More than one in six Americans, 58.4 million people, suffered through more than 100 days of elevated air pollution in 2020. Our report calls attention to the very real public health problems air pollution causes in both cities and rural areas across the country, such as asthma, heart issues, and premature death. It explains how global warming will make air pollution worse, and why tackling climate pollution has an impact on air quality.
The United States produces too much waste. Natural resources are continually extracted to produce goods that are used in the U.S. – often only briefly – before they are thrown into landfills, incinerators or the natural environment. This system of consumption and disposal results in the waste of precious resources and in pollution that threatens our health, environment and the global climate. Because the costs of this system fall on society at large – not on the producers and consumers who drive it – there are few direct incentives for change.
Americans love clean water. Every year, millions of us flock to our waterways to swim, surf, or go tubing, kayaking or fishing. That’s why the federal Clean Water Act set a goal of making all our waterways safe for swimming. Yet our research finds that all too often our beaches are still plagued with pollution, and millions of swimmers get sick every year. To dramatically reduce this pollution, we must boldy invest in improving our water infrastructure.
Solar power is helping move the United States toward a future of 100% renewable energy, while reducing global warming pollution, cleaning up the air in our communities, and empowering homeowners and business owners to generate their own electricity. And increasingly, solar power can do all that at a lower cost than electricity produced from fossil fuels. Utilities increasingly fear that the falling prices and rising availability of clean solar power will threaten their business model, which ties profits to the amount of capital investment they make in the grid, and sometimes to the amount of electricity sold. Consequently, in states across the country, utilities are using their money and clout to push policymakers to undercut solar power and make it harder for homeowners and small business owners to produce their own clean energy.
Environment New York 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.