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National parks hit by global warming

By Leonard Doyle in Washington

The Bush administration has again been criticised for failing to tackle climate change, which is rapidly transforming America's national parks, forests and marine sanctuaries.

Wildfires are flaring in Alaska, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada. In Glacier National Park, where glacier numbers have fallen from 150 to 26 since 1850, the habitat of bighorn sheep, mountain goats and grizzly bears is vanishing.

Meanwhile, sea levels are rising around the low-lying Florida Keys and global warming is killing off the nation's trees. Spruce bark beetles are chewing their way through Alaska's Kenai Peninsula and the Chugach National Forest, while pine beetles are destroying red spruce woodlands. Non-native grasses have replaced native shrubs in the Mojave Desert, fuelling longer-lasting wildfires.

This week, the Government Accountability Office criticised the President for failing to show leadership in tackling the problems. "Without such guidance, the ability to address climate change and effectively manage resources is constrained," it warned.

But the White House insisted: "President Bush is committed to providing the agencies with the tools they need to address this issue."

Belfast Telegraph


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