THE THIRD SMALLEST state in the United States in land area, Connecticut is a state with multiple identities. Its western border with New York makes it part suburban, its northern border shared with Massachusetts makes it part historic New England, and its 250-mi. (402 km.) Long Island Sound shoreline makes it a $4 billion-a-year tourist retreat. Such geographic and cultural diversity means that the state's environmental concerns are equally diverse. They include the poor air quality common to dense metropolitan areas, the protection of forests that constitute nearly 60 percent of the state, coastal erosion, and wetlands preservation.
The nonprofit organization Environmental Defense reported in 2004 that temperatures in Conneticut increased during the 20th century at a higher rate than the rest of New England. Estimates of the accelerated rise in temperature due to unchecked global warming indicate temperatures in the state could rise around 4 degrees F (.5 degrees C) by 2100. Connecticut has responded to the challenge through unprecedented regional cooperation and strong measures within the state to check greenhouse gas emissions.
Connecticut ranks in the lowest 10 percent of the states in its per capita carbon dioxide emissions. Because the state is largely a service economy, with the largest industries being finance, insurance, and real estate, energy consumption is comparatively low. Nearly 40 percent of Connecticut's greenhouse gas pollution is produced by the transportation sector. The state's oldest and most heavily populated cities, such as Hartford and New Haven, home to thousands of commuters, help to keep the state's emissions low. In contrast, residents of Connecticut's exurbs, fast-growing bedroom communities at the far margins of large cities where cars are the only form of transportation, produce about three times more carbon dioxide per person than those who live in the city. Transportation is the leading source of global warming pollution in Connecticut, and much of it from the 96 percent of exurban residents who commute in vehicles carrying only the driver.
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