It’s not hard to see the result of our reliance on fossil fuels. The full impact of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster may take a generation to reveal itself, but already hundreds of species of marine life have been affected, as have the communities that rely on the Gulf. Around the country, communities face devastating levels of water and air pollution as a result of coal burning power plants, which produce millions of tons of toxic sludge and smoke each year.
Fossil fuels also account for more than 80% of US global warming pollution. Global warming, if unchecked, threatens to fundamentally change the planet that has sustained our civilization. In the US, we’re already seeing some of the effects—wildfires tearing through western states, devastating floods in the midwest, and historic droughts in the southeast.
Each year, an average of 24,000 Americans die as a result of pollution from coal-fired power plants, including 2,800 from lung cancer. This is more than are killed by drunk drivers. These plants dump thousands of pounds of mercury and other toxic compounds into the air and water, and are the largest source of global warming pollution in the country. Children are particularly susceptible to these types of pollution, in addition to being the ones who face the true threats of climate change. So how is it that coal is such a large part of our national energy mix?
Read more about our work to phase coal out altogether.
The Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst environmental disaster in American history. Even though the oil has stopped flowing from BP's wellhead, the full extent of the damage will not be known for some time. The oil will persist for decades, wreaking havoc on Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems.
A ban on all new oil drilling is the only way to avoid another spill disaster. Take action now
It could not be more clear that we need to stop investing in a broken energy economy and kickstart a clean energy revolution. Our report prepared with the European Renewable Energy Council, Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable USA Energy Outlook, is a comprehensive blueprint for building the clean energy economy of the future while leaving behind the dirty energy sources of the past.
It’s clear that to preserve the planet for our children and grandchildren, we need to take action on climate change. And the good news is that the solutions are all around us — renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal.
But as we transition away from fossil fuels, we must be careful not to be distracted by technologies that industry paints as clean: carbon capture, nukes, and forest offsets.