Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

Gross National Happiness Index Vs. Consumption (GDP)

From an ecological and community focused perspective, how can we expect our communities to change in these ever-changing times when we measure growth and success based on consumption (GDP)?  The concept of gross national happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than gross national product.  Below you’ll find out the basics of GNH and I’ll be sure to blog about GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator) in a later post as it’s just as interesting.

History of GNH

The term was coined in 1972 by Bhutan‘s former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who has opened up Bhutan to the age of modernization, soon after the demise of his father, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. Like many moral goals, it is somewhat easier to state than to define. Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for Bhutan’s five-year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans of the country.

Principals (How ti works)

There is no exact quantitative definition of GNH it refers to the concept of a quantitative measurement of well-being and happiness. The two measures are both motivated by the notion that subjective measures like well-being are more relevant and important than more objective measures like consumption. It is not measured directly, but only the factors which are believed to lead to it.  While conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.

GNH has grown and expanded over the years, the metric measures socioeconomic development by tracking 7 development areas including the nation’s mental and emotional health. GNH value is proposed to be an index function of the total average per capita of the following measures:

  1. Economic Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of economic metrics such as consumer debt, average income to consumer price index ratio and income distribution
  2. Environmental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of environmental metrics such as pollution, noise and traffic
  3. Physical Wellness: Indicated via statistical measurement of physical health metrics such as severe illnesses
  4. Mental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of mental health metrics such as usage of antidepressants and rise or decline of psychotherapy patients
  5. Workplace Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of labor metrics such as jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits
  6. Social Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of social metrics such as discrimination, safety, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflicts and family lawsuits, public lawsuits, crime rates
  7. Political Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of political metrics such as the quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts.

Another Link: GDP & GNP Explained in an understandable way.  (below link)

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Creativity, Government, Information Technology (I.T.), Politics, Sustainability | | Leave a comment

Who Started Carbon Credits?

I was curious to find who the genius or geniuses behind the development of carbon credits were and how the whole thing got into play on the world stage.   So I did some digging and this is what I found…..

In 1992,  in Rio de Janeiro Brazil the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held and this where the birth of Greenhouse gases as a tradable commodity began.

The conference  known as “The Earth Summit” was headed up by Canada’s Maurice Strong and he had made the revolutionary suggestion why not pay people to keep carbon out of the atmosphere!

Now you know how the ball started rolling on this subject!  Check out my other posts for some insight into Carbon Credits and Offsets.


108 Heads of States or Governments were there when the idea was proposed!

Rio de Janeiro

November 28, 2009 Posted by | Carbon Credits, Creativity, Government, Sustainability | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Big Idea for Little Farms

I came across this great article by Venessa Wong in business week and wanted to share with those who would be interested in the subject.

Affordable, efficient irrigation equipment that could change the economics of food

In the countryside of Shanxi Province in north-central China, farmer Xie Xin has struggled for years with water shortages. The 47-year-old, who grows tomatoes and cucumbers, had to pay dearly to use the local well, since the region receives an average of only 16.5 inches of rainfall annually. But this year, Xie started participating in an experiment in which farmers use new irrigation equipment to conserve water. The equipment, similar to a garden hose with small holes every foot or so, is expected to cut his water use by more than half. Through a translator, Xie says he’ll save money and boost production by reducing water-related diseases.

The gear Xie uses comes from a startup in Palo Alto, Calif., called Driptech. Although similar kinds of irrigation systems have been used for decades, Driptech is winning business in places such as rural China because its technology is designed specifically for small farms and costs much less than traditional systems. The company’s equipment runs $300 for a one-acre farm, instead of the usual thousands, and as little as $5 for smaller family plots. “There are literally hundreds of millions of small-plot farmers suffering from seasonal water scarcity,” says Peter Frykman, Driptech’s 26-year-old founder. “We’re focused on reaching our first million farms as fast as possible.”

Experts say low-cost irrigation could alter the economics of food. Subsistence farmers may be able to grow excess crops they can sell. Countries that rely on food imports could see their dependence on outsiders decline. “[These] modern irrigation technologies are the future for water-scarce areas,” says Claudia Ringler, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, a Washington (D.C.) think tank.

The idea for Driptech grew out of a project Frykman worked on last year at Stanford University, where he completed his bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering. He was looking into drip irrigation, the technique of using hoses and nozzles to drip water only where plants need it, which has spread widely since it took off in Israel in the 1970s. Frykman’s breakthrough was the realization that such systems didn’t have to be made in large manufacturing facilities and then exported abroad. Instead, they could be made with cheap plastic tubing and compact precision lasers, even in facilities in target markets.


Frykman founded the company last June with $5,000 of his own money and set up manufacturing in the second bedroom of his Palo Alto home. The company gradually attracted about $100,000 in grants, donations, and investment, and he moved into an office. “I was drawn to Driptech because, frankly, their success means people are growing food,” says Scott Petry, founder of e-mail software provider Postini, who invested $40,000. “I’m not looking for monetary rewards.”

Driptech is a for-profit company, and Frykman sees plenty of financial opportunity. His goal is to set up local manufacturing operations so he can lower costs and get the company to profitability. He figures that for $50,000, Driptech can set up a facility that makes tubing for 50,000 farmers per year.

