28 Jan 2010:
Iceland Tops Environment List,
While U.S., China, and India Lag Far Behind
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.
Read the complete list
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.