Saving the Planet by Ending Our Fixation with Economic Growth

Normal is Over 1.1: Solutions to Reverse Global Ecological Decline

Directed by Renee Scheltema (2019)

Film Review

What intrigued me most about this documentary, is that it validates claims the economic downturn preceded the WHO declaration of the COVID 19 pandemic in March 2020. I also like the way Scheltema expands on the present ecological crisis to include mass species extinction, the global economic crisis and increasing inequality, as well as catastrophic climate change.

The film uses the 1973 Club of Rome report Limits to Growth as her point of departure. The latter employed MIT mathematical modeling to predict that resource depletion would force global economic growth to end some time between 2000 and 2010. Just as they predicated it ended (everywhere but China) with the 2008 global financial crash. the latter unleashed an epidemic of unemployment, homelessness and poverty (especially among young people and minorities) from which the developed world never fully recovered.

Scheltema follows this introduction with a very elegant explanation by economist Charles Eisenstein linking the present growth imperative to our debt-based monetary system. At present nearly all our money is created by private banks as loans. Because we currently have no other way for money to come into existence, businesses and individuals must continually seek new products and services (including their own labor) to sell to repay ever increasing public and private debt levels. This frenzied drive to produce, in turn, drives ever heavier resource extraction.

The solution? Scheltema uses the bulk of the film to highlight the efforts of high profile sustainability champions:

  • Vandana Shiva – fighting to restore lower cost, less polluting natural organic farming through the Navdanya Institute she founded in India)
  • Beth Terry – founder of My Plastic Free Life)
  • Reverend Billy – founder of the Church of Stop Shopping
  • The “Lord of the Flies” – one of numerous scientists pioneering the use of fly larvae for organic waste treatment
  • African activists fighting to reverse desertification in the sub-Sahara through tree planting
  • Michael Baumgart, co-founder of the Cradle to Cradle upcycling movement
  • Kate Raeworth -British economist campaigning for a new distributive and regenerative economy *
  • Lester Brown – US environmental analyst who calls for 80% reduction in CO2 by 2030
  • Bernard Lietaer – Complementary (local) currency champion

*Raeworth refers to her new economic model as the Donut Economy. See Kate Raworth: A New Economic Model Based on Planetary Boundaries Rather than Continual Growth

Public library members can view the film free at Kanopy. Type Kanopy and the name of your library into your search engine.

 

2 thoughts on “Saving the Planet by Ending Our Fixation with Economic Growth

  1. What really impressed me, Trace, is his new position on the money system (money creation by private banks) being the root of the problem. In the past, his primary focus has been on the gift economy.

    Like

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