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25 US National Parks already impacted by dramatic climate shifts

26 November 2009

rocky mountain national parkA sobering report called 'National Parks in Peril' has been released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) in the US.  It reveals that climate change from human activity is the leading threat to wildlife, plants, water and ice in 25 of America's national parks. Taken together, they represent many of America’s most majestic and wondrous natural landscapes, spanning 22 states.

The 25 most endangered parks, including the Rocky Moutain National Park seen  left, are being threatened by dramatic declines in snow and water, by rising seas, extreme weather, the disappearance of native plants and wildlife, and by the onslaught of nonstop, human-generated pollution. 

The report warns that unless we can get our arms around the problem of climate change, namesake features will begin to vanish from US national parks – and soon. No more glaciers in Glacier National Park. No more Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Monument. Some coastal parks – the Everglades and New York ’s Ellis Island are but two—will be completely submerged. And all of this could happen within the next 20 years.

"Climate change is the greatest threat that parks have ever faced,” said Stephen Saunders, President of the RMCO, former deputy director of the National Park Service and one of the report’s authors. “We’ve never lost a national park before, and for the first time we‘re in danger of losing one.”

'National Parks In Peril' offers 32 recommendations for saving America’s 331 parks. They include hastening “the development and deployment of clean technologies,” and urging National Park Service officials to “speak out publicly about how climate change and its impacts threaten national parks and the broader ecosystems on which they depend.”

 

 

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