The Sustainability Principle
 of Energy


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  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?
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The Compassionate Curriculum
Defining some Prime Symbols


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Climate Change





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Principle of Energy





















The Sustainability Principle of Energy
The Compassionate Curriculum.
(Essay - A brief Historical Overview)

24 Sept 2012

For at least seven thousand years now human beings have had the capacity to alter the flows and balances of Earth’s ecology and climate on scale. For instance for millennia our uses of fire and construction of rice paddies have altered the ratio of the warmer trace gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere and these in turn have affected the flows of the most potent warmer trace gas of all: water vapour.

Something changed in the human psyche to enable this to happen and we can only speculate what that change involved. We can be reasonably sure the ego, which resides in all human beings, was involved with all its ingenious capacity for denial of change/stewardship. Our sense of our role in the universe undoubtedly altered.

We can know for certain that a major change in the human psyche occurred about 300 years ago. It is possible similar changes had occurred previously in isolated areas of the planet. However this particular change, which began in Europe, spread rapidly to every area of the planet. It was manifest as unprecedented changes to the landscape, waterways and the oceans; significant changes to the warmer trace gases of the atmosphere; and an explosion in the number of human beings.

It is almost certain the human ego was involved though it is difficult to ascertain how directly. This is because the human ego has an incredible capacity for self-deceit and is thus beyond the domain of direct reflective thought. It is amazing how we human beings can be oblivious to the fact that we can perform actions that are in complete contradiction of our professed beliefs. This makes self-reflection difficult. However we can understand the changes in the human psyche by observing their manifestation. In this case we can observe the massive soil loss, deforestation, elimination of species, destruction of rare materials such as mineral oil and the significant increase in the warmer trace gases caused by recent human activity in what some call the Industrial Revolution.

We can also understand changes in the human psyche by observing how the changes are manifest in our language over this period. All sentient beings, from individual cells to whales and redwoods, use symbols to survive and procreate. Its use of symbols determines the viability of any species.

The nature of symbols presents a grand paradox: the use of a symbol simultaneously reflects and generates the state of being of any organism.

We do not know how other species transcend this paradox so they can embrace change and evolve.


The fact that cells have somehow retained the wisdom to sustain their current form through one billion years of all manner of solar, tectonic, climatic and other change is mind-boggling. However we can reflect on the human mind sufficiently to speculate how we are able to transcend this paradox of symbols so our species thrives.

The first step is to embrace the role of the ego in our lives and acknowledge its incredible ingenuity, its inherent tendency to deny change/stewardship and the limitations of thought. This step involves the experience of compassion with its capacities of humility, kind humour and inclusiveness.
Note: the ingenuity of the ego is incredible because it acts as an intermediary in our psyche between conscious thought (involving an awareness of perhaps as few as 2-3 thousand interactions with the universe in any moment) and the great subliminal part of our psyche (involving an awareness of maybe more than 50 billion interactions in any moment.) Consciousness has been likened to a glint on a wave on the vast ocean of the subconscious experience. No illustration can capture the essence of change in that glint. It arises and passes in a blink of the eye. Such is the fluid nature of the ego.

The second step is to ask what guides might exist that could enable the sustainable use of symbols. Are there any universal principles of existence? When we ask this from the perspectives of physics, psychology and known history we discover that for millennia human beings have been aware of the Conservation and Uncertainty Principles of Energy to some degree. 
The Conservation Principle of Energy reminds us that existence involves continuous change and transformation even as energy remains a bounteous constant.
The Uncertainly Principle of Energy reminds us that our awareness of any change affects that change in ways we cannot know with certainty. Our information is approximate. We live probability.

Humankind over the millennia has subjected these principles to the most intense scrutiny because they form inconvenient reminders to the ego that we too are mortal forms and it is not the sole authority. So far these principles are sustained on a universal scale and there is a high probability that they provide us with wise guides to how we can transcend the limitations of both thought and the ego. We can use them to transcend the paradox of symbol use and increase our potential to develop a sustainable language.

There is increasing evidence supporting the notion that information is physical. The generation, storage and propagation of any piece of information can be known from a physical perspective. Thus we can usefully draw on the great principles of physics to establish principles of symbol use. I have generated a draft statement of such a principle, tentatively called the Sustainability Principle of Energy. This states:


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 enjoy harmony.



