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Hooked on a system that no longer serves

The economic crisis continues to dominate the news and is a common topic in holiday party chatter. CNN calls it “Issue #1.” As a documenter of growth mania, I find this crisis an irresistible and fascinating opportunity.

Step back as I do, and take a detached, thoughtful look at our behavior. Ponder the following questions, and then ask a few of these while chatting with friends at your next holiday party. Let me know the reactions.

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If we were designing a global system to meet our basic needs and provide opportunities for happiness and fulfillment, would we choose a model that only works if we need/want/make/sell/buy more automobiles this year than last, a system that falls apart if our needs have been met?

House Values: If our houses aren’t appreciating at a rate that exceeds inflation, we believe our system is failing. What makes a house increase in value? Demand outpacing supply. Our values go up because we are using up available land or building materials and demand (population) is growing faster than supply (pace of construction).

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It would seem we have a system that only works as long as our population is growing, we’re liquidating our forests and other natural resources, and we’re paving over every last developable acre of land.

This clearly implies the current economic model we’re so desperate to revive is not sustainable over the long haul. Is it time to let go of this model and progress to a new one that serves us better? The news headlines about climate change; peak oil, food and water; mass extinction and ecosystem collapse would indicate it is time. The end of growth is here. We can either embrace it, or we can go down fighting.

That is really what my film, Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity, is all about. Economic growth, population growth, consumption growth and urban growth are all interconnected and driven by our irrational worship of MORE.

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