Australia is among the world’s top ten polluting countries, concludes a study by the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute working with National University of Singapore and Princeton University.
The University of Adelaide study, led by the Environment Institute’s Director of Ecological Modelling Professor Corey Bradshaw, ranked most of the world’s countries for their environmental impact, with Australia coming out in 9th worst position.
The study, published in the science journal PLoS ONE used seven indicators of environmental degradation use indicators such as species and forest loss, water pollution and carbon emissions to rank countries in a proportional environmental impact index and an absolute environmental impact index.
Rankings in the proportional environmental impact index, where impact is measured against total resource availability placed Singapore worst, with absolute environmental impact index measuring total environmental degradation at a global scale placing Brazil worst.
“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.” Professor Bradshaw said
“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,” Professor Bradshaw said.
“There is a theory that as wealth increases, nations have more access to clean technology and become more environmentally aware so that the environmental impact starts to decline. This wasn’t supported,” he said.
Australia fared poorly in the rankings due our carbon footprint and geography Professor Bradshaw believes.
“We also have one of the highest rates of mammalian extinctions and threat levels in the world and we have a very dry continent and we don’t have a lot of water,” Professor Bradshaw said to ABC online. “We have some of the highest per capita water use in the world and that’s just not sustainable.
“This gets back to the ideas of how many people can a place like Australia hold? We are mostly a desert, despite the fact that we are a large country.”
The Worst 12 Countries, ranked in absolute global terms: