This diagram shows types, and size distribution in micrometres (μm), of atmospheric particulate matter.
Air pollution from a coking oven
Since oil fields are located only at certain places on earth, only some countries are oil-independent; the other countries depend on the oil-production capacities of these countries
PM2.5 and PM10 compared with a human hair in a graphic from the Environmental Protection Agency
2016 air quality indicator – light colors have lower air quality and thus higher air pollution.
A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK
2005 radiative forcings and uncertainties as estimated by the IPCC.
Aviation is a major source of air pollution.
An oil well in the Gulf of Mexico
Global aerosol optical thickness. The aerosol scale (yellow to dark reddish-brown) indicates the relative amount of particles that absorb sunlight.
Controlled burning of a field outside of Statesboro, Georgia, in preparation for spring planting
The Global Carbon Project shows how additions to since 1880 have been caused by different sources ramping up one after another.
Particulates in the air causing shades of grey and pink in Mumbai during sunset
Smoking of fish over an open fire in Ghana, 2018
Global surface temperature reconstruction over the last 2000 years using proxy data from tree rings, corals, and ice cores in blue. Directly observational data is in red, with all data showing a 5 year moving average.
Solar radiation reduction due to volcanic eruptions
Dust storm approaching Stratford, Texas
In 2020, renewables overtook fossil fuels as the European Union's main source of electricity for the first time.
Air pollution measurement station in Emden, Germany
Beijing air in 2005 after rain (left) and a smoggy day (right)
Deaths from air pollution compared to other common causes
E-waste processing in Agbogbloshie, Ghana using open-burning of electronics to access valuable metals like copper. Open burning of plastics is common in many parts of the world without the capacity for processing. Especially without proper protections, heavy metals and other contaminates can seep into the soil, and create water pollution and air pollution.
Air quality information on PM10 displayed in Katowice, Poland
Schematic drawing, causes and effects of air pollution: (1) greenhouse effect, (2) particulate contamination, (3) increased UV radiation, (4) acid rain, (5) increased ground-level ozone concentration, (6) increased levels of nitrogen oxides
Air quality trends in the United States
Up to 30% of Europeans living in cities are exposed to air pollutant levels exceeding EU air quality standards. Around 98% of Europeans living in cities are exposed to levels of air pollutants deemed damaging to health by the World Health Organization's more stringent guidelines.
Air quality trends in the western United States
Share of deaths from indoor air pollution
Air quality trends in the southwestern United States
Air quality monitoring, New Delhi, India
Concentration of PM10 in Europe
Share of deaths from outdoor air pollution, OWID
Comparison of footprint-based and transboundary pollution-based relationships among G20 nations for the number of PM2.5-related premature deaths.
Unprotected exposure to PM2.5 air pollution can be equivalent to smoking multiple cigarettes per day, potentially increasing the risk of cancer, which is mainly the result of environmental factors.
Share of the population exposed to air pollution levels above WHO guidelines, OWID
Artist's illustration of an advanced ET civilization with industrial pollution
Support for a ban on high-emission vehicles in city centres in Europe, China and the US from respondents to the European Investment Bank Climate Survey
Support, use and infrastructure-expansion of forms of public transport that do not cause air pollution may be a critical key alternative to pollution
Tarps and netting are often used to reduce the amount of dust released from construction sites.
Smog in Cairo
Nitrogen dioxide concentrations as measured from satellite 2002–2004
Deaths from air pollution in 2004
Before flue-gas desulfurization was installed, the emissions from this power plant in New Mexico contained excessive amounts of sulfur dioxide.
Thermal oxidisers are air pollution abatement options for hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and odorous emissions.
Deaths from air pollution per 100,000 inhabitants (IHME, 2019)
Burning of items polluting Jamestown environment in Accra, Ghana

There are many different types of air pollutants, such as gases (including ammonia, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, methane, carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons), particulates (both organic and inorganic), and biological molecules.

- Air pollution

Particulates are the most harmful form (other than ultra-fines) of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs, blood streams and brain, causing health problems including heart attacks, respiratory disease, and premature death.

- Particulates

Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, and biomass including wood and stubble, power plants, road dust from tyre and road wear, wet cooling towers in cooling systems and various industrial processes, also generate significant amounts of particulates.

- Particulates

Additionally, most air pollution deaths are due to fossil fuel particulates and noxious gases.

- Fossil fuel

Recognition of the climate crisis, pollution and other negative impacts caused by fossil fuels has led to a widespread policy transition and activist movement focused on ending their use in favor of sustainable energy.

- Fossil fuel

fossil-fuel power plants and biomass power plants both have smoke stacks (see for example environmental impact of the coal industry)

- Air pollution
This diagram shows types, and size distribution in micrometres (μm), of atmospheric particulate matter.

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Average surface air temperatures from 2011 to 2021 compared to the 1956–1976 average

Climate change

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Contemporary climate change includes both global warming and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns.

Contemporary climate change includes both global warming and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns.

