Metro Atlanta: poster child for carbon emissions
This marks at least the third time I’ve posted a variation of this Metro Atlanta vs Barcelona graphic. It’s getting annoying to see it so often in the media, but it looks like this is the new normal for Atlanta. We used to be the “poster child for sprawl,” which was a more general condemnation of our metro’s sprawling, car-centric development pattern.
But now writers are getting more specific and cutting us to the core with the details: sprawling Metro Atlanta is now the poster child for carbon emissions per capita (among other things such as suburban poverty and low transit mobility for seniors), due entirely to our inefficient, low-density built environment.
The Washington Post has a new story on our carbon problem, focusing on the tons of emissions from transportation:
As you can see in the graphic from the World Resources Institute…the literal footprint of a city and the carbon footprint of its transportation — are intimately linked.
The more spread-out an urban area, the more likely its residents are to run even the most routine errands by car, producing vehicle emissions. The more compact it is, the less distance residents need to travel every day, and the easier — and cheaper — it is to build public transit.
This is big news currently because of studies from the Global Carbon Project which show that, worldwide, emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped more than ever in 2013. And just this week, about 300,000 people convened to protest climate change and carbon emissions in New York City, where a UN summit on climate change is taking place.
The world is eager to point out and shame the worst offenders of carbon pollution — a situation that puts car-crazy Metro Atlanta , apparently, in the spotlight.
Worldwide web searches for ‘global warming fake.’ The darker the blue, the more web searches for that country.
Source: Google Trends
Taken from the recent report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this fascinating map show regional trends in global climate change. Note that the regional symbols indicate increasing, decreasing, or (when arrows point both directions) more erratic patterns of heat, precipitation, and droughts. In fact, the general trends are clearly toward greater climate volatility.
Source: IPCC WGII AR5 Summary for Policymakers, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, 2014
*The Power of Scientific Knowledge
This sculpture by Issac Cordal in Berlin is called “Politicians discussing global warming.”
What do you think?
Report, Climate Action in Megacities Volume 2.0
The report, Climate Action in Megacities Volume 2.0 (CAM 2.0), was developed in partnership with consultancy firm Arup and released at the C40 Mayors Summit in Johannesburg. It clearly demonstrates that C40 cities are taking action, and are dedicated to working together in the fight against climate change. The research shows that across C40 cities, mayors hold the power to enact change, and this power is evidenced by widespread efforts across key sectors.
Map of London showing how it might be affected by flood without the Thames barrier
- How does the Thames Barrier stop London flooding? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26133660
URBAN VS. SUBURBAN CARBON FOOTPRINTS: Environmental Impacts of population density
Which U.S. municipal locations contribute the most to household greenhouse gas emissions (HCF), and how do population density and suburbanization affect these emissions? Confirming a growing body of work on the negative environmental impacts of suburban sprawl, Christopher Jones and Daniel Kammen of U.C. Berkeley recently published the results of research finding consistently lower HCF in urban core cities and higher carbon footprints in outlying suburbs. Suburbs alone account for about 50% of total U.S. HCF!
The authors also noted an interesting paradox, often left unexplained in such large-scale studies, about overall metropolitan size: while population density contributes to relatively low HCF in the central cities of large metropolitan areas, the more extensive suburbanization in these regions contributes to an overall net increase in HCF compared to smaller metropolitan areas. Differences in the size, composition, and location of household carbon footprints suggest the need for tailoring of greenhouse gas mitigation efforts to different populations. For those with a scientific interest in the intricacies of data, see the full article here.
For a series of fascinating interactive maps based on this research, see the CoolClimate Calculator. The maps start with the U.S. continental scale, but allow you to zoom into particulaer localities. Having grown up in the Los Angeles area, I included a map of average household carbon emissions (HCF), which corresponds neatly with another one (not shown here) of average household vehicle miles driven monthly. With all this data, you can find out how you compare to local averages and create a personalized climate action plan for you or your community. Check it out!
(Leonard Bernstein and Gene Thorp/The Washington Post)