NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Environmental Indicators are Improving

May 14, 1999

Environmental quality in Canada and the U.S. has consistently improved since 1980, while Mexico's environmental indicators remain stable, say researchers who weighed a number of environmental indicators and constructed an overall index.

The United Kingdom is also meeting most objectives for protecting human health and the environment, pollution and wastes are being controlled, and resources and land are being managed effectively.

  • Overall environmental quality improved 10.8 percent in Canada, 18.6 percent in the U.S. and 10.4 percent in the U.K., relative to conditions in 1980
  • Mexico's overall environmental quality remained the same relative to 1990, with some indicators showing deterioration and others showing improvement
  • Forests are increasing in North America and the United Kingdom as the amount of growth exceeds the harvesting of trees.
  • Critical wetland habitat is not declining in North America, and the amount of land set aside for parks, wilderness and wildlife is increasing in all four countries.

Also, air pollution from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulates and lead has decreased considerably in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. For example,

  • Between 1975 and 1995, the ambient level of sulfur dioxide decreased 61.5 percent in Canada and 60.7 percent in the U.S., and it decreased 92 percent between 1976 and 1996 in the United Kingdom.
  • Ambient levels of sulfur dioxide in Mexico City decreased 50 percent between 1988 and 1996.
  • Between 1976 and 1994, ambient lead concentrations fell 99.9 percent in both Canada and the U.S.; 90.1 percent between 1980 and 1995 in the United Kingdom; and 82.5 percent between 1990 and 1995 in Mexico.

Source: Steven Hayward and Laura Jones, et al., "Environmental Indicators for North America and the United Kingdom," Critical Issues Bulletin, April 1999, Fraser Institute, 4th Floor, 1770 Burrard Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6J 3G7, Canada, (604) 688-0221.


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