Climate Change Impacts

Climate change is a reality. Scientists agree that the world is getting warmer and human activity is largely responsible. Today, our planet is the hottest it’s been in over 2,000 years and on track to grow hotter than it has been in two million years.

The climate crisis is not some far-off future. It is here and it is a major driver of the water crisis in Arizona, the record heat waves in the Pacific Northwest, and deadly storms like Hurricane Ida.

Science can tell us a lot about the causes and effects of our warming world. Most importantly, it shows us how we can prevent the worst of the climate crisis.

What We Know About Climate Change Impacts

Years of scientific investigations have given us a clear understanding of how the climate crisis is affecting our families and the planet. It is impacting us all, but not equally. Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working class communities are disproportionately exposed to the health and economic impacts:

  • 2021 was the hottest June on record for North America. The summer of 2021 was the hottest for the U.S. The 2021 Pacific Northwest heat wave caused 112 heat-related deaths in Washington making it the deadliest weather-related event in the state’s history. 
  • The second worst megadrought in 1,200 years caused the federal government to trigger the first ever mandatory water consumption cuts for states in the Southwest. The cuts are a major blow to farmers and our food security.
  • About 31 Native Alaskan communities face imminent climate displacement from flooding and erosion.
  • In the past decade, 3.5 trillion tons of ice has melted from the surface of Greenland. This is enough to cover the entire UK with meltwater around 45 feet deep.
  • Air pollution from fossil fuels killed 8.7 million people globally in 2018 alone. Pollution from natural gas infrastructure – including pipelines, drilling sites, and processing plants – has increased the risk of cancer for 1 million Black Americans. It’s also contributed to 138,000 asthma attacks and 101,000 lost school days for Black children.

We’re also learning more about the economic impacts of climate change and our government’s decision to continue propping up the destructive fossil fuel industry.

  • Climate-fueled disasters cost the global economy $150 billion in 2019 alone. Between 2010 and 2019, the United States experienced 119 climate disasters that each caused damages of $1 billion or more. That’s more than double the previous decade.
  • American taxpayers currently foot the bill for up to $15 billion in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year, making the climate problem even worse.
  • We have a better chance at creating millions of good-paying, stable, union jobs with renewable energy than we do with fossil fuels. In fact, passing a bold, Green New Deal-style economic recovery plan right now would create 15 million new jobs and sustain them over the next critical decade. 
  • The solar industry already employs more people than coal mining, and wind energy is cheaper than coal power in many U.S. states. 

We Have Solutions to Climate Change

Time is running short to prevent a full blown climate catastrophe. In order to stop the worst impacts we need to follow the demands of science and justice by ending our fossil fuel addiction. 

The science is clear: There is no way to continue burning fossil fuels and limit global warming at the same time. Not even if we plant a trillion trees, and especially not if we invest billions of dollars in unproven oil and gas technologies like carbon capture and storage. The only solution is a rapid transition to renewable energy.

Luckily, technological advances mean that renewable energy sources like wind and solar are now the cheapest forms of energy in many parts of the world. With smart policies and smart investments, we can safely phase out fossil fuels and build an economy that runs on 100% renewables. 

Government and industry commitments to “Net Zero” are largely a Trojan Horse. Net zero does not mean polluters stop polluting. Bad actors, like dirty energy companies, use net zero and carbon offsets as a way to continue polluting while they try to convince us that planting trees and burying their pollution underground will save the planet. It only delays real climate action and puts our health and our kids’ futures in peril.

The story we’ve been told over and over again by fossil fuel industry elites insists that the world they have built and now control is inevitable. Our story says that the just, green, and peaceful future we deserve is possible, and together we can build the power to manifest it. Working together, we can ensure these values become the foundations of our government and economy.