Bonus Joules: Dark Measures

Published: Tue 10 Oct 2006 01:22 PM
Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy
Dark Measures
Bonus Joules gets the measure of Economic Measures.
Bonusjoules Blog - Sept 12 2006
Chapter Four - Energy Rules - The Dark World of Economics.
Blog by Dave McArthur Sept 12 2006

Click through to Bonus Joules Cartoon Strip
NOTE: The cartoon panel that accompanies this blog was published a few years ago now. In it Bonus Joules has set forth on a journey in search of the nature of energy and now seeks to meet the Minister of Energy in the hope of enlightenment. It was chilling in the shadows of the skyscrapers around Parliament and Bonus Joules had sat in the sun for a moment to warm up. This simple act had sent shock waves to THE ECONOMY and now to save it from collapse Bonus Joules attempts to transfuse life into THE ECONOMY by consuming as much Bulk-electricity as possible in the bowels of Parliament Buildings.
Recently a school janitor proposed a new principle of energy. If correct it predicates the survival or demise of humanity. Should we be concerned that the principle suggests Peter Jackson’s new movie, the Dam Busters could be a damn buster? You decide.
I guess it is not impossible that a school janitor on an island on the physical fringes of civilisation could come up with a new principle of energy. Ernest Rutherford, a great explorer of the atom, and William Pickering, a great explorer of our Solar System, were both schooled in what was tiny township of Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds across the Cook Strait from where I live. Maybe it something about the champagne air we enjoy in these parts that makes the universe sparkle so for us. It is also very easy to be mindful of our trace existence here in New Zealand.
Living at the point of collision of tectonic plates with active volcanoes and constant earthquakes is a reminder that even the towering mountains are near as ephemeral as the seasonal snow that crowns their ridges.
Great pulsing oceans surround us and form our horizon a thousand miles in every direction. It is a dull spirit that does not thrill to the magnificence of the Roaring Forties; the vast winds that race around the planet at this latitude. It is a miserable soul that cannot experience awe and humility here.
This is also the home of Peter Jackson and Weta Workshops, creators of such movies as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. This week the news broke that Peter is about to remake the Dam Busters.
This saga is in our blood. My father travelled across the globe to fight for the Home Country of the British Empire over 60 years ago and flew in sorties across Europe in those creaky Lancaster bombers. The feats of the British Royal Air Force in bombing the dams and cities of Nazi Germany were celebrated in movies, comics and books.
Many of us grew up knowing more about the history of Europe than we knew about the history of New Zealand. Spike Milligan and the Goon Show was the highlight of our youth and through its lunacy we sensed the insanity of that period. At school we rehearsed every line of each show after each broadcast each week. And even as we fell about laughing at the humour we kind of knew it was born of one man’s desperate attempt to stay sane in a time when humanity was stretched and rupturing to the point of collapse.
We knew wars are terrible things. As a child as I sat by my grandfather I overheard talk of how he had been gassed in the trenches in Europe in World War 1 and how he still suffered chronic effects over thirty years later. As a child I watched as my father lay convulsing with epileptic fits and heard sombre adult voices attribute them to the effects of World War 11 on him. All I knew was that his tremors, snorts and foaming looked like the death tremors of animals slaughtered on the farm we lived on. It was clear that war is horrific, a time of dark desperate deeds, a very ugly place of deep dread.
Recently my mother told me how my father and his squadron were due to be posted to Okinawa in 1945 and as a newly wed she wondered if she would ever have a family. For whatever reason, Japan suddenly surrendered and I exist. Indeed I exist because my father travelled 12000 miles across the world to fly in those Lancaster bombers and so met my mother in Britain. I am the product of war and it was to me, the school janitor, that the possible new principle of energy occurred. That principle was born out of my insight in 2000 that humanity is heading for war, famine and misery on a scale that will make last century’s global conflicts seem trivial.
