|Where does ‘abundance’ come into play?
Consider the infographic below, contrasting a mindset of abundance with a mindset of scarcity.
If you think about your own frame of mind, and what you experience in the world of work, which mindset seems to be dominant?
If we have a sense of scarcity we feel the need to accumulate – what ever I need might not be available tomorrow; the run on toilet paper at the outset of lock-down is a great example that a mindset of scarcity actually produces scarcity. If we have a sense of scarcity we are reluctant to share – what if what we share is lost or broken, we may not get a replacement!
One way to move from resource scarcity towards abundance it to ensure that any resource used remains available in the system: a shift from linear to circular thinking; a shift from resource extraction followed by use and disposal to creating a circular economy. Nature, if nurtured and treated with respect, will create abundance – as anyone with a garden will know.
Why isn’t it happening?
Our world is driven by the aspiration of continuous economic growth, and the belief that more is better. Perhaps this is driven by the belief that the development and progress of humans, as individuals as well as humanity as a whole, and economic growth are synonymous?
It is easy to understand why that would be. The Human Development Index (HDI) used by the United Nations is probably the most widely recognised tool for measuring and comparing the progress of countries. While the index scores and ranks countries’ levels of development in three areas: income, health and education, it seems that politicians and the world of business both seem to focus on the income aspect, i.e. economic growth.
The question is: is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), our measure of economic growth, truly a measure of human development? Or is it being used as it is easier to measure than that which truly matters? Arguably, GDP is considered to be an indicator for the improvement of standards of living, which in turn is supposed to reflect people’s wellbeing. Yet as early as 1968 Robert F Kennedy pointed out that, “It (GDP) measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” Herman Daly, author of ‘Beyond Growth, the economics of sustainable development’ goes further stating that, “Uneconomic growth occurs when increases in production come at an expense in resources and well-being that is worth more than the items made.”
Presumably the argument is that economic growth is essential to facilitate the development and support the other two aspects of human development, health and education. This is certainly the argument of Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s Chief Economist who in the video below also explains GDP.