring process for me.  I discovered the reason about two years ago – it turns out I am diplopic. This discovery helped explain why I have read only about three books this last decade. One is the inspiring story of Luke Howard, another is the Biography of MC2 and the third is the Weather Makers.


I recall thinking as I read your book how wonderful it must be to be able to write so beautifully on such a vital matter. I determined to keep it for posterity though its presence eludes me at the moment, as much of my stuff is stored away. I recall how my spirit expanded as you lifted my vision to the eons that enabled us. I felt uplifted by your eloquence and passion. I wished very much that this book would work, that it would inspire people to conspire in sustaining ways and live in harmony with the vital balances and flows of the atmosphere that sustain us.


I still recall my delight when you expressed reservations about our current use of the “global warming” symbol. “Yippee – yes, Tim is onto it”. In the event there was no deep analysis of the popular use of this absolutely critical symbol. I also recall the qualms I felt, qualms born of my own research, when I observed you frame the atmosphere processes with the “greenhouse” symbol. “Oh darnation..This is a less than helpful message that obscures the wondrous and vital vision Tim creates.” I concluded the book would not work as well as it might have and as well as you and I might wish.


I have just spent five minutes checking out the use of prime symbols on your website. I am sure you are quite capable of the analysis of its sustainability if I provide you the tools. I will simply ask a few leading questions of your webpage, “What Can I Do About Global Warming?”


What is this global warming that you speak of? Why is it a problem? How could life exist without it? How is this global warming different to global warming-up?


What is this power that you speak of? Whose power is it? Can the measured be the measure? (The same questions can be asked of WWF and its Powerswitch programmes that the page links to.)


What is this electricity you speak of? Which of the many electrical phenomena that exist is it? And if it is electricity then why are not the other electrical phenomena called electricity too? And if they are all called electricity then how will we know each phenomenon?


What is this greenhouse world you evoke? How do greenhouses work for us? What has been the role of greenhouses in forming our society over the centuries?


Are emissions necessarily bad and when do we begin to speak of emissions as pollution?


If fossil fuels are a relatively finite material, then how can we offset our activities by which we transform their wealth potential to air pollution?


What is a scientist and who says a person is a scientist? What is the difference between a scientist and a school janitor, such as I am?  Can a non-scientist ask these questions of our communication of the nature of energy in general and climate processes in particular?


I ask all these questions in a spirit of kindness and fond humour of the human condition, Tim. As my own stories suggests, the answers can be a source of hilarity, self-knowledge and sustainable learning. I have relistened a few times to your more recent interview on Radio New Zealand and am trusting you can appreciate this spirit.


I cannot imagine I can offer a greater gift to the world than the Sustainabilty Principle of Energy. I hope you get to enjoy and share it. I am sure it could well inform your current work for the Prime Minister.


Thanks for all




Letter to the Chief Scientist of Australia  

Dear Professor Chubb

I have just read an edited transcript of your appearance before the joint select committee on Monday (Climate Spectator 27 Sept: “The deplorable state of the climate debate”.) 

I have long been a student of the communication of the nature of energy generally and the nature of climate processes in particular. I tend to agree that the situation is deplorable. Indeed I have concluded that the communication is not founded in the state of science. I believe I am now in a position to correct this situation in a profound way. 

First I will offer a few quick reflections on the transcript. It begins:

Q: I want to go to the urgency in addressing global warming …

Chubb: The latest information I have seen shows that the CO2 levels are high and that the rate of accumulation is accelerating. The scientists who study this would argue that it is getting to the point where something has to be done quickly in order to cap them at least and start to have them decrease over a sensible period of time. You could easily argue that it is urgent and that something needs to be done because of the high level presently and the accelerating accumulation presently. We do need to do something.

 Again, the evidence I have seen suggests that you could not get that Arctic melt if you did not factor in the increased emissions that have been occurring through human activity; as a consequence of which, it is at its lowest or equal-lowest level that has ever been measured. Those measurements go back some time now because of the enhanced scientific capability of measuring sediments and all the rest of it. The broad understanding is it is a direct reflection of human activity. Of course, it always happened. The point about these things is we have human activity superimposed on natural processes but it is as low or equal lowest as it has ever been. If it is not the lowest then it is the second lowest and the lowest was three years ago. The evidence is there to be seen.


