Earth Day 2000, Hotter Than Ever

For the first time in its 30 year history, the organizers of Earth Day chose a central theme: global warming.

It is a fitting choice given a new analysis that shows the rapid increase in temperature and greenhouse gases that has occurred since the first Earth Day in 1970.

In the space of 30 years, global temperatures have increased nearly 1 degree, according to a study by Environmental Defense.

"Changes of this speed exceed any inferred for the past millennium, underscoring the fragility of our planet and the threat posed to our future by unchecked global warming," said Dr. Janine Bloomfield, Environmental Defense scientist.

"Responsible and affordable actions must be taken now to conserve energy, cut greenhouse gas pollution and redeem the promise of the first Earth Day."

Changes in key global warming indicators over the last 30 years are dramatic:

  • Total energy consumption in the United States has increased almost 40 percent since 1970. Most of the energy is from burning fossil fuels, which releases greenhouse gas pollution that warms the atmosphere.
  • U.S. population has increased 34 percent since 1970, from 205 million to 275 million while per capita energy consumption has risen slightly.
  • Nearly half of the total increase in atmospheric concentrations of the green house gas carbon dioxide since pre-industrial times has occurred since 1970. Concentrations of carbon dioxide have grown from 325 parts per million in 1970 to 367 parts per million in 1998, compared to pre-industrial levels of about 280 parts per million.

Environmental Defense, is a N.Y.-based nonprofit organization, representing 300,000 members.

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