Monday, June 12, 2006

Gone Hiking

Heading off to the Pacific Northwest to do some hiking, gaze at some beautiful scenery, and perhaps visit a couple of national parks to see if there is any noticeable deterioration. Under this current American government budgets have been slashed and staff cuts have been made throughout our national parks system. Some national park bookstores are supposedly carrying biblical fairytales stating that the Earth is only six or seven thousand years old.

On June 8, 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt signed a law protecting the natural and cultural resources of the United States. The Antiquities Act, as it's known today, gives the President the authority to protect national landmarks. I suppose under this current American president we should be grateful we even have something like the Antiquities Act, to at least slow down human depredation. Developers and the fossil fuel industry are now eying these heretofore-protected areas.

Speaking of landmarks, pressure has been mounting from scientists to get the UN World Heritage Sites Committee to acknowledge that some of the world's most important sites have been damaged by climate change brought on by greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these sites include the great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Belize Barrier Reef, the Waterton-Glacier Park along the US and Canadian border, and the Husascaran National Park in Peru.

The signatories to the Heritage Sites agreement (including the U.S.) state that they will not damage listed sites. The petition brought by scientists to the UN, if successful, could have poor countries being able to sue richer countries for not doing more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It's expected that the United States government will oppose this petition.

No one said it would be easy!

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