The first confusion appears in the question and this is never cleared up. The questioner seems to be suggesting global warming is a threat of some sort. At a cellular level most humans welcome global warming, as it enables life to exist. So what is the problem? Is the questioner confusing global warming with global warming-up? The latter, involving a thermal build-up, could indeed pose a serious threat to us all.


Unlike most people I reread your answer a number of times. I still cannot understand what it is that is “as low or equal lowest as it has ever been”. Does it refer to the Artic Melt? If so, I thought the Artic Melt is high. Does it refer to the current rate of carbon emissions? If so I thought these are also at higher than average levels. Does it refer in some way to this confused phenomenon called “global warming”?

I suspect I am not alone in having difficulty in comprehending the communication. I mention this in kindness.


Q:..Some of the claims I get, for example, are that these types of variations in climate are 'natural', that we are experiencing a cooling of the planet … Chubb:

With respect to this cooling stuff, I have seen the claim, but the evidence that I have seen is that the last decade has been the warmest decade that we have ever had on this planet, so I do not know what this cooling stuff means… 

As with our use of the “warming” symbol, considerable confusion exists with regard to our use of the “cooling” symbol. A continuous balance between warming and cooling enables anything to exist. Cooling-down, like warming-up involves a change of state. The “up” and “down” symbols are extraordinarily powerful in their evocation of change. Their absence completely alters the meaning of a statement and there are profound lifestyle reasons why we find it convenient to avoid this evocation of change. 

There is confusion on another level. Some of us are aware of notions that the Earth entered a cooling-down cycle about 11000 years ago. However about 7000 years ago this cycle was interrupted. A possible explanation is human activities in the form of deforestation, fires and rice growing on scale. If Earth is in such a cycle then this reinforces the argument for conserving fossil fuels for future generations.  

The inherent denial of change in the confusion of warming with warming-up works to obscure the fact that a thermal build-up results in a more energetic atmosphere with more extreme snow and ice events. Again the experience of such events makes it easy for the ego to dismiss the thermal effects of our pollution of the atmosphere. 

I will restrict myself to one more reflection: 

Q: Professor Chubb, I am interested in your view, as Chief Scientist, about the media coverage of the science of climate change — and what, as Chief Scientist, you in consultation with the science community are thinking about doing about it. I ask in the context that it seems to me over the last couple of years that those who oppose taking action on climate change have turned evidence based science into the idea that science on climate change is a religion or a matter of belief and not a matter of evidence and have therefore legitimised the idea that you can be a believer or a nonbeliever, based on a religious premise or an ideological premise rather than on evidence based science. I am interested in your view as to the media's role in that and then in any response you have about how, as Chief Scientist, you will work with scientists in Australia to address that matter.

Chubb: I have spent a fair bit of my time in the—I said three months—four months that I have been in this job giving speeches. In most of those, or many of those, I ask the scientific community to stand up to be counted on important issues of science. I do not think it is helpful that it is left to very few. I think that the majority of scientists ought to be out there explaining to the public why they do science, how they do science, how they accumulate scientific evidence and what happens when it is wrong.


What is this science of which you and your questioner speak? Who is this “community of scientists”?  Could it be your notions of science frame the discussion in unsustainable ways?

Our schools teach us that science is a way of thinking, which is very different to teaching us that it is a way of being, a way of acting. Our schools teach and your questioner has learned that there exists a “community of scientists”. A corollary is that “science” is the domain of this elite of human beings called “scientists”. 

Fewer than one in two hundred people are deemed to be “scientists”. This means the remaining 99.5% of us are deemed to be “non-scientists”. This is an extremely exclusive statement whereas a prime notion of science is the importance of inclusiveness. So when you promote this belief you necessarily dismiss the most sustaining element in all human beings – our capacity to experience the state of science. 

We are all aware of this capacity at the subliminal level – it is capacity that has enabled our cells to survive for a billion years of enonic change. Could it be that this notion that science is the domain of an elite is a construct of the ego? If so, then this will be reflected in the reaction of the audience. The ego can say this self-styled “community of scientists” clearly lack science and are not credible.  

