Happiness as a measurement tool for wealth in the twenty-first century
Happiness is one of the most important elements for sustainable development and personal growth in the twenty-first century. Therefore, we have decided to create a happiness category to explore the elements that lead to greater human qualities and improve equality without increasing the desire for materialism through consumption. Throughout the year, research, philosophies and happiness quotes will be published to expose the true DNA of happiness and elements that can change the world to a better place for everybody, not only the 20% that got it all today.
In a new nature driven, economy happiness might be the most important concept for sustainable development. A move away from “money” as the currency for measuring wealth is necessary in a world with limited resources, high consumption and increased population. The model of measuring well-being does not necessarily correlate between nations with strong economic performance and social-psychological prosperity. Wealth. Therefore, does not alone result in happiness. In history, GDP has been the most well-known indicator for measuring human well-being or “happiness among nations. However, recent year’s indicators such as the human development indicator by United Nation have gained popularity as a better way of measuring.
The problem with money = well-being is human natures so easily attached for material progress, and without paying any attention to spiritual development, we simple become collectors of things (because they can identify our status and be measured monetarily). The more we possess, the wealthier and happier we tend to believe we are; what we do know is that capitalism put an incredible pressure on natural resources. Furthermore, it only benefits a smaller percentage of the population, and purely few selected societies. It rather exposes our poorest qualities as material wealth often create human ego-centrism, other forms of addictions, greed and selfishness. The last 20 year of economic growth is an evidence that this is right. So why are we still fixated upon materialism and measurement of well-being in physical objects instead of the abstract and immaterial values? Read the post: Re-thinking sustainability for the twenty-first century, spirituality; the missing link
Why equity is essential for sustainable development
Sustainable development cannot happen unless it’s an increase of equity, unfortunately this is not the case. The lack of equity on national as well international happens, although in numerous nations, economic growth has, in reality, resulted in equity reduction. Over the last years several studies on social behaviour and economics has been published with the same result; that when citizens basic needs are met, further increase in income and consumption does not seem to improve people’s happiness and satisfaction. Therefore, in affluent parts of the world, continued growth in GDP is not necessary for a good life.
One reason is that capitalism demands an effective way of working, minimizing cost in every single operation. We have adapted the same way of thinking in our society; in the past, we mostly lived together in larger family structure, maybe even with grandparents and cousins. Factor as being treated with respect and having friends and family one can count on in an emergency was a natural part of our “happiness package.” Today we have to pay for the same services because of time=money, etc.
The world population is rising dramatically, and they all want a western lifestyle.
Around 1960 the population on earth was about 3 billion people. Today we are around 7 billion people sharing the same resources on earth. The incredible growth is a result of cheap energy. Even raw materials and fresh food soon became reachable across the world, leading to one global market place. The globalization of the economy operated on market principles. What people, in reality, need is ignored because those who are richer can pay more and therefore, buy as considerably as they want of what they want to be produced. Therefore, we use much more of the world’s resources, in fact we use 75% of the global resources and are only 20% of the total global population. While we overeat and die because of obesity, 850 million people are hungry. In fact, we dictate what to produce by the name of profit and not what is most needed. Farmland that could be used locally to produce what’s needed for themselves, instead they land is used to raw materials for cosmetics, fashion etc.
Most of the population growth has occurred and still happens in low co2 emission per person. However, in the future these people hope and dream of increased material wealth will be a reality. Looking into the future according to United Nations estimates, the global population will increase further and by 2050 jump from today’s 7 billion to about 9 billion. These people want a lifestyle just like any European and American. It’s not needed for any rocket science to understand that this will cause massive pressure on natural resources and especially energy sector.
Who got the power, politicians, scientists or trade?
So far, very little has happened on the international agenda, mostly talked about solutions is based upon technological fix that can continue and increase the cyclic consumption. Why? It happens mainly because the powerful decision makers are mostly found in the higher parts of the society and take care of the desires of the rich. The rich people are hardly happy with a political agreement promoting fewer energy-intensive lifestyles or reduction, since they are not interested in earning less. Secondly, the power of the world does not belong to governments or nations and not ruled by politicians or countries.
Large companies with global infrastructure and workers sitting in committees, PR agencies and paid officials are not limited by visible boarders or national law. The enormous power of the greatest companies should not be underestimated, among the 100 greatest economies worldwide 51 are international companies. The 200 largest companies combined sales surpasses 182 countries, except the biggest nine nations. One might think that they are employing a lot of people and create many jobs? No, in fact, these companies have been net job destroyer’s recent years, and their CEO’s often benefit financially from the job cuts ( Research United Nations Environmental Program GEO-2002).
Western companies invest in the third world. However, These companies compete for the best workforce globally and therefore, are willing to pay top salaries and rather invest heavily in technology that can cut low-wage jobs and simultaneously outsource jobs to contractors in low cost nations, with fewer regulations, poor working conditions, hardly give anything back in form of development or compensation and pay workers as low as 15-20 cent. Were even the exploitation of children through child labour happens every single day: all well-known facts in the fashion Industry.
9 billion people consumer market
According to a report on the global consumer market towards 2020 published by AT Kearney, the growth in real spending (adjusted for inflation in both unit cost of goods global and currency) will increase $12 trillion next ten years. This group of emerging consumers will represent a greater share; one-third of the spending will come from what they refer to as not-established markets, China, Brazil and India are the largest among these countries. Looking further ahead, the consumption will increase as the population continues growing.
In 2050, we will be according to United Nation estimates be two billion people more on earth. What would happen if 9 billion people live by the same material standards and consume resources at the present per capita rate as the rich countries today? The resource production rate would have to be increased by at least eight times, even more according to research. The rich one-fifth of the world’s population are consuming around three-quarters of the resources produced globally. Product wise, one example is petroleum, the consumption per-capita is around 17 times that of the poorest half of the world’s population. These facts make clear that the rich world way, and living standards are highly un-sustainable. However, this is not the most important issue, what is important? it’s possible for all to have much happier living standards in almost any way if can find out what makes us feel happy and satisfied over time and share it more equal across Earth’s population. Therefore, “money-wealth” is not a suitable currency for measuring personal wealth in the twenty-first century.
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