Many common daily activities, such as driving automobiles, heating and cooling buildings, and using electricity require the burning of fossil fuels. These activities have increased levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), in the atmosphere.
Currently, global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are 30 percent above pre-industrial levels. Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas account for approximately 80 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. The increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is changing the planet’s climate. Greenhouse gases trap heat, and recent rates of warming are unprecedented.
The changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level, and weather patterns the Earth is now experiencing could have unique effects on the health of children. The good news is that all of us can take steps to both reduce the human contribution to climate change and protect children’s health.