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Stop and Smell the Environment on World Environment Day

Typically every morning I rise when the sunlight streams into the room. This time of year that means 6 or even 5:30. I sit down with a cup of skinny cafe mocha and go through my email in-box, which invariably is full of interesting bits of communication from all over the world. Much of it details the ongoing destruction humankind is wringing on the planet.

This morning, however, I received a link to a Youtube video in an email from one of my favorite fans, Nina Centaine. Nina composed (and contributed, for no pay) some of the music in the GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth documentary. You can explore her music here. Knowing Nina is one of the many great rewards of my growthbusting.

But today Nina’s music is not the subject. I clicked the link to the video she sent, and was immediately plunged beneath the surface of the ocean on a breathtaking tour of the most awesome beauty of life in the sea. Instinctively I glanced to see the length of the video; I have much to accomplish today and can’t afford to waste four minutes and 50 seconds of my day enjoying the beauty of Earth. Sound familiar? I was about to close the video after watching just 20 seconds, when inspiration struck to sit back and enjoy it.

I’m glad I did. It reminded me of what I toil for day-in and day-out. There is still enough beauty of nature left that I cannot give up on my quest to inspire more of us to live in balance with nature. The fact that all this incredible life is hidden from us in the ocean, and that ocean covers two-thirds of the world, tells me the Earth was not designed to serve humankind. We are not the center of the universe. We are one small part of it, and it will serve us well to fit in and play nice. Otherwise it is we who will be discarded.

When I decided to write about the video, I returned to Youtube to find out more about it. This time I was served an ad before the video. The ad was about all the wonderful things BP has been doing to restore the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The irony was palpable.

“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”
– Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil

Today is World Environment Day, a day set aside by the United Nations for us to think about the environment and “take positive environmental action.” It’s interesting we talk about “the environment” as if it is something outside ourselves, a thing we can touch and think about, or ignore for 364 days a year. I nearly skipped it this morning because I didn’t think I could take 4 minutes and 50 seconds to experience it – and that was in condensed form on a TV screen!

These days most of us rush out the door in the morning, hop into a car in a garage, drive to an office where we sit for 10 hours in front of a glowing screen, then drive back to that garage. At home we plant our butts in front of another glowing screen. How much nature do we experience? We congregate in cities where the best we can do is small pockets of nature cultivated by man. When was the last time you waded in a cool stream or lay in a field contemplating the clouds blowing overhead?

Bucketwheel Excavator No wonder we discount nature. We think we have tamed it. We believe it was put here to serve us, to be dominated by our backhoes and bucketwheel excavators. We are daily encouraged to sacrifice “the environment” if it stands in the way of job creation. Those pesky environmental regulations get in the way of the paycheck that pays for that big-screen TV. They get in the way of the accumulation of wealth by global corporations and the uber-rich.

Today, as we contemplate World Environment Day, think about the fact that “the environment” is everything. It is our world. We are swimming in it even as we trudge along on that treadmill in service to “the economy.” Watch that video Nina sent me. Are we really willing to fornicate that, replace it with more millions of workers and consumers in a sea of asphalt and concrete?

“There is no business to be done on a dead planet.”
– David Brower

Former World Bank senior economist Herman Daly reminds us that our economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. Ultimately, as nature goes, so goes our economy. Killing the beauty of nature in pursuit of a dollar will leave us with nothing to spend it on.

Dave Gardner
Filmmaker & GrowthBuster

Dave Gardner directed the documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. Learn more at

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    Mike Hanauer


    All those beautiful animals survive and thrive together. One stupid species is working to crowd them out and eat them all. Time to end this veto. Time to come together to shrink rather than to grow. Time is not on their side. Or ours.


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    Lincoln Hodges


    When it comes to environmental hazards, children are always the first to suffer. This video looks at the effects of environmental problems on children who can look forward only to an uncertain future. The film covers five major problems confronted by children worldwide: 1) Poison – The results of pollution turning into birth defects are examined in Poland. 2)Water – 5 million children die before their fifth birthday in India from diarrhea caused by unclean water. 3) Flight 4) Debt 5) Population – Examines the vicious circle of poverty and scarce environmental resources.


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