Ban T-shirts: Can we evolve scientifically without damaging the planet?
Gerard: Science only increases our can-do. The growth of society rests primarily on resource and energy availability and then science kicks in when something runs out or doesn't produce enough anymore to allow us to grow. We are now about to run out of fossil fuels (in 10 years or 100 years really doesn't make a difference) and we no longer have sufficient food nor clean fresh water. Producing more food and fresh water using advanced technologies will only generate less of it elsewhere and more pollution, therefore more global degradation. What we now need to work on is our "should do" and this will not come from science, it will rather come from a place of faith, ethic and belief. We now know that information alone is not enough to mobilize people. Like it or not, emotions are stronger than knowledge. When we have a new ethic of respect for our world, one that goes beyond lip service and sticking a peace sign on an SUV, then we will create the kind of science that will go along the overall downsizing our actions. Science accompanies any good or bad societal phenomenon, it cannot lead the way.
Ban T-shirts: In the film you introduce the idea that the world's principal religions teach respect for the Earth. Do you see any of the world's religions making a positive contribution to the well-being of the planet?
Gerard: At this point in history, there is no doubt that Buddhism and Hinduism are the two religions that preach the most respect for nature and humility in our actions. Sadly, all religions in general are repeatedly hijacked by manipulative rulers who want to lead populations through political schemes that have absolutely nothing to do with spirituality in any shape or form. But it is true too that it is faith that moves mountains, not knowledge or wisdom. Faith makes people strip and wip themsleves with razor blades attached to chains in an attempt to ask "the eternal" for forgiveness. It is faith, any kind of faith, not purely religious, that will also make people get off their SUVs and go to the grocery store with a bicycle outfitted with a pair of paniers. There has been a total collapse of religious faith in the West simply because we ate too much and were too busy playing with our plastic toys to be afraid of our impending deaths. Now that the prospect of eating less and of being deprived of our toys is looming, fear is coming back and with it religious aspirations. It is probably a good thing and hopefully there will be enough authentic spiritual leaders who will preach again simplicity, humility and compassion as the foremost paths towards happiness in this life and ... heaven in another. There will not be willing transition towards reduction and increased physical efforts in the absence of spirituality.
Ban T-shirts: Can you tell us about any projects that you have in the pipeline?
Gerard: "BELONGING" is the first leg of a three-part series devoted to exploring the link between spiritual common sense and sustainability. I am now shooting a project about practical ways to save money and resources. The concluding episode will explore much more deeply our connection to the Earth and our absolute need to grow spiritually or die as a civilization.
Ban T-shirts: Where can readers find out more about your work?