Sunday, 20 March 2011

A country's empathy quotient?!

Yesterday I was reading a version of Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth

written for young people. (I like books for young people - especially when they have lots of pictures) This book is clear, cuts-to-the-chase and spells out what needs to happen. I have always thought the title was spot on for this work!

Anyway it got me thinking - linked to my post Sustainability

about different countries' readiness to embrace these issues. For example, a country that is in a state of civil unrest, that has starving people in abundance and heaps of corruption is unlikely to have the green agenda high up on its list of priorities. It takes a certain level of some kind of development for this readiness that I was pondering.

I know there is a Corruption Perception Index

for countries but I was wondering if there could be a more complex index for showing a country's readiness to embrace the sustainability agenda. It would need to take an awful lot into account as an awful lot can inhibit this progress.

So then I got to thinking what would be needed for a country to be poised for meaningfully addressing sustainability. For a starting place, you would need to care about future generations. That ultimately takes more empathy than many can muster. So I have decided to name this arbitrary, playing with ideas, slightly silly concept a an 'Empathy Quotient.'

It's also hard to judge countries on their attitudes (although some countries are undoubtedly more liberal than others) so maybe this quotient would be calculated on what a country actually does and has rather than what it says it does or what treaties it has signed - to get a real flavour of the country's concern for others. So I guess you would look at things like:

• level of corruption
• range of inequality within country
• justifications for participating in wars
• weapon manufacture
• treatment of criminals
• how much education is prioritised
• health care provision
• influence of the media on the masses
• levels of democracy and power wielded and by whom!
• etc -

Anyway, I suspect an academic somewhere has done this!


  1. Ooohh now that would be a very interesting study...

    C x

  2. Like LA said, 'absolute power corrupts absolutely', so I don't put much faith in any government.

  3. I like the idea behind this list, but it does read like a definition of dictatorship and poverty , when in fact many democratic countries also do not fully engage with the sustainability agenda.

    Perhaps also

    An engagement with and hope for the future
    Rule of and respect for the law
    Basic needs met and unthreatened
    A sense of equality internationally as well as within the country
    The existence of pressure groups to counter business interest

  4. I certainly find the France is more "eco-aware" than the UK was at least when I left.


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