A new analysis released by researchers from Yale and Columbia Universities last week found that the United States ranked 39th of 149 countries studied on the basis of overall environmental performance. Switzerland, with lots of open space and forward-thinking environmental policies, took the top honors, followed by Sweden, Norway, Finland and Costa Rica. Twenty-two member countries of the European Union outranked the U.S., as did several other industrialized nations like Japan (which finished 21st). Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Angola and Niger were at the bottom of the list, although 89 other countries were excluded due to incomplete data.
"Every country has something to learn from the 2008 Environmental Performance Index," says Daniel Esty of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. "Even the top-ranked countries underperform on some issues."
To come up with the EPI rankings-the second such version of the report in as many years-the researchers studied 25 different indicators across six established policy categories (Environmental...