TEDxEQCHCH – Helena Norberg-Hodge – The Economics of Happiness

TEDxEQCHCH – Helena Norberg-Hodge – The Economics of Happiness


Translator: Annelize Ferreira de Oliveira
Reviewer: Denise RQ I am very happy to come
after Christie Walk because what I have to say
is very similar. As we all know, everything from global warming
to the global financial crisis tells us that we need
a fundamental change in society. And I am going to be arguing
that for all of us around the world the highest priority,
the most urgent issue is fundamental change to the economy. And from my point of view, the change that we need to make
is shifting away from globalizing
to localizing economic activity. Localization is a solution multiplier that offers a systemic,
far-reaching alternative to corporate capitalism,
as well as communism. It’s a way of dramatically reducing
CO2 emissions, energy consumption of all kind, and waste. At the same time, as adapting economic activity,
localizing economic activity, can restore biodiversity
as well as cultural diversity. It’s a way of creating
meaningful and secure jobs for the entire global population, and perhaps is the most important of all, because it is about rebuilding
the fabric of connection, the fabric of community between people, and between people
and their local environment: it’s the economics of happiness. I first had my eyes open to this,
I was forced to see this connection between the economy out there
and our inner well being, our happiness, when I was thrown into a situation
on the Tibetan Plateau, in Ladakh, called Little Tibet,
about 35 years ago. This area had been sealed off
from the outside world, and it was suddenly thrown open to the outside world,
to the outside economy. And I saw with my own eyes how subsidized food,
coming in on subsidized roads, running on subsidized fuel, how that food and other goods
brought in from thousands of miles away destroyed the local market. And almost overnight,
this led to unemployment, this in turn, led to friction
between people who lived peacefully
side by side for generations. After a decade, Buddhists and Muslims in Ladakh
were literally killing each other. I also worked in Bhutan
between ’84 and ’89, and I saw exactly the same pattern there. There, it was Buddhists and Hindus
who were killing each other. So, I became very motivated to try to bring this message out
to the rest of the world. I started speaking and writing about it, and in the process, I’ve come in contact
with economists, environmentalists, anthropologists,
people from every continent who are basically saying the story
of our country, of our place is very similar to the story of Ladakh. What we have seen is that worldwide there is a trend towards a split between government
and the interest of their people, and that governments are pursuing
an economic model that is simply outdated, that has been carried far too far. It’s a model that says: more trade, more production for export,
and more foreign investment. That’s the formula
for creating prosperity. This formula is not working. Why are governments worldwide
so impoverished that they have to cut, cut, cut,
for our needs while spending billions and trillions for a global infrastructure
in transport, trade, and weapons? Why is this happening? From my point of view,
it’s fundamentally about that distancing, the globalizing of economic activity. It’s led to what I call
a “drone economy”. You must have heard about the drones, the unmanned aircrafts that are now
being manipulated from Las Vegas as people are bombed in Afghanistan. We can not carry on warfare
without ever seeing the people we kill, without hearing the screams,
without being there risking our lives. That long distance creates
a blindness, a heartlessness, and basically, an impossibility
in terms of ethics. It’s very similar to the ability for someone to sit in New York
and speculate on the Valley of Wheat and not seeing what is happening
to those farmers on the other side of the world. How can we be ethical,
how can we be kind and compassionate when we don’t even see our impact? It is as though our arms
have grown so long that we don’t even see
what our hands are doing. Whether as a CEO or as a consumer, we really need to open our eyes
to what is happening, and when we do, what we will see is that around the world there’s a movement towards localization that is about shortening those distances, and that movement is demonstrating
the multiple benefits; the most powerful and the most inspiring
and heartening of all is The Local Food Movement, which consists of literally thousands, if not millions of initiatives
around the world, from permaculture to edible school gardens to more urban farms to farmer’s markets. It’s all about shortening distances,
and you talk to farmers as I have, – because we’ve helped to stimulate
and catalyze these initiatives on many continents – and you can talk to farmers that were previously going bankrupt,
that were depressed, and as one farmer said to me in Australia, “I’ve been a farmer all my life
and I felt like a serf; constant pressure to reduce the cost
and to standardize the products,” and he was producing only two things. “Now,” he says, “after we started
a farmer’s market, it’s like entering a new galaxy,”
and he beams as he said that. He is now producing
about 20 different things and he has contact, weekly contact,
with the consumers. This shortening of distances is
far, far more fundamental than we realize and is absolutely essential
in terms of all our basic needs: the need for food, clothing, and shelter. When we realize that in the modern economy this pressure to produce for export, this pressure to encourage
foreign investment, when we realize that this means
that worldwide farmers are being pressured to produce more and more
standard products, larger and larger monocultures,
in the long distances, you can’t say, “Well, you know, today, some of my basil
is ready to be harvested, but I’ll have some more tomorrow and I’ll also have
some blackcurrants, or some apples, and some milk from my cows.” Impossible. Larger and larger scale monocultures are not only the same product,
but the same size. The size that fits the machinery, the harvesting machinery,
the machinery that washes, the machinery that loads it
onto the supermarket shelves. In the process, tons of food
is being thrown away because it’s not of the right size. But far worse than that, in the process,
we are eradicating biodiversity. Not just agricultural biodiversity
but wild biodiversity as well. As you shorten the distances,
you’re suddenly creating a market where it is in the interest
of the farmer and producer to diversify. He can actually make
more money and do better if he starts building up
a more diversified farm. This is what is happening.
