Sixty representatives from ten southwest parks attended the workshop as part of the National Park Services Climate Friendly Parks (CFP) program.
The CFP program, formed in 2002 in response to the President's call for voluntary action on climate change, is designed to help national parks address and mitigate the growing problems of climate change in order to protect and preserve natural landscapes.
The capstone presentation at the December CFP workshop, "Impacts of Climate Change on the Mojave Dessert and Mediterranean Coast Regions" by Paul Bunje of the UCLA Center for Climate Change Solutions, highlighted the fact that carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide levels have steadily increased since the 1800's, with carbon dioxide and methane levels almost doubling --from 900 ppm in 1800 to today's level of 1800 ppm.
Bujne's presentation also highlights the steady increase in sea level since 1970, the recorded 2 degree increase in temperature across the southwest, as well as the increased loss of freshwater fish habitat, amphibian extinctions in mountain ecosystems, coral reef bleaching, and damage to polar ecosystems.
On the surface the foretasted outlook may not appear so good. However, many of the prediction models are based on the current rate of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
By acting now to reduce GHG emissions, parks are hoping to mitigate and possibly halt the effects of climate change already being witnessed in parks.
"Many of us are already beginning to see the impacts of climate change. Taking the network approach has allowed us to identify trends and share best practices among the network parks," said Bill Dickinson, superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Some ways in which parks are reducing GHG emissions include; offering visitor shuttle services, upgrading existing vehicle fleets to include hybrid cars, increasing visitor and employee recycling programs, replacing old generators and power grids, and encouraging carpooling among their own employees.
To find out more about climate friendly parks visit: www.nps.gov/climatefriendlyparks
To find out what you can do at home check out the Environmental Protection Agency's Individual Emissions Calculator.