In brief, reality is the universal continuous transformation or change. 

Human beings live a dance between acceptance and denial of both our mortality and our roles as stewards amidst continuous transformation. Indeed change and stewardship can usefully be known as one. This is because stewardship inevitably reminds us of change and vice versa. Both remind us of the finite nature of all things, including all human beings. The dance is complicated by our incredible capacity for self-deceit. We have the capacity to develop incredible, sophisticated rationales and belief systems denying our roles as stewards amidst the universal flux.

When we psychoanalyze the English language using in the Sustainability Principle of Energy we discover significant changes occurred since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. In brief, many of the prime symbols in English language have been stripped of their associations with change/stewardship and this process coincides closely with the major non-sustaining changes to our planet’s systems outlined at the beginning of this article.

For instance Earth’s atmosphere is now commonly symbolised as a greenhouse, a human construct in which we can engineer air at our will.


It is interesting to observe the coincidence of two phenomena in Europe. One is the advent of the massive, unsustainable excesses of the Industrial Revolution. The other is the adoption by the European feudal elite of large greenhouses as a symbol of their wealth and power over all. The Crystal Palace of 1851 was a clearly articulated symbol of Britain’s dominion over the seas, lands and peoples of the planet.


This “greenhouse” symbolisation works to deny the reality that Earth’s atmosphere is an organic, dynamic system that sustains us only if we respect its immense flows and balances. Indeed it has now become common to symbolise Earth’s climate as the enemy. 

Our language now denies the fundamental live-enabling thermodynamics of air and associates the vital warming process with malevolence. Observe how global warming is confused with global warming-up – this is a complete denial of a change of state. We are exhorted to “fight global warming” and “stop climate change”. A web search on “greenhouse” reveals how the symbol pervades all our language relating to Earth’s climate.

Another profound example of this denial of change/stewardship is the use of the “energy” symbol. We observe the phenomenon by which our prime symbols such as “energy”, “power” and “electricity” have been stripped of most of their sustaining potential. Now, since they redefined the symbol in the 1950s, energy is commonly associated with a limited range of industrial products owned by the global oligarchy of bankers. Much of the global culture is now based on the fatally flawed Anglo-American energy equation:

Energy =fossil fuels = power = electricity = Bulk-generated electrical products.

All our major institutions now use these symbols interchangeably, most of our modern systems are based on this delusion and the addictive use of fossil fuels and Bulk-generated electrical products is endemic. For example:

The Energy Sector consists of thousands of electricity, oil and natural gas assets that are geographically dispersed and connected by systems and networks.  Therefore, interdependency within the sector and across the Nation’s critical infrastructure sectors is critical.  The energy infrastructure provides fuel to the Nation, and in turn depends on the Nation’s transportation, communications, finance and government infrastructures.  The energy systems and networks cross the Nation’s borders, making international collaboration a necessary component of the Energy Sector’s efforts. -

The consequence of this behaviour is that fossil fuels are vastly undervalued and used as though they are infinite while sustainable uses of our electrical potential are ignored.   

The lack of science and general confusion becomes evident if we explore what this energy equation is really saying. It effectively equates energy (the bounteous potential of the universes) with fossil fuels (very finite forms) with power (a measure: the rate that the universal potential is manifest) with electricity (which does not exist though many electrical phenomena do) with Bulk-generated electrical products (a finite form). It is a recipe for misery, or if you prefer, disharmony with all. The equation manifests the ultimate denial of the great principles of physics.

The complete reversal of the meaning of the “economic” symbol offers insights into the absurd denial we are capable of. Before the Industrial Revolution an economy was associated with a system founded in frugality and stewardship. Now an economy is associated with a system founded in planned obsolescence, waste, pollution and unprecedented debt creation. Our universities in all seriousness call the study of this system the science of economy rather than the non-science of diseconomy.

