In the run-up to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, Maurice Strong, the Conference’s Secretary General, noted that there are only two possibilities when the world’s leaders come together: success or real success. In defiance of this characterization, the Copenhagen Summit in December turned out to be neither. Although there had been no possibility of a “beyond Kyoto” treaty for many months, the extent of the chaos surrounding the negotiations was unpredicted and unfortunate. Poor management on the part of the Danish authorities coupled with the undisciplined behavior on the part of various other parties led to negotiations that spun badly out of control.
On the Environment
Get This: Warming Planet Can Mean More Snow
Can Climate Shift the Biology of Ecosystems?
Federal production curbs taking big bite out of economy
Nature offers road map to corporate sustainability, professor says
Yemen’s water crisis eclipses al Qaeda threat
'Climategate' review panelist resigns over concerns of bias
Finance leaders unveil $84B jobs bill, include energy credits
Deutsche Bank, Nasdaq launch 'clean tech' index
‘Snowmaggedon’ in Washington spurs climate change doubters
Industrialised nations’ carbon cut plans ‘are pathetic’
Oil and gas interests set spending record in 2009
Incentives haven't yet translated into new 'green jobs'
Obama urges greater use of biofuels
UN says nations’ greenhouse gas pledges too little
Proposal raises oil and gas fees, launches climate centers
Iceland Leads Environmental Index as U.S. Falls
Science chief John Beddington calls for honesty on climate change
Repairing ozone hole may accelerate warming
Report touts climate change as public opinion drops
Uncertainty causes slack in emissions trading
A guest post by Jacob Meyer, Research Assistant, Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy
In the 2010 EPI, the relationship between Environmental Health and log GDP per capita typifies a logistic function, colloquially known as an S-curve. The S-curve is a well-known relationship that can be found across disciplines. Chemistry, physics, biology, linguistics, statistics, and economics all find evidence of behaviors that follow the S-curve model. In economics, it is typically employed to describe the pace of technology adoption or innovation. There is often a slow start, followed by a period of rapid advancement, which tapers to slower ending. That the Environmental Health scores follow this pattern is not surprising; public health has always been a major concern of policymakers.
What is perhaps more surprising is that the scores for Ecosystem Vitality do not follow the same pattern. Part of this can be explained by the fact that industrialization has historically required enormous consumption of fossil fuels. However, the data are widely dispersed, and the regressed relationship does not appear to be very strong. This implies that the measures that make up the Ecosystem Vitality score have not received the attention that policymakers have given Environmental Health indicators in the developed world. The data calls for more research – better understanding the relationship between ecosystem protection and economic development could help rapidly developing countries avoid the past environmental errors of the developed world.
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