I am suggesting the very notion of the Office of the Chief Scientist is unhelpful to the communication of climate processes. It puts impossible demands on you as a human being. This is because if you are a scientist, then your actions, which are the vast proportion of your communication, must be in absolute accord with your stated beliefs. Any dissonance negates the science of stewardship or civics. Thus, for instance, your act in your esteemed role as Chief Scientist of driving a car or flying a jet becomes an excessive endorsement of these activities. These actions become the message of how we non-experts of climate processes should be stewards of carbon in general and the atmosphere in particular. 

These excessive demands can be avoided and the communication made inclusive if we understand that science is a state of being – human beings are both scientists and non-scientists to varying degrees. No one is a scientist though we are all scientists to some degree. Perhaps the best measure is whether a person’s actions are in harmony with and conserve the flows and balances that sustain humanity long term. 

In this context your office is perhaps known as Chief Science Evaluator. Those with expertise in climate processes are known as climate experts. All people are known as citizens and are understood to practice the science of civics to some degree. They are thus included in the conversation.  

The beauty of this belief system is that it is inclusive and thus communicates tolerance. It enables us to transcend the ingenious trickery of the ego and the limitations of thought. The communication of the science of climate processes is less likely to be lost in the machinations of the ego. This less exclusive belief communicates a fundamental acceptance of the human condition, including the element of uncertainty we all live with. Thus the audience is more likely to embrace probability. It also works to provide a more sustainable language for all concerned. 

I would like to offer you a tool that may better enable us to transcend the limitations of the ego and thought. Its use opens us to a greater experience of the state of science. I am tentatively calling it the Sustainability Principle of Energy and, if it holds true, then it reveals a great hidden order to our use of symbols. It has a simplicity that belies its profoundness. 

Rather than repeat myself I will include a note below I wrote to Andrew Glickson this week reflecting on his recent article “An Orwellian Climate”. 

I have attended many lectures and meetings this last decade or so at which our international experts on climate processes have wrung their hands at their perceived failure to “get their message across”. The reality is they get their message across very clearly but it is not the message they think it is. 

I hope you find this communication about the vital discussion of climate care helpful. 

Yours sincerely 

Dave McArthur


Chief Science Advisor

New Zealand


October 2011


Dear Professor Sir Peter Gluckman 

Yesterday I wrote to the Chief Scientist of Australia, Professor Ian Chubb. I had just read an edited transcript of his appearance before a joint select committee there on Monday (Climate Spectator 27 Sept: “The deplorable state of the climate debate”.) This act prompts me to write to you also.  I will paste my letter to Ian below. 

I have just attempted to read your speech at Victoria University entitled Integrity in Science: Implications from and for the Climate Change Debate. I say attempted because I discovered about three years ago I am diplopic, which perhaps explains the difficulty I had been experiencing attempting to read – including reading the material I write. It is very easy for me to juxtapose lines and miss meaning. It can be very inconvenient that reading is a slow, tiring and often painful activity for me. However there is a positive spin-off. My brain has to work harder to make sense of a piece of writing. I realise in retrospect my handicap has in compensation perhaps increased my skill at identifying the prime symbols framing discussion and helped me establish principles for estimating the sustainability of their use. 

There is a high chance you will not get to read this. If you do, then chances are you will perform a racing scan. Thus when I simply make seeming categorical statements I know there is a risk the thousands of hours of research underpinning them will be even less obvious. Your Victoria University speech makes it clear that you and I have very different visions of the human condition – miscommunication is eminently possible.  

I humbly suggest there is very deep psychology and physics underpinning my comments and suggestions. This may well not be apparent at first glance. This is especially true of the Sustainability Principle of Energy, a proposal with staggering implications in that it that challenges many of our most prized beliefs and completely up-turns many of our most popular paradigms. At the same time it reveals both a wonderful potential in existence and a great hidden order amidst the seeming chaos of our communication. 

Peter, you speak of “sustainable energy generation”. What is this energy that you speak of?  It is a violation and in clear denial of the Conservation Principle of Energy, which advises that energy is sustained – energy cannot be created or destroyed. Is not energy by its very nature generated? Surely your phrase is a double violation?  I could ask many more questions about why many human beings believe they can generate energy but will instead refer you to a correspondence I had with our Minister of Education in which I ask her to please define science, energy, power and electricity.

