National Geographic’s New Environmental Rankings

National Geographic has recently launched a new feature called the “Greendex.” They surveyed more than 14,000 people around the world about their eating habits, their homes, driving habits, and have determined which countries are the most friendly to the environment.They’ve ranked the countries by how high they scored on the test—high scores are better. (They seem to have stuck to developed and developing countries; most of Africa and South America weren’t surveyed.) What is shocking is that China and India are two of the top three countries (Brazil rounds out the top three).

We hear so much about how China and India’s development will destroy the environment, so how could this be? Well, for two reasons. The first is that more people in India and China are poor, and therefore consume less across the board. But, more interestingly: “Consumers in developing countries feel strongest that global warming will worsen their way of life in their lifetime, are the most engaged when it comes to talking and listening about the environment, feel the most guilt about their environmental impact and are willing to do the most to minimize that impact.”

That’s really good news. The huge populations that may have the fate of the world in their hands really care about the environment. The bad news? “There are signs that index rankings are set to change as people in developing countries become more economically successful and adopt more consumptive behaviors. Findings show that consumers in countries with emerging economies aspire to higher material standards of living and believe people in all countries should have the same living standards as those in the wealthiest countries.” So, potentially, while poor people in developing countries are some of the most environmentally conscious people on the planet, desire for consumer goods trumps all of that. We’ve discovered that here pretty clearly. Why should it be different in China?

You can take the Greendex test that the 14,000 consumers took and see where you rank. There are a lot of these sorts of tests, but this one seems more realistic and more interesting. Turns out, I seem to be doing about as well as the average Canadian. So, better than my American brethren, but much worse than Western Europe or Asia. I can’t imagine what it would be if I didn’t take the subway every day. Time to eat less beef, I guess.

National Geographic’s Greendex

News Source: National Geographic

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