Climate Change Puts National Parks in Danger

| by NRDC

Climate Change is the greatest threat our national parks have ever faced. That's the conclusion of a new report we're releasing today, along with the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. National Parks in Peril highlights the 25 national parks most at risk.

Big names are among the top 25: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountains, and Rocky Mountain National Park, along with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monuments.

The report highlights 11 different climate-related dangers to the parks, including loss of ice and snow, loss of wildlife, rising seas and stronger coastal storms, and disruption of plant communities.

Glaciers could be gone from Glacier National Park in less than 20 years. Joshua Trees wiped out in Joshua Tree National Park, Saguaro cactuses gone from Saguaro National Park. Entire parks and monuments lost to sea level rise: Everglades, Dry Tortugas, Ellis Island. See some of the majestic places and animals that are threatened by climate change in this slideshow of national parks.

Out timing is better than we could have imagined. Yesterday the Senate introduced a comprehensive clean energy, climate and energy security bill. PBS this week has been airing Ken Burns' documentary series: The National Parks, America's Greatest Idea. And last week a blue-ribbon National Parks Second Century Commission released it's recommendations for guiding our Parks into their next 100 years.

Our report makes it clear we have to act immediately to cut climate-disrupting pollution. The good news is we can start solving this problem and do it in a way good for jobs and the economy.

Recent economic modeling by the University of California found that if we pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation like the bill the House passed in June, by 2020 we will create 918,000 to 1.9 million new jobs, boost GDP between $39 billion and $111 billion, and increase annual household income by $500-$1,200 per year. These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill.

State-specific fact sheets from our parks report are available for the impacts on Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Hundreds of millions of visitors a year travel to America's national parks to experience some of the most spectacular wild places in the United States. We want to see your favorite photos from our national parks. Submit photos taken in America's national parks to NRDC's Onearth magazine.