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.
Power plants continue to release large amounts of toxic pollutants, including mercury, into our air. In 2010, two-thirds of all airborne mercury pollution in the United States came from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants. In other words, power plants generate more airborne mercury pollution than all other industrial sources combined.
According to the American Lung Association, nearly half of all Americans – 48 percent – still live in areas with unhealthy levels of smog pollution. Though air quality has improved significantly in the last decade as a result of policies at the state and federal level, there is still much to be done, as there are millions of people living in metropolitan areas around the country exposed to multiple days each summer when the air is unhealthy to breathe. This report ranks metropolitan areas for their unhealthy air days in 2010 and 2011.
After several decades of reduced activity due to depressed prices, uranium mining is making a comeback—including on the edges of one of our nation’s most treasured wild places, the Grand Canyon. Uranium mining has left a toxic trail across the West—including at the Grand Canyon itself. To protect this national treasure, and the millions of people who visit it each year, mining should be prohibited on land near Grand Canyon National Park, and other treasured places.
America has virtually limitless potential to tap the energy of the sun. Solar energy is clean, safe, proven and available everywhere, and the price of many solar energy technologies is declining rapidly. By adopting solar energy on a broad scale, the nation can address our biggest energy challenges – our dependence on fossil fuels and the need to address global warming – while also boosting our economy.