Weather disasters kill or injure hundreds of Americans each year and cause billions of dollars in economic damage. The risks posed by some types of weather-related disasters will likely increase in a warming world. Scientists have already detected increases in extreme precipitation events and heat waves in the United States, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently concluded that global warming will likely lead to further changes in weather extremes.
Our dependence on oil and coal-fired power plants has broad detrimental impacts on our health and our environment. Power plants represent America’s single biggest source of air pollution, affecting our waterways, destroying ecosystems, and polluting the air we breathe. Pollution from coal-fired power plants in particular contributes to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the United States: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic respiratory diseases.
Stretching from pristine coastlines to towering peaks, from the historic sites where our nation was forged to preserves of American culture, America’s national parks protect the country’s most valuable places. Our national parks have been called America’s “best idea.”
Over the last five years, science has continued to make progress in exploring the connections between global warming and extreme weather. This report reviews recent trends in several types of extreme weather, the impacts caused by notable events that have occurred since 2005, and the most recent scientific projections of future changes in extreme weather.
America’s reliance on fossil fuels—oil, coal, and natural gas—for energy creates a host of problems, including air and water pollution, global warming pollution, high and unpredictable bills for consumers and businesses, and the need to import oil from unstable parts of the world. Moving to clean energy—such as solar and wind power, more efficient homes, and plug-in cars—will cut pollution, help rebuild our economy, and reduce America’s dependence on oil.