You will notice that the TKI page she links the reader to has been withdrawn (Stop press 4 Oct TKI Page replaced) while she and her officials make no attempt to define these prime symbols. This is because either they know any scientific definition they provide reveals the profound lack of science in our school literature and activities or they fear their favoured definitions will be easily demonstrated to be non-science. I know both fears prevail amidst her advisors. 

This malaise is endemic in our culture and is summarised in the lethal equation:

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

Even the NZ Broadcasting Standards Authority has decreed it is acceptable to use the “energy”, “power” and “electricity” symbols interchangeably.

I humbly suggest this energy equation should not be dismissed as trite. It has been central to the belief system of our culture this last two centuries, was a major reason for the horrific wars of last century and now puts our global community at very high risk of a catastrophic collapse by about 2013. 

You speak of the need for “reducing energy usage”. Why?

Certainly it is clear, for instance, we undervalue and abuse the vast energy/wealth potential of fossil fuels. These forms of energy are not energy, as we commonly suppose, and the Sustainability Principle suggests we equate fossil fuels with energy and discount pollution at our peril.

Surely civic behaviour involves conserving and living in harmony with the energy flows and balances that sustain humanity long term? We have barely tapped our electrical and carbon potentials, less still our solar potential, for instance. 

You speak of “good science” and “bad science”. Can such stuff exist? Indeed, what is science? You provide some answers to this question and I am pleased to note you recognise our common use of the  “science” symbol has mutated since the time of Descartes. My research of the psychology of the change suggests our use of the symbol has altered in fatally flawed ways. These are manifest in the excesses of the Industrial Revolution. 

My interest in our use of the “science” symbol was piqued by my interactions with our leading climate experts and pedagogues. By 2000 I was detecting a severe lack of science in their communication of the nature of energy in general and climate processes. Many became excessively agitated when I questioned their use of our prime symbols. Some persistently confused my concerns about the science of the communication with concerns about the science of the subject being communicated. This provided a powerful hint that their use of climate symbols is a deep reflection of their spiritual state. 

After a period I began to observe a consistent behaviour pattern in their responses. In brief: the major dissonance between their overt belief systems and their actions is reflected in their use of symbols. This led me to question the nature of science and ask, “What is a scientist?” 

I grew up, like most NZers, learning that I am “no good at science”. Certainly I could not identify with what I was taught and concluded I was a failure. In 2006 an email landed in my box from one of our most influential educators simply asking me, a school janitor, “Scope for improvement?” Attached was an early draft for our Education Minister of a proposed new National Education Curriculum Framework. 

Once I had got over my astonishment at this interest in my views I examined the document. I immediately saw it a contained fatal flaw and by the end of the weekend had drafted an alternative document, The Compassionate Curriculum Framework, which no one has ever faulted despite its hasty construction.

This flaw involves our use of the “science” symbol. The NZNEC Framework provided no useful definition and so I asked this question, “What are the vital requisites for science to exist?” The question generated a list of requisites that indicated science is a state of being, not just a “process” or way of thinking, as our teachers teach us. This state of being enables civilisation (i.e. the state of civics) to exist. 

As you can see from my draft template, this insight radically alters the National Education Framework. It also means that the multitude of New Zealanders and I are not necessarily the “science” failures we have been taught to believe we are. At the same time the insight suggests our education system is profoundly unsustainable – a suggestion that our consumption and pollution statistics powerfully support. Note how this framework gives the science symbol a much more prime role, second only to the experience of compassion. Note how it underpins all learning activities, or if you like, it underpins the development of all skills (arts). 

Perhaps I can use your speech to illustrate this. You say,

Scientists may speculate, but cannot interpret beyond their data. A single observation is an anecdote and is not conclusive; proper experimental design and sampling, repetition and independent expert review are required. Over time, observational or interpretative errors are corrected, bias is addressed and the relatively rare episodes of fraud are exposed, and hypotheses are either discarded or reinforced.”

Is not this an excellent description of the process by which a baby learns to speak with their mother or a person learns the truth of an object through the drawing process or a community establishes sustainable laws? 

