The Basics: FAQ on Pollution and Solutions
Most of us have questions about global warming. Which makes sense, because one of the world’s richest industries has spent decades and billions of dollars to confuse us on the subject. But the basics are actually pretty simple. Here are some quick answers to common questions, and links to learn more, to help all of us do what families do — protect our kids!
GLOBAL WARMING… I THINK I GET IT. BUT I’M NOT SURE I GET IT?
Earth is rapidly overheating as a result of burning oil, coal, and gas to generate the energy that powers our homes and vehicles. Burning these fossil fuels releases carbon pollution (especially carbon dioxide and methane) into the atmosphere, which traps the sun’s heat. We need a little bit of this greenhouse gas — it’s what allows life on Earth! But the last 60+ years of carbon pollution overloaded is now overheating the Earth beyond safe temperatures.
Climate Change in 30 seconds
How We Changed the Climate:
ISN’T THE CLIMATE ALWAYS CHANGING?
Carbon dioxide, and temperature with it, has fluctuated naturally over millions of years. But since humans began burning fossil fuels in earnest, the levels are off the charts — going up 100x faster than at any other time.
GLOBAL WARMING AND EXTREME WEATHER… WHAT’S THE DEAL?
Hotter world = stronger disasters. More heat in the atmosphere means more extreme weather of all kinds — not just the “hot” kind. We see bigger heat waves, drought, and fires in some regions. In others, warming oceans lead to storms with stronger wind and rains, and can even cause bigger snowstorms.
Why This Time Is Different
Climate Change and Wildfires
SO, POLLUTION FROM BURNING FOSSIL FUELS IS HEATING UP THE EARTH?
Yes. But that’s not all fossil fuel pollution does. It’s also making us sick, and making us die sooner. Globally, 1 in 5 deaths are caused by fossil fuels. More than eight million people died from fossil fuel pollution in 2018. Extracting, processing, and burning oil, gas, and coal for energy and other manufacturing produces toxic chemicals which cause asthma, cancer, and other diseases. It’s dirty stuff.
Fossil Fuel Pollution
Look at Cancer Alley
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION? CAN WE ACTUALLY REPLACE FOSSIL FUELS?
Yes. In order to stop global warming we have to stop the pollution that causes it. That means phasing out fossil fuels. There is a straightforward path, using technology we already have, and some countries are starting to do it: Power everything with clean electricity generated from the sun, wind, and other non-polluting sources.
WILL OUR LIVES LOOK DIFFERENT IF WE ELECTRIFY EVERYTHING?
Yes! And no! We can have all the same things, but they will be cleaner and cheaper. Because renewable electricity is so much more efficient to generate and use, gradually replacing everything that burns fossil fuels with electric equivalents will actually slash our total energy use in half, saving families around $2,000 a year on our energy bills!
How We Electrify Everything:
A Billion Machines, 25 Million Jobs
SO WHAT CAN I ACTUALLY DO? I PUT GAS IN MY CAR. AM I BAD?
While individual actions make a difference, what we need most is systematic change at the legislative level which makes clean, modern technology the default choice. Polluters want to make us feel guilty for living in a system they built in their favor. It’s time for new rules, and elected officials have the power to make them.
WHY DOES THIS FEEL SO COMPLICATED?
Corporate polluters spent a fortune to manufacture doubt and block solutions, even though their own scientists forecasted and measured the severity of their impact on global warming decades ago. Today they acknowledge global warming and fossil fuels’ blame. But they claim we can’t transition yet. It’s a lie.
50 Years of Lies and Misinformation
How Polluters Shift Blame to Us
CAN WE REALLY GET LAWMAKERS TO CARE?
Even in our corporate-dominated political system, when enough people demand something, lawmakers will respond. We just have to show them that they have more to lose by failing our families than by ignoring the big polluters they have been serving. We are 70% of Americans. If we all speak out they will listen.