As I have noted in a previous blog, when the oil-Gas banker barons took over complete control of the White House in the United States in 2000 I, along with many folk around the world, were in shock. We knew these people, the self-styled “energy men”, are ruthless and driven by immense vanity and greed. At that time the Enrons and OnEnergys (our New Zealand equivalent) were being portrayed as the future and the SUV was in ascendency. We knew the course of humanity was being reset on a path of grave danger. Billions of humans were now at increased risk of premature and horrific deaths.
I knew the traditional responses of placards, protest and political reactions were ineffective in this context. This was a civilisation destructing itself. It was easy to feel powerless and when I prayed what I might do I could never have anticipated the journey I would set out on.
That journey has taken me to the core of what makes our current civilisation unsustainable and the insight that I gained is as old as it is new. For some reason I was drawn to explore the language and symbols that our culture is based on. Gradually a pattern of behaviour emerged: together the symbols revealed what can be called the Grand Denial or the Fatal Confusion or the Recipe for War.
If we continue with this behaviour there is a high risk that Peter Jackson’s movie of The Dam Busters will be our reality. The audience, those who still have access to electricity and a movie projector or DVD player, will watch it and be unable to differentiate the violence and destruction in the movie and the violence and destruction around them. Even if they try to stop the movie it will continue. Peter’s dream will be the reality.
Which brings me to this proposed and, as yet, unnamed principle of energy. The Principle of the Conservation of Energy speaks of the bounteous potential of energy and the trace mortal existence of humans and all other forms. The Uncertainty Principle speaks of how you and I, the observers, affect the atoms we observe by our act of observation. It also speaks of how every conscious being is an element of the flux of energy and contributes to our total awareness of reality by virtue of the fact we each imagine existence from a different point in space and time. The new principle of energy combines insights from both these principles to provide a principle that enables us to optimise the potential of our existence. At the same time the principle predicates our doom. The draft of it reads:
“When a symbol use works to deny change it will materially alter the potential of the universe (energy) in a way that results in a reduction in the capacity of the symbol user to mirror reality. When a symbol use works for the acceptance of change it will increase the capacity of the symbol user to mirror reality.”
Put another way, the denial of change results in disharmony with all environment and the latter is reshaped so that humans are more at risk of starvation, warfare, pollution, disease and misery. The acceptance of change and our mortality enhances civilisation, health, the experience of harmony and the prevalence of joy.
A corollary of this principle is that
“When a communication is framed with symbol uses that deny change, then the communication will tend to work to suppress science and destroy the knowledge content inherent in the communication. In other words the communication generates non-science (nonsense) and maladaptive behaviour. The converse is true of acceptance of change. The communication generates science and harmonious behaviour.”
I have not attempted to give the principle a name yet. Initially I created a list of flawed uses of symbols of energy and then observed how they had one thing in common. They all worked against the Conservation Principle. They all reflect the intense climate of denial of change and mortality that prevails in our “Botox” culture. So I called it the Denial Principle. It explained why our civilisation seems set to commit suicide.
However I then took time, as you can see from the list, to create an alternative for each symbol use. This alternative better expresses acceptance of the Conservation Principle. The principle now expresses hope, not despair. It generates science and harmony. The principle is about both denial and acceptance.
So what is the essence of the principle then? For a start it builds on the insights of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, quantum physics and guys like the Buddha. These insights suggest that our attitude to the potential of energy affects how its potential is manifest. Put crudely, like it or not, our attitude affects the structure of the atoms that make up our material world. Every day we each make decisions that increase or reduce the chance of survival of humanity
Quantum physicists work with this reality daily though most prefer to go into a denial when they step outside the laboratory or away from the computer. Like many of us they prefer to drive cars, fly in jets and turn up the air conditioners without care. They, like many of us, attempt to dissociate ourselves from responsibility for our use of value energy forms and they adopt complex rationales to achieve this end. They, like many of us, divorce the insights of quantum physics from our daily life and say humans cannot materially alter the universe with our thoughts, our attitudes, and our symbol choices. This is despite the reality of quantum theory that is manifest in the vaporised cities of Hiroshima and Ngasaki.
