I hate to make another political-esqe post so soon after the big annoying health care debate thing, but I just noticed this and thought they might be missing a second explanation of the data.

http://blog.wired.com/sterling/2007/06/foreign-policy-.html

They say that prosperity and stability come from environmental sustainability.

I believe that they may have it backward. It may be that Environmental sustainability is a luxury that a country that is stable and wealthy can afford. Our stability and prosperity in the US happened long before we managed any real form of sustainability. We put in environmental protections and laws both because they thought it was the right thing to do, and because it was attainable at a price that for us and our companies didn’t seem unreasonable. We LIKE clean air and we’re wealthy enough that we can attain it. Similarly, political instability could make it impossible to enforce any sort of protections at all. 

That isn’t to say there’s no feedback effect though going the other way. You could clearly make the case that having clean air leads to improved health and morale, and that morale and health would improve political stability and the economy in general. It’s just naive to assume, as the blog post seems to, that everything stability-wise would be due to the environment while the environment would be unaffected by the stability.