Today, most electricity generation burns fossil-fuels— such as coal, oil or natural gas. These power plants account for the largest percentage of pollutants emitted within the United States, according to the EPA. And these pollutants “are the major causes of climate change— which represents the first globally existential crisis for humankind,” explains Dr. Kurt Vaughn, Director of the Borderlands Restoration Network in Arizona.

Last year, by EPA estimates, fossil fuel-burning resulted in: two-hundred billion tonnes of flourinated gases— a 77% increase from the previous year; a half-trillion tonnes of nitrous oxide (NO2); one trillion tonnes of methane (CH4); and five trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), being added to the atmosphere. [For scale: an average car weighs a half-tonne]

The emissions from fossil-fuel-based electricity generation, detailed above, are considered “greenhouse gases”, which trap more of the sun’s energy— as heat, mostly— within the atmosphere and raise earth’s ambient temperatures:

On land

In the sea 

Which melts polar ice caps and raises sea levels.

[All charts are property of the Environmental Protection Agency and]
It’s difficult to determine the extent of the damage being caused to our planet’s ecosystems and the length such effects will continue, because of the compounding multitude of factors to consider. Yet, it’s not difficult to notice that damage has been, is being, and will continue to be done into the future, until things change.