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Addicted to Growth

Addicted to Growth

By Patricia Turner,

Retired Research Scientist from the University of California

Founder, Tierra Sagrada, The Sacred Earth Foundation

I founded The Sacred Earth Foundation because I saw our total disconnection from Mother Earth and I believed our indigenous brothers and sisters could really assist us in our reconnect and in the joy it provides. I feel blessed that both my right and my left hemispheres of my brain seem to be in balance and I can lift myself up with spirit and still walk with practical feet. Hopefully, this article will offer this balance for you.

I’m curious. How many of you have traveled to some extraordinarily beautiful place on vacation and then returned to this same place 10 or 20 years later to find it heartbreakingly devastated just by the shear numbers of people who had discovered it’s magic.

This happened to me only this year when I returned to Costa Rica and went to a beautiful beach town called Manuel Antonio. The wonderful, peaceful place I had visited 15 years before where spider monkeys came out of the trees helping themselves to the banana I had placed on my table thrilled me and allowed me to feel so connected to nature. I was there with my partner, Tom, and we were truly in heaven and enjoyed the beauty of the ocean and the fact that we were nearly the only visitors to the town.

Upon my return I found the beaches covered in umbrellas, Zip Lining, cars everywhere and all of the monkeys had fled inland as they simply could no longer hear each other over the noise of the traffic.

This is what we experience due to both economic and population growth. There isn’t a day that goes by on the media that we don’t hear of the need for economic growth and we have become brainwashed to believing this is true. This comes from the mouths of every politician with the exception of the few who truly have our well being in mind. I remember being able to rent an apartment for $200 and although I probably made $400 a month at that time it was not a struggle just to survive. Life was easier, sweeter, and better for the planet.

A man named Dave Gardner, who ran for City Council in Colorado Springs and Founder of has had the courage to make a film called “GrowthBusters”. Yes, just like the Ghost Busters and we need more men like Dave to put on that backpack and wake us up to the fact that economic development coupled with increase in population is not making our lives better but absolutely unsustainable.

In my lifetime the population of our planet has grown from 2.5 billion to more than 7.5 billion people. We consume at a rate equal to 1.6 earths by using the resources that will be needed by our children and their children.

The immense insanity of believing that growing our populations for the purpose of growing our economies is driving us rapidly towards the cliff of no return. We need to dream a new paradigm. One of simplicity, one of peaceful decline of economics to that place where every human being can eat, have a place of shelter and the rich abundance of nature to nurture our souls.

This constant state of growth is ensuring our own destruction and only lining the pockets of the wealthiest 1% on our planet. In January of 2017 Fortune magazine ran an article with evidence from Reuters and OXFAM that reported that the original information stating that 62 people owned more wealth than 3.6 billion of the poorest people in the world was incorrect and that this number is really 8 people: These 8 people are Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg. The obscenity of this inequity is beyond imagination and the increase in wealth annually that they enjoy is beyond comprehension while billions struggle to survive.

I implore you to ask yourselves:

Is life any more fulfilling or easier than it was, say around 1970? Do my earnings purchase more than they did a decade ago? I believe you will find the answer is no unless you have had a windfall of wealth happen in your life as our wages today do not buy as much as they did in the early 1970s. We may earn a lot more but it doesn’t allow us more buying power than back then. Rents and mortgages have skyrocketed so that the Great American Dream of being a homeowner is out of reach for the great majority of people. These are people who work 40 hours and more every week and need roommates just to have a roof over their heads.

I would also like to ask you if you truly find happiness in consumption? That thing you just thought you couldn’t live without is probably hanging on a wall or sitting in a corner where you no longer notice it. Population times consumption equals IMPACT. We all need to experience the joys one can feel from not consuming. When we learn to live from a place of gratitude for what we have our desires for more truly dissipate.

At a time where population increase is threatening our very existence, a small country called Palau is actually fining its citizens $500 or up to 3 months in jail for using birth control. France offers larger tax incentives for a third child. This is truly insanity and being encouraged by countries all over the planet simply to grow the economy.

What does this mean for most of us? More traffic to contend with, jobs going overseas to a working population that is living in poverty. Young people coming out of school with severe debt and no available jobs, deterioration of that which gives us life, our planet. Growth and prosperity do NOT come hand in hand. Our waters are becoming increasingly polluted, the changes in climate threaten food supplies while all the time our governments are encouraging us to “have more babies, grow the economy.”

In the movie “GrowthBusters” by Dave Gardner you will find Dr. Al Bartlett, Professor Emeritus of Physics speaking about our inability to understand exponential growth and he uses an example of one bacterium placed in a beaker at 11:00. The number of bacteria doubles every minute. In one hour, 12:00, this beaker will be filled and there will be no more room for the bacteria to grow. When asking his students what they think the time will be when the beaker is half full, he suggests that no one will get it correctly. The beaker will only be half full at 1 minute to 12. In one minute, those bacteria will be living in a state of total collapse. At 5 minutes to 12 this beaker was only 3% filled and with 97% of the space still available, do you think the bacteria could notice at that time what they would encounter in the next 5 minutes? We are now at 1 minute to 12 dear friends.

What can you do? Stop consuming what you don’t need, elect officials who put planet, people, profit in that order of importance and those who don’t believe in growing the economy and our population. We do have the power to make the difference. Share this widely and we will become exponential in our wisdom.

Photo credit: Bill Jack

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