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As the richer get richer, carbon emissions rise, new research shows
by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Apr 7, 2017

Inequality is positively correlated with carbon emissions, new research shows.

According to analysis by Boston College researchers, states in which wealth is more concentrated at the top burned more carbon between 1997 and 2012.

Scientists calculated the additional carbon burned as the top 10 percent of each state's wealthiest citizens accrue another 1 percent of the economic pie. In Texas, a 1 percent increase in wealth concentration spells another 812,325 to 934,174 metric tons of carbon emissions.

Second on the list is the state with the most robust green energy economy and strictest emissions regulations -- California. In the Golden State, a 1 percent increase in wealth inequality equals an extra 437,035 to 502,590 metric tons of burned carbon.

Rounding out the top ten are Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, New York and Michigan.

Researchers say there are two main reasons for the correlation, political power and buying power.

"First, income concentration leads to concentrated political power and the ability to prevent regulations on carbon emissions," Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston College, said in a news release. "Second, high income consumers are disproportionate carbon polluters."

Previous studies have shown the wealthiest segments of the American population have an outsized influence on public policy.

Researchers used statistical models to confirm excess carbon emissions are linked with wealth inequality and not economic activity more broadly. Their models also accounted for mitigating factors like population size, per capita GDP, urbanization, fossil fuel industry size and environmental regulations.

The findings -- detailed in the journal Ecological Economics -- are part of a larger effort to illuminate the consequences of income inequality.

The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world but also one of the most unequal, with 75.4 percent of all wealth concentrated among the richest 10 percent of Americans.

Previous studies have linked wealth inequality with economic stagnation and poor health outcomes.

"Equalizing incomes has all kinds of potential benefits," said sociologist Andrew Jorgenson. "This suggests a holistic view of sustainability, equalizing income distribution within the U.S. can have social and environmental benefits. And they can have a global benefit too, since the U.S. is such a significant contributor to climate change."

New Armenian temple is beacon of hope for Yazidis
Aknalich, Armenia (AFP) April 7, 2017
A gleaming white structure topped with seven domes, set to be the world's biggest Yazidi temple, is being built in a tiny village in Armenia. Long persecuted, most recently by Islamic jihadists in Iraq, the Kurdish-speaking, religious minority hopes the new temple will prove a symbol of strength as it tries to preserve its unique blend of faiths. Yazidis, adherents of an ancient religion ... read more

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