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What To Know About Climate Change

Climate change is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are released when fossil fuels are burned or forests are cleared. [source: UCS] These gases rise into the atmosphere and can remain for decades or even centuries. As they build up, the gases create a "glass window" over the Earth, trapping in heat that would otherwise escape. As the Earth’s temperature rises, our climate begins to change, resulting in:

  • Decreasing snow cover and sea ice
  • Rising sea levels and increases in water temperature
  • Increasing precipitation over middle and high latitudes
  • Severe drought in lower latitudes, leading to food shortages and starvation
  • Faster spread of disease
  • Increasing frequency of extreme precipitation

The science is clear — climate change is occurring and human activity is the primary cause. The debate is not about whether or not climate change is real. The question is: How devastating will its impact be on humans and the environment?

Learn About Climate Change

What You Can Do

If human activity is the cause of climate change, then human activity can also be the solution. Check out what you can do to save the present and protect the future from the worst climate change impacts:

  1. Switch to Green Power. There are alternatives for customers who want to purchase green power. For a complete list of green power options, visit the US Department of Energy’s Web site
  2. Renewable Energy Credits. You can offset your carbon dioxide emissions by purchasing “green tags,” or compensatory energy credits that add renewable power to the grid equal to the power you use. Check out Native Energy's Windbuilder program.
  3. Improve your Efficiency. The best and cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to improve your energy efficiency at home and at work.
  4. Go Renewable. Check out Green America's Building A Clean Energy Future to learn more.
  5. Green Your Transportation. Carpool, vanpool, take a bus, ride a train, or step on the subway. Better yet walk or ride a bike. Using mass transit, fuel-efficient vehicles, and your own energy to get around is a wonderful way to take control of your impact on climate change. Americans could save 1.5 million barrels of fuel a day if fuel economy were improved by 5 mpg.
    Eat Locally. From farm to dinner plate, food grown in the US travels 1500 miles on average. Distances are substantially longer for foods imported from elsewhere in the world. [source: Local Harvest].  Add on the energy used for packaging and refrigeration, and your food can carry hefty carbon emissions. When you visit a farmers market, subscribe to a CSA, or buy local produce at your grocer you are saving thousands of miles. Just think what you save when you purchase handcrafted goods and gifts from local producers.
  6. Use Your Investor Power. If you invest in power companies that continue to rely on coal, voice your concerns with unsustainable technologies and ask them to disclose their role in creating climate risks, assert that you prefer to invest your dollar in cleaner technologies. If you invest in mutual funds, tell the company that you expect them to vote for sustainability on climate risk resolutions.

Green Energy Resources

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (
1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Ste. 801
Washington, DC 20036

American Solar Energy Society (
2400 Central Ave., Ste. G-1
Boulder, CO 80301

American Wind Energy Association (
122 C St. NW, Ste. 380
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 383-2500

Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (
1111 19th St. NW, Ste. 402
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 872-5955

Better World Club: The Environmental Auto Club
(866) 238-1137

Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (

National Arbor Day Foundation (
100 Arbor Ave.
Nebraska City, NE 68410
(800) 448-7337

Real Goods Renewables/GAIAM (
(800) 762-7325

REPP-Renewable Energy Policy Project (
1612 K St. NW, #202
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 293-2898

Rocky Mountain Institute (
1739 Snowmass Creek Rd
Snowmass, CO 81654
(970) 927-3851

Safe Climate Carbon Footprint Calculator (
World Resources Institute
10 G St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 729-7660

Solar Living Institute (
P.O. Box 836
Hopland, CA 95449

Union of Concerned Scientists (
2 Brattle Square
Cambridge, MA 02238-9105
(617) 547-5552

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