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A Life-Based Economy

There's a major disconnect between so many of our human-made systems and the limitations of the biosphere's ability to sustain those systems.

Near the beginning of The Need To GROW, we hear Michael Smith say:

"We're still in kind of an extraction mentality, where it's what it costs us to bring it out of the Earth. It's not what the Earth has paid to get it in. We need to start shifting from a death-based or a harvest-based mentality into a life-based economy." Rob and I really wanted to explore this idea more in the film, but there wasn't enough space in 90 minutes. The title "the need to grow" can describe both the solutions (the need to grow soil, local regenerative food, our connection to nature...), as well as the problems (the need to grow profits based on extraction of finite resources regardless of the environmental destruction). Fortunately, other films have explored this idea quite effectively already. One of my favorites is the documentary Surviving Progress. In it, geneticist David Suzuki describes this disconnection from nature within conventional economics as "a form of brain damage."

"Economics is so fundamentally disconnected from the real world, it is destructive," he says. "If you take an introductory course in economics, the professor, in the first lecture, will show a slide of the economy, and it looks very impressive … But if you ask the economist: in that equation, where do you put the ozone layer, where do you put the deep underground aquifers, where do you put topsoil, or biodiversity? Their answer is, 'Oh, those are externalities'. Well, then you might as well be on Mars: that economy is not based in anything like the real world. ... Nature’s web of life performs all kinds of services. These services are vital to the planet. Economists call these 'externalities' That's nuts!

Watch the clip below:

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FUN FACT: This "It's nuts!" moment with Suzuki inspired a moment with David King in The Need To GROW. "We throw it away rather than putting it in compost," King says about our food waste problem. "I mean, at least when you put it into compost we could ameliorate some of that ... It's almost a sin!"

Without accounting for the limited resiliency of natural systems, we are destined to destroy our only home—Earth.

So, what's the solution? People need to be in a position where they can keep their values in check, and at the same time match their values to how they make money and where they spend it. This involves so many different factors for people depending on where they are at in life.

A good place to start is the farmer's market. Buy local as much as possible. Support local businesses, artists, and companies that are investing in the environment's restoration.

The more conscious we are with our money and resources, the better chance we have at reversing civilization's march to self-destruction.

If all you can do is change where you spend your money, that is still a profound start.


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