Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
4 November 2010
Dear Dr Wright
As some of you
may know, I have been attempting to communicate with your office for
nearly a decade now. My concern has been that the office has been
propagating unsustainable visions of the nature of energy in general and
climate processes in particular. I repeatedly attempted to alert the
previous Commissioner, Dr Morgan Williams, to this possibility and the
high risks of his endorsement of, for instance, Enviroschools and the
Electricity Industry Reforms.
It is clear I
have failed in all my communications and now, for example, Enviroschools
dominates much of the most vital learning activities of our Primary
curriculum. The Electricity Industry Reform legislation is now imbedded
in our national technology structure. My attempts to interest the office
in the Sustainability Principle of Energy met with zero response.
I have just
discovered the Commissioner’s “Value of good science speech” and
am wondering if this provides a new opportunity to establish a
communication with you.
has long been one of my favourite people too. This is not because he
was a brilliant physicist and I understand his mathematical equations.
It is because he was clearly aware of the fallibility of human beings.
With regard to picking combination locks he understood how we default to
predictable mechanisms to remember code numbers – such as our
mother’s birthday. He was able to crack for us the riddle of why
the space shuttle exploded because other humans could trust him and his
knowledge of our fallibility. He well knew our grand capacity for
self-deceit and denial of stewardship and once given the hint about the
vulnerability of the shuttle’s critical “O rings” below a certain
temperature he provided a public display of this vulnerability that
successfully transcended the corporate media’s temptation to obscure
the reasons for the explosion.
did not mention that Richard did life drawing, which is an activity that
enables us to experience the state of science at a sublime level. It can
help us transcend thought and experience the essential paradox of
existence in most vital ways. Errors become divine opportunities to
learn and better reflect reality. It provides wonderfully humbling and
insightful into deep physics.
I will take the
liberty of providing a couple of his quotes that are relevant to this
letter to you all:
first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the
easiest person to fool.”
must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be
idea is to try to give all the information to help others to judge the
value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to
judgment in one particular direction or another.”
is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that
there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some
direction that doesn't get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so
many times before in various periods in the history of man.”
I might tend to
rephrase some Richard’s quotes a little. However I think we can agree
he is saying that we all have a great capacity for self-deceit, we
ignore the great principles of physics/psychology at our peril and the
pursuit of the truth is a sustaining endeavour.
It is in a spirit
of kindness – and perhaps the spirit of Richard Feynman - that I make
the following comments.
Perhaps it is unhelpful of Richard to speak of a
group of people called scientist. Perhaps
science is a state of being we are all born into that enables us to
learn and develop language and other arts such as civics. If this is so,
then all people are scientists to some degree even as they are
non-scientists to some degree.
notion to our culture’s notion this last two hundred years or so that
science is a body of knowledge that is the domain of an elite of human
beings (less than one 1%) who are called scientists. Let us assume this
is an example of the incredible capacity of our egos to fool ourselves*
and science really is a common state of being rather than just a way of
thinking known to the select few. Then the notion of “good” or “bad”
science becomes meaningless. Either an activity is performed within the
state of being of science or within the state of being of non-science.
Either a piece of information is used in science or in non-science.
*Our capacity for
self deceit is incredible because while we may be consciously sentient
of perhaps 2000 interactions in any moment our greater psyche is
sentient of perhaps 50 billion interactions. Conscious thought cannot process and
account for this vast subliminal process.
Commissioner’s adoption of the conventional “Industrial
Revolution” use of the “science” symbol leads her to conclude
there are things science cannot do for us; it has limits. A vision of
science in which science is understood to be a state of being born of the
properties of compassion has no such limits. It is the deceits of our
ego that provide the main limits.
says, “My point is that more information, more research does not
necessarily lead to better decisions. And certainly perfect information
does not lead to perfect decisions.” However her overall framework
works to undermine her message that actions are vital. It reinforces the
current paradigm that science is a way of thinking rather than a way of
Commissioner’s adoption of the conventional use of the “science”
symbol also leads her to state, “Matter and energy are the fundamental
components of everything.
Einstein put the two together in E = mc-squared and essentially said
they are the same thing.
But that’s not relevant to our reality here."
I humbly suggest
our vision of the nature of energy is totally relevant to our reality,
for it informs us in our activities in every instant of our lives.
Invariably our vision contains flaws and these put us at peril of
misery, deprivation and even self-annihilation. The quality of our
existence is dependent on our capacity to continually review our vision.
says, “I’m superconscious about this because much of my working life
has been spent on reducing energy consumption through using it more
efficiently… the energy saving is magic.”
