chapter  13
16 Pages

Changing the Metrics

One of the best ways of overcoming denial is to show people more clearly exactly what’s going on in terms of the constant trade-off between economic progress and environmental damage. Gross Domestic Product just doesn’t do that – indeed, it wasn’t designed to do that. Simon Kuznets, one of the pioneers of GDP as we know it today, warned the US congress way back in 1934 that the US Administration should be very careful in the way it used measures of national income: ‘the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income.’ By 1962, he was getting even more anxious: ‘distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth. Goals of “more growth” should always specify more growth of what and for what purpose.’ Though he went on to win a Nobel Prize in 1961, Kuznets’s advice was ignored then and still is today.