In brief, there is no such thing as “good science” or “bad science’. Rather we all experience both the states of science and non-science to varying degrees. The notion of bad science is Orwellian Speak (see letter below to Andrew Glickman.)

Similarly there is no such thing as “good/clean energy” or “bad/dirty energy”. We can grade forms of energy as to their usefulness. And we can speak of good or bad uses of energy though any use is both good and bad. Energy is. 

You state,“…science does not make policy”. In retrospect I realise I always instinctively doubted this contemporary belief. If one believes that the experience of civics is born of the state of science, then all civil policy is scientific while uncivil or barbaric policy is non-scientific. And the nature of change is that what can be considered a civic act in one time can be considered a barbaric act in the next. The invention of the incandescent light bulb altered how we view whale blubber as a light source and compact fluorescent lamp alters how we view incandescent lighting and the light emitting diodes alters how we view the CFL…  

You say, “Scientists are true skeptics. Sceptics ask questions and all good scientists are sceptics. Indeed science is nothing more than organised scepticism.”

I agree. I would reword it: A sense of inquiry is a requisite for the state of science to exist. When one experiences this state then the spirit of inquiry is flourishing We ask the most open questions. 

You correctly note how the “skepticism” symbol has been re-engineered.

This is a classic example of how the ego works. It is ingenious at neutralizing and negating the meaning of a symbol. In this example skepticism (inquiry) is associated with negative behaviour, with non-science.  

A similar example of the ingenuity of the ego is the re-engineering of the “conservative” symbol. Our children are taught at school to associate the “conservative” symbol with stewardship - care for each other and their supporting ecology.

By adulthood this prime association is overlain with associations with malevolence by self-styled “progressive” or “liberal” people and is used as a proud self-description by some of the greatest non-conservative people on the planet.

The employment of this conservative – progressive/liberal continuum obscures the central issue: are our actions conservative or non-conservative? 

You discuss, “the motives and actions of denialism”. Yes, embracing our capacity for denial is critical if we are to comprehend our behaviour and transcend the limitations of thought and the ego. However may I humbly suggest the exclusive framework of your discussion is unhelpful? It frames a denialist as a person who denies the reality that the activities of human beings may well be causing dangerous shifts in climate processes. It thus frames out many important hypotheses about human behaviour. 

I noted only one fleeting evocation of the ego in your speech. Let us form a hypothesis based on the assumption that the ego is a psychological structure that exists in the psyche of every human being. Let us assume the ego is a product of our individual consciousness and acts as a gatekeeper or minder of the flow of information between our trace consciousness and our vast subconscious realm. The latter retains information on a scale and complexity that is beyond the capacity of conscious thought to comprehend. In this context the capacity of the ego is incredible and critical to our survival. 

Let us make two final assumptions.  

One is that the Conservation Principle of Energy is a wise guide that we ignore at our peril. No other concept has ever been put to such intense and rigorous scrutiny. Inherent in the principle is the notion that existence is vast, continuous change and we exist as finite elements and stewards of this universal flux.  

The other assumption is that the ego, the essence of “I”, fundamentally abhors change/stewardship because the ego ceases to exist when the form of a human passes and/or achieves the full state of compassion. The ego is threatened by the subconscious and conscious becoming at one and at none with the universal flux.  In reaction the ego creates incredibly sophisticated rationales denying the notion of mortality with its associated intimations of the individual being a steward within the universal flux.  

Rigorous analysis of any individual’s language and lifestyle reveal evidence of this profound denial. It is part of the human condition.

By comparison, the denial of which you speak is a trace example of the ego’s capacity for denial.  

The question arises: what elements of the lifestyle of any climate expert are in dissonance with the universal flows and balances that sustain us and how is this dissonance manifest in their communication? What evidence exists of their denial of change/stewardship? A corollary question is, “How pivotal is any denial of change/stewardship in the flux of social change?”  

The advertising industry provides us with useful analytic models for measuring this change. It retains a significant body of knowledge supporting the notion that the more a person is associated with expertise and care of a subject the greater their persuasive power. 

