Fast Company reporter Adele Peters says that the average European leaves about half the carbon footprint of the average American, and it mostly has to do with urban sprawl, long commutes, and oversized houses in U.S. suburbs.

In order to document land use patterns, photographer Alex MacLean flew over Europe and took aerial photos in a project commissioned by Yale 360 that looked at Europe's transition to renewable energy. MacLean compared these photos to previous ones he had taken in 2008 of American sprawl. He noticed that in Europe, development and transit, including bike and pedestrian infrastructure, is well integrated into the cities.

In the countryside, he photographed massive new solar and wind farms. But he says that the comparative lack of sprawl was the most striking thing to look at from the sky. "When you think about all of the effort that we spend converting our lightbulbs, efficient cars, there's really no thought at all to our land use patterns and how it impacts climate," he says. "I think that's the key part of the story—people should really start thinking about climate in relationship to our development and growth patterns."

Read more and see additional photos on Fast Company >>