Get the Facts on Climate Change
- This year alone, smokestacks and tailpipes worldwide will pump a record 33 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air, most from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
- At the current rate of retreat, all of the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2070.
- Greenland holds 10 percent of the total global ice mass. If it melts, sea levels could increase by up to 21 feet.
- The polar regions will be the first to experience changes. Projections show that the Southern Ocean around Antarctica will actually become corrosive by 2050.
- The collection, distribution, and treatment of drinking water and waste water nationwide consume tremendous amounts of energy and release approximately 116 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year--as much global warming pollution each year as 10 million cars.
- The U.S. currently recycles 32.5 percent of its waste, compared with about five percent in 1970.
- According to the EPA, recycling cuts global warming pollution by the equivalent of removing 39.6 million passenger cars from the road.
- Before 1973, no curbside recycling programs existed in the United States. By 2006, about 8,660 curbside programs had sprouted up across the nation.
- Only 13 percent of water bottles are recycled. In 2005, Americans purchased 30 billion water bottles, and 26 billion of them wound up in landfills.
- Airports and airlines recycle less than 20 percent of the 425,000 tons of passenger-related waste they produce each year.
- One gallon of used motor oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of water.
- Letting your faucet run for 5 minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.
- More than 56 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. during 2007 was recovered for recycling — an all-time high. This impressive figure equals nearly 360 pounds of paper for each man, woman, and child in America.
- Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity — enough energy to power the average American home for five months.
- Recycled paper can also be made into paper towels, notebook paper, envelopes, copy paper and other paper products, as well as boxes, hydro-mulch, molded packaging, compost, and even kitty litter.
- The 36 billion aluminum cans landfilled in 2007 had a scrap value of more than $600 million. (Someday we'll be mining our landfills for the resources we've buried.)
- Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap Texas.
- If only 100,000 people stopped their junk mail, we could save up to 150,000 trees annually. If a million people did this, we could save up to a million and a half trees.
- Most cars on U.S. roads carry only one person. We have so much extra room in our 140 million cars that everyone in Western Europe could ride with us.
Clean Energy Initiative:
- Comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation could create 2 million jobs, cut 2 billion tons of pollution and save 2 trillion dollars.
- An investment of $150 billion a year in clean energy -- roughly 1 percent of national GDP -- would result in 1.7 million new jobs, with about 870,000 of them accessible to workers with a high school degree or less.
- The potential for clean-energy job creation within this category is seven times larger than the number of jobs that could be created by spending the same amount of money within the fossil fuel industry.
- Between 1970 and 1990, the Clean Air Act prevented 205,000 premature deaths, 21,000 cases of heart disease and 843,000 asthma attacks.
Effect on Biodiversity:
- Some polar bears are drowning because they have to swim longer distances to reach ice floes. The U. S. Geological Survey has predicted that two-thirds of the world's polar bear sub-populations will be extinct by mid-century due to melting of the Arctic ice cap.
- Over the past 25 years, some Antarctic penguin populations have shrunk by 33 percent due to declines in winter sea-ice habitat.
- The ocean will continue to become more acidic due to carbon dioxide emissions. Because of this acidification, species with hard calcium carbonate shells are vulnerable, as are coral reefs, which are vital to ocean ecosystems. Scientists predict that a 3.6 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature would wipe out 97 percent of the world's coral reefs.
Impact of Change:
- If every household in the United States replaced just one box of virgin fiber facial tissues (175 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 163,000 trees.
- If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.
- If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.
- If every household in the United States replaced just one package of virgin fiber napkins (250 count) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees.
National Resources Defense Committee
Environmental Protection Agency
International Institute for Environment and Development
Waste Management, Inc.