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The modern concept of gross domestic product (GDP) dates back about nine decades. It was formally adopted as the primary economic measure in 1944 at the Bretton Woods conference, resulting in the creation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Critics decry the primacy that it has attained since then, because it does not capture issues like welfare, inequality, and human development. Nor does GDP capture the damage to the environment caused by economic activity, and the various effects on people confronting climate change. The ironic fact is that the work of cutting down trees adds to GDP, as does subsequent work on reforestation.
For that very reason, GDP may lose some of its present salience. Consider the growing