Enabling this grand confusion has been the devaluing of the “science” symbol. According to Online Etymology, “Modern sense of "non-arts studies" is attested from 1670s. The distinction is commonly understood as between theoretical truth (Gk. episteme) and methods for effecting practical results (tekhne), but science sometimes is used for practical applications and art for applications of skill. Main modern (restricted) sense of "body of regular or methodical observations or propositions ... concerning any subject or speculation" is attested from 1725; in 17c.-18c. this concept commonly was called philosophy.”

Science now is widely understood to be just an amoral way of thinking rather than a profoundly moral way of being. 

Our children are taught it is rarefied body of knowledge, the domain of an elite “fellowship” of people called “scientists”.  The association of knowledge with stewardship has largely disappeared and the “art” symbol is now associated with a narrow range of skills. The original associations of the “science” symbol with split, rend, cleave, divide or separate have disappeared along with their reminders of the great principles of physics.

The paradox is that in denying the division and separation inherent in our experience of knowledge we tend to become more disconnected and alienated from the universal potential. Our behaviour tends to become more discordant and unsustainable i.e. unrealistic. This confusion is manifest in our modern education system, which teaches that science is just another learning area like language, “arts”, “social science”, mathematics etc. This denies the essential change of the sustainable learning process by which compassion enables the state of being (science) which in turn enables all manner of sustaining skills.

In summary, a major change occurred in the human psyche about three hundred years ago. It coincides with the so-called Age of Enlightenment. Historians suggest this period involved an emergence from dogmatic religious beliefs into freethinking secularism. It is possible to argue in circles endlessly about this. The thought occurs that we Anglo-Americans simply created new religions.
For instance the adoption of the Greenhouse religion, in which Earth is portrayed as a planet enveloped by a greenhouse, enables people to believe humans can control the atmosphere and transcend the seasons and geography at will.
For instance the adoption of the Energy religion, otherwise known as the Age of Energy Consciousness, enables people to believe that humans can save, conserve and generate energy. Underlying this belief system is the notion that the great principles of physics are no longer relevant.
For instance, the adoption of the Environmentalism religion, in which the environment is symbolised as a world separate to us, in particular an ecology separate to us, that needs saving. It is founded in the belief that speaks of humans and their environment rather than the belief that says humans are their environment
For instance, the adoption of The Market religion, in which a certain type of market -that controlled by the global oligarchy of money traders – is imbued with supernatural powers of wisdom and stewardship. It commonly attributed with all the feelings and emotions of human beings e.g., “The Market liked, did not like, punished, rewarded, reacted today to the news...”

As I suggested, it is possible to argue endlessly and be no wiser for the discussion. The ego thrives on such futile discourse for it can more easily dominate our sensibilities.

Alternatively we can embrace the ego with all its trickery and its tendency to deny change/stewardship while looking for evidence of its activity in our language and landscapes.

The Sustainability Principle of Energy provides us with the ability to systematically explore the potential of a symbol to be used in denial and acceptance of change/stewardship. It is possible to construct indexes of these uses. As you can see with the index at the The Sustainability Principle website, there is overwhelming evidence that the ego now has an enhanced, profound influence in our lives. What is fascinating is that all the symbol uses in this catalogue are drawn from the literature of the Environmental Movement. This illustrates that even though we may be very well meaning and caring the ego can still easily make us our own worst enemy.

Similarly we can observe how humans have for hundreds of generations had the capacity to destroy most of the forests and soils of this planet. It is a fact that most of the forests and soils that had built up over eons still remained three hundred years ago. Since then we have destroyed much of them and, within the last two generations, we have also converted most of the immense wealth potential of mineral oil/gas into pollution.

The overwhelming evidence suggests that the ego has come to dominate our lives to an unsustainable degree. We each retain elements of psychosis and psychopathy. However these elements are now manifesting in their purest forms in our modern institutions.

 People are increasingly disempowered. The question arises: so how can we transcend the limitations, needs, demands and ingenious trickery of the ego?

Sages over millennia have explored the role of the ego in our lives and a general consensus has emerged that the best answer to this question is the experience of compassion. They suggest it is helpful to embrace the ego with sensations of humility, inclusiveness and kind humour. The innate tendency of the ego for denial of change/stewardship wanes with this experience. Compassion releases us so we are better able to accept the universal transformation and enjoy greater harmony with all.

