Forget Cars: Houses Are The Real Problem

The act of running and building our homes is responsible for almost half of the U.S.'s carbon footprint. GOOD Magazine asks, so why are we so obsessed with making cars sustainable instead of homes?
June 8, 2009, 11am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"We're hardwired to address the smaller problems that we can see, rather than the big ones that we can't imagine. There's no better-or more important-example of that problem than the current debate over energy use.

I'd wager that if you polled even well-informed citizens, they'd rank fuel efficiency as the number one problem we face, in trying to reduce carbon emissions. And I'd bet that, if in this very column you're reading, I went on to talk about all the ways cars are destructive to the environment, not a single person would respond: But how important is that, really?

But the plain fact, as Mother Jones points out, is that buildings, in the electricity they use to run and the materials they require to build, are responsible for nearly half of our nation's carbon footprint. Transportation? Twenty-seven percent. So it's safe to say that while transportation is crucial, we can't solve our carbon problem if we fail to address the energy we use in our buildings.

And yet the fuel efficiency of cars dominates headlines and op-eds, while discussions of carbon-neutral electricity-when they happen-treat it more like something that's nice to have rather than the single biggest problem at hand. Why is that?"

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Published on Thursday, June 4, 2009 in GOOD Magazine
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