Global Warming Solutions
“We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.”
- Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee
The last generation
Years ago, many of us thought of global warming as something that would happen “someday.” As it turns out, “someday” is right now.
Since 2001, we’ve experienced 15 of the 16 warmest years on record — including 2015, the hottest year ever recorded. As the oceans warm, we’re learning that it’s no longer a question of if the Antarctic ice sheet will melt, but how fast.
We’re fast approaching the point when scientists say climate change could tip toward catastrophe, with sea levels rising faster along our coasts, storms growing more powerful, and droughts and other forms of extreme weather more disruptive.
Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky/Bigstock
Of course, nobody wants to leave the next generation a world where heat waves, floods, droughts and worse are everyday events in an increasingly dangerous world.
If we accept, as we must, the broad scientific consensus that human pollution is accelerating these changes, then this is our challenge: stop putting carbon into the atmosphere, increase our energy efficiency, and repower our society with clean, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
The good news is that solutions like solar, wind and energy efficiency not only reduce carbon pollution. They also clean up our air, reduce asthma attacks, and promote energy independence.
The Clean Power Plan
In Washington, D.C., President Obama has demonstrated strong leadership on this issue. For example, in June 2014 he moved forward with what The New York Times called “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change.”
The president’s Clean Power Plan would limit — for the first time ever — carbon pollution from dirty power plants.
Why power plants? The country’s more than 500 coal-fired power plants are America’s No. 1 source of global warming pollution — even bigger than cars and trucks.
In fact, the Clean Power Plan would cut this pollution at least 30 percent by the end of the next decade. By giving the states the option to replace dirty coal plants with wind, solar and energy efficiency, it also has the potential to speed the shift to clean power. And the plan is an essential part of the success of the Paris Agreement, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, which was signed by 195 countries in December 2015.
Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0
More than 8 million supporters
A recent poll shows that 2/3 of all Americans back the Clean Power Plan. Americans have submitted more than 8 million comments asking the EPA to take action on the issue. More than 600,000 of these comments have come from our members and supporters.
Unfortunately, in February 2016, the Supreme Court delivered a major blow to climate action, announcing it will put the Clean Power Plan on hold while it hears lawsuits from polluters and their allies who want to kill the plan. This decision is a huge loss for our kids’ future and for all Americans who care about the health of our planet.
The actions the United States has taken to date are necessary — but not yet sufficient — to prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperatures. In order to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F) — the international consensus target for preventing the worst consequences of warming — the U.S. must cut emissions at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by mid-century.
Leaders at all levels of government across the United States must follow through with existing commitments to reduce pollution. Leaders at all levels of government should identify and pursue new policies to cut pollution. And the U.S. must play a leadership role in the global movement to limit global warming.
Protect our children's future
As Gov. Inslee pointed out, global warming is the challenge of our generation.
Protecting our children’s future requires us to stop dumping carbon into our atmosphere, and there’s no better place to start than with America’s No. 1 global warming polluters.