India figures among the world’s worst 10 countries causing environmental damage, according to a new study which lists Brazil as the most polluting country.
The research led by professor Corey Bradshaw, of the University of Adelaide's environment institute, has placed India at seventh position while ranking the U.S. and China as the largest carbon producers after Brazil.
The 10 countries with the worst global footprint were Brazil, the US, China, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, India, Russia, Australia and Peru, it said.
Countries were measured on a range of indicators, including fertiliser use, natural forest loss, habitat conservation, fisheries and other marine captures, water pollution, carbon emissions and species threat.
The study, published in the science journal PLoS ONE Wednesday, found Australia's carbon emissions, rate of species threat and natural forest loss were the greatest contributors to its ninth-place ranking, according to The Age.
“If you're clearing a lot of forests, you tend to also to overharvest in the ocean and use a lot of fertilisers,” Mr. Bradshaw said explaining the link between development and environmental damage.
Mr. Bradshaw said finding the US and China in the top 10 were not surprising, though he was surprised that a relatively poor country such as Brazil took out the top spot.
“The wealthier you are, the more damage you do, on average,” he said. “It's just a function of human nature. Growth is the be-all and end-all for all economies around the world, and if you're not growing economically, you're stagnant, and therefore that's a bad thing and governments get sacked. So we have a system built around increasing our consumption rates, and that's unsustainable in the long term.”
The study, however, did not include human health and economic data, instead focusing exclusively on environmental indicators.
Mr. Bradshaw said while Australia had few forests to start with, land clearing had removed more than half of them since European settlement.
Released in the United Nations’ International Year of Biodiversity, the study also indicates that Australia has the highest mammalian extinction rate in the world, largely due to introduced species such as foxes, cats and rats, and habitat loss.
“And we are one of the highest per capita water users and carbon emitters in the world,” Mr. Bradshaw was quoted as saying.
The study, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore and Princeton University, also presented a separate ranking using a proportional environmental impact index, which measured impact against resource availability.
On that scale, the 10 worst countries were Singapore, Korea, Qatar, Kuwait, Japan, Thailand, Bahrain, Malaysia, the Philippines and the Netherlands.
Mr. Bradshaw said the better-ranked countries were small places such as Cape Verde, Swaziland, Niger and Grenada.
“They haven't wiped out all their forests but they live well below what we'd consider poverty,” he said adding, “We have things to learn from these countries in terms of consumption and in reducing our consumption”.