Report Nov 10, 2011

Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming and Our National Parks

Unnatural Disaster Full Report (5.8 MB)

Impacts of global warming already are being documented in our national parks, and the challenges grow daily. This is a crisis of our own creation that will not go away on its own. It will require decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through conservation and development of carbon-free power sources. There is growing scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions will need to fall by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid some of the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

While climate change is a global phenomenon, it manifests itself differently in different places. Some areas may get drier, while others may get more frequent and destructive downpours. While most regions will get warmer, others may get cooler. Nor are the stakes the same everywhere. In this section we highlight several regions and parks to illustrate how climate change might play out in very different parts of the county.

The good news is that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are possible with today’s technology and can go a long way towards limiting environmental damage. Effective responses to climate change also differ by region. While stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations will require reducing emissions around the globe, each region should take action to limit effects of climate change based on local resources and realities. Therefore, we end each case history with a few solutions that may be particularly relevant or achievable for each region.