Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New measure of progress needed

No comments:
My petition on the Prime Minister's website
(http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ISEW-not-GDP/) quickly gained 34 of the 100 signatures needed to guarantee a reply when first posted there but signing has since slowed up. I've today sent a letter to the Bristol Evening Post based on the text below, to try to get more people to sign.

Back in 1968 Robert F Kennedy said this about the way we measure progress in our industrialised societies ie assessing the size of our economy (GNP, or GDP) :

"The Gross National Product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. GNP includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm, missiles and nuclear warheads.

And if GNP includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. GNP measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country…"

Like Robert F Kennedy my view is that continued use of GDP/GNP (economic growth) as the major indicator of progress in our society is seriously flawed. Accounts which produce GDP/GNP do not subtract the costs of producing economic growth such as climate change and resource depletion. They are most unlike normal balance sheet accounts, which add income and subtract costs, in that they only add! Any greener government would use a much broader and more balanced indicator of progress or wellbeing, such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare or similar, which more closely reflect the real quality of life.

If you agree with me then please sign my petition on the Prime Minister's website (http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ISEW-not-GDP/), which states:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to replace GDP/GNP as the key indicator of progress in society with a measure, such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, or similar, to help take us in a much greener direction.