The economics of wellbeing.The UN Environment Programme recently announced that the world's consumer class has reached a new high of 1.7 billion--more than one of every four humans on Earth--with almost half of them residing in the developing world. While economists may celebrate this finding as a sign of economic growth, UNEP UNEP United Nations Environment Program(me)
UNEP Unbundled Network Element Platform
UNEP University of Northeastern Philippines deputy director Shafqat Kakakhel warns that "It is clear that the Earth's natural ecosystems will not cope with the style of industrialization industrialization
Process of converting to a socioeconomic order in which industry is dominant. The changes that took place in Britain during the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th century led the way for the early industrializing nations of western Europe and and overconsumption seen in Europe or North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. ." Perpetual growth in consumption will prove impossible to maintain on a planet of finite resources, even if marketers continue to spend $450 billion a year to convince us that we'll find happiness in the newest and "coolest" stuff. Perhaps it's time It's Time was a successful political campaign run by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) under Gough Whitlam at the 1972 election in Australia. Campaigning on the perceived need for change after 23 years of conservative (Liberal Party of Australia) government, Labor put forward a to start building a new system that centers not on consumption as a means to improve wellbeing, but directly on improving wellbeing itself.
Consider our consumption of cars, which are fervently desired for the personal mobility and status that they--or the ads for them--promise. They are desired despite the vast urban sprawl, excessive use of materials and gasoline, pollution, traffic congestion The condition of a network when there is not enough bandwidth to support the current traffic load.
congestion - When the offered load of a data communication path exceeds the capacity. , and the millions of accident fatalities or injuries that car-centered development has brought. Suppose, however, that we could shift attention from the product that is now so emotionally linked to notions of free mobility, to the more objective question of how true mobility is best provided. A few cities have actually done this, and have gained large dividends for the wellbeing of their residents. Bogota, for example, invested in public transit instead of a new freeway system--and at half the cost. Its new bus system carries 700,000 people each day, far more than could afford cars, and at far less cost in terms of delays, frustration, and effects of polluted pol·lute
tr.v. pol·lut·ed, pol·lut·ing, pol·lutes
1. To make unfit for or harmful to living things, especially by the addition of waste matter. See Synonyms at contaminate.
2. air on health.
Perhaps it would be quixotic quix·ot·ic also quix·ot·i·cal
1. Caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals; idealistic without regard to practicality.
2. to think the political power of the auto and oil industries could be bucked the way the tobacco industry is being bucked by the recent adoption of the Global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. But even so, the tobacco convention suggests some bold new ways of thinking about public policy on a broad front. Raising taxes on cars and fuel to inhibiting levels, for example--and using the revenue to fund benign people-friendly urban alternatives such as bicycle lanes, car-free pedestrian zones, and public transit--might seem unthinkable to some. But if a lot of the money now spent on subsidizing and accommodating cars were redirected toward demonstrating the desirability of taking a bus, tiding tid·ing
A piece of information or news. Often used in the plural: tidings of great joy; sad tidings. See Synonyms at news. a bike, or walking to work, that resistance could well begin to melt. In time, of course, a more responsible use of public funding Public funding is money given from tax revenue or other governmental sources to an individual, organization, or entity. See also
Erik Assadourian Worldwatch Staff Researcher