Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Arthur Neslen reports on the Health and Environmental Alliance's study of greenhouse gas emission reductions showing that we'd enjoy both improved health and economic benefits by pursuing ambitious targets to fight climate change. And David Roberts examines the massive cost and minimal benefit of carbon capture and storage schemes which serve mostly to increase how much oil we burn at public expense.

- Chris Simpson writes about the need for physicians to consider social determinants of health as part of patient care. And Carolyn Shimmin offers a primer for journalists (and others) to talk about the effect of poverty on health.

- Trevor Hancock reminds us that there's far more to social development than GDP:
The Genuine Progress Indicator starts with the same personal consumption data that the GDP is based on, but then makes some crucial distinctions. It adjusts for factors such as income distribution, adds factors such as the value of household and volunteer work, and subtracts factors such as the costs of crime and pollution.

A 2013 report by Redefining Progress (the Seattle-based organization that created the GPI) compared the GDP and GPI for 17 countries (most of them high-income) for the period from 1955 to 2003. It found that while global GDP has increased more than three-fold since 1950, the GPI has actually decreased in those countries since 1978.

So while the GDP tells us we are doing better, the GPI tells us that is not so. What’s more, the study found that beyond about $7,000 GDP per person (Canada’s GDP per person was more than $50,000 in 2013), further increases in GDP per capita are negatively correlated with GPI. In other words, further growth in GDP does more harm than good.

The Canadian Index of Well-being tells a similar story. It tracks changes in eight quality of life categories. In the period from 1994 to 2010, while Canada’s GDP grew by 29 per cent, our quality of life improved by only 5.7 per cent. So increased GDP does not translate into better quality of life.
- But then, PressProgress notes that we also shouldn't presume that our current focus on giveaways to business will even lead to GDP growth, as the only aspect of our economy which seems to be doing well is an unprecedented level of corporate profits.

- Simon responds to David McGrane's research on political preferences by age in discussing how young voters can - and need to - help to build a better and more progressive Canada. And Karl Nerenberg notes that at least some political leaders including Thomas Mulcair are starting to carry the banner for a fairer tax system.

- Finally, the National Post argues that the Cons have failed to make any case whatsoever for imposing draconian terror legislation on Canadians. John Ivison slams the anti-democratic attitude behind both the bill and the Cons' handling of it in Parliament, which Michael Geist documents a few alarming numbers as to how C-51 has been rammed through legislative processes. William Marsden reminds us of the disastrous results of a similar government-induced panic in the U.S.

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