The Sustainability Principle
 of Energy


Home   First draft Aug  2010

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The Power of Symbols

What is a Prime Symbol?

Variations on the Wisdom Of Confucius

How to Conserve
the Potential

The Human Condition

General Theory

Practical Application

Index of Denial/Acceptance

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


Energy Efficiency









Climate Change





Peak Oil
Principle of Energy




















Thought experiments
 re the Carbon Trading Ethos

Originally designed for the Office of the New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.  Posted March 2011


Ultimately our capacity for acceptance of stewardship/change arises from our greater being, which includes our vast subconscious. Thus what really matters is what we actually do and whether or not we actually conserve resources and sustaining balances. Our conscious rationales are of relatively minor import because thought is trace element of our greater being.

Thought is very limited and cannot, for instance, transcend paradox.

Also the sustainability of our thought process is easily diminished the ingenuity of our ego and our incredible capacity for self-deceit. 

Thought experiments

Mindful of these caveats on intellectual discussion here are some thought experiments for believers in what is currently symbolised as “Carbon Trading”. 

Carbon trading has existed for as long as human beings have existed. Food, wood and our bodies are all carbon forms, as are diamonds and fossil fuels. The current extremely narrow definition of carbon trading as “Market-driven” trades in credits and debits of gaseous carbon emissions is a very recent phenomenon. The thought experiment involves asking the question, “ Could Carbon Trading actually be an example of our potential fatal capacity for self-deceit with the associated denial of stewardship/ change? 

Here are some sample questions for the exercise.

Question. What are the origins of this limited use of the “carbon trading” symbol?
If the answer is, “I do not know” then ask, “Why don’t I know?”

Hint. This use of the “carbon trading” symbol arose in the 1970s in the United States concurrent with the arising of the belief in “Market driven” solutions to all problems.

Question. What has happened to gross indicators of the sustainability of the US economy such as US debt levels, wealth disparity and US fossil fuel reserves under this regime? 

Question. What are the origins of the international adoption in the Market Trading system?  
If the answer is, “I do not know” then ask, “Why don’t I know?” 

Hint. In the early 1990s Enron was the largest corporation in the USA trading carbon (mineral gas and wood in particular) and Bulk-generated electrical products. It was also developing EnronOnline, the first web-based transaction system that allowed buyers and sellers to buy, sell, and trade all manner of commodity products globally. Enron’s management perceived that their mineral gas assets would appreciate compared to the coal assets of their competitors and they could control global carbon trades using EronOnline if Carbon Trading was adopted at Kyoto. They successfully coopted President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore plus environmental NGOs such as the EDF to push for a Carbon Trading regime to be adopted at Kyoto. With the support of “market-driven” countries like New Zealand they were successful in blocking the movement towards taxes on carbon emissions and promoting the institution of the Carbon Trading regime instead. Enron documents record that Enron executives considered their success at Kyoto as being “beyond their wildest dreams”.

In 2001 Enron collapsed in the biggest corporate failure in the history of the USA as a result of corrupt trading practices. 

Question. What parallels exist between the current Electrical Trading and Carbon Trading schemes? 

Hint. Both have “caps”, both involve traders who benefit from any trade regardless of its sustainability and both affect different strata of society in unequal ways.

Hint. Watch the movie Enron – the Smartest Guys in the Room to see live coverage of this trading ethos in action as the Enron traders “game” negawatts. 

Question. What is the impact of the Carbon Trading regime on the capacity of the individual citizen for acceptance of stewardship/change? Have I asked this question before and if not, why not? 

Hint. Carbon trading has existed on scale for a century now in the form of mineral oil trading. In this regime the “mineral oil market” primarily determines the value of this carbon based material. It is arguable that the prices set by this market vastly undervalue mineral oil and promote wasteful and polluting uses that put us all at major risk of war, disease and famine as the mineral becomes depleted. The small group of extremely powerful traders who dominate this market are able to exploit the regime to actively punish individual stewardship of the mineral and enhance the psychopathic activities of corporations. 

Question. How true are the claims that the Carbon Trading regime is designed to provide transparent economics? 

Hint. The trade in pollution permits, like modern trades in electrical products, minerals and other commodities are subject to intense speculation in the form of derivatives trading. The overwhelming evidence from the 2008 implosion of Anglo-American economies is that no one understands how these derivatives trades work. Psychoanalysis of such trades indicates they are profound manifestations of the human capacity for psychosis and pyschopathy.

Hint. A tenement of believers in the Carbon Trading ethos is that it provides transparency. The first test of the  New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was the completely secretive Government-Comalco deal in 2008 in which the Government agency, Meridian Energy, ceded half of New Zealand’s hydro-electrical capacity to Comalco till 2030. Citizens have no knowledge of the details of this “commercially sensitive deal” and it is almost certain its leaves individual citizens to pay for the pollution from thermal plant. 

