Climate change, marked by record-breaking heat waves, acidifying oceans in which sea creatures die, melting icecaps, rising oceans, and intensifying floods and droughts, is the most urgent problem humanity has ever faced.
Our atmosphere is getting warmer and our weather is getting more extreme, owing to pollution from human activity. Carbon dioxide and methane are two of the most important pollutants causing climate change. The balance of these greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has allowed human civilization to thrive for tens of thousands of years, but we have disturbed this balance with too much methane and too much carbon. These pollutants come from coal plants, cars and trucks, natural gas operations, industrial-scale agriculture, and other sources.
We are in the race of our lives, with a small window left, to cut climate pollution before the impacts of global warming overwhelm human civilization.
Does climate change affect our health?
Health professionals around the world are sounding the alarm: Climate change has grave public health impacts, and our children will suffer the most. Rising temperatures, extreme weather, and disruptions to the global food supply, with intensifying droughts, floods, fires, and smog, are all symptoms of our climate chaos.
As these conditions worsen, they lead to a cascade of overlapping health problems: more asthma attacks, the spread of vector-borne diseases, an increase in heat-related illnesses, mental health problems, and more.
Cutting Carbon Emissions
Carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are the biggest source of climate pollution. This carbon dioxide comes mostly from burning fossil fuels for electricity and from our transportation sector. The urgency of the climate crisis requires that we stop pouring carbon dioxide into the air. That will require changing the way we get our energy and changing the way we travel.
Given the need to transform these major sectors of our economy, the climate crisis is too big a problem for individuals to solve. We need a solution at the national level. President Biden has made climate action one of the central goals of his presidency. Moms are keeping the pressure on the White House, and especially EPA, to continue to build momentum for bold climate action.
But legislative solutions to climate change are also important. Laws are more durable over time than presidential actions, which can be reversed by future presidents.
In August 2022, we saw a stunning legislative achievement when Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act. President Joe Biden signed this bill into law on August 16. The Inflation Reduction Act includes an unprecedented $369 billion investment in cutting climate pollution. It will put the US on a path to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030.
This is a turning point. The Inflation Reduction Act includes a fee on methane emissions to push energy companies to plug methane leaks. It provides tax credits for wind and solar power and direct air capture of carbon dioxide. It expands tax credits to help people buy electric cars. And importantly, it includes $60 billion to advance environmental justice. Learn more about this legislation.
Another important place for climate action: at the state level. Many states have launched transformative climate initiatives, driving down climate pollution and serving as models for national solutions.
Cutting Methane Emissions
Methane is another significant source of climate pollution. Methane is a powerful heat-trapping gas that is 84 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere in the first decade after its release. Methane comes from landfills, livestock, and oil and gas operations—including well pads, compressor stations, and pipelines. Because methane is such a powerful greenhouse gas, it is critically important that we sharply curtail methane pollution starting right now.
The Trump administration rolled back national standards that limited methane pollution from fracking. In 2021, Congress voted to reinstate these important standards. President Biden has also signaled his commitment to limiting methane pollution, and in the fall of 2021, EPA proposed the first rules for new and existing oil and gas operations in November 2021. Moms showed up to support methane rules. The proposed rules are a significant step forward but could have been stronger.
Now, EPA is working on a supplemental rule that we need to address additional protections from harmful methane pollution. Tell EPA to issue a strong supplemental rule to cut methane and air pollution from the oil and gas industry to protect our families’ health.
Moms Clean Air Force also supports state-based efforts to limit harmful methane pollution. If you live in a state where there is fracking, you can demand that your elected officials show leadership in reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations. Several states have already begun implementing mechanisms to reduce oil and gas pollution, including California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming. But all states have a long way to go before emissions are under control.
Learn more about how methane pollution from fracking contributes to climate change and degrades our air quality by exploring our resources.