Recently, a new study about greenhouse gas emissions was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using data on greenhouse gases in all 50 states dating back to 1990, the study shows that the effects of population and affluence can be moderated by political factors in support of environmentalism. Their results indicate that for each 1 percent a state scores higher in environmentalism, it was around half a percent lower in greenhouse gas emissions. Essentially, if a state is more environmentally friendly, there were lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Think Progress, the researchers found there was a correlation between voting records of legislators and that of greenhouse gas emissions. This was after they compared emission data to other factors such as employment rate and population as well. Furthermore, the study discovered that population and state gross domestic product (GDP) are major propellers in carbon footprint, as wealthy states with higher employment rates tended to have high emissions.
Though some questioned the study's use of the League of Conservative Voter's environmental scorecard system to measure environmentalism, the authors claim their research is just igniting a conversation about the issue. They also state that state leadership could make environmental changes by furthering policies for implementing greenhouse gas reduction targets or renewable energy goals.
"The effect of environmentalism is a potentially powerful mediating factor," the authors wrote. "By counteracting the time trend toward increased emissions and by moderating the overall effect of population and affluence, environmentalism seems to have been effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions below levels that would have otherwise occurred."
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