The Sustainability Principle
 of Energy


Home   First draft Aug  2010

About this Work and Updates  

  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





















Definition: the environment symbol 


Ultimately the environment of any object is all of its surrounding universe(s). Its environment is that which is not the object. At the same time any object is part of the environment of any other object and each affects the existence of the other. The environment symbol involves paradox, for it divides even as it integrates. 

It is interesting to note the use of the symbol c 1600 as the “state of being environed”. It was in this period that Descartes generated the notion on which much of Western culture is now based: “I think, therefore I am.” This notion profoundly affects our notions of existence in general and of science in particular. Thought is seen as central to existence, rather than as a trace element of our being. 

By the early 1800s the environment symbol was being used in the sense of “nature, conditions in which a person or thing lives”.  Originally the nature symbol was associated with the universal force. Now it was becoming more associated with the biomass systems of our planet, coinciding with the development of the notion that human beings with their power of thought are separate from nature and have dominion over nature. Dominion came to mean that we (Anglo-Americans) can exploit “nature” at will. 

By the middle of last century the environment symbol was increasingly associated with ecology and a whole new industry has emerged with this limited use of the symbol. We now have the global Environmental Movement, consisting of environmental scientists/educators/lawyers/policy makers/ activists/journalists/parties/etc, while some speak of this being the environmentally aware age. We even have Environment Ministers, Departments for the Environment and Parliamentary Commissioners for the Environment. 

These uses of the environment symbol are manifestations of the deep denial of stewardship/change in Anglo-American culture. Wiki states: “ an environmentalist is a person who may speak out about our natural environment”, thereby destroying most of the potential of the symbol with dissonance. Similarly the following statement is very common: “Humans and their environment”, whereby humans are symbolised as divorced from all. 

Nearly all the examples on the website of our prime symbols used in denial of stewardship/change are sourced from the Environmental Movement and its members play pivotal roles in propagating these uses in our communities, especially our schools.


Conserve the paradox inherent in the environment symbol. For instance, the paradoxical statements “Humans are their environment.” and "We are our environment." remind us that one is all and all is one. It reminds us of the truer notion: “I act, therefore I am.” with all its associations with vitality and stewardship.

Conserve the potential of the symbol by using it in inclusive and careful ways so our children embrace civics, with its inherent sense of stewardship for all.  

Etymology environment environs
c.1600, "state of being environed" (see environs); sense of "nature, conditions in which a person or thing lives" first recorded 1827 (used by Carlyle to render Ger. Umgebung); specialized ecology sense first recorded 1956.

1660s, from Fr. environs, pl. of O.Fr. environ "compass, circuit," from environ (adv.) "around," from en- "in" + viron "circle, circuit," from virer "to turn." Related: Environed.

Enjoy the rewards of being a conservator of the potential of our greatest symbols.


Page last  updated: Aug 2010