More on How “Growth” is Regarded in U.S. Culture


I wrote an entry before (link) about my feelings on the way the press in North America uses the term “growth”, and how the concepts of increased consumption, population, land use, and corporate profits are lumped together.  It is constantly implied that more people must consume more of everything for the economy to be healthy.  I believe this will have to change, however, to achieve sustainability, but how?

The popular mindset needs to change to regard growth as a negative in some contexts.   Fortunately, there are more and more people recognizing the realities we are facing as a country and a species.  David Gardner, of non-profit Citizen-Powered Media (link) in Colorado Springs, CO, is making a movie called “Growthbusters” that looks very promising, and he and his group are working hard to generate needed publicity around the issue, and not just their movie project.  A lot of media attention will be needed, through every media channel, to raise the consciousness of the public about the mixed interpretations and implications of the term “growth”.  Sustainability will not be attained, I predict, without many major changes in public understanding, but those changes must be identified and begun now. 

So, what changes do you see as needed on the path to sustainability?  I’d like to think that long term sustainability includes a good life for my children, but can’t discount the possibility (probability) that there will be some very hard times for life on the planet, and humanity in general, on the way there.  What can we (you) change today to make a step in the right direction?

Your comments are always welcome.  Good luck to us all.

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One response to “More on How “Growth” is Regarded in U.S. Culture

  1. Tim, thanks for the note about my documentary. We’re actually producing a series of films under the Growthbusters “brand.” The first is titled Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity

    Interestingly, it was in my research for this film that I discovered economic growth is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in a sustainable fashion. For example, we’ve enjoyed great increases in productivity for several decades now. What do we do with those productivity gains? In the U.S., we’ve not scaled back our work week and spent more time porch-sitting, reading, or hiking and biking. No, we work more than we did half a century ago, so we can afford bigger houses, bigger TV screens (and more of them), more luxurious cars, more trips on airplanes to see the world and relax on the beach, the ski mountain or the golf resort. These types of recreation are wonderfully fun, but pretty tough on the environment. And because we aren’t working less, our society struggles to create more jobs for a growing population. It used to be jobs were our way of meeting society’s basic needs, but we’ve move way beyond that. It’s a very complicated web!

    And pretty much every added hour we work and every added job is a net drain on natural resources and a net increase in greenhouse gases and other waste output. Even the “information economy” is hard on the planet. What makes information valuable? Usually its some industry that is either extracting natural resources or exhausting pollutants.

    In the end, it’s as Pogo famously said: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

    Dave Gardner
    Producer/Director
    Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity
    http://www.growthbusters.com

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