Study ranks Singapore highest in relative Environmental Impact
One of the most significant studies in “Evaluating the Relative Environmental Impact of Countries” has been released by the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute in conjuction with the National University of Singapore and Princeton University.
Do we need yet another indicator or study, one may ask, considering there are many alternative indices already: the City Development Index(CDI), Ecological Footprint(EF), Environmental Performance Index(EPI), Environmental Sustainability Index(ESI), Genuine Savings Index(GSI), Human Development Index(HDI), Living Planet Index(LPI), and the Well-Being Index(WI)?
The authors of this study, Corey J.A. Bradshaw, Xingli Giam and Navjot S.Sodhi seem to think so. They have deliberately excluded indicators such as human health (e.g., EPI) or economics (e.g., GSI), populations size or quality of governance, as this lends greater clarity in determining the environmental impact of different nations, both in relative and absolute terms.
This clarity is essential because as Corey Bradshaw, the Institute’s Director of Ecological Modelling and co-author of the report says, “The environmental crises currently gripping the planet are the corollary of excessive human consumption of natural resources. “There is considerable and mounting evidence that elevated degradation and loss of habitats and species are compromising ecosystems that sustain the quality of life for billions of people worldwide.”
The team used 7 indicators in the study which were:
- natural forest loss
- habitat conversion
- fisheries and other marine captures
- fertiliser use
- water pollution
- carbon emissions from land use
- species threat
The top 10 countries with the worst environmental impact in absolute terms are :
1. Brazil 2. USA 3. China 4. Indonesia 5. Japan 6. Mexico 7. India 8. Russia 9. Australia and 10. Peru.
The top 10 worst environmental performers according to the proportional environmental impact index (relative to resource availability) are below. It is interesting to see that 9 of the 10 countries are in Asia.
1. Singapore 2. Korea 3. Qatar 4. Kuwait 5. Japan 6. Thailand 7. Bahrain 8. Malaysia 9. Philippines and 10. Netherlands
According to the authors, “We correlated rankings against three socio-economic variables (human population size, gross national income and governance quality) and found that total wealth was the most important explanatory variable – the richer a country, the greater its average environmental impact.
This has important implications for policy making, as it throws a popular theory called the Kuznets curve hypothesis out of the door. According to this theory, environmental degradation declines as a nation grows richer as they supposedly become more environmentally conscious and have better access to clean technology.
As the authors conclude “Our results show that the global community not only has to encourage better environmental performance in less-developed countries, especially those in Asia, there is also a requirement to focus on the development of environmentally friendly practices in wealthier countries.”
The report can be accessed here.
Further links you may be interested in:Wild Shores of Singapore : Singapore No. 1 global eco-destroyer?
The Ecologist: The Damage caused by Singapore’s insatiable thirst for land
Asia Is Green: Stop burying our head in the sand
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