By now, you know that the UK has one of the most toxic environments on the planet.
But do you know what other countries do?
A new study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that countries with a low environmental protection and social safety net are more likely to be prone to environmental problems.
“We show that countries that have low environmental and social protection and low social safety nets have a greater risk of experiencing pollution, such as air pollution and water pollution,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
The researchers said that low-level pollution is more likely when people are poorer, have lower educational levels, or live in areas where people work more than 50 hours a week.
“The lower social protection that is needed to avoid the effects of pollution, the more likely that environmental risks will be taken up by other activities,” the team said.
The researchers found that the “economic and social conditions that are necessary to sustain good economic performance and good social conditions are important determinants of the degree of social safety, or the degree to which the environment is protected,” the New York Times reports.
The study was done by scientists from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Oxford University, the London-based Centre for Climate Change and the Environment, and the Centre for Policy Research and Development.
The researchers focused on the impact of social, environmental, and economic inequality on the health of communities.
In their paper, the researchers noted that the relationship between social and economic status was “generally consistent with a causal role for socioeconomic inequality in terms of health outcomes.”
“The importance of social protection for health is supported by the finding that social protection reduces mortality risk and the likelihood of premature death among those with low socioeconomic status, compared to those with high socioeconomic status,” the paper said.
However, the team also noted that “the social and environmental conditions needed to sustain the well-being of poor and middle-income people and communities is not always as stable as it is for the well off,” the Times notes.
While inequality and the social safetynet are two important factors, it is important to consider that “environmental problems are not only the product of unequal distribution of wealth,” the scientists wrote.
“A more unequal society is less likely to have robust social protection, social safety networks, and adequate health care and education systems.”
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