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What Copenhagen Demonstrators Want You to Know

What was the message of the demonstrators in Copenhagen? Some groups, such as Bill McKibben’s 350.org, were pushing for nations to agree to ambitious goals to get carbon dioxide levels down to 350 ppm. According to environmental journalist Zoe Cormier, many were trying to get the word out that we cannot get CO2 levels down as long as we remain hooked on growth – clinging to a system that doesn’t know the meaning of the word enough.

Zoe, the brains behind www.AxisOfEco.com was the eyes and ears of the GrowthBusters project during last month’s climate talks. My apologies for only now posting her final report, taped on December 23. My schedule; my bad. Her analysis, however, is both good and timeless.

Groups demonstrating in Copenhagen are not the only ones delivering the message that our system is broken. Worldwatch Institute just this week released their State of the World 2010 report, titled Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability. I’ve yet to read the report, but my expectation is this addresses much of what I’m addressing in my documentary, Hooked on Growth.

Our obsession with economic growth (which served us well for much of the past 300 years) has outlived its usefulness. Now we are urged to consume for consumption’s sake. Our economy depends on a vicious cycle of buying things, throwing them away, and then buying some more. We’ve lost touch with the initial goals of an economy – an efficient way of meeting people’s needs. Whether it’s climate change, biodiversity loss, peak oil, water or hunger, our obsession with perpetual economic growth erases any gains we make.

We now have a cultural imperative to grow and consume. My mission is to shine the spotlight on that aspect of our culture, so we can become acutely aware of it. Becoming aware and acknowledging we are hooked on growth is the first step toward recovery.

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