The unnamed principle says yes to the Conservation Principle, yes to the Uncertainty Principle, yes to our capacity to choose, yes to our ability to materially change how the potential of energy is manifest and yes to our responsibility for our actions.
For a lot of folk the principle is powerful affirmation of what they already live. They will look at the list of symbols and find the Acceptance uses tend to make sense.
For others the principle is meaningless garbage, if not dangerous nonsense. They will look at the list of symbols and find the Denial uses will tend to make sense. As one person wrote to me recently,“ ….your efforts to improve science communication, which (I regret to say) leave me totally cold.” This person greatly admires the Al Gore movie and shares Al’s belief that warming = warming up.
This really is an extraordinary phenomenon when you stop to think about it. The concept that warming = warming up denies the constant warming–cooling process we are all subject to and which enables life. For these people, equilibrium in constant change (energy in = energy out) does not exist. It is revealing that this person says they are left “totally cold”. This is the state of no movement, the point at which atoms cease to work. Without thermal energy all is lifeless.
This person’s response is exactly what I hypothesised “change deniers” must experience.
If correct, the unnamed principle makes a direct link between consciousness and the manifestation of the potential of energy. We are what we dream. I am aware this may sound warm, fuzzy, typical New Age Speak. To hear it thus is to miss an essential, perhaps chilling for some, implication: The consequences are extremely harsh and brutal if we fail to mirror reality and the trace balances sustaining us. So let’s have a quick reflect on mirroring.
Readers of my website will know my fascination with electricity in all its forms. One of my catchcries is that we are Electrical Beings. I have many pages devoted to Electrical Thinking. So naturally I was fascinated to recently learn of the discovery of a new electrical system in the form of mirror neurons. According to the Scientific American (Vol 17 No May 2006) it occurred in 1996 in Italy and to quote the article:
“…the men could hardly believe what they had witnessed. But after replicating that experiment and similar ones many times, they realised they had discovered something new….”
“Some such as Ramachandran, believe mirror neurons crucial in the development of social skills, social networks and knowledge infrastructure we call culture – from tool use to reveling in Shakespeare, from collaborative hunting to hip hop… paving the way for accelerating advances in understanding, communication and learning. For the first time, information could be spread, built on and modified to create the intellectual and social dynamic of culture..”

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The article could be talking about the utility grid – the circuitry that splices our nations and laces our dwellings, connecting them to each other and shaping our culture. The stuff I bang on about so much. However the article is talking about an electrical circuitry that laces our brains and connects us to each other through empathy.
It occurs to me that throughout history elements of humanity have intuitively been aware of the existence of this electrical system. Teachers, sages and rulers have long known the power of role models. The ubiquitous Spin merchants and charlatans of every age have exploited its power on scale with devastating impacts. However it is only now with the aid of recent developments in technology that we have been able to identify and measure this form of electricity and to realise it’s potential to reshape our civilisation.
To quote again from the article:
“These (mirror neurons are scattered throughout key parts of our brain – the premotor cortex and centres for language, empathy and pain – and fire not only as we perform a certain action but also when we watch someone else perform the action….at its most basic, this finding means we mentally rehearse or imitate every action we witness….”
..”Mirror-neuron theory began to mesh with existing language theory, which held that actions have a syntax similar to that of sign or spoken language. For mirror neurons “hand grasps ball” is the same whether it is an action or a spoken sentence. Thus language arises from the syntactic understanding generated by our motor neurons… Remarkably the cells responded to an abstract representation of a process that would seem to be quite visual and visceral… ”
“…We possess a basic set of mirror neurons corresponding to an action’s essential form – reaching for instance –that is supplemented by other groups of neurons that selectively fire according to the action’s perceived purpose..”
