Unnatural Disaster

Global Warming and Our National Parks

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"If global emissions of carbon dioxide continue to rise at the rate of the past decade ... there will be disastrous effects, including increasingly rapid sea level rise, increased frequency of droughts and floods, and increased stress on wildlife and plants due to rapidly shifting climate zones." 
–James Hansen, one of America's leading climate scientists, NASA

The gradual, accelerated warming of our planet will have disastrous consequences for America's national parks. Glaciers in the national parks of Alaska as well as North Cascades and Mount Rainier National Parks will continue to disappear; Joshua trees will no longer exist at Joshua Tree National Park; and a rising sea will drown Everglades National Park and portions of historic sites such as Colonial National Historical Park, site of the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown.

But all is not lost. Although the situation seems dire, NPCA's report, Unnatural Disaster, says we can still halt the most severe effects of climate change if we take action now. NPCA offers recommended actions for federal, state, and local governments, along with individuals, to take to slow, and in some cases, halt the damage to our national parks. The national parks offer a unique opportunity to draw attention to America’s priceless resources at risk, and to showcase opportunities to act to protect them.  

Related Information


Climate Change and National Park Wildlife: A Survival Guide for a Warming World—strategies to help wildlife adapt, including providing land corridors and reducing stress from pollution and invasive species.


What We Need to Do Now to Protect Our National Parks (PDF, 3.0 MB)—a detailed map of global warming's impact on our national parks and actions individuals can take to help.


Park Stories: The Canaries in the Coal Mine -- learn about the changes global warming is bringing to the fragile desert ecosystem of Joshua Tree National Park.


Learn what the National Park Service is doing to create climate-friendly parks.


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