Film examines cosmic evolution
As many as 500 individuals sharing concerns about global environmental degradation, escalating poverty and rising social inequality are expected to participate in the upcoming international conference, Degrowth in the Americas, which opens at Concordia on Sunday, May 13.
The conference, which will delve into matters connected to degrowth — the notion that we must downscale our production and consumption to avoid ecological disaster and increased social inequality — will be hosted jointly by Concordia, HEC Montréal, McGill, Université de Montreal (UdeM) and Université de Québec à Montréal (UQAM). It will draw from previous conferences in Paris and Barcelona and will focus on the particular situations and dynamics of the Americas.
Conference sessions will probe a wide variety of issues and will attempt to address a broad assortment questions connected to our reducing our ecological footprint. What does degrowth mean for our hemisphere with its rich geographical, cultural, social and economic diversity? How can degrowth models apply to different contexts from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego? What does degrowth mean for the indigenous peoples of the Americas and their aspirations for their lands and peoples?
Proponents of the degrowth movement believe that the root of our self-destructive lifestyle lies in the increasing priority given to economic growth, and that infinite growth in a limited world is impossible.
Our collective impact on the planet is explored in Journey of the Universe, a film directed by David Kennard and Patsy Northcutt, which will be screened at Concordia on Monday, May 14, as part of the degrowth conference.
The film is meant to inspire viewers to reconsider their relationship with the planet in a period of growing environmental and social crisis. The message of the film is that “we are at the very edge of evolution,” say its co-writers, Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker. According to them, “We are a primate species that has found in its language and symbols the power to take over the evolutionary process itself.”
They warn, however, that the “control that we now exercise comes with a responsibility. The human species is being asked to play a central role in activating the flourishing powers of Earth’s living systems.”
Tucker will be on hand after the screening for a moderated discussion of the film with conference participants. She will be joined by William Rees, the professor at the University of British Columbia who pioneered ecological-footprint analysis. According to Rees, whose research focuses on the incompatibility between continuous material growth and ecological security, “Degrowth is going to be the major issue of the century.”
Degrowth in the Americas will take place on the campuses of the participating universities and will include lectures, panel discussions and film screenings, as well as art, video and cultural exhibits. Various social movements and groups focused on alternative food, housing and co-operative initiatives will also be represented.
Among the other lecturers participating in the conference is Dr. David Suzuki, who is widely regarded as a world leader in sustainable ecology. His talk, entitled Humanity in Collision with the Biosphere: Is it Too Late?, is scheduled for Friday, May 18. Watch NOW for confirmed event information.
What: Screening and discussion of Journey of the Universe
When: Monday, May 14 at 9 a.m.
Where: Alumni Auditorium, Room H-110, Henry F. Hall Building (1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.), Sir George Williams Campus
• Degrowth in the Americas montreal.degrowth.org
• Journey of the Universe journeyoftheuniverse.org