Inherent in this
vision is a grand denial of the great principles of physics, especially
the wonderful Conservation Principle of Energy with its messages of the
bounteous nature of energy and continual universal transformation. This
principle suggests the objective of a life well-led is to use resources
in ways that conserve the flows and balances that sustain humanity. It
does not matter how much or how little energy we use. I often point out
I would love to use more sun but the Wellington City Council allowed my
neighbour to destroy my access to this great resource.
life is founded in the active embracing of our roles as stewards amidst
the universal flux.
Also inherent in
the vision promoted by the Commissioner is a fundamental experiential disconnection of the mind with
all. The environment is understood to be all that is not the individual
ego rather than humans being the environment as in the statement "I
am the environment; the environment is me".
It is interesting to note that a great destruction of the potential
of the “environment"
symbol occurred in the mid 1950s when it was redefined and given its
contemporary very limited meaning of “ecology”. What is interesting
is the fact this coincides with the decision of a group of money traders
to redefine energy as the products that they control the
extraction/production, distribution and sale of.
Thus though the
Commissioner reminds her audience of need to be aware of our less
visible waste and pollution forms such as excessive carbon dioxide
emissions she omits to mention what is perhaps the most damaging and
invisible pollution of all – that of the symbol use that forms our
advises, “To improve our environment we need more than good science.
More than rigorous analysis and logical deductive thought.
We need to persuade, to convince, to paint pictures of what is and what
alternative advice derived from the Sustainability Principle of Energy:
We are our
environment and to live sustainably we need to enjoy the state of being,
which is science.
In this state of being we seek guidance in the great principles of
physics so our symbol uses tend to be founded in their wisdom.
Thus our use of our prime symbols will tend to both reflect and generate
sustainable responses within us and in our audience.
Now as Richard
Feynman pointed out, the easiest person to fool is you. And I know that
includes me. So once again
I will attempt to introduce the Sustainability Principle of Energy to
your office. I have stripped its statement of some of its underpinning
notions since my last communication and created a website dedicated to
it. I hope this helps.
Sustainability Principle is both a profound psychoanalytic and prophetic
tool born of the great principles of energy and is designed to help us
transcend the limitations of our ego with its ingenious self -deceits. I
am confident you will see the relevance of the principle to the work of
your office if you read the draft introduction pasted below.
I will also
forward an EElist posting I made two weeks ago. Forgive my seeming
laziness – I am diplopic and reading is tiring, often painful
activity. I forward this to make it clear my commentary is not personal
to the Commissioner or her office. As mentioned, I failed in my attempts
to alert her predecessor of the risks of Enviroschools. For ten years I
have successfully made myself persona non grata in the NZ Green Movement
by pointing out the fatal
flaws in this national education resource to the many organizations
involved. The supportive response to my posting by one of the architects
of the material, Helen Ritchie, is wonderful and courageous in this
said, “It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory
is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with
experiment, it's wrong.”
it is time to review some of our theories such as our visions of the
nature of energy and how we communicate climate processes. Our
experiment with a national education curriculum framework that produces
graduates who destroy Earth’s resources at over five times the rate
the planet can sustain indicates something is very wrong with our
subset of this experiment, the notion that the Carbon Trading ethos and
our ETS system, promotes stewardship of the atmospheric balances that
sustain us, is clearly wrong. Analysis using the Sustainability
Principle of Energy indicates the ETS ethos evidences powerful denial of
stewardship/change. It tends to promote symbol uses that generate
fatally flawed architecture in both our minds and our national
legislation. The consequence is inevitable unsustainable behaviour.
evidence is provided by New Zealand’s pivotal involvement to ensure
Enron’s Carbon Trading ethos was successfully implemented at Kyoto
instead of carbon stewardship measures and the subsequent
collapse of Enron; New Zealand’s world-leading carbon pollution
statistics; the secretive Meridian-Comalco deal;
the extensive destruction of climate science in our education
system; escalating massive wealth destruction from investment in
motorways; and, as I write, our Government is leading the international
fight to prevent any removal of the huge subsidies to airports and jet
travelers in Britain.)
Another subset of
that experiment is the notion that Electricity Industry Reform
legislation promotes wise uses of our electrical potential by
effectively preventing communities from owning their local electrical
intelligence. Analysis using the Sustainability Principle of Energy
indicates this notion is profoundly flawed, as is the historic
endorsement of the legislation by the office of the PCE.
