Barack Obama warned on Saturday that climate change could ravage many of America’s vaunted national parks, criticizing political opponents who “pay lip service” to areas of natural beauty while opposing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
During a visit to Yosemite national park, Obama said climate change was “no longer a threat, it’s a reality”. The first sitting president to visit Yosemite since John F Kennedy in 1962 said the famed glacial valley was already experiencing changes due to rising temperatures.
“Here in Yosemite, meadows are drying up, bird ranges are shifting farther northward, mammals are being forced further upslope,” Obama said. “Yosemite’s famous glacier, once a mile wide, is almost gone. We are also facing longer, more expensive wildfire seasons.
“Rising temperatures could mean no more glaciers in Glacier national park, no more Joshua trees in Joshua Tree national park. Rising seas can destroy vital ecosystems in the Everglades and at some point could even threaten icons like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. That’s not the America I want to pass on to the next generation.”