Planet Earth is in crisis. Environmental damage from air and water pollution harms billions of people and wildlife each and every year. In fact, about 1/5 of all people on Earth live in areas that test below World Health Organization air quality standards — and this pollution contributes to more than 2 million deaths per year. In the United States alone, 50,000 deaths every year are related to air pollution, costing the country $40 billion a year in medical care and lost productivity. Not to mention, since the Industrial Revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 1/3, making current levels of CO2 the highest in the last 800,000 years. The resulting rapid climate change threatens many life forms that simply don’t have time to adapt.

Moreover, about 14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into the world’s oceans annually. The major material polluting the oceans is plastic — an environmental hazard due to its inability to biodegrade. Roughly 46% of America’s lakes are so polluted that the contamination makes swimming and fishing risky while endangering aquatic organisms. Pollution like this kills 1 million seabirds and 100 million mammals each year.

Clean air and water are vital to preserving life on our beautiful Earth. It will require much ingenuity and commitment to “un-pollute”, but we must stop pollution and reverse the damage already done if life is to continue and flourish on Earth.