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
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.
to Dr Andrew Glikson
I then figured it might be helpful to engage
Professor Tim Flannery, Chief of the Australian Climate Commission, in
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.
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
in Science: Implications from and for the Climate Change Debate
to Professor Peter Gluckman
These letters are tendered in kindness and good
Climate Change Institu
I am very
interested in your article entitled
“An Orwellian climate”. (Climate Spectator http://tinyurl.com/3rqvfgh
You may be
interested in the work I have been doing. I will be very brief.
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
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
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
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
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
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
= warming up
= a form
= renewable energy
= sustainable energy
= energy conservation
= Bulk-generated electrical products
efficiency = deprivation of energy
= way of thinking
= 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:
change = human induced climate change
carbon = good
warming = malevolent
change = malevolent
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.
can conserve energy
can generate energy
can save energy
atmosphere = a greenhouse
is the exclusive domain of a tiny elite of human beings called
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
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.
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)
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”.
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.
hope you can learn from us and catch a glimpse of the profound insights
the Sustainability Principle affords us.
feel free to forward this on to all those with a potential interest in
this subject. Please excuse errors caused by my diplopia.
you for your time, Andrew.
Letter to Professor Tim
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”.
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”.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.)
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?
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
emissions necessarily bad and when do we begin to speak of emissions as
fossil fuels are a relatively finite material, then how can we offset
our activities by which we transform their wealth potential to air
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?
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.
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.
to the Chief Scientist of Australia
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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).
I can use your speech to illustrate this. You say,
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.)
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
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…
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 –
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
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.