The Sustainability Principle
 of Energy


Home   First draft Aug  2010

About this work 

  Online Etymology Dictionary


The Power of Symbols

What is a Prime Symbol?

Variations on the Wisdom Of Confucius

How to Conserve
the Potential

The Human Condition

General Theory

Practical Application

Index of Denial/Acceptance

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


Energy Efficiency









Climate Change





Peak Oil
Principle of Energy



Letter to the Office of the
NZ Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

(Introduction to the Sustainability Principle of Energy website)


The Commissioner and Staff
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
New Zealand

4 November 2010  


Dear Dr Wright and staff 

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. 

Richard Feynman 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. 

The Commissioner 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: 

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” 

“Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” 

“The 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.” 

“It 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.  

Compare this 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. 

The 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. 

The Commissioner 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 being. 

The 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. 

The Commissioner 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.

A sustainable 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 mindscapes. 

The Commissioner 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 might be.” 

Here is 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. 

The 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 context. 

Richard Feyman 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.” 

Perhaps 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 favourite theories.  

A 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. 

(Further 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.  

In kindness 

Dave McArthur


Draft introduction toThe Sustainability Principle of Energy website 

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 going on? 

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 modern neuro-physics. 

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 sustainable behaviour. 

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.