Gross Domestic Product
That is, if there's such a thing as a "cool" way to measure an economy.
"2016 is off to a roaring start."
Destroying the environment is bad for the planet and all the life it supports, including us. But it's often good for business. But the massive costs of dealing with a pipeline or tanker spill and the resulting climate change consequences will far outweigh the benefits.
Governments, media and much of the public are preoccupied with the economy. That means demands such as those for recognition of First Nations treaty rights and environmental protection are often seen as impediments to the goal of maintaining economic growth. The gross domestic product has become a sacred indicator of well-being. Ask corporate CEOs and politicians how they did last year and they'll refer to the rise or fall of the GDP. It's a strange way to measure either economic or social well-being. Whatever we come up with, it has to be better than GDP with its absurd emphasis on endless growth on a finite planet.
But there's a particular god our planet has been worshipping since WWII, and there are many reasons to suggest it's time for a serious rethink. The god is "growth", specifically economic growth and the way we measure it: GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
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.
A large part of Canada's problem is that we are increasing our fossil-fueled ambitions at breakneck speed in the absence of a long-term national energy strategy. No one seems to know where we're going, but the end of the road is looming, and it might lead to a steep drop.