Before evacuating their rental on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, the Manning family saw a nearby house engulfed by the rushing waters of the river that had risen from its bed.
“The shore has collapsed in whole sections”, testifies Pärker Manning, who came from Indiana for a summer vacation with his family in Yellowstone:
“When the house ended up in the water it was amazing. She floated like a boat.”
The floods that ravaged Yellowstone this week altered the course of rivers, washed away bridges, inundated homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of visitors to the country’s oldest national park.
It is difficult to establish a direct link between the damage in Yellowstone and global warming – the rivers have been flowing out of their beds for millennia – but scientists are worried. In the years to come, disasters and damage linked to climate change could affect almost all of the 423 national parks, which are very vulnerable to rising temperatures.
A disaster with biblical overtones
The litany of threats to national parks feels like doomsday: fires and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels, and heat waves.
Rangers at Glacier National Park in Montana are preparing for the day when there will not be a single glacier left in the park.
The giant cacti of Saguaro National Park, Arizona, mythical emblems of the wild and arid beauty of the Wild West with their thorny branches reaching up to the blue, clear desert sky, are dying of heat.
Extreme heat also poses huge problems in Joshua Tree National Park, where scientists do not rule out the disappearance of the trees that made the reputation of the place. Joshua trees are suffering badly from rising temperatures and fires.
A fire in 2020 destroyed 1.3 million trees and left “a graveyard of skeletons of Joshua trees”, as found by the park management about one of the most badly damaged places.
More than 400 national parks threatened
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With 1,600 journalists, 35 overseas bureaus, 130 Pulitzer Prize winners and some 5 million total subscribers, The New York Times is by far the leading daily newspaper in the country, in which one can read “all the news that’s fit to print” (“all information worthy of publication”).
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