This set me to thinking. Sages of every culture in recorded history have suggested one of the greatest sources of inspiration and meaning is the act of reflection. Reflection is one of the requisites of science, along with honesty, compassion, time, inclusiveness and the open sharing of knowledge. So I am sympathetic to this intriguing suggestion in the article:
“The archaeological record suggests that this “great leap forward” –the beginning of human culture – began about 50,000 years ago. But human brains underwent no growth spurt then; indeed they have been roughly their present size for about 200,000 years. So what has changed? Ramachandran and other speculate that the change was a genetic adaptation that gave key neurons the mirroring capacity they now hold…”
Update Sept 18. Check out this 14 min broadcast segment on the discovery and significance of mirror neurons.
It so happens that I was recently sent a copy of the draft new Education Curriculum that was about to be presented to our Minister of Education in New Zealand. It also so happens I had always thought there is something weird about our concepts of science, language and art. Indeed I had long felt pretty alienated from our education system, modelled as it was on the cultural norms of our British rulers in my youth and more recently on the norms our new American rulers. So for the first time I sat down and reflected on the definition of science. These thoughts I have pulled into a vague form of an article entitled Defining Science –and why the NZ draft education curriculum is a recipe for war and misery.
My insights into the requisites for science to exist came largely from my observation of the lack of science displayed by our so-called scientists, universities, “Science academies” et al and from the use of vital symbols in our wider culture. My conclusion is that the concept of science in the draft curriculum fitted very neatly into the pattern of Grand Denial and the general suicidal mode that prevails this century. In short it is designed to allow us to divorce our use of knowledge from the impact of its use. It’s a cop-out. A fatal cop-out.
I concluded the requisites of science enable our species to successfully mirror reality, to live in harmony with the trace balances that sustain us. So I was vastly intrigued with the suggestion that the development of this electricity system in our brains enabled the beginning of human culture. The mirror neuron system is the physical manifestation of our capacity to experiment and mirror each other, our environment and now ourselves.
And this is where it gets interesting. To the extent any of the requisites of science are lacking, science is diminished. Any loss of science reduces our ability to mirror reality. To take a common example in our culture: food is reasonably plentiful in our culture at present because of our temporary access to mineral oil. Hence it is common for even the poor to be overweight and so thinness in women is the current symbol of power. As women get caught up in the power play they tend to desire to be skinny and lose their sense of harmony with their body, their personal energy. They lack science in their lives, become unbalanced and unhappy. This is reflected in the way that given adjustable mirrors women tend to overestimate their real size by up to a third and become diet addicts.
On a wider scale our culture lacks science and employs unsustainable symbols to portray the nature of global energy. Despite the wide range of options available to us, we restrict our use to a limited number of energy forms and use them as though they are as bounteous as the universe even as we fight over their remnants.
We literally see the sub species, which is we human beings, as something greater than the whole. At the same time we visualise our fellow humans as of zero value. That’s how we are able to use up a billion years of mineral oil reserves in a couple of generations. That is why billions of humans go to bed malnourished each night.
I was not all surprised to learn from the article that other creatures have these mirror neurons. The day before reading it I had observed for several minutes two starlings fighting. A third one sat on the fence watching. Maybe this third one was a potential mate for one of them or danger scout or both. It was clear from the intensity of the interaction neither fighting bird could be aware of much beyond the intense interaction between them.
Each of the fighting birds mirrored the others movements with such speed and precision I could not judge which bird led a movement. The mirror dance continued until one bird failed to mirror the other. At this point it immediately portrayed surrender. This involved collapsing to the ground, wings outstretched, and neck awry as though dead. The fascinating thing was the totality and speed of mirroring.
I also would not be surprised to find other parts of our anatomy besides our brain are wired with similar mirror circuitry. It seems that many creatures can adopt the colouring and textures of their surroundings at the speed we register light on our eye walls. In other words, their skin is also their eyes, allowing them to reflect their surrounds in a fraction of a second – too fast for the brain to have processed the information from their eyes. Every day new research in psychology reveals more insight into our capacity to reflect our fellow humans in detail at primal levels we are barely aware of, if at all. Research using FMRI technology shows the power of our primal response. It suggests our walk can be 100% at odds with our talk. For instance even as women state they detest ads exploiting beautiful women the pleasure centre in their brain is glowing as they view them.