China and India are the biggest potential markets, and Frykman has begun to tap both. In Xie’s province, the Lingqiu County government is paying for the equipment for 200 local farms. Liu Wenbo, a county agronomist who has been overseeing the installations, says if the projects are successful the county will buy Driptech systems for hundreds more farms. “I think it will be very useful, not only in China,” he says.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Agriculture, Sustainability | , , | Leave a comment

Introduction to Green Construction Video 101

studying for my LEED AP Exam so I’ve been hunting for some great resources.

I found this Video helpful as a great introduction to green building.

Hope you enjoy the video, and if your in the process of doing your LEED AP, have a look at this site; I found it helpful:

November 8, 2009 Posted by | Community Economic Development (CED), Construction, LEED, Sustainability | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stormwater Management

Stormwater runoff from urban development projects has become a greater issues and has started to take a forefront in the development process.   The average person fails to see the environmental benefits of understanding stormwater runoff.


  • Pollutant Removal
  • Ground Water Recharge
  • Stream Channel Protection

Storm Water Control Measures are typically dived into two categories:

  1. Structural,  Example Ponds & Filters (Things that are engineered)
  2. Non-Structural Ex:  Grass Buffers & Tree Save areas.

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Water | | Leave a comment

What is Brownfield Redevelopment?


Brownfield redevelopment is a form of sustainable development, offering opportunities to revitalize older neighbourhoods, lower municipal infrastructure costs, increase municipal property tax revenues and lessen urban sprawl. Despite the obstacles facing this type of development, successful redevelopment projects have been built across Canada. These case studies are successful examples of residential projects that have overcome the barriers to brownfield redevelopment

Case Study:

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Community Economic Development (CED), Construction, LEED, Sustainable Community Development | | Leave a comment

The Age of Stupid (2009)

If your a first time visitor to the blog, you’ll find some really cool full length videos.   This is another one, but I just couldn’t find the full version to share.   Its worth checking out if you enjoy the trailer.

Host your own Age of Stupid screening

After a successful global premiere on September 21st and 22nd, the Age of Stupid – Franny Armstrong’s chilling film about global warming – continues to be seen all around the world, thanks to Indie screenings! You can now arrange to screen the film whenever and wherever you like – the film is already available in 31 languages.

Plan your own Age of Stupid screening .

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Sustainability, Videos | | Leave a comment

How BioGas Works

Biogas refers to a gas made from anaerobic digestion of agricultural and animal waste. The gas, a mixture of methane and CO2, is used for direct combustion in cooking lighting applications, to power combustion engines or for electricity generation.

The following video will give you a great idea of what how Bio  Gas works.

September 20, 2009 Posted by | Construction, Sustainable Community Development, Waste | , | Leave a comment

The Bee Buzz at the Convention Centre in Vancouver

Dana Gee speaks to Allen Garr, who keeps the bees buzzing on top of the new Vancouver Convention Centre. Video by By Dana Gee and Jon Murray, The Province Newspaper.

September 12, 2009 Posted by | Business, Business Model, Great Ideas, Sustainable Community Development | | 1 Comment

Keeping Bees at Fairmont Hotel, Vancouver


Graeme Evans, director of housekeeping at Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront hotel, opens a hive last week to show off the bees and their honey to guests. A beekeeper, Evans keeps beehives on a deck at the hotel. And no, he doesn’t wear protective gear. Photograph by Gerry Kahrmann, The Province

Bees cause buzz at Fairmont hotel

Three hives on third-floor deck provide kitchen with honey, guests with stories

Graeme Evans is undoubtedly Vancouver’s nattiest – and most hospitable – beekeeper.

You won’t catch Evans in one of those bulky, netted helmets and spacesuits that most of his colleagues don when tending their hives. He looks after his trio of nests while wearing a dapper, crisply pressed suit. And tie.

Then again, Evans is director of housekeeping for the posh downtown Fairmont Waterfront hotel.

And beekeeping is just part of his busy day ensuring that guest facilities pass muster.

Those facilities grew to include the hives, and a lush, bee-friendly garden surrounding them, several years ago when the international hotel chain decided to adopt a signature environmental program for each of its facilities.

Evans thought immediately of beekeeping, given what he knew of the massive threats faced by the world’s bee populations and their key role in agriculture everywhere.

The hotel liked the idea and set up the hives in what was once a pretty but nectar-free stretch of ivy bed on the north side of the hotel’s third floor above the busy downtown streets.

The hives, just metres from the spa’s outdoor pool and just across the roof from the hotel’s kitchen garden, are thriving.

And Evans’ idea has caught fire with the hotel chain. Toronto’s Royal York and New York’s Algonquin hotels both host bees now, too. So do the chain’s hotels in Dallas and Singapore, he says.

Locally, it’s meant heavier pollination of plants within a six-kilometre radius, including Stanley Park. Ultra-locally, it’s meant the hotel kitchen gardens bear massive loads of everything from apples to pumpkins.

By Christina Montgomery,
The Province Newspaper
June 7, 2009

September 12, 2009 Posted by | Business Model, Creativity, Great Ideas, Marketing, Sustainable Community Development | | Leave a comment