According to the New York Times’ map of carbon emissions across U.S. neighborhoods, East Palo Alto (EPA), East Menlo Park, and Redwood City emit less carbon per household than Atherton and West Menlo Park. The data takes into account housing, transportation, food, services, and goods.
In EPA, whose emissions are similar to the national average of 40 tons of carbon per household, the only category higher than the national average is transportation. This is likely because EPA is a largely car-dependent community. According to the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey, “East Palo Alto exhibits a larger than average transit dependent population, but poor east west transit connectivity and little bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure…commuting patterns are thus dominated by automobile travel.”
In contrast, Redwood City has greater access to public transportation, and its emissions per household are less than the national average, at about 30 tons of CO2 per household.
In Atherton—the wealthiest zip code in the country—household emissions are double the national average at approximately 80 tons of CO2 per household. Emissions are higher than average in every category except for housing. The same is true for much of Menlo Park. Residents in these neighborhoods consume more goods like apparel or furniture and use more transportation like air travel or gasoline-consuming cars.
However, as you move east, East Menlo Park has about the same household emissions as the national average. Menlo Oaks has higher household emissions than the national average, at about 50 tons of CO2 per household.
The data demonstrates the national and global paradox of how rich communities generally create more carbon emissions and thus contribute more to climate change while poorer communities usually bear the brunt of climate change. According to The Guardian, in 2015, the wealthiest 10% of the population was responsible for 49% of the world’s emissions.
In Redwood City and EPA, sea level rise has already begun to affect households, even though they emit less carbon than their wealthier neighbors in Atherton and West Menlo Park.