Put simply, a movie featuring a perceived famous climate expert/steward who drives cars, flies in jets and endorses Carbon Trading will work, on balance, to excessively promote those activities. The relative dissonance and harmony of their activities will be reflected in their language and this will tend to be mirrored in the minds of the audience, such is the incredible sophistication of our mirror neuron systems. 

Put even more simply, the ego of the climate expert tends to work in even more ingenious ways to deny change/stewardship because of their enhanced knowledge of how human activities might impact negatively on sustaining climate processes. They are more vulnerable than most to denying the change they call for.

A deeper exploration of the psychology of the communication of climate stewardship reveals our lifestyles play a dominant role in it. The question of who, how and why people deny atmospheric change/stewardship reveals a very complex and common phenomenon.  

The prime message of this letter is to alert you to this possibility of grand denial and to point to ways we can transcend the demands of the ego. You alluded to the conspiracy that climate scientists are driven by funding fears.

As you may know, conspire means “to share the breath” and again the meaning of the symbol has been trashed by trickery of the ego. Its original meaning alludes to the incredibly sophisticated and intricate social mechanisms that bind us. Now the “conspiracy” symbol is only associated with malevolence and beliefs we disagree with.  

You say," the complexity of the conspiracy needed defies belief".

The original meaning of the “conspire” symbol allows the possibility that an incredible conspiracy occurs on all matters – for better and worse. It acknowledges the incredible power of the ego and that human beings are well capable of performing extraordinary acts for their family, career, reputation and their local society.

You mentioned the role of the media. I constantly observe a self-serving cycle in which Climate experts and self-styled environmentalists argue they use unsustainable language because the media use it while media people argue they use this same language because “the climate experts do”. It would be valuable to research how much their mutual lifestyle forms the common thread binding the cycle. 

The complexity of conspiracy in denial is beautifully exemplified in the current explosion of our diseconomy and consequent collapse of our exchange and credit systems. There is almost universal denial among our educated elite that this collapse is a consequence of the fact we have converted most of the wealth of mineral oil into pollution. Indeed they symbolize our diseconomy as an “economy” and fossil fuels as energy. 

You say, “…it is clear that immediate mitigation requires regulatory approaches including the use of incentives that shift people towards reducing fossil fuel use and reducing emissions through the setting of carbon prices through cap and trade and ETS schemes.” 

I have pointed out the variety of fatal flaws in the ETS ethos to some of the leading architects of the ETS, some of them highly trained “economists”. They are incredulous when I explain its deep psychology, its social implications and the history of its development, even though they may know, for instance, many of the superficial reasons for Enron’s collapse. I describe to them how powerful, psychopathic oligarchies in the form of traders such as Goldman Sachs now, quite legally, use extremely powerful computers to intercept most global trades and thus control international price movements. Price movements are thus completely divorced from sane valuations. There is overwhelming evidence supporting James Hansen’s contention that the derivatives markets are “loaded casinos”. 

The ETS architects dismiss this as “conspiracy theory” and state if such corruption of “the market” were happening, then everyone would know about it and people simply would not tolerate it.  

They remain in denial even when I point them to articles by the person who created the computer programs that enable “shorting” of the market* and to the investments in billion dollar optic cable systems that will enable individual traders to speed their shorts by fractions of a nanosecond, thus reaping an advantage in shorting worth $US100 millions a year for their client hedge funds. The ETS architects and proponents remain in denial even when I show them graphs of the extraordinary concentration of wealth that has occurred this decade. For example, the vertical line on the right hand of the following graph is not the graph frame and is an indicator of war.

*Originally these trading programs were designed to detect and minimise the fraud of shorting and the articles detail the ownership acquisition trail by which speculators bought up the software and instead used it to enhance their capacity to profit from shorting.  

We are all capable of delusions, including the belief some external agent such as “The Market” can act as stewards for us. The dangers of this delusion have identified and documented for well over two millennia. Again there is overwhelming evidence from millennia of history supporting James Hansen’s belief that a tax and dividend is the most civic response. The potentials for sovereignty, equity and stewardship remain inherent in this notion.  

In contrast, the flawed psychology of the ETS works to destroy these essential qualities of a sustainable society.

