As the planet grows hotter, and the consensus mounts that the temperature is not turning back down, there may be a lot less meaning in the idea of preserving “naturalness” than has been the case. After all, in the not-too-distant future, the state of nature will in many cases be something nobody’s ever seen.
So far, however, public-land managers have responded by doing almost nothing, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the agency that evaluates federal programs.
By and large, the GAO says, officials who manage
This is no minor failure. An emerging scientific consensus says that unless the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, state fish and game departments and private environmental organizations redirect their missions to deal with climate change, they’ll oversee the advance of nationwide environmental catastrophe. The character of public wildlands will be drastically—and permanently—altered….
…Leigh Welling, the park service climate change coordinator, puts it a different way. “It’s a scary thought,” says Welling. “Managers are looking at their job and saying, ‘Oh geez, how do I do my job?’” Some naturalists have a one-word answer to that question: Differently.
Photo of a Coast redwood in Redwood National Park, from "Urban," Wikimedia Commons