Learn how the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for energy production impact climate change.

Just the facts


Methane (CH4), the primary component of natural gas, is a very potent greenhouse gas. On a 20 year timescale, CH4 is 86 times more powerful at trapping heat than CO2.


3% CAP

For natural gas systems to be less harmful to our climate than coal at all times, most experts agree that methane leaks from the entire natural gas life-cycle, from extraction through use, must cap around 3%. Any higher and natural gas is no longer a cleaner and better alternative to coal in the near term.




Gaby Petron’s results showed that on average 4% of the gas extracted from natural gas wells in the Denver Basin ended up in the atmosphere, easily breaching the 3% methane leakage ceiling.


400 PPM

In 2013 CO2 levels reached 400 parts per million, the highest concentration seen in our atmosphere in millions of years. Our reliance on fossil fuels continues to pump more CO2 into the atmosphere causing our climate to change.




If the two coal export terminals in WA are approved, coal will be transported over 1,000 miles from Wyoming to Washington, where it will then be sent overseas to Asia. This would nearly double annual U.S. coal exports.



Coal, which is the most carbon-intensive fuel, is the leading source of energy related CO2 emissions in the world.




About 20% of all emissions come from deforestation. This is larger than the emissions from all transportation activities on the globe.


1,021 km2/year

From 2000-2012, Indonesia exhibited the largest increase in forest loss, with an average loss of 1,021 km2/year (~395 sq miles).



In Indonesia, when they convert forested land to plantation land, they use the "slash and burn" technique, which releases both CO2 and black carbon, providing a double whammy for global warming as CO2 and black carbon both trap heat in the atmosphere.


Learn more about Emissions

Human activities emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for energy production, as well as through deforestation, industry, and agriculture. Carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases naturally trap heat within our atmosphere, helping Earth maintain a comfortable temperature fit for human life. But when human activity upsets the balance by putting billions of tons of these heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere every year, they trap too much heat, causing our global temperature to rise. Even small increases in Earth’s temperature affect our global climate by impacting our agriculture, water supply, health, economic vitality, food supply, and more.

Through our stories we explore different ways we emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

Last Stand

In Last Stand, Harrison Ford goes to Indonesia, where he investigates deforestation and how it affects global carbon emissions and orangutan habitats.

Chasing Methane

In Chasing Methane, Mark Bittman investigates methane gas leaked into the air from the process of extracting natural gas from our earth.

The Governor

In The Governor, Olivia Munn goes to Washington State where we learn how one governor battles the coal industry in an effort to cut emissions.

Preacher’s Daughter

In Preacher’s Daughter, Ian Somerhalder discovers why burning coal is an issue that divides father and daughter.