Friday, February 17, 2006
The park formerly known as "Glacier"
A dozen environmental groups have petitioned to declare Montana’s Glacier National Park a “World Heritage Site in Danger”. Because Glacier, along with Canada’s Waterton park, are covered in a 1995 international treaty labeling them as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, if Glacier is found to be in danger, the World Heritage Committee would have to find ways to “mitigate how climate change affects the park.”
"The effects of climate change are well-documented and clearly visible in Glacier National Park, and yet the United States refuses to fulfill its obligations under the World Heritage Convention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Erica Thorson, an Oregon law professor who wrote the petition submitted Thursday to the World Heritage Committee.(Groups involved in the suit include the Center for Biological Diversity, David Suzuki Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenhouse Network, ForestEthics, Humane Soceity of the United States, Montana Wilderness Association, The Pembina Institue, Wildlands CPR, and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.) Using litigation this way is a typical strategy of environmental groups. Environmentalists sued under the Endangered Species Act in an attempt to save old-growth forests, using the spotted owl as an excuse to halt clear-cutting in Oregon. In this case, and on the first anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol, the groups are trying to force the U.S. government to acknowledge global warming and begin to resolve the conditions that are causing it. While everybody except for a few cranks realize that global warming is real, here, and adversely affecting our communities, the petition probably doesn’t stand much of a chance considering the people in charge. The real question we have to ask ourselves is, what do we call Glacier Park when all the glaciers melt away?