Growth, Development and Happiness            2.13
        (ii) The WHR 2012 took key examples                                become dire in several fragile regions of
               from the USA—the world’s economic                           the world. We are already experiencing
               superpower —which has achieved striking                     deterioration of life support systems in
               economic and technological progress over                    the dry lands of the Horn of Africa and
               the past half century without gains in the                  parts of Central Asia.
               self-reported happiness of the citizenry                       On the other hand, if we act wisely,
               with the following serious ‘concerns’ of                    we can protect the Earth while raising
               today:                                                      quality of life broadly around the world.
               (a) uncertainties and anxieties are high,                   We can do this by adopting lifestyles
              (b) social and economic inequalities have                    and technologies that improve happiness
                    widened considerably,                                  (or life satisfaction) and reduce human
                                                                           damage to the environment. Sustainable
               (c) social trust is in decline, and
                                                                           Development is the term given to the
              (d) confidence in government is at an all-                   combination of human well-being,
                    time low.                                              social inclusion and environmental
               Perhaps for these reasons, life satisfaction                sustainability. There is no doubt in
               in the USA has remained nearly constant                     concluding that the ‘quest for happiness’
               during the decades of rising Gross                          is intimately linked to the ‘quest for
               National Product (GNP) per capita.                          sustainable development’.
       (iii) The realities of poverty, anxiety,                       (iv) In an impoverished society, the urge
               environmental            degradation,           and         for material gain typically makes a lot
               unhappiness in the midst of great plenty                    of sense. Higher household income (or
               should not be regarded as mere curiosities.                 higher per capita GNP) generally signifies
               They require our urgent attention, and                      an improvement in the life conditions
               especially so at this juncture in human                     of the poor. The poor suffer from dire
               history. For we have entered a new phase                    deprivations of various kinds: lack of
               of the world, termed the Anthropocene17                     adequate food supplies, remunerative
               by the world’s Earth system scientists. The                 jobs, access to health care, safe homes,
               Anthropocene will necessarily reshape                       safe water and sanitation, and educational
               our societies. If we continue mindlessly                    opportunities. As incomes rise from very
               along the current economic trajectory, we                   low levels, human well-being improves.
               risk undermining the Earth’s life support                   Not surprisingly, the poor report a rising
               systems—food supplies, clean water and                      satisfaction with their lives as their meager
               stable climate—necessary for human                          incomes increase.
               health and even survival in some places.                       On the opposite end of the income
               In years or decades, conditions of life may                 spectrum, for most individuals in the
                                                                           high-income world, the basic deprivations
      17.   The Anthropocene is a newly invented term that
            combines two Greek words: ‘anthropo’ for human;
                                                                           have been vanquished. There is enough
            and ‘cene’ for new, as in a new geological epoch. The          food, shelter, basic amenities (such as
            Anthropocene is the new epoch in which humanity,               clean water and sanitation), and clothing
            through its technological prowess and population of            to meet their daily needs. In fact, there
            7 billion, has become the major driver of changes of
            Earth’s physical systems, including the climate, carbon        is a huge surfeit of amenities above basic
            cycle, water cycle, nitrogen cycle and biodiversity.           needs. Poor people would swap with rich