Australia Loves Winning Environmental Impact Trophies

This is getting downright embarrassing. Australia just keeps on winning the big ones, even nudging out our arch rival, the USA, in environmental impact. The trophy cabinet already has Australia's name inscribed on awards for:
highest rate of mammals facing extinction in the developed world
world's highest rate of carbon emissions per capita
world's biggest homes
• the world's most in debt, amongst developed nations

Now I've just noticed two more trophies that seem like recent additions to the haul: Apparently Australia now beats America for the longest amount of time lost to the economy, due to ever-longer traffic jams. And in the same ABC report Professor Graham Currie from Melbourne's Monash University says. "We have the most car dependent country in the world with the lowest urban densities."

More Trophies in our Sights
For all our recent successes we still have some environmental impact trophies that are currently eluding us. But, as a nation,we relish underdog status and no doubt we will soon lay claim to those awards we are in striking distance of.

Most Cars
For example, according to Forbes, in 2008 we were only no. 7 when it comes to countries owning the most cars per 1,000 people. We were beaten by Portugal, USA, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Iceland and Italy in respective order. A dent to our national pride to not only miss out on a top five placing, but be thrashed by New Zealand.

Ecological Footprint
Yet we did manage a cracking fifth place in Largest Ecological Footprint, as ranked by WWF's Living Planet Report, where, of 73 nations reviewed we were only beaten by United Arab Emirates, United States, Kuwait and Denmark. Oh, New Zealand came in 6th. Bewdy, we got' em that time. (Ecological footprints measure the "area of biologically productive land and sea required to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste." And on average each Australian required just shy of 8 hectares (19.75 acres) to meet their needs. Whereas the average German got by just fine on using the equivalent of about 4.5 hectares.

Water Extraction
The WorldWatch Institute calculated for their 2004 State of the World report that, out of 17 selected countries, Australia had the second highest estimated annual water withdrawals per capita, with 1,250 cubic metres per person. America again romped into first place with 1,932 cubic metres per person. (for reference Germany withdrew 574 cubic metres and Ethiopia just 42.)

Obesity
And somehow we didn't even make Global Post's TreeHuggerWorld's 10 Fattest Countries, where yet again the USA and New Zealand put in winning performances. In ranking the World Health Organisation (WHO) figures for percentage of the population overweight the best we could manage was 67.4% overweight for a 21st spot. (USA 9th, NZ 17th).

Mind you in sport it all depends on the officials on the day as to who wins. So if we accept >NationMasters figures Australia does manage a 6th placing in Obesity by country, edging out NZ in 7th. Yah! Though the US were No.1, so we have some serious training to do to, if we are to take out a podium position.

(I should one day, with tongue out of cheek, compile a bunch of eco achievements that Australians really should be proud of. And the New Zealand thing? It just ongoing friendly rivalry, born out of an old embarrassing Olympic Games tally.)

Photo credit: Snap on Flickr

Tags: Australia | Extinction