What Difference Can 340 Million Americans Make?

Tons, it turns out. The United States is the world’s second-largest emitter of global warming pollution, currently pumping approximately 7 billion tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere every year. Yet, if Americans adopted a series of simple and inexpensive emissions-reducing measures in the areas of transportation, household energy consumption, diet and waste over the next ten years, the U.S. could avoid 1 billion tons of emissions annually and save money. That is nearly 15 percent of current national emissions, and roughly equivalent to the total emissions of Germany, the largest polluter in Western Europe. To see how simple actions could—if adopted by enough of us—eliminate climate-altering emissions, click on "Things You Can Do" below and use the slider to select the number of Americans  participating. Click on a star in the illustration for details about each of the actions. See? We can do it. Now let's show them we are doing it. Join our Billion Tons Smackdown today. For more information, see below.

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  • Coal-fired power plants were used to represent emissions of heat-trapping gases because half of all power generated in the United States comes from coal plants and results in most of the emissions of heat-trapping pollutants for which our daily actions are responsible.
  • Each power plant tile represents seven 500kW coal power plants or 21 million tons of emissions.
  • Removing 48 of the 50 power plant tiles would represent the annual elimination of one billion tons of heat-trapping gases; two tiles are left over as a reminder that this will not eliminate emissions from all the coal-fired power plants in the US.

Learn More:
Join the Billion Tons Smackdown today!

Simple and Inexpensive Actions Could Reduce Global Warming Emissions by One Billion Tons (pdf)
Switchboard: The One Billion Ton Opportunity

Garrison Institute Climate, Mind and Behavior Institute
Time magazine: "Can Small Lifestyle Changes Lead to Huge CO2 Cuts?"