Scandinavians have it all. Universal public healthcare and education that is the envy of the world. Reasonable working hours with plenty of paid vacation. They have some of the highest levels of happiness on the planet, and top virtually every ranking of human development.
model stands as a clear and compelling contrast to the neoliberal ideology that has strafed the rest of the industrialised world with inequality, ill health and needless poverty. As an antidote to the most destructive aspects of free-market capitalism, the egalitarian social democracies of #Norway
inspire progressive movements around the world.
These countries are worth celebrating for all they get right. But there is a problem. They are an ecological disaster.
The Nordic countries have some of the highest levels of resource use and CO2 emissions in the world, in consumption-based terms, drastically overshooting safe planetary boundaries.
Ecologists say that a sustainable level of resource use is about 7 tonnes of material stuff per person per year. Scandinavians consume on average more than 32 tonnes per year. That is four and a half times over the sustainable level, similar to the United States, driven by #overconsumption
of everything from meat to cars to plastic.
As for emissions, the Nordic countries perform worse than the rest of Europe, and only marginally better than the world's most egregious offenders - the US, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia. Yes, they generate more renewable energy than most countries, but these gains are wiped out by carbon-intensive imports.
The good news is that the high levels of welfare for which Nordic countries are famous do not require high levels of consumption. Happiness in Costa Rica rivals #Scandinavia
with 60 percent less resource use. Italians live longer lives with half the resource use. Germany has higher education levels with 30 percent less resource use. Of course, wintry climates require slightly more materials, but there is still much room for improvement.
Scandinavian countries may top every ranking on human development, but they are a disaster for the environment.www.aljazeera.com