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Titanic – What Keeps Us From Turning the Ship?

titaniccolor2-300x218 Saturday, 14 April, marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic. This happened late in the night. A few hours later, on the 15th of April, the unsinkable behemoth went down. The GrowthBusters project is proud to partner with the Club of Rome in using this anniversary to inspire our civilization to change course.

Like the Titanic, we think we are indomitable and unsinkable. So even now, as we’ve faced a growing plethora of evidence we’ve outgrown the planet, it’s full-speed ahead.

We’re busy rearranging the deck chairs, ever certain there is nothing wrong with our compass heading. We ought to be abandoning our pursuit of perpetual economic growth and our fear of strongly advocating an early end to population growth. Instead we campaign to distribute wealth more equitably, avoid fracking in our backyard, stop an oil pipeline, or end suburban sprawl. Deck chairs.

I highly recommend you explore the Club of Rome’s new Change the Course website. I’m certain you’ll also want to share this entertaining, but all-too-true video from the Change the Course campaign:

I must say here I’m impressed a global think tank like Club of Rome is being so honest with us about the state of the world. Perhaps this is part of the growing global awareness, due in part to our ver close proximity to the iceberg. Here is the brief GrowthBusters essay I wrote for the Change the Course website:

What Keeps Us From Turning the Ship

Some of us have been blessed with the open eyes and minds to see where our current compass heading will take us. It’s clear we’re on an unsustainable course. So we strive to understand what keeps elected leaders, journalists and the masses out of the radar room and blind to the dangers. In my documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, I explore the forces behind this perplexing phenomenon.

Research for the film led me to the conclusion we have developed a very strong cultural mythology about progress and prosperity. In our own way (mostly electronic, these days), we sit around the campfire every night and tell stories about how growth brings prosperity and is essential to progress. These are not old stories; we’ve only been telling them for a few hundred years. But for the last two centuries they’ve appeared to be true, adding greatly to their power and entrenchment.

This observation is not mine alone. It’s shared by such visionaries as Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael (highly recommended reading); ecological footprint analysis pioneer William Rees; and sociologist William Catton, author of Overshoot and Bottleneck; to name but a few.

Our culture’s faith in the wonders of growth everlasting blinds us to the consequences of insisting on continued increases in both population and economic throughput after filling up the planet with 7 billion people. The tentacles of that blind faith reach deep and infiltrate nearly all aspects of our culture. It would be accurate to say it has us in a death grip.

That obsession with growth is the root of the problem, and revising that mythology will be the key to all solutions. Once most of us are sitting around the campfire telling a different story, the social, economic and political solutions will come.

The role of the GrowthBusters project in effecting this change is, as Daniel Quinn tried to do, to shine a spotlight on the myth of prosperity from growth. Awareness of this force is the first step in taking away its power.

Those whose eyes have been opened are impatient for the rest of the world to come along. They want all hands on deck, working on solutions today. Of course, we invite them to share the film and support the GrowthBusters project. But we’ve also created the Pledge to Think Small, suggesting a set of concrete actions that will help turn the rudder of our cultural ship a little faster.

Thank you for joining us in this incredibly critical effort.

Dave Gardner

Filmmaker

Dave Gardner is the director of the new documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, which uncovers the cultural forces that keep us pursuing growth in the face of overwhelming evidence we’ve outgrown the planet.

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