In the elaborate mirror motions of those two birds I saw the human species dancing with reality, attempting to stay in harmony with the universe so this planet can sustain our 6.5 billion souls. And the great symbols of energy and power we employ are the notes in the music we move to. Get them wrong and we end up out of time. Literally. Materially.
Which is why our choice of symbols is so vital. They are the essence of communication. They dictate our common tempo, our communal movement and how we mirror each other and reality. And it is fair to say that at present we dance a ragged dance to a wretched tune at the moment. Why does my favourite cartoon movie of all time, the Looney Tunes Wile E Coyote and Road Runner spring to mind as I think about our current crazed “War on Terror”? Unlike Wile E, our species may not bounce back after we have sprung our own trap on ourselves, destroyed the ground we stand on, chased our fear-driven aspirations over cliffs and when our vital symbols have exploded in our arms.
And how do we know which symbols are in tune with the universe? Who can you trust? Merchant Bankers? Public Relations Consultants? Media? Politicians? Lets face it, these people now determine our popular symbols of energy and, well, most polls show the public trust these people as little as they trust Used Car Sales people. Do we trust so-called scientists? Again polls suggest a healthy distrust of them too. And personally I agree with these polls.
The general level of cynicism of these people invites this intriguing question: why does our culture employ their definitions of energy and power so uncritically? Maybe people put more trust them in them than they say they do? And assuming these people are not to be trusted, the next question is: So who or what can we trust?
Well, there is one concept that has proven true without exception that I know of. It seems the Principle of the Conservation is as near as “natural law” that we have. Many have tried to fault it. Humans have sought to become immortal. They have sought to stop time and defy change. None have ever succeeded. As I said in my introduction the denial of change is not a new phenomenon. The Buddha probably developed the most advanced psychology of it over two and a half thousand years ago.
The Conservation Principle is the most sustaining source of symbols we have. I do not have space to elaborate but there is evidence that suggests the dances of those individuals and societies that know its truths express the most joy and freedom. They dance in tune with reality. They most experience the sustained benefits of science.
I realise these ideas may feel obtuse to some. I will just say that all the intellect in the world cannot make sense of them if it is not sustained with the spirit of science. In other words, the ideas are easily accessible if you enjoy the requisites of science – an enquiring, inclusive spirit framed with compassion and honesty and a love of reflection. All the degrees in all the universities will not help the person who lacks these requisites.
This said, I constantly look for ways of making the ideas accessible to all. On Saturday there was a wonderful interview by Kim Hill on New Zealand National Radio 2 September (archived September only)
with09:10 Mike Treder (duration: 23′02″)
Executive director of the Centre for Responsible Nanotechnology
Executive director of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, a non-profit research and advocacy organization that promotes public awareness and education, and works for the crafting of effective policy to maximize the benefits and reduce the dangers of nanotechnology. Mike Treder visits New Zealand this month for the 2006 IPENZ Pickering Public Lectures, and will speak with David Officer and Richard Blaikie in Dunedin, Timaru, Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington, Masterton, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Palmerston North and Auckland.
I imagine all readers find it hard to truly realise the implications of the Uncertainty Principle. Especially difficult is the idea that our act of observing alters the observed at the atomic level. I have great difficulty with the notion, even as I sense truth it. It is mind-boggling stuff. One of my heroes, Richard P Feynman, the guy who sussed the O-ring failure that destroyed the Shuttle in 1987 and was one of last century’s top theoretical physicists, reckoned that anyone who thinks they understand quantum physics clearly does not.

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This discussion about nanotechnology helps make it conceivable that we have the capacity to alter our world on scale at the molecular level. The potential is at once vastly intriguing and alarming. Whatever, the notion that our consciousness may alter the existence of atoms becomes slightly more plausible. The interview soon gets to the bedrock matter of our existence – our lives are fundamentally a matter of ethics.
And maybe you are like me? I suspect my resistance to acceptance of the full potential in energy is that I am a bit overwhelmed at the responsibility it necessarily involves for me. Am I really responsible for the misery and joy in the world? Do I imagine it all? I can only repeat, I find the prospect vastly intriguing and alarming. Man, I can see why quantum physicists don’t talk about these ideas much in public. They would be locked away as incurably insane.
