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Happy National Park Week!

You may not have heard, but Saturday kicked off the first National Park Week, a Presidentially-endorsed celebration of our many natural and historic national parks. National Park Week runs through Sunday, April 27. From the mouth of President Bush himself: 
"Our National Parks belong to each of us, and they are natural places to learn, exercise, volunteer, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the magnificent beauty of our great land. During National Park Week and throughout the year, Americans of all ages can pledge to help maintain and enhance America's national treasures for future generations. 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 19 through April 27, 2008, as National Park Week. I invite all my fellow citizens to join me in celebrating America's national parks by visiting these wonderful spaces, discovering all they have to offer, and becoming active participants in park conservation."

That sounds serious — we better get out there. Several national parks have scheduled official events for National Park Week, including outdoor skills schools, nature walks, and Junior Ranger days. And, in another bit of auspicious timing, the first roads have opened up in both Yellowstone and Glacier. The holiday seems a bit early, considering that summer remains the busiest season for most national parks, but maybe even the Fed prefers to avoid bear jams on Going-to-the-Sun road.

Considering Bush's wildlife/conservation record, this isn't much more than a nice gesture, but if he can take out some time this week to bail out the park service with some much-needed cash for acquisitions, then we'll be talkin' 'bout some serious steps toward redemption.

(Note to self: Ask the Boss if we can make National Park Week a company holiday...)
— Ted Alvarez

National Park Week (White House)

National Park Week Events (NPS)

Some Yellowstone Park Roads Reopen (Salt Lake Tribune)

Some Glacier National Park Roads Reopening (CBS Montana)
Monday, April 21, 2008 in: Bush, National Parks, Glacier, Yellowstone
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Big Trouble With Littler Glaciers

If polar bears are the unofficial ambassador species for the fight against global warming, then glaciers are the official geographical feature. It's no surprise, really: Both are photogenic, mysterious, and disappearing faster than fries at a fat farm.

Glaciers are melting at the fastest rate since record keeping began, and they're likely melting faster than they ever have in the past 5,000 years. But according to the World Glacier Monitoring Service, the loss of the world's glaciers means much more than just missing out on scenic views of icy, aqua-blue tongues spilling down the side of a mountain. This "biggest ever 'net loss' of ice" could lead to collapsing ecosystems, failing government infrastructure, and even armed conflict. UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner shared these portentous words of doom with England's Observer:
"We're talking about something that happens in your and my lifespan. We're not talking about something hypothetical, we're talking about something dramatic in its consequences," he said.
Food security will likely become the most immediate crisis; farming regions in China and India that rely on glacial melt for irrigation already struggle to water their crops. As the World Glacier Monitoring Service announced their findings, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with Chinese, Japanese, and Indian leaders in Chiba, Japan, in hopes of ironing out solutions to the potential "catastrophe." Blair leads an international team  that hopes to iron out a global pact to fight climate change. U.S. representatives were noticeably absent from the bargaining table.

"If the average person in the US is, say, to emit per capita, one-tenth of what they do today and those in the UK or Japan one-fifth, we're not talking of adjustment, we're talking about a revolution," [Blair said].

This is just a hunch, but you might have to wait until after November for your revolution, Tony. — Ted Alvarez

Glaciers melt 'at fastest rate in past 5,000 years' (Guardian/Observer UK)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 in: Global Warming, Environment, Glaciers
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