Growth Will Kill Us Says Dave Gardner, 2012 Population Institute Global Media Awardee

By Donald A. Collins | 3 December 2012
Church and State

(Credit: Growth Busters)

On November 29, 2012 The Population Institute announced the six winners of its prestigious 33rd annual Global Media Awards, which cover its concerns about population growth, environment, and other forces which are driving our country and the planet in dangerous directions.

Since all these issues relate to the basic goal of this web site, making the planet a better, safer more habitable place, it seemed to me, a long time member of the PI board, now emeritus, worthwhile to let our audience know about each one of them and what terrific contributions they are making to issues N4CM cares about.

My initial winner OP ED is about Dave Gardner, who won this award in the Best Film or Documentary category. His selection comes as no surprise to me as he and I have been in touch about his landmark web site, In fact I have just viewed the film again that won him this prestigious honor. It sings with truth and urgency and a droll sense of the obvious horror, even as he humorously poses the obtuse and intellectually inane positions of his combatants: “Ghostbusters: Hooked on Growth”.

He of course has a world view about rampant growth, but he started addressing the subject in his own home town of Colorado Springs by running for a position on its city council, populated by people whose mantra was rapid growth at any cost. He lost by a big margin despite growths ill effects on his city.

He chronicled his political odyssey in a film which showed the power of the joint efforts of rapacious developers, elected officials, and mindless citizens to combine against what Herman Daly has called “the steady state economy” (sse) which Wikipedia defines as “an economy of relatively stable size.” It features stable population and stable consumption that remain at or below carrying capacity, which I would roughly define as the long term ability of one’s environment to sustain a balanced world, not only for humans but for the crops, animals and elbow room which makes life livable. carrying capacity.

Daly’s sse typically refers to a national economy, but it can also be applied to the economic system of a city, a region, or the entire planet. Wikipedia tells us “that Robert Solow and Trevor Swan applied the term steady state a bit differently in their economic growth model. Their steady state occurs when investment equals depreciation, and the economy reaches equilibrium, which may occur during a period of growth.”

Gardner thus joins a long history of famous thinkers who saw the wisdom of limiting growth, particularly NOW as Robert Walker, President of Population Institute, stated as he announced this year’s Global Media awardees: “This past year world population reached the 7 billion mark. This major milestone generated a renewed focus on population and population-related issues. The recipients of the 33rd annual Global Media Awards made a significant contribution to public discussion and understanding of that important milestone. The Population Institute is proud to recognize these individuals and news outlets for their journalistic excellence and the valuable insights that they provided.”

Walker specifically defined Gardner’s award. “Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth will receive the award for Best Film or Miniseries. The film challenges our culture’s beliefs about endless economic growth and suggests that unrestrained growth is undermining prosperity, human fulfillment, and the environment. Dave Gardner, the award winning producer and director of the film, takes on the growth industry in a highly provocative and engaging manner and raises profound questions about our obsession with economic growth. Gardner warns that the scale of the human enterprise has outgrown the planet and that we ignore at our peril the negative impacts of ever-expanding population and consumption.”

Many saw the need to transition from endless growth as far back as Adam Smith who saw that ultimately population growth would push wages down, make non renewable natural resources scarcer. In 1776 when he published his famous book, “An Inquiry Into The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, he seemed to be hoping for what Herman Daly does, the steady state economy, which of course has not taken place over 200 years later. Famous names such as Malthus, John Stuart Mill, and Lord Keynes could be quoted here also, adding to a crescendo of current expert voices in agreement. Sadly, we are now reaching points of irretrievable danger forwarded by this inane growth at any price mantra being constantly pushed by leaders at all levels of authority.

Be sure to go to Dave Gardner’s web site and acquaint yourself with his powerful material, presented with impish good humor despite its obvious seriousness. Congratulations, Dave, on this latest honor, one so justly earned.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.
The Population Institute is an international non-profit organization that seeks to promote universal access to family planning information, education, and services. Through voluntary family planning, PI strives to achieve a world population in balance with a healthy global environment and resource base. It was established in 1969 and is located on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

GrowthBusters Hooked on Growth Trailer Fall 2011

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