The New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index has been inspiring bemusement and mirth since it first appeared in 2006. The third installment, released last week, continues to defy parody with its glorification of lawless, poverty-stricken countries in the name of environmental sustainability.
The index is made up of three elements—self-reported well-being, life expectancy and size of ecological footprint—but is so heavily weighted towards the latter that economic basket-cases, police states and peasant societies score highly at the expense of places in which you would actually want to live. Consequently, Luxembourg, where life expectancy is 80 years and the well-being score is 7.1, finds itself 30 places behind Rwanda, where life expectancy is 55.4 years and well-being is scored at 4.0.
If the good people of Luxembourg (ranked 138th) have not already bought a one-way ticket to more desirable destinations such as Malawi (72nd), Haiti (78th) or Afghanistan (109th), they can console themselves that they are still one place ahead of Sierra Leone (139th), although that could all change if the Sierra Leoneans buy a wind turbine.