According to a recent analysis of U.S. household carbon emissions, the dwellings of Rich Americans contain about 25 per cent more heat-trapping gases than those of wealthier residents.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists studied 93 million residential units in the nation to analyze how much greenhouse gas is being sprayed at different locations and by income. Residential greenhouse pollution compensate for almost one-fifth of global warming gasses produced by coal, oil , and natural gas combustion.
Use government categories of income status, the report showed that the typical higher-class person’s home consumption of electricity takes out 6,482 pounds of greenhouse gases a year. For a lower-income individual the sum is 5,225 pounds, estimated by the report.
“The numbers don’t lie. They show that [with] people who are wealthier, generally there’s a tendency for their houses to be bigger and their greenhouse gas emissions tend to be higher,” said study lead author Benjamin Goldstein, an environmental scientist at the University of Michigan. “There seems to be a small group of people that are inflicting most of the damage, to be honest.”
The typical citizen in Beverly Hills throws four times as much heat-trapping gas into the air as anyone who works in South Los Angeles, where wages are only as much a tiny fraction.
Similarly, the typical citizen in affluent Sudbury in Massachusetts pumps 9,700 pounds of greenhouse emissions into the environment per year, while the average person in Boston’s far wealthier Dorchester area sends out 2,227 pounds a year.
“That is the key message about emissions patterns,” said UC San Diego climate policy professor David Victor, who wasn’t part of the study. “I think it raises fundamental justice questions in a society that has huge income inequality.”
Although more heat-trapping gasses are produced by richer Americans, “the poor are more exposed to the dangers of the climate crisis, like heat waves, more likely to have chronic medical problems that make them more at risk to be hospitalized or die once exposed to heat, and often lack the resources to protect themselves or access health care,” said Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency room physician in Boston.
Salas and Sacoby Wilson, an urban health and epidemiology researcher at the University of Maryland, who was also not part of the report, referred to research in Baltimore and other cities suggesting that temperatures can be more than 10 degrees higher in disadvantaged areas attributable to less plants, more concrete and other problems.
“Heat waves are hell for the poor,” Wilson said.
By crunching data on 78 per cent of America’s housing units as of 2015, Goldstein estimated the pollution statistics by factoring home era, capacity, heating supply, temperature, power source and more. Then, he compared levels of income.
Nine of the ten states producing the most heat-trapping gas per person rely heavily on coal or have cold weather conditions. With 10,046 pounds of greenhouse gas per person per year, West Virginia leads the country by far, led by Oklahoma, Wyoming, North Dakota, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, South Dakota and Colorado.
With 2,715 pounds of greenhouse gas per person California is by far the greenest state. The 10 cleanest states are rounded out by Oregon, New York, Utah, Washington, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Idaho, Connecticut and New Mexico
The study’s 25 cleanest ZIP codes are all in California and New York for greenhouse gas emissions from residential areas. The cleanest was San Francisco ‘s Mission Bay, a white collar neighborhood with comparatively new housing stock where the typical citizen generates only 1,320 pounds a year. Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Maryland, West Virginia, Minnesota, Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas, Indiana are spread throughout the ZIP codes that provided the most gas.
The ZIP Code which emitted the most greenhouse gas per person was in the mountains of western Boulder County, Col., where the 23,811 pounds per person is 18 times higher than in the San Francisco ZIP Code.
Since certain ZIP codes did not provide adequate details, Goldstein said that at the ends of the pollution continuum there might be additional ZIP codes. He also said some ZIP codes with smaller, more expensive, energy-efficient apartments are bucking the national trend of higher emissions in rich areas.
Wesleyan University climate economist Gary Yohe, who was not part of the report, said Goldstein ‘s research aims to identify alternatives to global warming by providing “two new targets for policy action or behavioral modification beyond the usual list: floor space and density.”
But residential carbon emissions are more difficult to change than transport ones, where you can trade a gas-guzzler for a cleaner electric vehicle, Goldstein said. Noting that many people are trapped with the fossil-fuel electricity that their local utilities have, he added, “I don’t think we can solve this based on personal choices. We need large scale structural transitions of our energy infrastructure.”