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EDITORIAL: Carolinians will do their part for planet
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EDITORIAL: Carolinians will do their part for planet

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On top of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the U.S. also had a record number of natural disasters that did at least a billion dollars in damage, at 22. While some disasters are unavoidable, others are exacerbated by humans. For example, one factor in the high amount of hurricanes in the past year was unusually warm Atlantic waters. It’s possible that living more sustainably and using greener energy sources could prevent us from having quite as bad hurricane seasons in the future – and saving a lot of money in repairs as a result.

We can all try to do our part to save the world for future generations. In order to highlight the greenest states and call out those doing a poor job of caring for the environment, the personal finance website WalletHub compared each of the 50 states on 25 key metrics. The data set ranges from green buildings per capita to the share of energy consumption from renewable resources.

WalletHub compared the 50 states across three key dimensions: 1. Environmental quality, 2. Eco-friendly behaviors and 3. Climate-change contributions.

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South Carolina ranked 27th among the states with a total score 57.44. In environmental quality, the state was No. 27. On climate change contributions, it ranked 16th, but the state is all the way back to 39th on ecofriendly behaviors. The low score at No. 39 can largely be attributed to ranking 48th in highest gasoline consumption per capita.

By way of comparison, Vermont was first with a total score of 76.66 and rankings of 1, 1 and 32, followed by New York at 76.66 and rankings at 4, 8 and 5. At the bottom was West Virginia with a total score of 18.77, a rank of 50th in environmental quality, 47th in ecofriendly behavior and 50th in climate change contributions. Louisiana was 49th at 26.34 and rankings of 48, 50 and 49.

So on this Earth Day as we are told to be part of saving the planet, here is how some experts answer the question: What is the single most impactful thing an individual can do to reduce their effect on the environment?

“Replace their SUV with an electric sedan” -- Halina Brown, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and policy; Department of Environmental Science & Policy; Department of International Development, Community, and Environment – Clark University

“Make your home energy efficient and eliminate the use of natural gas and gasoline in your life by going to all-electric appliances (heat pump air and water heaters/air conditioners, induction cooktop stoves, heat pump dryers, LED lights) and electric cars if you need to drive.” -- Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering; director, Atmosphere/Energy Program, Stanford University

“It may be the simple things: change all your lightbulbs to energy-efficient; walk when you can; understand the whole problem and work to fix it -- do not rely on slogans and soundbites.” -- Janie M. Chermak, professor of economics, Department of Economics, University of New Mexico

“It is great when individuals commit to supporting green products and practicing conscious consumption, but all the low-flow showerheads in the world are not going to solve global water problems. The most impactful thing people can do is to recognize our shared predicament about the climate crisis and build alliances with others to push for change and action. Everyone starts somewhere and realizing that you are a future ancestor can help motivate people to see themselves as more than solitary beings, and this leads to joining up with others and insisting that leaders help redirect societies toward sustainable futures. We cannot take no for an answer because our common future depends on action now.” -- Sharon Moran, associate professor, Department of Environmental Studies, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

So there you have it South Carolina. We use a lot of gasoline per capita amid a lot of advice to reduce the consumption by a move to electric vehicles. In wholesale fashion, a major transition away from present transportation is not feasible. But South Carolinians care about the environment and in the long term will do their part to protect it, moving more and more away from gas-powered transportation as technological advances increasingly take us there.

To view the full WalletHub report: https://wallethub.com/edu/greenest-states/11987

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