Average surface air temperatures from 2011 to 2021 compared to the 1956–1976 average
Change in average surface air temperature since the industrial revolution, plus drivers for that change. Human activity has caused increased temperatures, with natural forces adding some variability.
Global surface temperature reconstruction over the last 2000 years using proxy data from tree rings, corals, and ice cores in blue. Directly observed data is in red.
Drivers of climate change from 1850–1900 to 2010–2019. There was no significant contribution from internal variability or solar and volcanic drivers.
concentrations over the last 800,000 years as measured from ice cores (blue/green) and directly (black)
The Global Carbon Project shows how additions to since 1880 have been caused by different sources ramping up one after another.
The rate of global tree cover loss has approximately doubled since 2001, to an annual loss approaching an area the size of Italy.
Sea ice reflects 50% to 70% of incoming solar radiation while the dark ocean surface only reflects 6%, so melting sea ice is a self-reinforcing feedback.
Projected global surface temperature changes relative to 1850–1900, based on CMIP6 multi-model mean changes.
The sixth IPCC Assessment Report projects changes in average soil moisture that can disrupt agriculture and ecosystems. A reduction in soil moisture by one standard deviation means that average soil moisture will approximately match the ninth driest year between 1850 and 1900 at that location.
Historical sea level reconstruction and projections up to 2100 published in 2017 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program
The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (2021) projects that extreme weather will be progressively more common as the Earth warms.
Scenarios of global greenhouse gas emissions. If all countries achieve their current Paris Agreement pledges, average warming by 2100 would still significantly exceed the maximum 2 °C target set by the Agreement.
Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
Economic sectors with more greenhouse gas contributions have a greater stake in climate change policies.
Most emissions have been absorbed by carbon sinks, including plant growth, soil uptake, and ocean uptake (2020 Global Carbon Budget).
Since 2000, rising emissions in China and the rest of world have surpassed the output of the United States and Europe.
Per person, the United States generates at a far faster rate than other primary regions.
Academic studies of scientific consensus reflect that the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science.
Data has been cherry picked from short periods to falsely assert that global temperatures are not rising. Blue trendlines show short periods that mask longer-term warming trends (red trendlines). Blue dots show the so-called global warming hiatus.
The 2017 People's Climate March took place in hundreds of locations. Shown: the Washington, D.C. march, protesting policies of then-U.S. President Trump.
Tyndall's ratio spectrophotometer (drawing from 1861) measured how much infrared radiation was absorbed and emitted by various gases filling its central tube.
alt=Underwater photograph of branching coral that is bleached white|Ecological collapse. Bleaching has damaged the Great Barrier Reef and threatens reefs worldwide.<ref>{{Cite web|url=|title=Coral Reef Risk Outlook|access-date=4 April 2020|publisher=National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|quote=At present, local human activities, coupled with past thermal stress, threaten an estimated 75 percent of the world's reefs. By 2030, estimates predict more than 90% of the world's reefs will be threatened by local human activities, warming, and acidification, with nearly 60% facing high, very high, or critical threat levels.}}</ref>
alt=Photograph of evening in a valley settlement. The skyline in the hills beyond is lit up red from the fires.|Extreme weather. Drought and high temperatures worsened the 2020 bushfires in Australia.<ref>{{harvnb|Carbon Brief, 7 January|2020}}.</ref>
alt=The green landscape is interrupted by a huge muddy scar where the ground has subsided.|Arctic warming. Permafrost thaws undermine infrastructure and release methane, a greenhouse gas.
alt=An emaciated polar bear stands atop the remains of a melting ice floe.|Habitat destruction. Many arctic animals rely on sea ice, which has been disappearing in a warming Arctic.<ref>{{harvnb|IPCC AR5 WG2 Ch28|2014|p=1596|ps=: "Within 50 to 70 years, loss of hunting habitats may lead to elimination of polar bears from seasonally ice-covered areas, where two-thirds of their world population currently live."}}</ref>
alt=Photograph of a large area of forest. The green trees are interspersed with large patches of damaged or dead trees turning purple-brown and light red.|Pest propagation. Mild winters allow more pine beetles to survive to kill large swaths of forest.<ref>{{Cite web|url=|title=What a changing climate means for Rocky Mountain National Park|publisher=National Park Service|access-date=9 April 2020}}</ref>
Environmental migration. Sparser rainfall leads to desertification that harms agriculture and can displace populations. Shown: Telly, Mali (2008).<ref>{{harvnb|Serdeczny|Adams|Baarsch|Coumou|2016}}.</ref>
Agricultural changes. Droughts, rising temperatures, and extreme weather negatively impact agriculture. Shown: Texas, US (2013).<ref>{{harvnb|IPCC SRCCL Ch5|2019|pp=439, 464}}.</ref>
Tidal flooding. Sea-level rise increases flooding in low-lying coastal regions. Shown: Venice, Italy (2004).<ref name="NOAAnuisance">{{cite web|url= |title=What is nuisance flooding? |author=National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration |access-date=April 8, 2020}}</ref>
Storm intensification. Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr (2007) is an example of catastrophic flooding from increased rainfall.<ref>{{harvnb|Kabir|Khan|Ball|Caldwell|2016}}.</ref>
Heat wave intensification. Events like the June 2019 European heat wave are becoming more common.<ref>{{harvnb|Van Oldenborgh|Philip|Kew|Vautard|2019}}.</ref>

Burning fossil fuels for energy production creates most of these emissions.

Air pollution, in the form of aerosols, not only puts a large burden on human health, but also affects the climate on a large scale.