January 14, 2014
The U.S. emitted around 5.38 billion tons of CO2 last year from burning fossil fuels, up from 5.27 billion tons in 2012. The rise in emissions is linked to increased coal consumption during the second half of 2013 when rising natural gas prices made coal more competitive. Coal is the world's most carbon-intensive fuel source.
Male polar bear. Climate change is melting Arctic sea ice, which is impacting polar bears and other Arctic species. Photo by: USGS.
The U.S. is currently the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, and the world's biggest historical emitter.
Global warming, driven primarily by burning the world's fossil fuels, is already raising sea levels, melting Arctic sea ice and glaciers, and likely causing more frequent and worse extreme weather. Scientists say that if global society doesn't rein-in emissions quickly and aggressively, future impacts could include mass extinction, agricultural collapse, water shortages, and even increased warfare.
Chart courtesy of: Energy Information Administration.
|AUTHOR: Jeremy Hance joined Mongabay full-time in 2009. He currently serves as senior writer and editor. He has also authored a book.|
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