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Thread: The dark side of the Nordic model

  1. #1

    The dark side of the Nordic model

    The dark side of the Nordic model
    Scandinavian countries may top every ranking on human development, but they are a disaster for the environment.

    Jason Hickel by Jason Hickel
    6 Dec 2019

    Scandinavians have it all. Universal public healthcare and education that is the envy of the world. Reasonable working hours with plenty of paid vacation. They have some of the highest levels of happiness on the planet, and top virtually every ranking of human development.

    The Nordic model stands as a clear and compelling contrast to the neoliberal ideology that has strafed the rest of the industrialised world with inequality, ill health and needless poverty. As an antidote to the most destructive aspects of free-market capitalism, the egalitarian social democracies of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland inspire progressive movements around the world.

    These countries are worth celebrating for all they get right. But there is a problem. They are an ecological disaster.

    You might not notice it at first glance. Their air is crisp and fresh. Their parks are free of litter. Waste collection works like a charm. Much of the region is covered in forests. And Scandinavians tend to be environmentally conscientious.

    But the data tell a different story. The Nordic countries have some of the highest levels of resource use and CO2 emissions in the world, in consumption-based terms, drastically overshooting safe planetary boundaries.

    Ecologists say that a sustainable level of resource use is about 7 tonnes of material stuff per person per year. Scandinavians consume on average more than 32 tonnes per year. That is four and a half times over the sustainable level, similar to the United States, driven by overconsumption of everything from meat to cars to plastic.

    As for emissions, the Nordic countries perform worse than the rest of Europe, and only marginally better than the world's most egregious offenders - the US, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia. Yes, they generate more renewable energy than most countries, but these gains are wiped out by carbon-intensive imports.

    This is why the Nordic countries fall toward the very bottom of the Sustainable Development Index. We think of these nations as progressive, but in fact, their performance has worsened over time. Sweden, for example, has gone from 0.755 on the index in the 1990s down to 0.328 today, plunging from the top seven to number 143.

    For decades we have been told that nations should aspire to develop towards the Nordic countries. But in an era of ecological breakdown, this no longer makes sense. If everyone in the world consumed like Scandinavians, we would need nearly five Earths to sustain us.

    This kind of overconsumption is driving a global crisis of habitat destruction, species extinction and climate change. You will not see much evidence of this in Norway or Finland, but that is because, as with most rich nations, the bulk of their ecological impact has been outsourced to the global South. That is where most of the resource extraction happens, and where global warming bites hardest. The violence hits elsewhere.

    Of course, Scandinavia is not alone in this. Many high-income countries pose just as much of a problem. But as we wake up to the realities of ecological breakdown, it becomes clear that the Nordic countries no longer offer the promise that we once thought they did.

    It is time to update the Nordic model for the Anthropocene. Nordic countries have it right when it comes to public healthcare, education and progressive social democracy, but they need to dramatically reduce their consumption if they are to stand as a beacon for the rest of the world in the 21st century.

    The good news is that the high levels of welfare for which Nordic countries are famous do not require high levels of consumption. Happiness in Costa Rica rivals Scandinavia with 60 percent less resource use. Italians live longer lives with half the resource use. Germany has higher education levels with 30 percent less resource use. Of course, wintry climates require slightly more materials, but there is still much room for improvement.

    A recent study by a team of environmental scientists lays out a detailed plan for how Nordic countries could cut their material footprint by nearly 70 percent: scaling down fossil fuels, shifting to plant-based diets, retrofitting old buildings instead of constructing new ones, requiring consumer products to be longer-lasting and repairable, and improving public transportation. In Finland, scientists have rallied around similar measures as part of a call for "ecological reconstruction".

    The good news is that all of this can be accomplished while improving human welfare and advancing the cause of social democracy. But it ultimately requires shifting to a different kind of economy - one that is not organised around endless GDP growth.

    According to new research findings, which I reviewed with a colleague in the journal New Political Economy, it is not feasible for high-income nations to reduce their resource use and emissions fast enough to get down to sustainable levels while at the same time pursuing economic growth. More growth means more resource use and more energy use, which makes ecological objectives ever-more difficult to achieve.

    Politicians talk about making growth "green" - but scientists reject this strategy as inadequate. The evidence is clear: the only way to build a truly ecological economy is to stop chasing GDP growth.

    The first step is to abandon GDP as a measure of progress - as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently pledged to do - and focus instead on human well-being and ecology. There is a strong scientific consensus forming around this approach. A new paper signed by more than 11,000 scientists argues that high-income nations must shift to post-growth economic models if we are going to have any chance of preventing climate breakdown.

    Nordic countries can lead this transition, renewing the Nordic model for the 21st century, or they can continue to remain among the world's worst ecological offenders. They have a choice to make.
    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent anybody else.

  2. #2
    Interesting article.

    "As an antidote to the most destructive aspects of free-market capitalism, the egalitarian social democracies of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland inspire progressive movements around the world."

    Sweden - Greta is from Sweden.

