Friday, November 5, 2010

Happiness in Bhutan

Last week I briefly mentioned Bhutan, a small country on the Eastern end of the Himalayas, as a country that has a lot of forest left. Bhutan is largely a budhist country and it is one of the few countries in the world to have embraced happiness. Bhutan is the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world based on a global survey. The government must consider every policy for its impact not only on Gross Domestic Product, but also on GNH: "Gross National Happiness".

I mention Bhutan and happiness because it illustrates why this topic is important to conservation - Bhutan's gross national happiness measure has led to decrees that 60 percent of the country remain covered in forest.

However other measures, whether you agree with them or not, involve a lot more government intervention than most Americans would he happy with. The examples are from this BBC article in 2006 but there are lots of articles on Bhutan and its quest for happiness - just google Bhutan and happiness.
  • Bhutan was the last nation in the world to introduce television in 1999. Recently they banned a number of channels including international wrestling and MTV, which they felt did little to promote happiness.
  • Bhutan has banned plastic bags and tobacco on the grounds that they make the country less happy.
  • Bhutan had one traffic light but they got rid of it because people found it frustrating. There's a person directing traffic there now.

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