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USA and Environment: the Map of Comparative Advantages

When speaking about comparative advantage, one often refers to the ability of a country to produce a specific good, or provide a specific service, at a lower cost than another due to geographical characteristics, mostly. As Mother Nature Network’s {{LNK|United States of the Environment map|}} shows, this economics theory also applies to the field of sustainability, at a state level. Let’s discover how each state actually is No.1 in “some kind of environmental or public health initiative”… but also last, in another related field.

It is quite unexpected to learn New York, one of the most visited state in the world, has the “lowest total energy used per capita”. More understandable, it also has the “Highest public health risk from air pollution”. They may want to get inspiration from Wyoming, the state with the lowest public health risk, or with Oklahoma, which has more “alternative-fuel vehicles per capita” than anywhere else. You’d think green often goes with liberal, yet Texas got more “installed wind power capacity” than its fellows – and speaking about green energy, congratulations to Arizona, for being the state with “most solar power potential”.

If you want organic apples, prefer Washington state. If you’re more about organic lentils, they grow in Montana. Organic mushrooms are to be found in Pennsylvania and organic corn, mostly in Wisconsin. Yet, California remains the state with “the most acres of organic farmland” of all.

Eating healthy is important, and Colorado must have understood this better than anywhere else for earning the title of the state “with the lowest obesity rate”. And drinking water is crucial too: no wonder Michigan, at the heart of the Great Lakes, has best access to clean fresh water. Meanwhile, don’t forget to exercise, and give a round of applause for Minnesota, the state with the highest rate of physical exercise!

Finally, while Georgia has no concurrence in generating industrial electricity from biomass, Idaho comes as the champion state, with the smallest carbon footprint of all.

If each state has a capacity to shine, Mother Nature Network also highlighted points where states clearly fail to. Texas may have a capacity for green energy, it also has the highest CO2 emissions. If Wyoming has the lowest public health risk, it is also the place where the most energy is used per capita. While California has a capacity for organic farming, it also has the highest levels of ground-level ozone and particulate pollution, and while Georgia focused on industrial electricity from biomass, they might as well think of a way to solve water pollution from urban runoff.

While Maryland’s got the worst access to clean fresh water, most cases of pesticides in water happen in Mississippi. Worth highlighting too, is Indiana’s bad performance in recycling trash, and Utah for sadly showing the slowest growth in green jobs of all states...

Considering these facts, sometimes quite paradoxical, in which states would you rather live in first? And where would you not want to set foot? While you all think about it, I leave you to enjoy the map!

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