Bad news, guys: America doesn’t score too well on the “Happy Planet Index”

posted at 6:01 pm on June 27, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

The “Happy Planet Index,” a project of the New Economics Foundation (an influential think tank with a 50-strong staff and a multi-million dollar budget) aims to assess the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants by “measuring what really matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them.” [You can't see it, but I have one eyebrow raised in extreme skepticism right now.] The measurements for what matter, apparently, include markers of how fulfilled people feel and how much of an ecological footprint they leave on the planet. …Doesn’t this just put us wealthy, out-of-touch Westerners with our mundane, materialist ideas of human happiness to shame?

Yes, it all sounds so lovely, doesn’t it?

I’m always amazed by the hubris of environmentalists who think that they possess the knowledge to engineer the “green” society of their wildest pipe dreams, in which humans manage to both leave the earth completely untouched but can still enjoy a happy and pleasant standard of living. Not only do they think we can and should bring this eco-trendy utopia about through fiat, but they also think it’s perfectly okay to impose their green religion on developing countries that would hugely benefit from economic growth and affordable energy.

The selfish disregard for the very real material hardships of others is unfathomable, and I will denounce unadulterated eco-junk like this until my dying day. Matthew Sinclair sums it up perfectly in the WSJ (I highly recommend reading the entire op-ed): Cuba comes in at twelfth place on the index, but how, exactly, are we to believe Cuba is a “happy” country when people flee from its shores in droves and most definitely not the other way around?

In what league does Iraq beat Britain, Haiti beat the United States, and Afghanistan beat Denmark? Political corruption? Violent crime? Temperature? No, welcome to the weird and wonderful world of the Happy Planet Index. It is a little window into the way many environmentalists think. …

Countries with high living standards tend to use more natural resources. That’s why instead of being praised as having a dynamic economy and being the least corrupt country in Africa, Botswana comes at the bottom of the Happy Planet Index. It scores a pitiful 22.6, way below the Democratic Republic of the Congo (30.5) and Zimbabwe (35.3). Botswana’s people might enjoy a much higher standard of living, but that means a larger ecological footprint. …

Happiness economics has similar problems. It works by asking people how satisfied they are with their lives. To assess “experienced well-being,” the Happy Planet Index uses a question called the “Ladder of Life” from the Gallup World Poll. It asks respondents to imagine a ladder, where zero is the worst possible life and 10 is the best possible life, and report the step of the ladder on which they feel they currently stand.

The problem with a question like that is that your horizons might be a little more limited if you’ve grown up in a war-torn village in Afghanistan instead of prosperous, stable and connected Denmark. The average inhabitant of Copenhagen can probably imagine a more impressive life than the average inhabitant of Kabul, and that means a much higher bar for the real lives to meet.


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i live in Texas-so of course I’m happy.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Barf!

Gothguy on June 27, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Is it 10:00 on Thursday morning yet?…no offense AP.

Oil Can on June 27, 2012 at 6:05 PM

The US will be a much happier place after we vote out Obama.

Emperor Norton on June 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM

The “Happy Planet Index,” a project of the New Economics Foundation (an influential think tank with a 50-strong staff and a multi-million dollar budget) aims to assess the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants by “measuring what really matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them.”

But not, of course, by finding out if the inhabitants of a region are actually happy, or have a high standard of living.

HitNRun on June 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM

This makes George Orwell smile.

BDavis on June 27, 2012 at 6:08 PM

In what league does Iraq beat Britain, Haiti beat the United States

??????

The same Haiti that needed us to come to the rescue when they suffered an earthquake? They’re happier than we are?

Yeah.

Bitter Clinger on June 27, 2012 at 6:09 PM

The selfish disregard for the very real material hardships of others is unfathomable, and I will denounce unadulterated eco-junk like this until my dying day.

Exactly.

tom daschle concerned on June 27, 2012 at 6:10 PM

The “Happy Planet Index,” a project of the New Economics Foundation (an influential think tank with a 50-strong staff and a multi-million dollar budget)

Follow the money. Who is funding this multi-million dollar budget?

Ditkaca on June 27, 2012 at 6:11 PM

I always knew I’d be happier in Zimbabwe.
.
….Packing my bags now.

MichaelGabriel on June 27, 2012 at 6:11 PM

The “Happy Planet Index,” a project of the New Economics Foundation (an influential think tank with a 50-strong staff and a multi-million dollar budget) aims to assess the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants

Their going to set themselves and all the other EnvironmentalistNazi’s on fire in the middle of Time Square?

