Global warming is happening now and its effects are being felt in the United States and around the world. Extreme downpours are now happening 30 percent more often nationwide than in 1948. In other words, large rain or snowstorms that happened once every 12 months, on average, in the middle of the 20th century now happen every 9 months.
Our oil dependence risks our environment to disasters like oil spills, endangers our climate with the nearly 2 billion metric tons of global warming pollution each year, and threatens our families’ health. With prices in some areas hitting $4 per gallon once again, our oil consumption is also putting an incredible burden on Virginia families’ finances. It’s time for us to break our dependence on oil. Recognizing this, the Obama administration is working to finalize standards for our cars and light trucks that would achieve 54.5 mpg by 2025--that would be the single biggest step we have ever taken to get off oil. A new report, Summer on the Road: Going Farther on a Gallon of Gas, demonstrates the enormous benefits we would see just from having these cleaner cars on the road during this summer driving season.
Industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters each year—threatening both the environment and human health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pollution from industrial facilities is responsible for threatening or fouling water quality in more than 14,000 miles of rivers and streams, more than 220,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide.
We can save money and help solve global warming by reducing the amount of energy we use, including in the buildings where we live and work every day. More than 40 percent of our energy — and 10 percent of all the energy used in the world — goes toward powering America’s buildings.1 But today’s high efficiency homes and buildings prove that we have the technology and skills to drastically improve the efficiency of our buildings while simultaneously improving their comfort and affordability.
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.
Environment Virginia Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.