And yet I know we have to grapple with the ideas if we are to enjoy a reality with meaning. The problem is that the responsibility that comes with the awareness is easily overwhelming. Guys like the Buddha seemed to have got a bit of a handle on reflecting reality more fully. I understand why they stress the need and value of compassion. Humans can’t imagine the perfect world. We can’t be perfect role models. The main thing about assuming a balanced, healthy responsibility for our actions is that we experiment with an honest and open spirit and are able to learn from our stuff-ups.
One consequence of acceptance of the Conservation Principle and our mirroring capacity is clear. We cannot trade away our responsibility for our actions. We use a car. We model using a car. We burn mineral oil and it’s gone. Combustion happens – the thermal balances of the atmosphere alter. The car use and oil consumption form the prime symbols. Car use and oil consumption are the reality. Same when we fly in a plane or step on a train. The concept of carbon trading is dangerous nonsense, made worse when nation states give it the moral stamp of approval. It is the ultimate act of denial of responsibility and reality.
Al Gore, talks passionately of the need to conserve carbon balances. However it is his “countless miles” attempting to spread the word that provide the dominant model. He models the reality of Laurie David’s statement to Kim Hill (National Radio) - "You can’t stop flying and that's a reality"
Flying is their reality and so tends to become our reality. Al’s truth is amplified by the auto and air travel industry PR and is mirrored in the behaviour of his audience, only a few of whom will actually see the movie An Inconvenient Truth. Most will only know of it as a symbol generated by reputation, media hype and the reactions to it.
Mirror neuron research shows why Al’s action rather than his word are the dominant symbol and message. When we use a symbol, whether it be a word, a sound or a picture, those neurons fire up and we, both the user and the audience, mirror the symbol in our minds. Sure, different parts of our brains also light up as we ascribe different purposes to the mirror image. It’s a complex process. Our response varies with that purpose. Whatever, the essential “mirroring of the action” response occurs.
Nearly thirty years ago I attended a prenatal class before the arrival of our daughter. To make a pun, it was an eye opener for me as I had been brought up to believe babies are near blind for the first three weeks after birth. By measuring the contractions of the irises of the eyes of 1-7 day old babies researchers could detect what they were focusing on. They found the new born babies preferred to look at random curved lines to random straight lines. They preferred to look at randomised face lines to random curved lines. They preferred to look at lines forming coherent faces to randomised face lines.
In other words we are optimally hardwired to mirror our fellow humans. So we tend mirror what Al does rather than the graphs in the PowerPoints. This week it seems every “Green” group and their dog is showing the movie as a fundraiser around Wellington city. If they think it will work to change people’s behaviour and be more mindful in their use of carbon, then I suspect they are their own worst enemy. Effectively the movie is a very sophisticated advertisement for the fossil fuel barons and the carbon trading merchants.
And as I mentioned in my review, the lack of science in the movie generates confusion on a global scale. In confusing the planet warming process with the warming up process, the movie is in fundamental denial of the Conservation Principle. All the valuable information the film contained is framed in nonsense and so generates confusion. The sort of confusion the above mentioned bankers and carbon traders thrive on.
Even before the movie was released on May 24 in the US I predicted with some confidence that it would be counterproductive of its stated objectives. I figured it would confuse and disempower. Unbeknown to me at the time the Frameworks Institute revealed some research supporting my hypothesis. In brief, it suggests the movie is a recipe for failure too. When I learned of the research I flicked it around New Zealand “green groups” but it is as though they are spiritually incapable of beginning to contemplate the possibility that the movie is seriously flawed.
