6.7.09

HAPPY PLANET?

British people are less satisfied with life than many
in poorer countries and use too many of the earth's
resources, according to a poll that ranks us
74th in the world below Georgia and Burma.

Rather than measure Gross Domestic Product or GDP,
the
Happy Planet Index measures life expectancy,
happiness and the environmental
impact of different nations.


The top ten countries are not the richest nations but
middle income countries in Latin America, Asia or
the Carribbean where there is a high level of
life satisfaction and low carbon footprint.


Costa Rica is the greenest and happiest country on
the planet, according to the rankings developed
by think tank the New Economics Foundation,
followed by the Dominican Republic
and Jamaica.


The UK comes in at 74 out of 143 countries behind
post-Soviet Georgia at 72, the military dictatorship
Burma at 39 and Sri Lanka, which has been
scarred by civil war, at 22.


The highest ranking country in the EU was the
Netherlands at 43 followed by France
at 71 and Germany at 51.


Levels of life satisfaction, calculated from a
worldwide poll, were also not necessarily
high in rich countries where violence and
inequality continue to be a problem.


In the UK the low ranking was largely due to
social problems or what has been labelled
"broken Britain" and the high carbon
footprint of most of the population.


If everyone in the world wanted to live as
people do in the UK, it would require the
resources of more than three earths.


Nick Marks, who devised the rankings, said
that there are still high levels of inequality
in the UK as well as community breakdown
and unhealthy lifestyles.


"There are a lot of people who are unhappy particularly
at the lower income end of the spectrum but it is not
only financial inequality, it is the longer working
week, a lack of social cohesion through a sense
of belonginess to the community or the
geographic area, indebtedness, low levels
of volunteering and more passive
lifestyles," he said.


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