The Challenges

Climate Change

The Earth from space.

"This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does it to himself."

- Chief Seattle, 1852

Of the many environmental challenges facing us today, perhaps none loom as large as global climate change. The reality of human-caused climate change has gone from a "maybe someday" scenario to a right-now issue. Our global community is at a critical juncture.

Man-made carbon emissions, in the form of carbon dioxide, are the primary culprit behind climate change. At its most basic level, this greenhouse gas is driving dramatic shifts in weather patterns, including record high world temperatures, rising ocean temperatures, melting ice caps, and intense hurricane activity. Changing weather is not a trivial matter: fluctuating rainfall patterns alone may cause massive flooding, crop failure, famine, and economic collapse in parts of the world.

Man-made carbon enters the atmosphere from many sources. Transportation (burning fossil fuels) and electricity generation (from coal-burning plants) are primary contributors. The dramatic loss of the world's forests also plays a significant role in climate change. The good news is that the basic technologies already exist to cut carbon emissions and move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

You may be applying some of these measures already - using compact fluorescent light bulbs, driving a hybrid car, using public transportation, riding your bike to work, or supplementing your energy use with solar or wind power. Scientists estimate that cutting carbon emissions by 70% will stabilize the climate - a tall order, but a goal that is not only achievable but essential.

Trees, Water & People is working in the United States and internationally to fight global climate change using several different approaches. In Central America and Haiti, we build clean cookstoves that reduce both carbon emissions and deforestation. Just one of our cookstoves saves 7.5 tons of carbon over its lifetime and saves up to 70% in fuel wood usage. We also plant tens of thousands of trees annually, re-establishing natural "carbon reservoirs" in these severely deforested countries.

Nationally, we build solar heating systems and wind power generators on Native American reservations throughout the United States. All these projects reflect our basic belief that appropriate technology, used sustainably, creates positive change that ripples out from the smallest community to the whole planet.

To learn more about climate change please visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change for the facts on this issue.