Sustainability Reads: February 3- February 9

The 5 Greenest Countries On Earth (And All Of The Rest), Ranked
Yale’s 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is an innovative way to measure and rank countries’ environmental policies and was actually developed due to the lack of dependable metrics in assessing the Millennium Development Goal #7: ensuring environmental sustainability. The results are in, and according to the EPI Switzerland was ranked #1, excelling in the various factors that the EPI takes into consideration, including air quality, health impacts, biodiversity and habitat, climate and energy, fisheries, forests, agriculture, water resources and water and sanitation.  Check out what other countries made the Top 5 (and bottom 5), in this Co.Exist article.

Activists Hold 270 Vigils Urging President Obama to Reject Keystone XL
Cities all around the United States held vigils Monday night in response to the State Department’s environmental impact report and as a way to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. Here are some inspiring and beautiful pictures from the vigils, taken place all around the country.

Hydraulic Fracturing  & Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers
Report shows that fracking (a very water intensive process) is taking place in high water risk areas, perpetuating the problem in the U.S. and Canada. Yet another issue to add to the long list of reasons why hydraulic fracturing is bad for the environment. Key findings:

  • Nearly half (47%) of oil and gas wells recently hydraulically fractured in the U.S. are in regions with high or extremely high water stress.
  • More than 55% all U.S. wells are in areas experiencing drought.
  • Thirty-six percent of all U.S. wells are in areas experiencing groundwater depletion.

Recommendations: Companies should disclose to investors, stakeholders, and regulators water use and plans to reduce, implement operational changes to reduce use, engage with stakeholders (including local communities), and embed the consideration of water risk into business plan and activities. Of course, it would be nice if you just didn’t frack, thank you. By Ceres.

Forget the GDP. Some States Have Found a Better Way to Measure Our Progress
The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which measures well-being through economic, environmental and social factors (including indicators such as the cost of water pollution, forest cover change, non-renewable energy resources and value of housework and higher education), is making its way into official policymaking. Maryland and Vermont have officially adopted the GPI to measure well-being instead of focusing so heavily on the ever prominent Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which fails to include social and environmental considerations into the index.  In Maryland, new green growth and clean energy programs have actually been developed as a way to achieve GPI goals. Oregon and Washington are the next two U.S. states on their way to adopt the GPI.  Article by Lew Daly and Sean McElwee and published on New Republic.

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