Nearly a third of carbon dioxide emissions end up in the oceans, triggering chemical reactions that make the water more acidic, which in turn harms marine life. As global temperatures warm, the planet’s remaining polar ice caps are melting, contributing to unprecedented sea level rises, increasingly violent weather events, the release of additional earth-warming gases, such as methane, and the collapse of marine ecosystems.
Scientists attribute the global warming trend to an increase in the greenhouse effect caused by certain gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane that are emitted by human activities. These activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of land for agriculture, has increased the concentration of atmospheric CO2 through the release of carbon. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century—a rise in temperature that will imperil all life on earth.
Effects that scientists have predicted would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice; accelerated sea level rise; longer, more intense heat waves; and extreme weather events. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sixth assessment report paints a dire picture for planet earth—human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years.
Climate leadership begins at home, and OPS is supporting climate action and environmental justice by working to stop fossil fuel projects that are poisoning communities and driving climate chaos. This includes taking immediate action to stop approval for all new fossil fuel projects and shutting down the Line 3, Dakota Access, and Mountain Valley pipelines, and all other projects that violate Indigenous sovereignty, pollute communities, drive up emissions, and fuel the climate crisis.
U.S. oil and gas exports are on the rise, driven by the fracking boom and enabled by Congress’ reversal of the 40-year-crude oil export ban in 2015. The harms from fossil fuel extraction, exports, and climate disruption fall primarily on Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other Communities of Color, as well as low-wealth and other frontline communities.
One of the most significant actions that we can take as individuals to impact the climate is adjusting what we put on our dinner plate. What we eat defines our ecological footprint. The production of animal-based foods is linked to higher greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based foods. A plant-based diet requires a third of the land needed to support a meat-heavy diet, and overall wastes less of the resources we desperately need to conserve.
Learn more about OPS campaigns to address climate change.
Learn why carbon offsets alone will not be enough to mitigate the climate crisis.