This is what is happening. As a consequence of the diversification, what we can see is that you can produce
more food per unit of land. This is perhaps the most important thing about understanding that if we want
to make change to the economy, if we want to make change
to the world today, we have got to start
looking at food production, at the interface with the natural world
which is our real economy, and I’m afraid that I find that most economists are simply
ecologically illiterate. They don’t distinguish
between growing potatoes and apples, and creating rubber balls or plastic toys. There is a certain economy of scale when you are producing standard,
petrochemical, industrial products, but when it comes to the natural world, the adaptation to the diversity,
the nurturing of diversity is how we can get more
out of each unit of land. Many studies show ten times more food
from small diversified farms provide plenty of jobs. We can see this in traditional systems, and we can see it
in the new farmers’ movement, of young people, many of whom have studied
architecture, law, medicine, are actually deciding
that they prefer farming. As part of the local food movement,
they have access to a local market, they are earning a very good salary because when you shorten the distances, we cut out all that waste of the energy,
the packaging, the refrigeration, the irradiation, the advertising, and above of all, those preservatives
and waste of making food appear fresh when it isn’t. When you cut out all
of that so called “value added activity”, what you find is
an economic system, a free market, where the farmer earns vastly more, and the consumer pays less
for fresh, healthy food. In the longest and supermarket economy,
generally speaking, the farmer gets 10%
of what we pay or less. In the farmer’s market, they get 100%. In the local food co-op,
in the local shop, they can get 50, 60%; 40% significantly more. This is like a magic wand. We are talking here about increasing productivity
while reducing the ecological footprint because as you restore diversity, they’re starting to reduce the dependence
on imported, expensive, toxic chemicals, and you’re starting to create
more space for wild life as well. So, it’s a magical thing
that we can increase productivity, and increase profits
simultaneously to the farmer. What I’m saying here applies to fisheries, applies to forestry,
applies to the production of our basic primary needs
for food, clothing, and shelter. When we adapt to the local climate,
to the local area, we are actually going to be
increasing prosperity while reducing our ecological impact. This is, as far as I’m concerned,
the real elephant in the room, that the global economy
with the long distances is responsible for poverty, for a widening gap between rich and poor
in every single country. You will not be able to find me
a single country, including my native country of Sweden, where the gap between rich and poor
isn’t widening in an unacceptable way. You won’t find
a single country in the world where people are not more and more
frustrated with their governments, swinging back and forth from left to right and beginning to realize
that left and right is not the issue; the issue is global versus local. I want to make it very clear
that localization, economic localization, is about a shift in direction, particularly from primary production
and basic needs. It’s not about ending international trade, it’s not about some kind of isolationism, where we don’t care about what is going on
on the other side of the world. On the contrary; today,
because of our global problems, we need global collaboration
more than ever before. Localization is actually going
to come about on a large scale, once we look up
and see the bigger picture, and we link up internationally to collaborate,
to bring about this transition. It’s beginning to happen. There’s a worldwide movement
that is not just about food, it’s also about business and banking. In the U.S., in the last 18 months, 7,600 credit unions
have outperformed the big banks. In the United States, in 130 cities, there are 30,000 small businesses
that have linked up into business alliances,
local business alliances. but many of these
are becoming part of a network, like the BALLE network, The Business Alliance
for Local Living Economies. The farmer’s markets
and the localization movement are also at their beginning
to have some money for research, because it’s become so successful. One of the things that is being stressed is that in the local economies we are seeing
the revitalization of community, the reconnection between people. For instance, studies show that when you shop in the farmer’s market,
as compared to the supermarket, you have ten times
more conversations with people. These are demonstrations of the fact that small, slow, and local
is the way to go, and structurally fundamental to that
is the shortening of the distances. It might seem like
a very difficult thing to do, to take on the big captains of industry, but just to remember
that in terms of globalizing, the actual initiative to further
deregulate global finance and trade, these initiatives have been taken by less than 1% of the global population. One percent is 60 million people. Well, I would estimate from having
studied this process for 30 years, that probably less than 10,000 people have been actively
promoting globalization. The rest, more than 99% of us,
who are not benefiting, have not been looking at this process,
have not been aware how fundamental it has been
in escalating energy consumption, the breakdown of community,
the breakdown of real democracy. So, 99% are been marginalized, the middle classes throughout the world
are not benefiting. We’re not getting richer from this. Look at our bank accounts,
look at our debt; our national debt, our personal debt. It is really high time
that we wake up to this. So, we have a situation
where 99% are being marginalized and even the 1%, from my point of view, are not doing this out of ill will. There’s not
a nasty little group of people you know, in dark boardrooms. It’s not about good guys and bad guys. It’s about structures,
it’s about blindness. The drone economy doesn’t let us see
what’s going on. The shortening of distances can. And this localization,
this shortening of distances is not an abstract ideal,
is not some kind of pipe dream. It’s actually happening. Countless, thousands of initiatives
around the world are demonstrating, actually, they are
demonstrating the benefits, showing us that’s possible
to increase productivity and diversity while reducing
energy consumption and waste, increasing, maybe most importantly of all, the deep connections between people
at the local level; increasing those connections, and increasing our deeper connection
to the natural world. This is the economics of happiness. Thank you. (Applause)

