Monthly Archives: January 2007

Gross National Happiness is, well… gross

In my last post I talked about “Tradable Energy Quotas” or TEQs and why I dislike the term. In a related conversation with growthmadness I mentioned why I like Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an alternative to such measures as TEQ, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross National Product (GNP), but not its name. So I guess I better explain myself.

The problem begins with the name. Gross National Happiness is poking fun at GNP, where Product is replaced by Happiness. This seems fine, until you think about the suggestiveness of the gross national. These two words are used together as a set, and it has connotations of economy and economics. So any term which are used with it will be linked to this two-word set. And in the same manner, TEQ reeks of economist’s deodorant.

The environmentalists’ choice of Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and Ecological Footprint (EF) are milder terminology. Since progress has been enlisted into the Postmodern lexicon to have a negative meaning it has the ability to affect change.

GNH may need to be repackaged if it is to be accepted. The “karma” left by GNP must be exorcised. Apart from this Gross National Happiness is a great concept, one that may actually save us if implemented properly. The question is only, how?

My thumbs down to Tradable Energy Quotas

Lately people have been talking about “Tradable Energy Quotas” or TEQ. And I have been exchanging opinions with a fellow green blogger about it. The gist of my dissatisfaction with it is that I have seen many buzz words come and go that I do not think this one is any different.

By placing the environment in some kind of countable term and making it a national-level project immediately raises my suspicion of it. Instead of the environment being about countability it should be about accountability. And rather than it being on the national level it should be on the personal level.

Too often we are trying to make things a national or social responsibility. But it should start with each person. The more people needed to be involved in something the less effective it will be. That is why smaller groups and communities are more effective in tackling problems, not just environmental ones.

I used to scoff at family values. I used to do my scoffing most likely because I was single and I was at the minority end of the family unit. But now that I have own family I realise how important and how well it can work if there is trust. And that trust can only come from being familiar with every other member of the unit.

Community values work the same way. Growing up in the city I saw how neighbours kept to themselves, guarding their lives behind closed windows and drawn curtains. Privacy was the all consuming concern, and not how the neighbourhood, as a whole, is going. Having moved into a small rural Japanese community of three hundred people about four years ago I have come to understand how just important it is to be part of an open community and to work with people to create a better environment which does not end at your front door or property fence.

This unfettered trust can only come about by knowing the people who are in that unit or community. It is about (inter)personal responsibility, and not just responsibility by legality or social etiquette. Again the family unit is a place where this can be seen clearly; the access to personal space, finance, etc, areas open to abuse by other members are placed in check by only trust and responsibility.

Without these two factors – trust and responsibility – there can be no openness. And none of these can be measured, nor should they be.

So from which end of the wire shall we pollute the Earth with?

Why are we such suckers when it comes to electric cars? All we are really going to do is plug it into an electric wall socket so that the fossil-fueled power station at the other end of that wire can pump the same amount of – if not more – greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Haven’t we realised that the car makers are laughing all the way to the bank?

A green politican acts and speaks big

This is a great little interview from the BBC with Derek Wall. He is the ‘principal speaker’ for the British Green Party. If only I were English I’d vote for this guy. I didn’t think it would be possible but you can be a politican and be genuine and honest as well. It just means you don’t get very far. But at least one’s integrity is still in tact.

Australia and China signs uranium agreement

According to today’s print version of the Daily Yomiuri (Reuters) Australia and China have signed an agreement allowing Australia to freely sell uranium for nuclear energy to China.

Australia and China ratified a Nuclear Transfer Agreement and [a] seperate Nuclear Cooperation Agreement on Thursday in Beijing, with the second agreement opening the door to civilian nuclear cooperation between the tow countries.

The article states this will double Australia’s revenue from uranium exports to one billion Australian dollars (USD787 million).

Oze to become national park

The Oze area will become a new national park separate from the Nikko National Park to which, at present, it is a part of.

The ministry hopes the decision will allow the new Oze park to clearly differentiate itself from the Nikko area, a sightseeing spot widely known for several cultural attractions, and make it a model for new national parks more focused on natural conservation.

Read the rest of this article from the Daily Yomiuri.