Tuesday, July 25, 2006

NRDC says 12 US National Parks are at risk from climate change

The story from Reuters:
All 12 parks are located in the American West, where temperatures have risen twice as fast as in the rest of the United States over the last 50 years, said Theo Spencer of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Rising temperatures, drought, wildfires and diminished snowfalls endanger wildlife and threaten hiking, fishing and other recreational activities" in the parks, Spencer said in a telephone news conference. "Imagine Glacier Park without glaciers or Yellowstone without any grizzly bears."

From the 29 page NRDC and Rocky Mountain Climate Organization report, regarding Joshua Tree National Park, one of my favorites:
Higher temperatures can eliminate an entire plant species from an area. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and universities have documented substantial mortality of Joshua trees in California’s high desert and project that because of climate warming the trees "will be unable to persist much longer within Joshua Tree National Park." Joshua trees need the relatively cooler temperatures now found in the higher Mojave desert, compared to those of nearby Colorado or Sonoran deserts, in part because they require winter freezes to flower and set seeds.

Which National Parks are most at risk:

  • Bandalier National Monument, NM
  • Death Valley National Park, CA
  • Glacier National Park, MT
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, UT/AZ
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area, CA
  • Grand Teton National Park, WY
  • Mesa Verde National Park, CO
  • Mount Rainier National Park, WA
  • North Cascades National Park, WA
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY/ID/MT (loss of Grizzlies expected -- Stephen Colbert should be thrilled)
  • Yosemite National Park, CA
The prescription, according to the NRDC [emphasis mine]:
Encouragingly, more Americans are becoming aware of what is at stake, taking action themselves, and expecting action from their leaders. The National Park Service can do more to identify park resources and values that are at risk from a disrupted climate and take action to preserve them. The U.S. government must establish sensible standards that begin to significantly reduce our emissions of heattrapping gases within 10 years if we are to avoid the most dangerous impacts caused by rising temperatures. In the face of inaction at the federal level, many states and cities are moving forward on their own, but much more can be done. Responsible and prudent action by all levels of government can make the difference in preserving not just the national parks of the American West but natural ecosystems and the quality of people's lives worldwide.
It's time to kick the bums out. You want checks and balances, Iraq War oversight, and sensible environmental policy as soon as possible? Vote Democrat in 2006. Then do it again in 2008.

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