SWalker on June 27, 2012 at 6:18 PM

There is a green disease, and it’s sick. In Portland, OR they cut trash pickup to once every 2 weeks, and limited the amount of trash you can have. My comment at the wsj & free republic on this:

The insidious pathology that is the green disease needs to be walled off, and kept out of your communities. Leave it to Portland, SF, or Vermont.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2900143/posts?page=1

anotherJoe on June 27, 2012 at 6:18 PM

I’m happy I have air conditioning it’s only 102 today.

DDay on June 27, 2012 at 6:20 PM

i live in Texas-so of course I’m happy.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM

That’s happiness itself.

kbTexan on June 27, 2012 at 6:22 PM

I may be shallow, but I’m always surprised that people expect to be taken seriously without any attention to personal grooming (and possibly by extension, hygiene). I also dismiss British “environmentalists” without prejudice, because they have proven to be, almost exclusively, anti-business, anti-capitalism, and anti-American, therefore anti-any-realistic-means of cleaning up the environment (okay, the anti-American bit is my own personal bias). Making the environment takes MONEY, enviros. MONEY is generated by JOBS, which are generated by BUSINESS. High-minded utopias are wonderful in fiction and fantasy, but this is the Real World, which exists outside academia and the entertainment industry.

RebeccaH on June 27, 2012 at 6:24 PM

i live in Texas-so of course I’m happy.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM

That’s happiness itself.

kbTexan on June 27, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Hey, I’m pretty damned happy, happy to live in California and not Texas. ;p

SWalker on June 27, 2012 at 6:24 PM

That was “making the environment clean”.

I hate not having an edit function, because I’m a deliquent when it comes to “preview”.

RebeccaH on June 27, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Green for thee, but not for me.

“Happy Planet Index”

How did we do on the Beautiful World charts?

Bmore on June 27, 2012 at 6:26 PM

i live in Texas-so of course I’m happy.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Living in South Carolina within easy driving distance of the Appalachian Mountains and the lakes of the Savannah River basin isn’t half bad either.

backwoods conservative on June 27, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Ah yeah, people with no marketable skills telling the unwashed masses how we should live.

Reminds me of a conversation I had with a wonderful out of work gentleman at the local courts the other day.

He said every day all congresscritters should be lined up and kicked squarely in the junk (to remind them that they had junk to begin with and to remind them who was really in charge of this country).

He also stated that every American should have to prove that they have a marketable skill (ie. can produce something that others actually need, like food, clothing, shelter, etc) and that any American (for instance those who hold a degree in homoerotic overtones in Native American art or some such BS) who cannot produce something should get a 5.56 pink slip.

He then mused that we would have no college professors and the population of the East/West coastal cities, as well as the majority of the population of the NE, would cease to exist.

Nice gentleman, using humor to deal with 2+ years of unemployment here in AZ because no one wants to hire a knowledgeable American Construction Worker when they can get an Illegal for 1/8 the price.

majordomomojo on June 27, 2012 at 6:28 PM

i live in Texas-so of course I’m happy.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Living in South Carolina within easy driving distance of the Appalachian Mountains and the lakes of the Savannah River basin isn’t half bad either.

backwoods conservative on June 27, 2012 at 6:27 PM

I’ve never lived anywhere but Texas, but I have visited all 57 states and three foreign countries, and found hapiness there as well, so I know it is posssible to be happy even when you’re not in Texas.

kbTexan on June 27, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Haiti beat the United States

Well there ya go! All those people DYING AT SEA as they flee Haiti must have been out of their freaking minds!

Hey “Happy Planet” guys! How about we take all of you and drop you in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Just think how “happy” you’ll be communing up close and personal with “nature”.

GarandFan on June 27, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Hey, I’m pretty damned happy, happy to live in California and not Texas. ;p

SWalker on June 27, 2012 at 6:24 PM

I live in Illinois and I’m not dead, yet. So, there’s that. :)

Fallon on June 27, 2012 at 6:35 PM

I’ve never lived anywhere but Texas, but I have visited all 57 states and three foreign countries, and found hapiness there as well, so I know it is posssible to be happy even when you’re not in Texas.

kbTexan on June 27, 2012 at 6:32 PM

That’s fortunate for me, since I’ve never been to Texas and can’t afford the gas to get there.

backwoods conservative on June 27, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Wow! I took a few minutes and browsed around on the New Economics Foundation website. 100% communist blather

Ditkaca on June 27, 2012 at 6:39 PM

This too? I just got done commenting thusly on another mindless poll story about Obama and aliens:

Is today a slow news day ahead of tomorrow’s anticipated chaos? Did people knock off early to go home and rest up for Obamascare/Contempt Thursday? Or has the country’s extreme heat just gotten to everybody?

