Rhein on Energy and Climate

Just in time for the UN General Assembly, the UN secretariat has published the second World Happiness Report. On the basis of extensive polls in 156 countries it assesses how people rate their overall happiness in life.

The result shows that, despite the 2007-08 financial crisis, the world has become slightly happier in 2012 than five years earlier.

The USA, Western Europe, Canada and Australia are rated among the happiest people on earth, while only six sub-Sahara countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Lesotho) figure among the 100 happiest countries. This indicates that high income, good health conditions and long life expectancy are crucial in determining individual happiness. This is not very surprising.

What is more surprising is the fact that Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Iceland are, jointly with Australia and Canada, among the ten happiest countries on earth.

They have certain traits in common which may explain the reasons for their outstanding rating:

  • All of them are democratically governed, with the respect of the rule of law and low corruption levels;
  • Their material welfare is among the highest on earth;
  • So are health standards and life expectancy;
  • Economic welfare is spread without excessive wealth accumulation in a few hands;
  • They can boast of well-functioning social security systems, insuring all citizens against health risks, unemployment and old age poverty;
  • Their populations are relatively homogeneous and immigrants relatively well integrated;
  • Their defence spending is extremely low, while education benefits from high expenditures;
  • They enjoy a beautiful environment, with immense swathes of open space, low pollution levels and the absence of mega-cities.
  • Last but not least, their small population offers optimal opportunities for social connectivity.

The report confirms the adage that “small is beautiful”, which seems to have fallen in oblivion.

It is the responsibility of governments to help citizens feel happy in life.

Any government should look at the 10 happiest countries which account for only one per cent of global population and ask what it can learn from them.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 16/9/2013

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  1. Mr Rhein: we have spoken before through this medium, and it is nearing the time when we might/should meet face to face, your comments are well and truly noted.

    We read the reports here and have to agree that the EU small nations do appear to have a lot going for them but I would add to the happiness group Malta as it does have equally as much going for it as a Nation. The Climate helps and the maturity of the people also adds to the flavour of the country. And with Malta becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2018 whereupon it will host many wonderful events and also have the Tall Ships Flotilla pass through it will be a very pleasant place to visit…again.

    Within all of these classifications though we must also remember from whence such countries have arisen over the past 20 or so years. The EU has helped some of these smaller countries establish themselves but a lot still has to be done to rectify the positions of “so-called” unequal-ness. As a community of Nations the EU has had its ups and downs and the immediate struggles to foster and promoted further betterment in the future few years – particularly after the immense up-haaval of the Bank-Induced Financial Crisis that besotted the World – will take some time to redress.

    One of the major issues which these small nations will have to address is the inordinate imbalance in the costs of fuels and Energies. With these more-often-than-not controlled beyond their own frontiers it is a major problem particularly as the Supreme Economic Powers have significant control over these. We see the impending disputes already arising in the transmission of oil and gas here and in the future these will inevitably spoil over in to the wider arena.

    a further issue concerning how to address the Environmental Issues (and I make no apology for using Capital case letters to remind us of the importance of this here) in these Countries is going to become of equal importance. We have already seen disputes across the Atlantic about the manufacturing of Wind Turbines and solar Panels and these have also now embraced manufacturers further afield. We are beginning to see the development of the new and improved Wind Energy systems (that are twice as efficient as those we see today and which in manufacturing costs are a third of same) and we are now seeing the development of the Ultra-thin Photo-Voltaic Cell system which at millimetres thick which can be spray-applied to any surface and connected up for less than 255 of the current systems for the same energy benefit. We can also see that even a small nation like Malta or Cyprus or Ireland etc. can make Biofuels for transport and provide these internally at around 40% less than buying in refined fossil fuels. These add-ons to a small nations’ economy would enhance their well-being significantly and we must not ignore these.

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