Rich Americans produce nearly 25% more heat-trapping gases than poorer people at home, according to a comprehensive study of U.S. residential carbon footprints.
Scientists studied 93 million housing units in the nation to analyze how much greenhouse gases are being spewed in different locations and by income, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Residential carbon emissions comprise close to one-fifth of global warming gases emitted by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.
Using federal definitions of income level, the study found that energy use by the average higher income person’s home puts out 6,482 pounds of greenhouse gases a year. For a person in the lower income level, the amount is 5,225 pounds, the study calculated.
“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.”