What Is the Happy Planet Index? Green Biotech–Genecis, What Is Global Weirding?!

by | Feb 10, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

What Is the Happy Planet Index? Green Biotech–Genecis, What Is Global Weirding?!



The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is a measure of well-being and progress that was first introduced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in 2006. The index aims to capture the overall well-being of a country’s citizens and the sustainability of that well-being. The HPI is based on three main components: well-being, life expectancy, and ecological footprint. Well-being is measured by using data from surveys that ask people to rate their overall life satisfaction. The HPI uses a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the least satisfied and 10 being the most satisfied.

Life expectancy is measured by using data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other sources. The HPI uses life expectancy at birth as a measure of how long people can expect to live. Ecological footprint measures how much land is required to support a country’s consumption patterns, including food, housing, transportation, and other goods and services. The HPI uses data from the Global Footprint Network to calculate a country’s ecological footprint per capita. The HPI then combines these three components into a single index by dividing the well-being score by the ecological footprint and multiplying by the life expectancy. This allows the HPI to take into account both the well-being of a country’s citizens and the sustainability of that well-being. 

Why does The Happy Planet Index (HPI) matter to us?  The HPI provides a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the well-being of people and the progress of countries. It also matters to us because it provides a useful tool for policymakers and organizations to understand the well-being and progress of different countries. The HPI can help policymakers identify areas where improvements can be made and can provide a useful tool for comparing countries…not that country comparisons ever happened in the past…

DEEPER DIVE; NEF/HPI, Wikipedia, Map Comparing HPI Between Nations, HPI.org



Meet Genecis, an Ontario Canada biotechnology company developing microbes and a fermentation process to upcycle waste into high-value materials, such as bioplastics. For over a decade, sustainability advocates and entrepreneurs have been searching for a way to transform the plastics industry. Additionally, plastics are also a byproduct of the highly polluting petrochemical business.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, its production creates 300 million tons of waste per year (for single use plastic alone); and production could emit over 1.34 gigatons per year of greenhouse gases before 2030. How does Genecis do it? Through a two-step process, based on two groups of specialized bacteria used throughout: The first group digests food waste, producing short-chain carbons as volatile fatty acids, acting as the precursor feed stock for the second group, which eats these carbons and converts them into bioplastics.

Company founder, Luna Yu and her team initially collected samples by scouring municipal waste facilities to identify where organic material was decomposing really quickly (talk about turning trash into treasure). “We really try to look at anywhere that has a high turnover rate,” Yu says. That meant going online and searching through databases to look at soil degradation rates in different areas and going to waste facilities to find new strains of bacteria.

Not only can they make compostable plastic, reducing plastic waste in the environment, but by using food waste as a feed stock Yu said her company can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. Why does Genecis matter to us? Because Genecis’ unique approach to biomanufacturing with alternative feedstocks is low-cost, widely applicable, and rapidly scalable. In other words, it’s on a mission to drive the world towards a circular economy, where major brands utilize eco-friendly plastics in packaging, food services, agriculture, textiles to reduce the 18 billion pounds of plastic polluting oceans every year.

DEEPER DIVE: Genecis, GreenSolutions Mag, TechCrunch



Global weirding. Weird, right? What’s that all about, Alfie? According to Thomas L. Friedman, from his 2007 New York Times article, “The People We Have Been Waiting For”: “Global weirding is a term coined by Hunter Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute. Lovins apparently loved using that phrase because the rise in average global temperature may lead to all sorts of bizarre events — from hotter heat spells and droughts in some places, to colder cold spells and more violent storms, more intense flooding, forest fires and species loss in other places. Since 2007, more scientists, and the lived experience of millions of humans (as well as billions of animals, birds and insects, too) have proven this to be true. Climate change is causing and will continue to cause various weather-related extremes, including both hot and cold weather, to become more intense.

Global weirding is also a 12-episode video series, and 36-episode podcast series featuring famed climate scientist/evangelical Christian, Katharine Hayhoe. It was produced by KCOS and KTTZ, Texas Tech Public Media and distributed by PBS Digital Studios. The video series originally aired about seven years ago. It’s still available on YouTube. The podcast started in 2020. It’s latest episode dropped June, 2021 but is still available online at NPR.org. Don’t let the fact that both audio and video are limited run. This is really great stuff.

Why does Global Weirding matter to us? Because it dares to tackle climate issues head on, like, “Does fixing climate mean we have to shut down the economy? Why are the Pope and the National Association of Evangelicals piling on? Why do climate scientists get so much hate mail?” Check out the links at globalweirding.com, NPR.org/podcasts and search for “Global Weirding” or check out the links in the Deeper Dive Section of this story at theclimate.org/episodes.

DEEPER DIVE: Wiktionary, Global Weirding Videos, NPR