According to a report just released by the National Resources Defense Council, global warming has put at immediate risk the 12 National Parks in the West, where temperatures have risen twice as fast as the rest of the nation over the past 50 years. Rising temperatures, drought, wildfires and diminished snow pack have all resulted in endangered wildlife and threatened recreational activities.
The report describes the relationship between global warming and the dramatic increase in mortality among the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
The bears feed on whitebark pine seeds, but global warming has encouraged beetles to infest whitebark trees that grow at high altitudes where grizzlies feed; cold weather would normally kill the beetles but this has not occurred in recent years.This in turn forces the bears to move to lower altitudes to look for food to fatten up for the winter, making them more likely to move into areas where there are people and that leads to an increase in grizzly mortality.
The 12 National Parks identified in the report are:
Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico;
– Death Valley National Park, California;
– Glacier National Park, Montana;
– Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah and Arizona;
– Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California;
– Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming;
– Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado;
– Mount Rainier National Park, Washington state;
– North Cascades National Park, Washington state;
– Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado;
– Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho;
– Yosemite National Park, California.