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  • ”We can’t frack our way back to economic prosperity; nor can we unplug a coal plant, plug in a solar panel, and go on expanding population and consumption.”
    – Richard Heinberg
  • ”Population is the multiplier of everything we do wrong.”
    – Dr. Martha M. Campbell
  • ”We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it.”
    – Paul Hawken
  • ”The free-market fundamentalists will tell you that more growth, more stuff and 9 billion people going shopping is the best we can do. They’re wrong. We can be more. We can be much more.”
    – Paul Gilding
    author: The Great Disruption
  • ”I have – over the last five years – quite rapidly become a Malthusian. I have been won over by the data, and I have been won over by the logic of the math.”
    – Jeremy Grantham
    investment strategist
  • ”If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with changed minds, people with a new vision. It will not be saved by people with the old vision but new programs.”
    – Daniel Quinn
    author: Ishmael and The Story of B
  • ”A growing nation is the greatest ponzi game ever contrived.”
    – Paul Samuelson
    economist
  • ”Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth? Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?”
    – Neil Young
  • ”There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.”
    – Mahatma Ghandhi
  • ”We can’t frack our way back to economic prosperity; nor can we unplug a coal plant, plug in a solar panel, and go on expanding population and consumption.”
    – Richard Heinberg
  • ”You don’t have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy.”
    – Paul Ehrlich
    author: The Population Bomb
  • ”Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
    – Edward Abbey
  • ”Because of this civilization’s obsession with growth, its demise is 100 percent predictable. We simply cannot go on living this way.”
    – Adam Sacks
  • ”Continual increases in population and consumption cannot continue forever on a finite planet.”
    – Richard Heinberg
  • ”Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
    – E.F. Schumacher
    author: Small is Beautiful
  • ”At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product.”
    – Paul Hawken
  • ”Our economic activity is at war with the planet.”
    – Naomi Klein
  • ”Long-term sustainability requires a materially smaller economy (the pie) shared more equitably (not equally) by a smaller population.”
    – William Rees
    Co-originator of Ecological Footprint Analysis
  • ”As I see it, humanity needs to reduce its impact on the Earth urgently and there are three ways to achieve this: we can stop consuming so many resources, we can change our technology and we can reduce the growth of our population.”
    – Sir David Attenborough
  • ”Continual increases in population and consumption cannot continue forever on a finite planet.”
    – Richard Heinberg
  • ”The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence.”
    – George Monbiot
    Guardian columnist
  • ”Our economic activity is at war with the planet.”
    – Naomi Klein
  • ”We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children.”
    – Joe Romm
    physicist
  • ”I have – over the last five years – quite rapidly become a Malthusian. I have been won over by the data, and I have been won over by the logic of the math.”
    – Jeremy Grantham
    investment strategist
  • ”We’ve globalized an utterly untenable economic model of hyperconsumerism. It’s now successfully spreading across the world, and it’s killing us.”
    – Naomi Klein
  • ”Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”
    – Kenneth Boulding
    economist
  • ”You don’t have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy.”
    – Paul Ehrlich
    author: The Population Bomb
  • ”This is not about whales anymore. It’s about us.”
    – Thomas Friedman
  • ”We can share the earth and take care of it together, rather than trying to possess it, destroying the beauty of life in the process.”
    – Dalai Lama
  • ”If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with changed minds, people with a new vision. It will not be saved by people with the old vision but new programs.”
    – Daniel Quinn
    author: Ishmael and The Story of B
  • ”The truth is this: the Earth cannot provide enough food and fresh water for 10 billion people, never mind homes, never mind roads, hospitals and schools.”
    – Richard Branson
  • ”A growing nation is the greatest ponzi game ever contrived.”
    – Paul Samuelson
    economist
  • ”On the one hand, it’s politically impossible to stop growth. On the other hand, it’s biophysically impossible to continue it ad infinitum. So, which impossibility is fundamentally impossible?”
    – Herman Daly
    former World Bank senior economist
  • ”There will inevitably come a time that the society drastically needs to change the way it interacts with the environment, or it will lose its coherence.”
    – Sander van der Leeuw
  • ”In the short term, we must realize that we have better ways to create jobs and build the economy than holding an everything must go sale on our precious resources.”
    – Dr. David Suzuki
  • ”We’re going to need some kind of radical break with our past behavior if we’re to engineer a viable future.”
    – Mark Buchanan
    Bloomberg columnist
  • ”In today’s full world, resources are not only scarce but have become the limiting factor”
    – Herman Daly
    former World Bank senior economist

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.

outlookdarkenssmall1

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? . . .

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Troubled Waters

gardnerborderfencecropped221x1461 “Do you have…protection?” The U.S. Border Patrol officer patted his holster as he asked. “No, do I need to? I replied. He suggested to his supervisor perhaps one of them should escort me. This section of the U.S.-Mexico border has been one of the most dangerous.

That’s a 16-foot border fence behind me in the photo. The escort idea was nixed due to lack of manpower, so I bid the officers adieu and struck out for the main channel of the Colorado River, lugging tripod and video camera across 1/3-mile of delta. In places I sank so deep in the silt that it poured into my boots.

As expected there was not a drop of water in the river. It had all been diverted to Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and the Imperial Valley. Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography recently calculated a 50 percent chance lakes Mead and Powell will dry up by 2021, and a 10 percent chance the lakes will run out of usable water by 2013. Yet growth addicts in our metropolitan areas are busy plotting to make sure they get every drop of water they have a legal right to, water that is unlikely to be there. . . .

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Economic System Broke(n)

While the pain we all feel in the current economic meltdown is very real, the system we’re attempting to revive was broken long before the latest bubble and recession. Our economy has come to depend on perpetual growth. Whether that growth is real (as in increasing throughput and the inherent liquidation of finite resources) or just on paper (speculators speculating about what other speculators will do), it cannot be sustained.

The problems with our current system extend far beyond its sheer unsustainability. It long ago stopped providing us the prosperity or happiness we seek. Our communities have been crumbling under the costs and impacts of growth, and rising GDP is no longer an indicator of increasing quality of life. . . .

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Progress on the film

worstcrisis30years1

Phoenix, San Francisco, Dallas and Kansas City were in my viewfinder over the past six months as we passed a milestone: over 75% of Hooked on Growth has been shot. From volunteers crewing our shoots to authorities I’m interviewing about population, urban growth or the psychology of climate change denial, everyone I meet is cheering us on. I wish I had room here to share these stories. You’ll just have to see the film!

This film’s message is needed now, more than ever. I need your help to make that happen. I’ve got to shoot in Los Angeles next month, and I still must hit the East Coast for some important interviews. I’m very frugal on these trips, but they still rapidly deplete our resources. Please make a tax-deductible contribution to help fund these production trips and the editing ahead. . . .

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Birth Rate Hogwash

Gazette reporter Perry Swanson invested considerable time into trying to understand why I discount growth boosters’ preoccupation with using “net natural increase” and “net migration” figures to give the impression fertility is the biggest contributor to our burgeoning local population. So it surprised and disappointed me to see a gross figure, birth rate, compared with net migration in both a caption and his story (Look how we’ve grown, 3/16/06). That’s the kind of manipulation of data I’ve come to expect from the growth industry.

One might wonder if there’s something in our water making us much more fertile than the rest of the country. The fertility rate in the U.S. today is just barely above replacement level, so it defies logic that birth rate would be the biggest contributor to our rapidly growing El Paso County population. Part of the explanation is we have many young military families of child-bearing age. Our state demographer has confirmed most of those babies leave the county within a year or two of their birth. . . .

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