Posts created 37718

44 thoughts on “TEDxEQCHCH – Helena Norberg-Hodge – The Economics of Happiness

  1. I wonder how much critical mass of awareness is required to make an actual change in the day to day activity of developed nations? Will it be a majority of people like 51%, or will it just require a million or so influential players? I just hope that we won't be forced into the situation by natural limits, and rather recognize we have to change, so let's do it willingly.

  2. WE ARE THE 99%!!!
    Wow this is almost prophetic!! Lol.
    Great speech, really enjoyable (also VERY useful for my development studies exam tomorrow!! :p )

  3. Please consider joining occupycafe org a commUNITY of consciously aware, heart centered people sponsored by Co-intelligence Institute, working to unite people worldwide for the collective greater good.

  4. we need to do all that but…this is not enough… you got to question the whole monetary-economic system…it's obsolete because we have the know how/technology to produce abundance in a sustainable way for every human being… so money is only needed when we make things artificially scarce…

    check out the movie ZEITGEIST MOVING FORWARD…you will enjoy it 🙂

  5. @eatsimplefood this technology have existed always, it is commonly called nature. it is far superior to anything humans have even conceived ever. superior to any technology, even anti-gravity, free energy etc. nature is made up of nanorobots with intelligence, everything animated in nature consist of trillions and billions of nanorobots called cells, fungus, bacteria etc. that can do any task. we don't have to change anything about nature, we just have to organize it intelligently

  6. I don't understand why such a great documentary Economics of Happiness has such a very limited access. It should be available for everyone to watch for free. Information should be spread and shared. Monetary cost of production is irrelavant. There are many documentaries produced by Zeitgeist Movement or Venus Project which are free to watch despite that they basically bankrupted people who produced them. They didn't care as they understand that the planet is the most important not some profit.

  7. That's easy to say.. but is it true.. I dunno because you haven't backed up your statement with a meaningful comment.. now what is worse you tell me? to try and improve things, or to criticise non-constructively.

  8. I suspect that what Aeolistify has pointed to is that Helena has expressed her belief that globalization is more or less"accidental", that it has been brought about by "well meaning" people not aware of the consequences of their actions.
    Those operating in shadow behind globalization are very aware of what they have created, and it is by design, to disempower people and consolidate wealth in the hands of a few.

  9. Those free documentaries by the Zeitgeist Movement are wrapped around pseudoscience though. It is worth nothing basically.

