Researchers at Columbia and Yale released a new Environmental Performance Index ranking 163 countries on a broad variety of indicators—basically, how well they protect their people’s air, water, natural resources, and ecosystems.
Surprise, surprise, Scandinavian and Northern European countries do well. So does Costa Rica, the country that shut down its military in 1949 and invested instead in education.
The United States comes in 61st, down from 39th in the most recent index, “with strong results on some issues, such as provision of safe drinking water and forest sustainability, and weak performance on other issues including greenhouse gas emissions and several aspects of local air pollution.”
Of the newly industrialized nations, China and India rank 121st and 123rd respectively – reflecting the strain rapid economic growth imposes on the environment. However, Brazil and Russia rank 62nd and 69th, suggesting that the level of development is just one of many factors affecting placement in the rankings.
The index can’t be a perfect measurement of a nation’s success, or conflict-ridden Colombia and broke-a$$ Iceland wouldn’t rank near the top. It’s still worth a look.
Here are the top 30: