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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published its third "How's Life?" survey last week. The survey analyzes standards of living in 36 of the richest countries in the world across 11 areas—housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.
"There is more to life than the cold numbers of GDP and economic statistics," says the OECD Better Life Index. Instead of focusing entirely on "material well-being," the index also looks at "the broader quality of people's lives (such as their health, education, work-life balance, environment, social connections, civic engagement, subjective well-being and safety)."
Here are the top 21 countries ranked with the indicators weighted equally:
The OECD has a great interactive tool that let's you rate the factors according to their importance to you. So, if for instance, you want to see how countries rank based on the quality of their environment, then your ranking would look like this:
As you can see, Sweden is a clear leader when it comes to a pristine environment. And it's likely to only improve there, as the Swedish government recently announced it wants to become one of the first fossil fuel-free nations.
If you want to weight both health and environment to the maximum extent, your ranking would look like this:
To develop your own personal ranking, check out the index here.
The health impacts of air pollution have never been more clear. The OECD data reveals that 3.5 million people are killed every year from outdoor air pollution—that's way higher than previous estimates. In OECD countries, 50 percent of air pollution is caused by road transport with diesel vehicles being the biggest culprit. Looking at you, Volkswagen.
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Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive:
By Jeff Turrentine
Is it just us?
Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.