Comparison of Different Measures of Progress Essay

Submitted By mrg941
Words: 1159
Pages: 5

For years Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been the most common factor we have used in order to gauge the overall strength of a country’s economy. The GDP of a country can be defined as the total value of the goods and services produced within a specific country in a year. Considering this we can see that GDP is a very broad measure of a country’s economic progress and fails to account for the social and ecological costs involved within a country. Given this knowledge we can draw comparisons between GDP and the Genuine Progress Index (GPI). The Genuine Progress Index provides a much more accurate picture of a country’s standard of living by taking into account things like a clean environment, household work, and volunteer organizations. The GPI helps to draw a line between the positive and negative actions of the economy in order to understand and build on a more sustainable economy. Here we can see that the GPI provides a more ecocentric view as it values the different aspects of the environment. A tool we can use as individuals to see how we contribute to our country’s GPI is the Ecological Footprint concept and the Human Development Index. Our own ecological footprint provides us with an individual understanding of how our daily routines and decisions impact the environment. Whereas the Human Development Index measures and ranks countries by separate levels of human development. Given all these tools of measurement and different concepts we can further discuss their implications for Canada’s position in the world.
Gross Domestic Product for decades now, has been the leading aspect to which we draw conclusions based on a country’s economical well being. But we are now realizing that GDP is concerned only with the dollar value of the goods and services produced by a country during a one year span. GDP does not account for many other aspects of the economy including the social and ecological cost (GPI Atlantic, 2007). Therefore when we look at GDP to decide whether a country’s economy is healthy we are blinded to the negative contributors to a country’s GDP. For example when logging companies chop down trees, in terms of GDP we only see the dollar value from the lumber sold and don’t realize the cost to the environment and ecosystems that come with deforestation (GPI Atlantic, 2007). This is where the Genuine Progress Index provides much more accuracy in determining a country’s overall economic health. Perhaps the most important item that GPI brings to the table is that it is able to discern the costs of activities as either positive or negative creating a much more accurate picture of an economy’s strength. With the use of GPI we are able to put a value on our natural resources as they are being depleted and we can then recognize that as a significant cost, whereas GDP calculations will only see the depletion of our natural resources as a financial gain. Ultimately as we compare GDP with the GPI we can see how GDP depicts everything as a profit and therefore always shows growth in an economy as long as the GDP rises. Otherwise the GPI recognizes that not all goods or services have a positive financial gain rather it distinguishes certain actions as either positive or negative and understands the costs that these actions have on the environment. Considering this knowledge while calculating the GPI gives us insight on how to model a more sustainable economy.
A way we as individuals can measure our own impact on the environment is through calculating our ecological footprint. An ecological footprint is the amount of land consumed on average by each person in the world for food, water, transport, housing, waste management, and other purposes (Global Footprint Network, 2009). This means that us as people leave behind a footprint on the earth that is a reflection of the resources that we consume during our lifetime. When calculating our ecological footprints we can clearly see how our everyday decisions have a direct impact