The climate is changing.
Those changes have
Rising sea levels
Higher temperatures make our ice caps and glaciers melt – causing coastal flooding, changing ocean currents, and releasing methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) from the permafrost.
Dying sea life
As our oceans absorb CO2, they become more acidic, which kills some of the most important sources of Earth's oxygen and causes coral bleaching that destroys reef ecosystems.
More extreme weather
Climate change makes extreme weather events more extreme. That's why we're getting bigger wildfires, stronger hurricanes, longer heat waves and droughts, and more frequent floods.
Why is this happening?
The short answer is: us.
Hover over the pictures below to find out more.
Burning fossil fuels helped us reach our current level of technological advancement, but that's come at a steep cost. Burning fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas releases CO2 (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere. That CO2 makes Earth's atmosphere hold onto more of the sun's heat. Reducing fossil fuel use is the #1 action we can take against climate change.
The trees in forests hold a lot of Earth's carbon. They breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. But when humans burn or cut down forests, that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere, and there are fewer trees to soak it up. In the last 50 years, humans have destroyed one-fifth of the Amazon rainforest, mostly in Brazil.
Much of the deforestation that takes place is intended to free up land for cattle grazing and other agriculture. A single cow releases 220 pounds of the powerful greenhouse gas methane every year, further compounding the problem. Fertilizer also adds another strong greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, to the atmosphere.
We're already seeing the effects
right here in Pennsylvania.
Three of the four rainiest years in the history of Philadelphia (2011, 2013 and 2018) occurred in the last decade.
Since 1950, heavy rains in Philadelphia have increased by 360%.
Flooding caused more than $120 million in damage to PA's public roads and bridges in 2018 alone.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pennsylvania ranks among the top four carbon-polluting and extracting (drilling, mining, fracking, refining) states in the nation:
Second largest extractor of natural gas
Third largest extractor of coal
Fourth largest carbon polluter
That's why this Earth Day's theme is to invest in our planet.
It's not too late.
If we act now, we can still save the systems that make Earth habitable – preserving the future of humanity.