Local Development and Global Warming: A Socio-Demographic Analysis of Spatial Inequalities in Carbon Appropriation within the United States

James R. Elliott, University of Oregon
Matthew Clement, University of Oregon

This study examines an overlooked dynamic in socio-demographic research on greenhouse gas emissions: how local areas appropriate the global carbon cycle for use and exchange purposes as they develop. Drawing on theories of place and space, we hypothesize that development differentially drives and spatially decouples use- and exchange-oriented emissions at the local level. To test our hypotheses, we integrate longitudinal, county-level data on residential and industrial emissions from the Vulcan Project with demographic, economic and environmental data from the U.S. Census Bureau and National Land Change Database. Results from spatial regression models indicate that alongside innovations and efficiencies capable of reducing environmentally harmful effects of development comes a spatial disarticulation between carbon-intensive production and consumption within as well as across societies. Implications for existing theory, methods and policy are discussed.

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Presented in Session 101: Population Dynamics and Climate Change