Learn About the Climate Crisis
Climate change is a reality, and we’re experiencing its impacts now.
Humans are the lead drivers of climate change, but the power to reverse this worrying trend lies with us as well. To avoid the most dangerous impacts, we must act immediately to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. We already have the tools we need to meet this goal and improve people’s lives—through new clean energy jobs, better health, and long-overdue justice for communities of color that are already the hardest hit by climate change.
What Is Climate Change?
Climate change is generally defined as a significant variation of average weather conditions—say, conditions becoming warmer, wetter, or drier—over several decades or more. It’s the longer-term trend that differentiates climate change from natural weather variability.
The mechanics of the earth’s climate system are simple. When energy from the sun is reflected off the earth and back into space (mostly by clouds and ice), or when the earth’s atmosphere releases energy, the planet cools. When the earth absorbs the sun’s energy, or when atmospheric gases prevent heat released by the earth from radiating into space (the greenhouse effect), the planet warms. A variety of factors, both natural and human, can influence the earth’s climate system.
4.6 metric tons
The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a typical passenger vehicle every year
The percentage of electricity used in the United States that comes from burning fossil fuels
The number of defunct oil and gas wells in the United States, responsible for emitting more than 280,000 metric tons of methane in 2018
Climate change affects everything, from the places we live to the water we drink to the air we breathe. And although it affects everyone in some way, its most negative impacts are disproportionately felt by women, children, people of color, Indigenous communities, and the economically marginalized. Climate change is a human rights issue.
The percentage increase of the annual area burned by wildfires in California between 1972 and 2018
Up to 3.61 ft
The predicted amount of sea level rise by the end of the century, should we fail to curb emissions
The number of years left before the Arctic could be entirely ice-free in the summer
We now know exactly what it will take to win the fight against climate change, and we’re making measurable, meaningful progress. Game-changing developments in clean energy, electric vehicle technology, and energy efficiency are emerging every single day.
Tackling our climate crisis depends on the efforts of everyone—nations, communities, companies, and individuals. Here are some ways that you can make a difference: