What to Save? Climate Change Forces Brutal Choices at National Parks. 氣候變遷 國家公園被迫做取捨
For more than a century, the core mission of the National Park Service has been preserving the natural heritage of the United States. But now, as the planet warms, transforming ecosystems, the agency is conceding that its traditional goal of absolute conservation is no longer viable in many cases.
The service published an 80-page document that lays out new guidance for park managers in the era of climate change. The document, along with two peer-reviewed papers, is essentially a tool kit for the new world. It aims to help park ecologists and managers confront the fact that, increasingly, they must now actively choose what to save, what to shepherd through radical environmental transformation and what will vanish forever.
"The concept of things going back to some historical fixed condition is really just no longer tenable," said Patty Glick, a senior scientist for climate adaptation at the National Wildlife Federation and one of the lead authors of the document.
The new research and guidance — which focus on how to plan for worst-case scenarios, decide what species and landscapes to prioritize, and how to assess the risk of relocating those that can't survive otherwise — represent a kind of "reckoning" for the Park Service, Glick said.
For a profession long tied to maintaining historical precedents, the change is brutal, said Gregor W. Schuurman, a scientist with the climate change response program at the Park Service who helped to write the new guidance.
"It's bargaining. Nobody wants to do this. We all got in this game, as the Park Service mission says, to 'conserve unimpaired,' " Schuurman said. "But if you can't do that in the way you thought, you have to see what you can do. There's often more flexibility there than one imagines."
The team behind the report kept a low profile during the Trump administration, when the Park Service was at the center of frequent political battles. The day before President Joe Biden's inauguration, they began publishing their papers, which were years in the making.
The first one, titled "Resist, Accept, Direct," aims to help park employees triage species and landscapes. In some cases, that will mean giving up long efforts to save them. The second outlines how to assess risks when relocating species. That may be crucial to saving plants and animals that can no longer survive in their natural habitat.
Torben Lonne, a 34-year-old scuba diver in Copenhagen, never eats without considering the carbon footprint and the emission level of the food he's about to consume. For that reason, his diet revolves around locally sourced fruits and vegetables, and pizza. He avoids avocados, however.
"Avocados that are made for export are incredibly carbon-intensive, especially when you consider farm to plate is actually several thousand kilometers away," Lonne said. "Aside from the logistics, avocado farms have depleted many rivers and lakes, particularly in South America, in order to sustain our voracious appetite for guacamole."
Lonne calls himself a climatarian, a term that first appeared in The New York Times in 2015, entered the Cambridge Dictionary the following year and is now becoming more common. Apps such as Kuri, introduced last year, offer climatarian recipes. Fast-casual restaurants including Just Salad and Chipotle are marking items that fit in the diet, like paleo before it, on their menus.
There are also climatarian-friendly brands, including Moonshot, a carbon-neutral company in San Francisco that makes a line of crackers from regeneratively grown ingredients with stone-milled, heirloom wheat and 100% recycled packaging.
When Just Salad added a climatarian menu option in September, more than 10% of their salad sales came from that menu, said Sandra Noonan, the chain's chief sustainability officer, a position created in 2019.
Those who follow the diet stick with fruits and vegetables that are in season relative to their region; they avoid meat that comes from factory farms; and they seek local ingredients because those have lower carbon footprints, said Brian Kateman, the president and co-founder of Reducetarian Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Providence, Rhode Island, that encourages eating fewer animal products. Many reducetarians are also climatarians: cutting back because they're concerned about the climate crisis.
Kateman, 31, became one after reading a 2007 book, "The Ethics of What We Eat," by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. He was horrified to learn that greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture increased by 12% from 1990 to 2019, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
While many climatarians aren't vegetarians, since they believe that chicken or lamb are much better choices than beef, some eschew meat altogether since vegetables overall have a lower carbon footprint.