Global Warming and Air Pollution

The Fossil Fuels Connection

Coal, oil, and natural gas provide over 85% of the U.S. energy supply, including two-thirds of the electricity and nearly all of the energy used for transportation. When we burn these fuels we release a toxic soup of pollutants into the air. Resulting environmental problems, including smog, haze, and acid rain, contribute to human health problems like asthma, lung cancer, respiratory diseases, and premature death. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 120 million Americans breathe unhealthy air each year. Yet our reliance upon fossil fuels also carries long-term consequences that are potentially even more dangerous.

Global warming is real, and it’s here. The Earth’s mean surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years. The overwhelming consensus of climate scientists is that this global warming is due to human emissions (from automobiles, power plants, agriculture, etc.) of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. Furthermore, the warming trend is all but certain to continue throughout the coming century and beyond. Scientists project that the Earth’s temperature could rise between 2.2 and 10 degrees F by 2100. The consequences will be severe. Rising sea levels will make coastal areas more prone to flooding, regional droughts are likely to increase in frequency and intensity, summer months are likely to have more extreme-heat days, and thunderstorms and other weather events are likely to become more intense in some parts of the world.

To limit the impacts of global warming and its effects on the climate, it is crucial that we drastically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. The United States, with less than 5% of the world’s population, is responsible for nearly 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Yet, Congress and the Bush administration have refused to confront this problem in any meaningful way. Ignoring the advice of prominent scientists inside and outside of government, the President has put forth the dubious argument that global warming science is too uncertain to warrant decisive action.

CTA seeks to educate and activate policymakers on the need to confront global warming and air pollution by implementing laws to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and localized air pollutants. CTA also supports the development and use of new energy technologies that will move us away from our reliance upon fossil fuels and reduce humanity’s impact on the environment and climate.