    Finland - "Suicide in Finland takes place at a higher rate than the European average. Suicides in the country increased in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, 824 Finns committed suicide. Suicides in Finland peaked in the early 1990s."

  3. #3
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    There are only 27m people in the Nordics. If they cut their emissions by 4x it won’t make much difference.

    China, and soon India, are where we should focus our effort, they are (China) and will be climate WMDs.

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Darts View Post

    Finland - "Suicide in Finland takes place at a higher rate than the European average. Suicides in the country increased in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, 824 Finns committed suicide. Suicides in Finland peaked in the early 1990s."
    Yep, it is a disastrously high level, 13.8 per 100,000 people, vs 13.7 per 100,000 people in USA

    Sweden 11.7, Denmark 9.2, Norway 10.1

    There is clearly a correlation between winter darkness and suicides in Scandinavia and Finland
    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent anybody else.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Darts View Post
    Interesting article.

    "As an antidote to the most destructive aspects of free-market capitalism, the egalitarian social democracies of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland inspire progressive movements around the world."

    Sweden - Greta is from Sweden.

    Finland - "Suicide in Finland takes place at a higher rate than the European average. Suicides in the country increased in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, 824 Finns committed suicide. Suicides in Finland peaked in the early 1990s."
    Let's see how it goes without free market capitalism.
    "I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in," Hillary Clinton

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by jcpro View Post
    Let's see how it goes without free market capitalism.
    You have to be the least informed person on Terb. LOL
    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent anybody else.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by danmand View Post
    You have to be the least informed person on Terb. LOL
    Yeah, because I'm the only one, around here apparently, who realizes that the high standard of welfare system in the Nordic countries is a product of well over 40%/GDP taxation which is unsustainable in an economy that must compete while growing its population like in US or Canada.
    "I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in," Hillary Clinton

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jcpro View Post
    Yeah, because I'm the only one, around here apparently, who realizes that the high standard of welfare system in the Nordic countries is a product of well over 40%/GDP taxation which is unsustainable in an economy that must compete while growing its population like in US or Canada.
    What you don't know, would fill a thousand books.

    At least OTB claims that the success of the Scandinavian countries is because the population is all white.
    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent anybody else.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by danmand View Post
    What you don't know, would fill a thousand books.

    At least OTB claims that the success of the Scandinavian countries is because the population is all white.
    LOL! Yeah, very true. There's a lot I don't know. I'm glad you do, however. But, I do know that what works in Finland will be a failure in other places because a society is not a simple exercise in logic. Nor can it be transplanted into different socioeconomic, cultural, political and historical reality.
    "I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in," Hillary Clinton

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by jcpro View Post
    LOL! Yeah, very true. There's a lot I don't know. I'm glad you do, however. But, I do know that what works in Finland will be a failure in other places because a society is not a simple exercise in logic. Nor can it be transplanted into different socioeconomic, cultural, political and historical reality.
    It would be better if you were a bit more precise. Like saying that the nordic model will not work in USA because not everybody is white (OTB)

    It is silly of you to say that the nordic countries cannot be successful, because ..... They are successful and have been successful for a long time.
    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent anybody else.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by onthebottom View Post
    There are only 27m people in the Nordics. If they cut their emissions by 4x it won’t make much difference.

    China, and soon India, are where we should focus our effort, they are (China) and will be climate WMDs.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ederations.png
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by danmand View Post
    It would be better if you were a bit more precise. Like saying that the nordic model will not work in USA because not everybody is white (OTB)

    It is silly of you to say that the nordic countries cannot be successful, because ..... They are successful and have been successful for a long time.
    Unlike you, I don't have a race fetish. The Nordic countries, as tiny as they are, work because of the free market capitalism and their populations explicitly agreeing to the high levels of taxation on their economic activity.
    "I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in," Hillary Clinton

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by danmand View Post
    At least OTB claims that the success of the Scandinavian countries is because the population is ---------
    Back in the old days it was rape and pillage.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Darts View Post
    Back in the old days it was rape and pillage.
    In school we had Viking 101:

    First you rape and pillage,, then you burn.
    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent anybody else.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by jcpro View Post
    Unlike you, I don't have a race fetish. The Nordic countries, as tiny as they are, work because of the free market capitalism and their populations explicitly agreeing to the high levels of taxation on their economic activity.
    Don't forget a high level of resources per capita. Resources that have great value beyond the domestic market because of consumption in industrialized countries.

  16. #16
    Lefties ignore china and indias role in their climate change tantrums, just like they ignore women's rights in the Middle East, and contemporary slavery in Africa. This is why you know these people are virtue signalling attention whores without any real backbone.

    They'd rather call you a transphobic for calling a man wearing a wig, a man, or call you a racist for dismissing a football players kneeling grift for $$$$.

    Also, Epstein killed himself.


    Female mating strategy: "Alpha fucks - short term sexual needs - and Beta bucks - long term provisioning and security needs." :-(

    I want you to point your finger at me. I want you to call me names.

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