I am sure it is possible to make a movie that frees us to know and respond to the atmosphere balances, to mirror them with much greater clarity. The day before the US release of An Inconvenient Truth I spotted a New York Times essay that riveted me:
ESSAY; In the Quest for Coolness, Science Could Really Use a Vito Corleone
May 23, 2006, Tuesday
Late Edition - Final, Section F, Page 3, Column 1, 1584 words
DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - Somewhere out there, more elusive than a snow leopard, more vaunted in its imagined cultural oomph than an Oprah book blurb, is the Science Movie. You know, the film that finally does for science and scientists what ''The Godfather'' did for crime and what ''The West Wing'' did for ...
I immediately sat down and forwarded the link to the article to Richard Taylor of Weta Workshops and asked him to flick it on to Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh.
Good morning Richard (and Peter and Fran)
The New York Times has an essay today which I believe you, Peter and Fran should read. It is titled “In the Quest for Coolness, Science Could Really Use a Vito Corleone”
It begins: “Somewhere out there, more elusive than a snow leopard, more vaunted in its imagined cultural oomph than an Oprah book blurb, is the Science Movie.
It can be read by non-subscribers for the next day or two at
I don't know if you realise that this fabled movie is to be found here in Wellington and we are the guys that can make it. There is not much chance anyone else can make it. It is actually getting pretty vital that the movie is made soon too as there is a confluence of environmental forces occurring that puts humanity at ominous risk.
I see also today: "the buzz intensifies around An Inconvenient Truth, Gore's global-warming documentary that hits theatres on May 24,"
Now if Al's movie is about "Fighting Global Warming" and saying "Climate Change is for Real" as some of the blurb suggests, then it we are all at greater risk for it. It will be unhelpful as movies like The Day After Tomorrow, Suzuki Speaks, What the Bleep do We Know?! Beautiful Mind etc. They all lacked science and/or the narrative that inspires.
Anyway I figure it is about time we got together about this. Will just say making the movie will stretch every one of your amazing talents and you will realise that all your work so far has been mere preparation for this creation. It will add extraordinary meaning to your lives too.
Look forward to hearing from you sometime
Dave McArthur.
Energy is Eternal Delight -William Blake.
Join the journey of Bonus Joules at
(in search of sustainable images of energy.)
Richard wrote a nice note back saying that Weta Workshops is fully committed for the next few years and that he had forwarded the note on to Peter. I did not expect a response from Peter and nor have I received one. He lives in a rather miserable, insular world it seems. A couple of years ago I wrote to him suggesting he and Weta had the unique capability to make the “elusive” science movie so needed to reverse the rising risk of global warfare and to inspire a sustainable reality for us. I received a very nice letter from his secretary stating that my proposal was being returned unread as a matter of policy: Peter does not sight film script proposals as he could be at risk of being sued for plagiarism.
Now I am well aware that Peter has to survive in the greedy, corrupt and litigious nature of the corporate world of America. However it is an hilarious thought that someone might try suing him for plagiarism for telling the story of the wonder of our atmosphere and revealing the awe inherent in the Conservation Principle. Mind you Monsanto is still having a go at gaining total control of Earth’s biomass using genetic engineering and, despite the failure of Enron (and OnEnergy), the Bulk-gen bankers still dream of controlling the global electrical potential.
Indeed, in my letter I wondered if Peter knew there is an epic struggle occurring that dwarfs the Lord of the Rings, a battle for our minds in which our very vision of energy itself has been re-engineered to serve the perverted interests of a psychotic few powerful bankers. It is a battle in which civilisation could literally be destroyed because of the flawed images they generate in us.
Tolkein drew his hellish reality from the horrors of the trenches of the First World War. Even as Peter was engrossed revisualising Tolkein’s story, a larger story was unfolding in he was playing an essential part. In this epic to end all epics, The Ring symbolises all the potential inherent in energy. Its full circle represents the state of unity when we most fully mirror the trace balances of reality. When we look on the ring we see our reflections in the knowledge of the ring and are at risk of being blinded by our power and overwhelmed by our responsibility.
I told Peter of how a few power-crazed humans have sought to destroy science by re-engineering our very images of the nature of energy to serve their short-term desires. They have redefined energy as fossil fuels and power as Bulk-electricity and fought to suppress the rights and capacity of individuals to sustainable uses of energy forms.
