Human-accelerated climate change is already taking its toll on seven of the Atlantic Coastline’s national seashores, according to a new report from the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Researchers today announced that if heat-trapping pollution isn’t drastically reduced, all seven face real risk of being submerged by rising sea levels.
The national seashores most threatened by unchecked climate change are Cape Cod (in Massachusetts), Fire Island (New York), Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia), Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout (North Carolina), Cumberland Island (Georgia), and Canaveral (Florida).
All seven of these coastal areas see a high volume of tourists and vacationers, but this thriving industry would suffer greatly if scientist predictions of sea level rise are fulfilled. The report, Atlantic National Seashores in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption [PDF], states that all areas listed have a majority of their lands less than one meter (3.3 feet) above sea level, and therefore are at serious risk of inundation by a higher sea level.
“Science is compelling that climate is changing, becoming warmer and much more variable,” said Dr. S. Jeffress Williams, scientist emeritus for the U.S. Geological Survey. ”Many impacts are already affecting Atlantic National Seashores and will do so for decades into the future. This new assessment is important for planning for these changes by documenting effects such as sea level rise and warming on both the natural resources in the parks and also the public who visit the parks and value what the parks offer.”
In order to avoid the impending destruction of these valuable national seashores, researchers say the EPA must be allowed to enforce the Clean Air Act, a piece of legislation that has come under continued attack by the fossil fuel industry and its pocket politicians. The report also recommends establishing comprehensive mandatory limits on carbon pollution to reduce emissions by at least 20 percent below current levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, and programs to educate National Park visitors on climate change threats and examples of emission reduction efforts.
Image of Cape Cod seashore via Thinkstock.