Climate Change Poses Grave Threat to US National Parks

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Michael Oko, NRDC, 202-513-6245

Climate Change Poses Grave Threat to US National Parks

New Report Identifies Top Threats and Recommendations to Protect Parks

DENVER and NEW YORK - Climate change from human activity is the leading threat to
wildlife, plants, water and ice in 25 of America's national parks,
according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC) and Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO).

The report, NationalParks in Peril,
comes on the heels of the introduction of clean energy and climate
legislation in the U.S. Senate, as well as Ken Burns' national parks
series on PBS, which has put parks in the center of America's national
conscience.

"As a country, we need to ensure that our
parks have a future that is as promising as their past," said Theo
Spencer, senior advocate for the Climate Center at the Natural
Resources Defense Council. "Clean energy legislation is now moving in
Congress that would help preserve our national treasures, while
creating more jobs, economic growth and national security."

The
report outlines climate-related threats in 25 parks spanning 22 states.
The top risks include: loss of snow and water, rising seas, more
extreme weather, loss of plants and wildlife, and more pollution.

"Climate
disruption is the greatest threat ever to our national parks. We could
lose entire national parks for the first time, as Everglades, Ellis
Island, and other parks could be submerged by rising seas," said
Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization
and the report's principal author. "To preserve our parks, we need to
reduce the heat-trapping gases that are threatening them, and begin
managing the parks to protect resources at risk."   

Remedies,
which are outlined in the report, include enacting comprehensive clean
energy legislation, including reducing carbon pollution by at least 20
percent below current levels by 2020; increasing investment in energy
efficiency; and accelerating the development of clean energy
technologies. The National Parks Service also needs to prioritize this
issue by enacting policies to mitigate the impacts of global warming;
and should have more funding for research and to reduce the effects of
climate change.

Bill Wade, chair of the executive
council of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) and
former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia,
said: "National parks are often referred to as the ‘canaries in the
mine shafts' when it comes to climate change. By their very
characteristics and locations, impacts and effects of climate change
are noticed in national parks first and are a forewarning about what
will happen elsewhere. That's why this report is particularly
important."

For the full report, including the list of the National Parks, visit the RMCO site.

More information about national parks and global warming is also available at www.nrdc.org/land/parksinperil/

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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