Measuring "Green"

We all want to do our part to increase the sustainability of our world. People make daily efforts to be “green”, biking to work, recycling, buying their produce locally. However, sustainability and being “green” is a hard thing to measure. I know, for myself, I work better with facts and numbers, than with abstract ideas and guidelines. So for me, sustainability has always seemed like somewhat of an abstract concept. However, I cam across an article today on an educational website that showed me I am not alone. Teaching Sustainability in the 21st Century by G. Rendell talks about, as the title suggests, ways to teach sustainability, and discusses how it can be measured. There are a variety of different, and innovative, ways that countries around the world have developed.

One way is the Green GDP. In China, this system has been instituted, and it is an “environmentally adjusted” form of the gross domestic product. These may seem like two polar opposite ideas, but they really do merge. The Green GDP takes into account economic losses caused by pollution, and can also assess the quality of economic development, taking into account the cost and degradation of natural resources available. Another helpful resource is the Numbeo Quality of Life Index, which ranks up to 67 countries annually. This takes into account traffic commute times, pollution, readily available health care, as well as safety.

Regardless of the system, putting sustainability into black and white terms can be helpful in terms of understanding the concept. The sooner we can put it into concrete terms, and make it accessible to the public, the sooner we can start making positive steps.