This is because, as mentioned, the ego abhors stewardship/change with its intimations of mortality. The ego is born of fragmentation – the fragmentation that occurs with the first glimmerings of individual consciousness and the sensation of alienation from all. Its nature is to conquer by division and the Carbon Trading ethos is a classic example of this activity. By destroying sovereignty a people are more subject to the psychopathic forces of the ego in the form of derivatives traders. By destroying equity a people become divided and conflicted – see the above graph. By destroying stewardship the finite nature of all forms is denied. All this is reflected in most profound way in the contemporary language of Carbon Traders beneath its overt pretensions of climate care. 

The practical effects of this psychology include the following:  

Copyright flourishes and the state of science is necessarily destroyed. This is because copyright is exclusive and non-sharing of nature. Research comparing 19th Century Britain (heavy copyright regime) and Germany (little copyright) indicates Germans published ten times the literature per capita that Britons did and outstripped the British in technical design by decades. It is telling that nations like USA, Britain and Japan that adopted the copyright regime most fully in the early 20th Century are now the most indebted per capita in the world, despite their huge military-industrial complexes and vast exploitation of both land and ocean continents. Copyright law is fundamentally hostile to quality energy efficiency practice because it locks up the most sustaining technology and a vast array of options. 

This ego-driven psychology fragments notions of conserving the potential of our carbon, electrical, solar, psychological and other potentials. ETS proponents, for instance, are unable to see the common psychopathy of Carbon Trading, the Electricity Industry Reforms and our solar use. Our solar potential is effectively absent from our national consciousness. We are inculcated to look to the ground and not to the skies. In your conversations with the Prime Minister have you ever asked him why our Parliament has always had Ministers for Mining/Minerals and have never had a Minster for conserving our solar potential?  

Research of Government literature indicates the Government’s notion of energy is summed in the afore-mentioned fatally flawed energy equation. Have you ever asked John, “ What does the notion of a Minister of Energy and Resources reveal about the state of science in New Zealand?” How can resources not be of energy? Is not energy the ultimate resource by definition? 

The original meaning of resource is a form that arises again and again and again… How is it possible to call mineral oil a resource, as the Government does, when the material may not be generated on scale again in the life of our planet? Is this not this confusion and division a classic example of the ingenious capacity of the ego for denial of change/stewardship? 

The ETS strips us of our capacity to conserve our carbon potential and indeed punishes those that do. The Electricity Industry Reforms strip us of our capacity to conserve our electrical potential and also punishes those that attempt to. (Are you aware that previous to the 1993 legislation every New Zealand community owned the intelligence of their local grid in democratic structures and now this is effectively illegal? Now not one community owns that intelligence.) These and other speculator-driven regimes such as urban plans combine to destroy our solar potential and general capacity to minimize waste and pollution. 

The practical effects go deeper. Our Government Departments, NGOs, media, education systems and other industries are constructed to sustain this division and conflict. For instance, the issue of our extraction of mineral oil is divorced from policy on our use of this rare material, which in turn is divorced from policy on the pollution from combustion while more generally the considerations of the price and the value of mineral oil are meticulously divorced with decisions being determined by global market prices. 

Mind and environment are also divorced while sector interest groups define the education curriculum framework. I have already discussed how the notion of science is confused and conflict ridden in our National Education Curriculum Framework. This unsustainable situation is compounded by the fact that many schools now default to education programs and learning activities provided by sector groups, such as sponsored “Environmental Educators.” A prominent example is Enviroschools. Despite its recent review Enviroschools remains an exemplar of a supposedly holistic education resource that separates mind and environment, provides no sustaining definition of energy and omits the atmosphere from its primary framework. In this it simultaneously reflects and generates our culture. 

I know of your interest in the health of people. I will conclude with a brief discussion of a medical topic rarely discussed in New Zealand – opium addiction.  

An example of our incredible capacity for denial of reality is the story of New Zealand. Chances are you too were inculcated with the rationale that a prime reason for the fact New Zealand became a British colony is British ingenuity for “science”, technology and civics enabled the Industrial Revolution, which in turn enabled the British Empire around the globe. For instance, chances are you learned the very sophisticated rationale, as I did, that our ingenuity at harnessing steam power gave us the ability to create giant weaving mills that gave us a competitive trading advantage in the global fabric trade. 

