University of Notre Dame’s Climate Change Initiative and Rating the World’s Countries

At the forefront of study and problem solving in the vast area of Climate Change is the University of Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI). The broad program investigates world wide problems faced by the earth’s species with the goal of finding solutions that “minimize the trade-offs between human welfare and environmental health”. Participating are several dozen Notre Dame faculty members in the fields of science, engineering, social sciences, and humanities, embodying the maxim of “Science Serving Society”, aiding both the natural earth and its human population.

ND-GainND-Gain is part of the ND-ECI that focuses on “building resilience to climate change as a key component to better prepare humans and their environment for the coming century”. The goal of ND-Gain is to increase understanding around the world of the vital importance of adaptation to our changing climate, and to facilitate funding, both public and private, for the most vulnerable of communities.

One of ND-Gain’s ongoing projects is evaluating the countries of the world as to their preparedness in dealing with climate change and its ultimate results of overcrowding, resource-constraints and climate disruption. ND-Gain evaluates numerous sectors of human need and well-being, sectors than can be improved by private sector funding, innovation, and above all, action. These include:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Ecosystems
  • Human Habitat
  • Coastal Infrastructure
  • Energy Infrastructure
  • Transportation Infrastructure

ND-Gain also evaluates such factors as a communities’ economic and fiscal readiness, governance readiness, and social readiness.

Their findings are compiled into a country ranking, called the ND-Gain Index, which currently lists 178 countries in the order of their preparedness for the coming challenges of climate change. The latest rankings were released earlier this month and are dominated by the Scandinavian countries and much of Western and Central Europe. Despite gop obstinance, The United States still has achieved position number eight on the list. Here are the top 25 world countries:

  1. Norway
  2. New Zealand
  3. Sweden
  4. Finland
  5. Denmark
  6. Australia
  7. United Kingdom
  8. United States
  9. Germany
  10. Iceland
  11. Canada
  12. Switzerland
  13. Austria
  14. Japan
  15. Singapore
  16. France
  17. Ireland
  18. Republic of Korea
  19. Luxembourg
  20. Slovenia
  21. Netherlands
  22. United Arab Emirates
  23. Poland
  24. Czech Republic
  25. Spain

China is listed at number 56 on the list, and India is in the 117th spot.

Hopefully the agreement reached this week between the United States and China will be the first of many such advances in both understanding and action so urgently needed in county after country across the globe.

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