July 25, 2006

Rocky Mountain National Park A "Canary In The Coal Mine" For Global Warming

A new report released by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Natural Resources Defense Council has a rather bleak outlook for RM Nat'l Park:
Rocky Mountain National Park and Mesa Verde are two of 10 national parks that are particularly threatened by global warming, according to a report issued today.
In western parks, pollution-driven changes in climate are likely to lead to extinctions of plant and animal species, losses of glaciers and snow-capped mountains, and an increased number of wildfires, according to a report issued by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Natural Resources Defense Council.
"A climate disrupted by heat-trapping pollution is the gravest threat our national parks have ever faced," said Stephen Saunders, president of RMCO.

Saunders previously served as deputy assistant Secretary of the Interior over the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In the report called "Losing Ground: Western National Parks Threatened by Climate Disruption," the group identifies how vulnerable national parks are if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to grow.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, for instance, the effects are likely to include:
— A loss of snow-covered mountains, tundra, mountain meadows, wildflowers and tree cover.
— Reductions in wildlife species including white-tailed ptarmigan and pika.
— Threats to 400 prehistoric and 600 historic sites from flooding, erosion and wildfires.
— A loss of fish as water temperatures rise and become inhabitable for trout.

Bill Wade, chairman of the executive committee of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, said, "Our national parks have been less impacted by human activities than other lands in the American West.

"They, therefore, will serve as indicators of the changing health of our planet — a kind of ‘climate change canary in the coal mine.’ This validates the reason for their establishment and underscores their continued importance."
Without question of sources, or more information about these organizations, one might assume that the report speaks with some authority, and and that through the affiliations of those interviewed, is almost endorsed by the Secretary of the Interior, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The NRDC is a self-described "environmental action organization", yet the Rocky Mountain News identifies the report as being from a "group" rather than what they really are, advocacy organizations. There is also no attempt to seek a rebuttal, the report is simply accepted at face value.


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