Arizona ranks 39th on list
By Zoe Soderquist
The greenest state in the United States is Vermont, says a report conducted by WalletHub on the most eco-friendly states. The study compared the 50 states utilizing 25 different metrics such as water quality, air quality, and renewable energy consumption that represent key environmental problems across the nation to analyze which state was the most eco-conscious.
Following Vermont, in order, came New York, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, and Maine. The least environmentally friendly states, respectively, were West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, North Dakota, and Kentucky. Arizona ranked 39. Vermont’s total score of 78.44, coupled with an environmental quality score of 2, represents an ideological commitment to sustainability that nearly every state must reach to prevent calamity.
For instance, a Yale report found that in the past year alone, the United States experienced $165 billion in damages from weather and climate-related disasters. This coincided with 18 disasters that each caused a minimum of $1 billion in damage. Humans’ interactions with the planet have exacerbated climate disasters. For example, by increasing the temperature of water sources, Americans have experienced a particularly troublesome hurricane season that could be prevented with more sustainable living.
The study came alongside expert advice on how to improve states’ scores in coming years. George A. Gonzalez, Professor at the University of Miami, believes that fostering urban development can move city residents towards more sustainable transportation methods like walking, biking, or transit.
According to Gonzalez, “The U.S. automotive fleet is responsible for roughly half of all CO2 automobile-related emissions. Additionally, the relatively large abodes (single-family homes) characteristic of low-density urban development creates massive (profligate) energy demand – global warming emissions. Comparatively large homes require excess energy to heat/cool and to power the excess appliances (lighting, electronic devices) that fill such dwellings.”
Further advice from Heather Payne, Associate Professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, suggests that localities decarbonize by focusing on what causes emissions to support the development of energy to combat it.
She says, “They can require all new buildings to be all-electric, provide incentives for existing buildings to electrify and require their regulator to determine how to quickly shut down the natural gas distribution system to address building emissions. They can focus on density near public transit, walkability/pedestrian safety, providing incentives for electric vehicles, and extending public transportation to address emissions from the transportation sector.”
The report does not condone development, but rather suggests alternative methods that intertwine economic growth with climate values at the forefront. Short-term investment into climate innovation by states will lead to long-term gains, both for the planet and the economy as a whole.
However, at the end of the day, individuals are responsible for a very large contribution to climate change. This Earth Month, Green Living Magazine invites you to audit your own sustainable practices and financial activities to see how you can do your part in protecting the world for future generations. In what ways can you reduce your footprint and consumption, participate in policy-making, and focus on green living in your state?
To view the full report and your state’s rank, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/