  10. its true, thats the only way to survive. If its not too late. Today a half of EU is under the water. In USA storms destroyed 200 000 homes. why? Obviously we must change our behaviour, as soon as possible. Thank You Lady

  11. What Helena is trying to say, is that our lives have been co-oped by corporate interests at the detriment of local cultures, communities, sustainable food production and biological diversity. Unfortunately this generation has been raised in a media, consumer capitalist society that has been conditioned to accept this as natural and the best possible world. Fortunately people are educating themselves and are starting to understand that the course we are on is not tenable or close to sustainable.

  12. All large systems, water sewers electricity food, requires infrastructure that is expensive and requires maintenance, , they can all be based locally, wells, sewage pits, solar panels, local farming, all this is much cheaper and causes much less waste (electricity in high voltage grids for example) and refrigeration for food.

    The problem/ benefit of this is no need for hyperadvanced and monopolised industries, they are naturally against decentralisation.

  13. noams chaomsky ex bitch doesn't have a economics  degree kiddos lmao she is a frigid linguistic    I hope she is happy by recognized officiality of her glabl village shit in 3 continent maybe after she die they can utilize such infrawork for implementing agenda 21 kinda great wonderful precautionary principle production    amazingly after all  HER anti American approach   all silicon conscience half ass intellectual immorals reading haters research haters through cyber balkanization and symbolic interactionism  listening this bitch   I will write this as my criticism and not even listen this bitch  economics is not her degree  on happiness economics starting from wiki anyone can face with 10s of thousands of pages but never mind start with game of life and markov chains and heyy prisoners dilemma and game theory   that's what she gotta talk about as a linguistics semantics expert but hence  soup of the day is great fro this campus rat

  14. I find it exhausting and sad that so many are incapable of either understanding of stating the obvious. Governments are lying. Their economic policies are working. They're failing to do what they say they're attempting. But they're succeeding in creating global feudalism, which is obviously their mission.

    It's like people thinking the US military is ineffective because of the drawn out conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, while ignoring the success of criminals who pocketed billions and the illicit drug money flows restored to Wall Street. When they wanted Gaddafi dead look how easily they got that done.

    The current system IS working. Just not for you and I. Stop thinking, writing, speaking in half-truths. Your government is working to completely enslave you. To domesticate you like factory farm animals. And they're succeeding.

  15. Her ideas are simple and effective and already in the works.  With the crash comes survival which is very local.  If we can keep the bare essentials going, we'll be very lucky, and that will be local, too.   "Nero's Party" is a film about this problem in India where they have a huge farmer-suicide problem caused by big Western ag.

  16. Helena & co, you are right,… the shift is happening… slowly… yet worthy to go beyond critical mass.. so your dream comes true in near future…

  17. Wonderful lady she is so right Big business and global greed is the problem and the clowns placed in positions of power who allow this to happen well they are the wrong people to make decisions mindless lawyers.

  18. But how am I supposed to convince impoverished families to start shopping at whole foods stores? There's a disconnect here between the idea of interconnectedness to one another and the actual practice.

  19. Bravo! Standing Ovation! Thank You so much Helena Norberg-Hodge. I read your book, "Ancient Futures, Learning from the Ladakh" years ago and have been suggesting everyone read it since then. This particular talk is also an important one and I mostly agree with what you say here … even though there is still much that needs to be addressed and many problems that come with localization at this point. At the heart of all problems is disconnection … disconnections from our planet (our soil our water etc…) and disconnections from each other. This video was placed here 7 years ago … Here in the community I live … a college town with a population of roughly 65,000 … there is a "Farmers market" now and I have been there. Mostly only rich people go because only rich people can afford the produce. It has become an exclusive club of sorts. There used to be more fruit markets, spring up on road sides, in season, that have now all but left (at least in our area). One of the many stories you tell in your book is of a young girl (around age 7?) who comes to you when you are starting to wash some of your clothing in a stream. She stops you and tells you you can't wash your cloths there because that water has to be drank from the people down stream … the connection … even a little girl is aware of how things work there and why and she is responsible enough to make sure you knew. This is just one benefit of being connected … there are so many. I want to check out how the Ladakh are currently and I want to get involved with a group that is doing more than just talking about how to make required changes … Any Suggestions, anyone? Love & Peace to All

  20. Just a video among others wonderful TED Talks, but this message can really save the World and all the Lives it contains.

  21. beautifully said. Thank you for sharing a New way! of understanding economics, Today 2019 it is more relevant than ever.

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