10. Hooked on Growth: Dave Gardner 2011

Section
1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
Chapter
1.5 Film, Documentaries, Podcasts
Page
1.5.10

Dave Gardner is the perfect heretic: softly-spoken, mild-mannered, unflappable, and with a sense of humour, very hard to demonise and marginalise as ‘crazy’, ‘eccentric’, ‘dangerous’, ‘racist’, or ‘anti-people’. Heretics are, at best, dismissed, at worst, persecuted (e.g. see John Sinclair, Section 4.7), so his quiet manner shouldn’t let us underestimate his tenacity and courage over decades in the face of growthmania at its epicentre – the USA.

Dave established the splendid Growthbusters website – https://www.growthbusters.org/ –  alluded to in Section 1.1.5, and has been bravely tackling the Sisyphean task of rolling back the giant growth ‘boulder’ ever since. In 2011 he wrote and directed the excellent ‘Hooked on Growth’ and you can watch the trailer here: GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth Trailer – Bing video   which runs for just under three minutes, or view the full 54-minute documentary by going to the Growthbusters website and hiring it for $2.99 U.S., or purchasing it for $9.99 U.S.

Growthbusters summarise ‘Hooked on Growth’ thus:

“Water shortages, hunger, peak oil, species extinction, and even increasing depression are all symptoms of a deeper problem – addiction to unending growth in a world that has limits. ‘GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth’ goes way beyond prescribing Band-Aids to slow the bleeding. This film examines the cultural barriers that prevent us from reacting rationally to the evidence current levels of population and consumption are unsustainable.

“It asks why the population conversations are so difficult to have. Why it’s more important to our society to have economic growth than clean air. Why communities seek and subsidize growth even when it destroys quality of life and increases taxes.

“Our growth-centric system is broken. It’s not providing the happiness or the prosperity we seek. But that’s good news; it means a shift to a sustainable model will be good for us. We’ll be happier and more prosperous!

“Individual and public policy decisions today are informed by a powerful, pro-growth cultural bias. We worship at the Church of Growth Everlasting. Undeterred by the facts, we’re on a collision course powered by denial and the myth that growth brings prosperity. Before we can shift our civilization meaningfully, effectively, and substantially toward true sustainability, the world must be prepped. We must become self-aware and recognize the programming that keeps us hooked. GrowthBusters will do just that. We’ll hear from leading thinkers of our time – scientists, sociologists, economists – to help us separate fact from superstition.

Will we embrace it or go down fighting?

“From Las Vegas to Atlanta, Mexico City to Mumbai, the White House to the Vatican, GrowthBusters takes us on a whirlwind tour of growth mania. It’s Wild Kingdom with a twist: the cameras are turned on humanity as our own survival skills are examined. ‘GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth’ looks into the psychology of denial and crowd behavior. It explores our obsession with urban and economic growth, and our reluctance to address overpopulation issues head-on. This documentary holds up a mirror, encouraging us to examine the beliefs and behaviors we must leave behind – and the values we need to embrace – so our children can survive and thrive.”

My spare notes on this first-class documentary, with minutes elapsed, follow for those who want assistance navigating the documentary, but I recommend you watch it from beginning to end – you won’t regret it:

4:54  It is “unAmerican to stop growth or talk about stopping growth”;

5:30  Embarrassingly, Australia’s ‘Baby Bonus’ is mentioned (see also Section 3.1);

6:30  Size matters to many people;

7:  Economic growth is the Holy Grail;

8:  World population;

8:40  “Greatest shortcoming of human race is the failure to understand the exponential function”, Al Bartlett, Emeritus Prof. Physics, University Colorado;

12:  I = PAT equation and Paul Ehrlich and the Club of Rome;

13:  Herman Daly: “We no longer live in an empty world”;

18:  Julian Simon, vocal critic of C of Rome and LTG: “Copper and oil come out of our minds” and “Humans are the ultimate resource”; human worship and infinite ingenuity and substitutability;

20:  Neo-classical Economics “fashioned” out of, and to support, growth, Chris Martenson;

22:  “Perpetual growth an absolute requirement of this economic system”, Chris Martenson;

27:  We ceased being citizens and became consumers;

31:  Dave Paxson, World Pop. Balance, good precis figures on pop. Growth: + 9,000 people an hour/200,000 a day; “How many people believe the area of arable land and topsoil increased in the last day to feed 200,000 additional people?”;

32:  Paul Ehrlich explains why we have to deal with both population and consumption;

33:  Lisa Hymas cites Oregon University findings that limiting family size is by far the greatest contribution someone can make for a sustainable future;

35:  Pop. projections: will not level off at 9 billion at around 2050; U.N. revised estimates say 10 billion + at 2100 and still growing;

37:  UN and env. orgs. need to be “emboldened” to say that current population cannot be sustained long-term, Dave Gardner;

38:  Centre for Biological Diversity;

39:  “Every other environmental problem is exacerbated by overpopulation”, Lisa Hymas;

40:  Suggested solutions;

44:  Dick Smith of Australia: “The god of capitalism, the god of growth, is a false god”;

45: Ross Gittins, Australian Economist and journalist (see Section 3.3); cost of growth goes to the public taxpayer, the benefits to business;

46:  Suggests that Dick Smith’s attempts to broach the topic in Australia have made headway; would like to think this is true, but despite his strenuous efforts, 10 years on I think he has been largely shutdown and marginalised;

49:  Raj Patel, the battle is for the human mind, what the human is: greedy, small and stunted, or “much more beautiful than this”;

49:  Result of Dave Gardner standing for local govt. election in Colorado Springs: 43% of the vote; a surprisingly good result, but not enough to be elected;

51:  Mike Nickerson: will our future be “a story of denial and disaster or a story of creativity and celebration?”;

52:  Dave Gardner says he’s loved in the local community; I sincerely hope this is so, but he must have received a torrent of abuse along the way.

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