A ranking of 163 nations based on environmental public health and the vitality of their ecosystems places Iceland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Sweden, and Norway in the top five, with the U.S. trailing in 61st place and China and India ranking 121st and 123rd respectively.
The Environmental Performance Index, compiled by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities, ranks countries based on 10 main categories such as environmental health, air quality, water management, biodiversity and habitat, forestry, and climate change. Iceland ranked at the top because of its excellent environmental public health and reliance on renewable sources of energy such as geothermal and hydropower.
Although the U.S. placed high in categories such as safe drinking water and forest sustainability, it ranked 61st overall because of its massive greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution problems.
The low rankings of India and China are due to the severe environmental strain brought about by overpopulation and rapid economic growth. The bottom five countries were Togo, Angola, Mauritania, the Central African Republic, and Sierra Leone, all impoverished nations that lack basic environmental amenities.
Although national income was a key factor in the rankings, other factors such as good governance and natural resource management were important, which is why Chile ranked 16th, while neighboring Argentina was in 70th place.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.
photo: Armando Maynez