I trust the
Sustainability Principle website enhances your appreciation of the
principle and that it informs all your communications in helpful ways as
you are better conserve the potential of our prime symbols. I also trust
you catch a glimpse of the hope and opportunity inherent in the
principle. If it seems radical this may in part be because it is far
more advanced than similar work of institutions such as the Frameworks
Institute. It is probably a unique system of analysis in the English
speaking world and I am unaware of such a significant body of
contemporary knowledge being crystalised into a single principle of
existence in recent times.
introduction toThe Sustainability Principle of Energy website http://www.thesustainabilityprinciple.org/
The human mind is wonderful with its capacity for
rigorous inquiry, ingenious experimentation and deep reflection. In this
spirit, the state of science, we thrill as we discover new, unexpected
insights into the workings of the universe(s). Once our ego had adjusted
to the insight that Earth is not the centre of the universe a vast new
astronomy opened up. Once we realised atoms are not solid little balls
another vast new world of possibilities opened up to us in which the
observer affects the observed in most mysterious ways. Suddenly amazing
questions occur regarding the intimacy in the relationship between our
minds and the universal matter.
The human mind is also incredible with its capacity
for self-deceit. In this spirit, the state of non-science, our capacity
for inquiry, experimentation and reflection are not sustained. Our ego
resists new insights into the nature of reality, for they may form
reminders of the ego’s transience and a world that transcends it. We
create delusions and existence becomes a misery.
What sustains us in this predicament is basically
our sense of humour born of compassion. This enables us to embrace new
insights and wonder why the obvious was not obvious before. Often
reflection reveals wonderful new insights were obscured by needless
fears and we had been our own worst enemy.
With this in mind, perhaps it is helpful to ask
could it be we are our own worst enemy in our use of Earth’s
resources? Could it be, for instance, that “environmentalists” blame
the wrong people and actually communicate very different messages to
what they consciously intend? This too is a possibility worth exploring.
For instance, have you ever wondered why we speak
of warming when we mean warming-up; believe in renewable/sustainable
energy when energy is already sustained; think humans can save/conserve
energy when energy is already conserved; blame energy and power for
failing us; attempt to fight and stop carbon when it is an essential
building block of all life forms; condemn climate change as malevolent
when it is the natural order; believe “The Market” cares and can act
as a steward for us when it is a psychopathic construct; describe the
gaseous milieu enveloping Earth as a greenhouse rather than an
atmosphere; think we can offset our actions of combusting mineral
resources that took unique eons to form; confuse energy with the forms
it can be manifest in; teach that the measure is that which the measure
is measuring; talk of stuff called electricity when only electrical
phenomena exist; talk of “humans and their environment”
rather than “humans are their environment”; propound that
science is a way of thinking rather than a state of being; state that
less than 1% of humans are scientists when all humans are scientists
to some degree; teach that science is the same as
arts/language/civics when science begets arts/language/civics; say that
energy efficiency is about deprivation and using less energy when it can
often be about using more energy; believe what we say communicates more
than what we do; etc.
If you have ever wondered about this phenomenon you
will probably be aware it is presents a picture of great dissonance and
confusion. You may have even made the fascinating observation that this
phenomenon is particular prevalent in the Green Movement. It is also
probable you sense that this behaviour is unsustainable. So what is
The Sustainability Principle of Energy provides a
means of connecting all these dots and revealing a consistent behaviour
pattern. When used in compassion, it does so in ways that are very funny
and insightful. It shows how the most well-intentioned of us can easily
become our own worst enemy. It also indicates how we can transcend
thinking and the limitations of our ego with its incredible capacity for
self-deceit. It does this by drawing on the great principles of physics
and both the insights of our greatest psychologists over millennia and
The principle addresses the great question: “What
is reality?” For some people, existence is an amazing journey of
exploration, a sparkling experience full of wonder and inspiration. For
others, existence is a desperate act of survival to be endured, the grey
experience of alienation and misery. For most of us reality seems to
oscillate between these two states. However many people tend to
experience reality more as a trial than a delight. The question then
becomes: “How can we better enjoy the sparkle in existence?”
This new website provides a guide to answering
these questions and features this simplified statement of the Sustainability
Principle of Energy:
A symbol used in
acceptance of change enhances the capacity of the user to mirror reality
and enjoy harmony. A symbol used in denial of change destroys the
capacity of the user to mirror reality and know harmony.
The principle is a paradox in that it is reflective
and generative at the same time. It is a powerful psychoanalytic tool
that enables us to reflect and evaluate the relative sustainability of
an individual or society. It is generative in that it is a guide to
science-based uses of our prime symbols that work at our greater
subliminal levels to alter our perceptions of reality and promote
The website is based on a dense mass of references
and it would be possible to provide myriad links to examples of symbols
used in acceptance and denial of stewardship/change. However in order to
promote a state of stillness and deep reflection, minimal references and
links are provided.
Find a place or have with you some object you
associate with peace, magnificence and beauty. The greatest reference is
a spirit of openness and inquiry. The finest aid is compassion, for it
sustains us with a sense of humour as we realise the ingenious ways we
deceive ourselves and deny our roles as stewards amidst the flux.