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By almost any measure, Canada fares surprisingly poorly when it comes to protecting the environment. In 2013, the Conference Board of Canada ranked us 15th out of 17 countries based on a wide range of environmental metrics. Yet as anyone who has paddled a river, hiked a trail, or spent time in Canada's gazillion wild and beautiful places will know, this is a country that should be leading the world on green performance.
In 1971, Bhutan, nestled in the Himalayas between China and India, rejected the idea of gross domestic product as the measure of progress. Instead, leaders focused on gross national happiness. Life expectancy in Bhutan has doubled over the past 20 years. Our leaders could brighten all our lives by considering what really makes our societies strong, healthy and happy.
It's easier, more effective, and cheaper to let healthy bodies fight off disease and infections than to weaken those defence mechanisms and then compensate for them medically. If we want a stable health system, we must put more resources into reducing pollution and environmental degradation and creating a way of life that keeps bodies and minds happy and in good health.