How Housing Choices Affect Climate Change

NPR's Climate Connections series explores how American's lifestyles affect climate change. In this first of two articles, Elizabeth Shogren introduces an Emory University researcher who moves out of Atlanta into her 'dream house' in the suburbs.

Michelle Carvalho, the researcher, has moved into her 3,000 square feet dreamhouse, complete with five bedrooms, a two-car garage and a big yard. She understands the 'tradeoffs' in terms of longer commutes and more expensive home energy costs.

"While the Carvalhos feel the blows their lifestyle delivers to their budget, they're not as aware of its impact on global climate change."

Shogren accompanies Carvalho on a typical day to day care, the gas station, work, Target, the mall, and back home. The commute is explored in detail, not just the slow speed and long distance, but also how the carbon emissions affect climate.

Also interviewed is "Catherine Ross, a professor of transportation and growth at Georgia Tech, who says Atlanta commutes are so long because as the area grew, there were no natural barriers to limit sprawl.

Ross said the toll that all of this takes on the environment is not sustainable."

"When Michelle weighs all of her priorities, she's happy with the decision to move to their big, beautiful house.

"While somewhere on my priority list, being environmentally conscious is on there, but it's not going to be as high as what can I afford, what does my family need," Michelle said."

Tomorrows article will explore someone who did the opposite of Carvalho - moving from suburb to city.

This NPR series is produced in conjunction with National Geographic magazine.

Thanks to John Holtzclaw

Full Story: Life in the 'Burbs: Heavy Costs for Families, Climate

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