The question arises: how might this occur in our contemporary society with its many insane institutions and delusional behaviours. Perhaps our greatest hope lies in our children. Recent research into child development provides increasing evidence that children are born into the states of compassion and science. They enjoy a far greater spirit of inquiry and rigorous experimentation than many realise. Similarly they have a far greater sense of intent and morality than many suppose. They form a vital reminder of our greater potential. So really it is a matter of reshaping our education systems so this potential is not destroyed.

This may be easier to accomplish than first imagined because many child- carers are intimately reminded every day of the great potential of our children. They experience a constant and perhaps inexplicable feeling of our current education curriculum framework working against their sensibilities. Many child carers would embrace a Compassionate Education Curriculum Framework, for it would bring enhanced clarity, meaning and purpose to their work. And as they witness the continuing empowerment of children they will find they too are empowered.  

The Compassionate Curriculum proposed at the The Sustainability Principle website does not require the immediate tearing down of our school buildings or the wholesale binning of current textbooks. Fundamentally it just requires the experience of a little more compassion with its capacities for humility, inclusiveness, honesty and trust. This will, for instance, enable the architects of our formal education system to identify the trickery of the ego and value perceived errors as wonderful learning opportunities. A more compassionate education system means our children will then tend to grow up enjoying greater potential and more sustainable lives.

Similarly embracing the Sustainability Principle of Energy brings clarity and empowerment to our communications. The principle provides no easy answer for it requires we constantly evaluate our symbol use for potential denial of stewardship/change and find humour in the incredible ingenious trickery of the ego. However each time we transcend the limitations of the ego we are reminded in the greater, sustaining potential of the universe(s). Unimagined sustaining possibilities become manifest when we better conserve the potential of our symbols. The Sustainability Principle is at once a potent psychoanalytic tool and invaluable guide.
We ignore its warnings about our unsustainable behaviour at our peril.
We embrace its insights into the great principles of physics to our great benefit.


Smile. Chances are already the ego is advising, "I know enough. There are more important things to attend to now." 
If so, simply thank the ego and gift yourself some time to browsing
the Compassionate Curriculum and the Sustainability Principle index. You may well be pleasantly rewarded by sensations of hope and wonder as you peruse the list of symbols uses that embrace change/stewardship while sensations of mirth and wonder may well arise as you perceive the incredible ingenuity and trickery of the ego in the list of symbol uses that deny change/stewardship. Do not be surprised if you experience a greater sense of liberation and power.


This website is devoted to revealing the essence of energy so humanity may thrive and our daily lives be filled with wonderment and awe. 
It is a labour of love, dedicated to our children.

Updates and Additions 



 3 August 2012

Towards a sustainable education system

A graphic comparison of the New Zealand Curriculum Framework with the Compassionate Curriculum Framework with brief comment


31 January 2012

A Practical Guide to Enjoying True Hope

An essay exploring how the great principles of physics can help identify false hope and enable the experience of sustaining hope.


5 October 2011

"An Orwellian Climate"

Letters to Australasian Chief Science Advisors explaining contemporary confusion in climate care communication (Prof Peter Gluckman, Prof Ian Chubb, Prof Tim Flannery, Dr Andrew Glikson ) 


15 September 2011

The 2011 New Zealand Election Campaign

(A letter to New Zealand people alerting them to the dangers of the huge hidden yet in-your-face advertising campaign promoting the sale of our national assets.)


16 March 2011

Thought Experiments re the Carbon Trading Ethos

(Originally designed for the Office of the New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.)


26 February 2011

Letter to Radio NZ

(Contains  reflections on broadcasts and ratings of the sustainability of a wide range of its programmes.)


29 November 2010 
The Joy in the Art of Civics

(Brief reflections on this state of being and the dangers of Environmental Education)


24 November 2010

Celebrating Our Climate   
(Draft one: A climate education framework founded in the Sustainability Principle of Energy offering an alternative vision of how we can communicate the role of humans in Earth's climate processes.) 


13 October 2010

Conversation with NZ Minister of Education (Anne Tolley) re the sustainability of the national education system. Read the Minister's letter and reflections on the flaws inherent in the Education Ministry's response.


4 November 2010

Letter to the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Introduction to the Sustainability Principle of Energy  with discussion of the nature of science.