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GrowthBusters (2011)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 2011 (USA)
2:50 | Trailer

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This film asks the most critical question of our time: How do we become a sustainable civilization? It takes a unique approach among modern environmental documentaries: Rather than ... See full summary »


Dave Gardner


Dave Gardner
1 nomination. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Saleem Ali Saleem Ali ... Himself (professor of environmental studies)
Kelly Baker Kelly Baker ... Extra
Albert Bartlett Albert Bartlett ... Himself (professor emeritus of physics) (as Bartlett)
George Carlin ... Himself (archive footage)
John Cruickshank John Cruickshank ... Himself (Sierra Club)
Brian Czech Brian Czech ... Himself (CASSE)
Herman Daly Herman Daly ... Himself (ecological economist)
Maxine Dunn Maxine Dunn ... Narrator
Veronica Egan Veronica Egan ... Herself (Great Old Broads for Wilderness)
Paul Ehrlich Paul Ehrlich ... Himself (biologist)
Robert Engelman Robert Engelman ... Himself (Worldwatch Institute)
Eben Fodor Eben Fodor ... Himself (community planning consultant)
Dave Gardner Dave Gardner ... Narrator
Jack Hart Jack Hart ... Himself (The Oregonian)
Trathen Heckman Trathen Heckman ... Himself (Transition U.S.)


This film asks the most critical question of our time: How do we become a sustainable civilization? It takes a unique approach among modern environmental documentaries: Rather than dispensing facts about climate change; peak energy, food and water; and biodiversity loss, it examines the cultural barriers that prevent us from acting rationally. It asks why population conversations are so difficult to have, and why a roaring economy is more important to us than a survivable planet. It looks into the psychology of denial and crowd behavior. It explores our obsession with community growth and economic growth. Hooked on Growth holds up a mirror, encouraging us to examine the beliefs and behaviors we must leave behind, and the values we need to embrace, in order that our children can survive and thrive. Written by Dave Gardner

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Hooked on Growth




Not Rated


Official Sites:

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Release Date:

2011 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$168,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

GrowthBusters See more »
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Technical Specs


(original) | (cut)



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

'Growthbusters' Explores Limits to Growth
8 February 2013 | by mariaf-835-828648See all my reviews

It's tricky for the documentary filmmaker to put himself/herself onto screen, making the documentarian a focus of the film. Michael Moore has done it successfully. Dave Gardner tries it now, taking on the role of not just documentarian but "Growthbuster" in his crusade against too much growth.

"Growthbusters" plays on the name and trappings of the popular 1984 film, "Ghostbusters," with documentary filmmaker Dave Gardner as the lead "Growthbuster." Yes, it's a hook that's a little goofy and a little hokey, but when you're dealing with "the greatest failing of humankind," as Gardner describes our addiction to unsustainable growth, adding a little cornball humor helps us bear the extreme weightiness of the topic.

And not only are we acting unsustainably, Gardner says, "The proof is out there that we are in overshoot." The scale of human enterprise—population, consumption and the size of economies—has outgrown the planet. Yet humankind continues behaving as though there are no limits. He believes it's largely cultural reasons that keep us from seeing we're at the limits, and through "Growthbusters," he's spotlighting the roadblocks.

Gardner uses his hometown of Colorado Springs as a poster child for growth addiction. In the depiction of this south-central Colorado town, the viewer will quickly recognize most any town in the U.S.A.—one of urban sprawl, big box stores, other familiar chain stores of smaller size and massive parking lots to accommodate our car culture. Anchoring the story in his home base helps create the film's narrative, as Gardner takes on the issue as the "no-growth" candidate in his bid for a city council seat and explores the sacrifices we make based on the blind faith that growth will solve a community's problems and make it better.

The film features a wealth of interviews with the leading thinkers about sustainability, overpopulation and the impacts of too much growth. There's Robert Engelman of Worldwatch Institute and Eben Fodor, author of "Better, Not Bigger." Gardner also features anthropologist/primatologist Jane Goodall, former Colorado governor and populationist Dick Lamm, population ecologist William Rees, Bill Ryerson of the Population Institute and Madeline Weld of the Population Institute of Canada, among many others.

Stanford University's Paul Ehrlich, author of the seminal work, "The Population Bomb," makes one of the most important connections to consumption and population—particularly for those who beat the drum primarily about the consumption side of the growth equation. "If you manage, somehow, to half each person's consumption, on average," he says, "but you allow population size to double, you haven't gained at all, because, if you have half as much consumption, but twice as many persons, you're right where you started."

If you are someone who follows these issues, this is a film you will want to see. You can say, "This is what I've been talking about; thank you Gardner for framing this discussion!"

And if growth and overpopulation aren't something you consider as a problem, this is for you too. "Growthbusters" lays out the challenges and starts the discussion on solutions—something about which we all should be concerned.

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