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 more than 10,000 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 food supply, with intensifying droughts and floods and increases in 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
The federal government’s role: The 116th Congress has introduced several bills from both sides of the aisle to address climate pollution. That’s good news, because we need legislative solutions. Now we have to keep the pressure on—it’s up to us to build momentum for climate action.
It is unlikely that only one law will be able to stop massive climate pollution. But it is imperative that we keep demanding legislative solutions.
However, action on climate pollution from Washington DC has been slow and does not address the urgency of the climate change problem. Therefore, we need our state governments to take action and reduce carbon pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Role: America’s Clean Power Plan
To address a glaring pollution loophole—no limits on one of the largest sources of human-caused climate pollution, power plants—the Obama administration EPA developed a plan to limit the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that can be emitted by power plants.
America’s Clean Power Plan sets up state-specific carbon emissions reduction targets. The plan is flexible, encouraging each state to figure out how to meet its target. The plan gives states the responsibility and freedom to craft an emissions reduction strategy tailored to their needs.
America’s Clean Power Plan was issued under the Clean Air Act, a law that requires EPA to regulate the air pollution that harms human health. The Supreme Court has established that climate-warming pollution is harmful to public health, and therefore the EPA is required to set limits on it.
Numerous states, governors, and power companies have already affirmed they can meet the goals of America’s Clean Power Plan. Governors and state officials are using it to craft their state climate action plans. In October 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed to withdraw America’s Clean Power Plan, a profoundly irresponsible action that will harm the health of our children.
Cutting Methane Emissions
We have national standards in place to begin to address the urgent problem of methane pollution from fracking (the Methane New Source Performance Standards). But the Trump administration is trying to ease up on industry, making it easier to spew methane into the air. Moms are aggressively fighting this effort through testifying at hearings, commenting in the public docket, meetings with our lawmakers, and speaking to the media about the grave threats of methane and climate pollution.
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, 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.