Question. All human beings are capable of incredible self-deceit and denial of their role as stewards amidst the universal flux. Have I explored the possibility that my belief in the Carbon Trading regime is basically a self-deceit? If not, why not? 

Hint. Our use of symbols or language reveals much about our greater unconscious being. 

Subsidiary question. Does the language of Carbon Trading tend to evidence denial of stewardship/change? 

Hint. Such language is characterised by schisms in person’s perceptions of their responsibility for their actions, blame transference and denial of existence of fundamental states of change. 

Question. What is the impact of the Carbon Trading regime on the levels of science in our communities? Have I asked this question before and if not, why not? Who has asked this question? 

Hint. The experience of the state of science suggests the Conservation Principle of Energy is a wise guide. The principle advises us to following:
* Existence is characterised by energy that is bounteous in nature.
* Existence is continually transforming i.e. subject to continual change.
* Forms exist while there is a transient balance in the change and tend to cease exist when this balance of change ceases.
* Human beings are transient forms, integral to the universal flux. 

Sample prime symbol uses commonly propagated by the Carbon Trading regime include the following

Carbon = carbon pollution (Reality: carbon is manifest in myriad forms and is a fundamental building block of all life forms.)

Warming = warming up (Reality: these are entirely different states of change, the former involving no temperature change and the latter involving temperature change.)

Earth’s atmosphere = greenhouse world  (Reality: unlike greenhouses, Earth’s atmosphere is a highly dynamic and organic system characterised by a very powerful capacity for thermal convection.)

The dominant greenhouse gases = carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide  (Reality: without the Warmer Trace Gases the average temperature of Earth’s surface would be about 33ºC cooler. Water vapour is responsible for most of this warming effect i.e. about 30ºC.
Would traders accord water vapour a more dominant role if they could commodity it and trade water vapour derivatives?)

Humans can save/conserve energy (Reality: human beings can neither save nor conserve energy – we can only work to conserve resources and vital balances and flows of energy.

Carbon neutrality exists (Reality: any use of carbon alters the balances and flows of carbon.)

Humans can offset their use of carbon using Carbon Trading (Reality: almost all such trades involve the combustion of fossil fuel. These constitute extremely valuable and limited carbon forms that are the consequence of a unique combination of factors occurring for eons in the existence of the Earth. It is impossible for human beings to offset their combustion and consequent destruction of fossil fuels)

The Carbon Market = the trade of carbon emissions permits. (Reality: carbon exists in many forms and all trades of them constitute carbon markets.

Carbon Trading = stewardship of the atmosphere. (Reality: the evidence of millennia of research into psychology, including recent increasing “market failure” and increasing air pollution does not support this symbol use. 

These samples of symbol uses generated by the Carbon Trading regime all tend to work to destroy the state of science in our communities in general and our schools in particular. 

The Office of the New Zealand Commissioner for the Environment inspired this page. The PCE Office played a pivotal role in ensuring the formal adoption of the Carbon Trading regime in New Zealand in 2008 and actively promotes its embedment in our national fabric. For instance the PCE Office has played a pivotal role in promoting a national environmental education resource in all New Zealand schools called Enviroschools. 

The resource is a very well intentioned endeavour but kind intentions are not sufficient for our activities to be sustainable. This is because our best intentions can easily be subverted by the ingenuity of self-deceit. Enviroschools is characterised by a lack of stewardship of Earth’s atmosphere and its fundamental framing almost entirely omits the role of air in our lives. Is this a coincidence in a nation ruled by the Carbon Trading regime that has one of the highest increases in air pollution per capita in the world? 

Here are two bonus questions for the PCE Office. 

Question. Have I ever questioned our use of the “environment” symbol? If not, why not? 

Hint. The restricted association of the environment symbol is a recent social phenomenon of the last half-century. This narrow use was born of a reaction to the excesses of the Industrial Revolution. What is the psychology involved? How sustainable is behaviour born of reactions to perceived excesses?  How might this narrow ecological use of the environment symbol resonate and impact on our perceptions of change and the role of human beings within the universal flux?

Question. What do the concepts of “negawatts” and “carbon offsetting” have in common? What do the NZ Electricity Industry Reforms and the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme have in common? 

Hint. Both involve measures of energy efficiency. “Negawatts” are typically units of electricity “not used” that can be traded. Carbon offsets involve the trade of carbon not emitted into the atmosphere. What flaws exist in such a notion of energy efficiency?

Hint. A common belief exists, often reflected in national legislation, that individual citizens are incapable of making wise decisions and only an entity called “The Market” can sustain human life. What flaws exist in this psychology?

Sustainable Uses of the Carbon symbol