stukinIL4now on June 27, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Wow! I took a few minutes and browsed around on the New Economics Foundation website. 100% communist blather

Ditkaca on June 27, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Shocking, simply shocking I say…. Oh… Wait, my shocking meter is just broken again… ;p

SWalker on June 27, 2012 at 6:42 PM

This too? I just got done commenting thusly on another mindless poll story about Obama and aliens:

Is today a slow news day ahead of tomorrow’s anticipated chaos? Did people knock off early to go home and rest up for Obamascare/Contempt Thursday? Or has the country’s extreme heat just gotten to everybody?

stukinIL4now on June 27, 2012 at 6:42 PM

This is the proverbial calm before the storm…

SWalker on June 27, 2012 at 6:44 PM

stukinIL4now on June 27, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Um… Yes?

Has anyone found Jesse Jackson Jr, yet?

Fallon on June 27, 2012 at 6:45 PM

The same Haiti that needed us to come to the rescue when they suffered an earthquake? They’re happier than we are?

Yeah.

Bitter Clinger on June 27, 2012 at 6:09 PM

No, you see they are living in a way that makes the planet happy as defined by the Eco-Marxists. That makes them happy even though they wouldn’t live in Haiti if their lives depended on it. So even though Haitians have no electrical grid or running clean water, and live in crushing poverty, they are declared Happy Planet people because their brutal existence is “sustainable.”

RadClown on June 27, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Liberals run all of these various international scales and use them to shame us into accepting more of their crap liberalism. Ignore them all and crank up the AC, it’s getting hot this weekend.

slickwillie2001 on June 27, 2012 at 7:09 PM

No, you see they are living in a way that makes the planet happy as defined by the Eco-Marxists. That makes them happy even though they wouldn’t live in Haiti if their lives depended on it. So even though Haitians have no electrical grid or running clean water, and live in crushing poverty, they are declared Happy Planet people because their brutal existence is “sustainable.”

RadClown on June 27, 2012 at 6:47 PM

You gotta keep your eye on that word: sustainable. It is the dagger the Left wishes to plunge into the heart of Liberty.

squint on June 27, 2012 at 7:11 PM

I’ve been all around the world… You can count the places outside the USA I would live in on one hand and have a few fingers leftover…

Khun Joe on June 27, 2012 at 7:15 PM

*#%@ the Happy Planet Index and all the happy plants that made it.

I don’t care about measures of “happiness” from misanthropes and nihilists.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 27, 2012 at 7:16 PM

I’ve always considered my ecological footprint as one of the most important factors in my overall happiness. Excuse me now while I go fashion a windbreaker out of my used burrito wrappings.

I despise people that are egocentric enough to think Mother Nature gives a crap what they carry their groceries home in. Consider what an incredibly deluded sense of self-importance that must require. It is any wonder these same idiots want to continue to throw trillions down the poverty hole? Their whole mission in life is to congratulate themselves on how much they care.

DanaLynn on June 27, 2012 at 7:49 PM

….we have to take more drugs?

KOOLAID2 on June 27, 2012 at 7:58 PM

that guys shirt is unbuttoned very low… planet sad :(

Contributor X on June 27, 2012 at 8:01 PM

So I gather all the folks from the New Econ Foundation are moving in droves to “happy” countries.

KenInIL on June 27, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Your personal Happy Planet Index(HPI) is 24.1.

Apparently I get “down twinkles”.

http://survey.happyplanetindex.org/start.php

Kungfoochimp on June 27, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Oh, give me a break. We have the real football — of course we’re the happiest.

J.E. Dyer on June 27, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Wow! I took a few minutes and browsed around on the New Economics Foundation website. 100% communist blather

Ditkaca on June 27, 2012 at 6:39 PM

I won’t look. Any indication of a sugar daddy?

I despise people that are egocentric enough to think Mother Nature gives a crap what they carry their groceries home in. Consider what an incredibly deluded sense of self-importance that must require.

DanaLynn on June 27, 2012 at 7:49 PM

I take plastic every time, and then I throw them the hell away.

adoubledot on June 27, 2012 at 10:13 PM

I won’t look. Any indication of a sugar daddy?

adoubledot on June 27, 2012 at 10:13 PM

They list their donors – larger ones anyway. I looked a few up. They were British lefty orgs/foundations.

The site itself is openly calling for a communist revolution (their economic page esp). OWS crap in academic wrappings.

Kungfoochimp on June 27, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Damned, I never realized just how unhappy I have been having to crap in ventilated heated/AC comfort, instead of behind a bush.

Wallythedog on June 28, 2012 at 10:04 AM