Our teachers denied us the reality, which is that our supposed “advanced science” in the form of steam driven mills gave us no such advantage. Fabric trade balances were only reversed between 1815 and 1830 after British troops cut the tendons of the wrists of a reported 1.5 million Bengalese weavers, thus destroying competition, subjugating the Bengalese people to poverty and coercing them to grow and harvest opium and to man the ships forcing the British opium trade in China – thus also reversing the British Trade imbalance with China.

Indeed 19th Century British policy makers in official records acknowledge that without UK control of the opium trade the British Raj would cease to exist and Britain would become peripheral to global decision-making processes. London City would collapse overnight. 

British control of the global opium trade persists to this day. The dependence of the City of London on the opium trade is proven by the fact that when the Afghan people in conjunction with the UN burned over 90% of the 2000 opium crop the consequent reduction in cashflow through the London and New York Stock Exchanges collapsed many inflated stocks in 2001 in the misnamed Dotcom Bubble bust. Since our direct military invasion of Afghanistan again in 2001, opium crops have broken records for production except in years of adverse weather.   

There is a geopolitical context to the destruction of the opium crop: Enron and its CIA negotiators had abused and angered the Taliban Government during negotiations about Enron’s proposed mineral oil/gas pipelines across their nation. These are the true reasons our troops are in Afghanistan and why the British Defense Chiefs believe they will be there for at least another fifty years. 

My point is that our nation can conspire on every level to deny this historical reality and most people are oblivious to their denial. If the BBC is an indicator, then so are all British people.

The consequences of the continuous warfare on the health of the Afghan people are obvious.
Less obvious is how our promotion of addictive uses of opium in surrounding nations (Iran, China, “the Stans” and Russia)is devastating the health of tens of millions of people.
Even less obvious is that this promotion of addictive behaviour is reflected in our own culture and, incredible as it may seem, we are now at high risk of self-destruction as a nation.  

Such is the ingenuity of the ego for denial of reality, in this case our involvement in the slaughter of the Afghan people. We see ourselves as saviours of the Afghan region and laud our troops as heroes for fighting “terrorists”. We remain oblivious to the possibility that billions of people hold the converse view of our activity. 

I offer this as a concrete example of the incredible ingenuity of the ego and the limitations of thought. I hope it goes some way towards illustrating how potent the ego is at denying the ultimate reality, which is the universal, continuous change in which we are each stewards of our actions. I also hope it illustrates the profound wisdom inherent in the Sustainability Principle of Energy. 

I have formally submitted the Sustainability Principle to the Royal Society through the channels advised and invited its review. I did not even receive acknowledgement of receipt despite my inquiries. In some cases individual members responded to my personal approach to them with complete dismissal, if not irritation. Others evidenced major trauma and privately told me they could not fault my work. However when asked in public forum for their opinion of the work they were unable to speak. I report this in kindness for I am aware of their care and integrity. I feared one person berated themself in such a fierce way I feared it might trigger a heart attack “..oh, to think I could have put so many people so wrong for so long...what have I done!”  

I was unable to console this person by reminding them that science is a way of being founded in compassion and our perceived errors are great opportunities for learning. A couple of years later I published a discussion supporting one of the key assumptions underpinning the Sustainability Principle: the notion that information is physical. Though I took care to publish it with a reminder of the value of compassion in learning, this person died young a few days later of a heart attack.

Now I have no way of know exactly what precipitated this tragic event. However I am aware that the Sustainability Principle challenges the most fundamental paradigms of the Royal Society and is very inconvenient for many of its members, as it may well be for you. It certainly is for me.

At the same time, you and I are witnessing our society transform, for instance, the amazing wealth potential of remaining mineral oil reserves into pollution in most wasteful ways. We see the insane activities as the money merchants respond to their loss of wealth by printing the equivalent of trillions of dollars. We feel the bewilderment and growing resentment of people as their living standards decline. As a result, I am now keenly aware that we ignore the insights of the Sustainability Principle at our grave peril while losing a marvelous potential.

Perhaps you as an esteemed and honoured person can share the principle in ways that I, a school janitor, cannot. 

I look forward to your response and thank you for your time. Below is my letter to your colleague, Ian Chubb. 

Yours truly 

Dave McArthur