I also suggested in my original letter that he, Fran and Richard have the unique heart, narrative skills and technology to portray a story in which the individual finds inspiration and awe while learning to dance with the trace molecules of the air that sustain us. It is a story that yearns to be told with the intensity of our very breath.
I knew Peter was not ready yet and still had to work the story of King Kong out of his system. Maybe this tale of the capture, exploitation and destruction of this great ape, symbolic of our natural world, would awaken in him the vital sense of connection with the environment that sustains us. We are most mirrored in our fellow apes and they are a reminder of the trace difference in us that enables our great civilisation. Perhaps as he created the reality in which those warplanes, symbols of human ingenuity, circled around King Kong and closed in for the kill, Peter might reflect on the wonder of the invisible milieu in which they flew. And as he created the glowing skies for the final moments of the movie he might reflect on the glory of our atmosphere and be mindful of our need to mirror its dance in our lives if we are to survive.
He has done King Kong now. However the news last week is that these amazing story weaving skills and electronic technologies are now to be used to generate the reality of war in the form of the Dam Busters. This sure is a cause for pause. Perhaps the decision reflects New Zealand’s wider culture in which our Parliament has recently committed unprecedented amounts of resources to yet more motorways and mindless carbon emissions in general. As I write, the last passenger train on our main trunk line is being stopped while household debt levels rise to new heights.
The myopic nature and confusion of our Parliament and Government in general was exemplified in the lunatic interchange between our dominant parties, National and Labour, at Question Time on Tuesday last week (5 September 2006). This uncaring mayhem, not the 100% Pure Clean Green image conjured up by the Spin Merchants, reflects the New Zealand reality. Which in turn reflects the US reality. Witness the Grand Denial inherent in the 9/11 Spinfest.

Click through to Bonus Joules Cartoon Strip
It clearly is up to each of us to caring bearers of The Ring. I still imagine that Peter, Fran and Richard and others with their great skills will stop to ponder the wonder of Earth’s atmosphere as they fly through the stratosphere in their jets. Maybe they will look down on the silk-thin film of clouds and realise the fineness of the veneer of water vapour that constitutes our weather and sustains human life on Earth.
Perhaps their craft will come between the sun and the Earth and they will see its shadow fleeting across the cloud tops. Maybe then they will wonder how their lives impacts on the dreams of their billions of fellow humans below.
Maybe they will see our troposphere, the “mixing zone”, mirrored in the swirling, thermal haze of gases behind the jet exhausts and understand the genesis of hurricanes and weather bombs.
Maybe they will see in those hot gases a history stretching back eons as the carbon was slowly transformed into oil and even as they watch they will be aware that millions of years of energy potential is being vaporised in that instant to keep them suspended high above our planet.
Maybe they will look back as see how their contrails may grow to hundreds, even thousands, of miles wide in area and wonder how it will affect the climate their children inherit and what their generation might have done with that oil.
And maybe, suspended in the quiet of the thin air of the stratosphere they will sense peace even as they are aware that only a thin skin a few molecules thick in the form of the jet’s shell enables their existence at this altitude in this rarefied air of less than minus 50°C. And they will be mindful that the atoms of that thin layer of molecules are nearly all space and the remainder is largely electrical potential. And in that moment of awareness of our trace existence they will let go. They will embrace change. They will know there is a reality beyond war and misery. They will return to Earth and work to share a reality in which humans are enabled to mirror the trace balances that sustain our civilisation.
Life moves in mysterious ways. Of that I am certain. I, the direct product of war, might be an agent for peace. Who knows? Maybe the Dam Busters will work to enhance our options rather than bust them. Maybe the creation of the movie does not risk generating a reality in which our children are damned to a world of unremitting misery where the survivors among them are left stranded like the citizens caught in the Ruhr valley, struggling to the comprehend the wasteland caused by the weather bombs we set off after we breached the thermal balances that sustain us.
All I know is we each make a choice to accept or deny our responsibility to be bearers of The Ring.

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