Even as we’re heading into the colder months of the winter season, your thoughts may be turning to the kind of vacation you’d like to take when the weather turns warmer. Some of the more popular destinations in America are, of course, our treasured National Parks.
According to a recent article in The Washington Post, there are some 400 National Parks throughout the United States visited each year by about 280 million people. Greeting, guiding, and working with many of those visitors are uniformed Park Rangers, numbering close to 4,000.
And now, recognizing that those Rangers enjoy a relatively high degree of credibility with the children and adults they contact, the National Park Service has added a new duty to the list of work requirements — talking to visitors about global warming.
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Nationaljournal.com features a lengthy post explaining how the thousands of Rangers in America’s National Parks — often seen as teachers about, and protectors of, the environments within which they work — can have a tremendous influence on visitors.
National parks are on the front lines of climate change. And park rangers are increasingly delivering the message that global warming is taking a toll on the iconic areas.
The National Journal article explains how Park Rangers — operating with an unquestioning belief in the “proven science” of climate change — recognize they are uniquely positioned to teach. They take the “opportunity to turn parks into open-air classrooms.”
Educational efforts have ramped up in recent years. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which spans parts of North Carolina and Tennessee, has hosted climate-science workshops for high school and middle school teachers as well as college professors.
California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area produces a podcast that discusses global warming. The visitors’ center at Yosemite National Park in California is chock-full of climate change brochures and fact sheets.
Though some Rangers reportedly avoid getting into debates with those labelled as “climate change deniers,” a new Obama initiative aimed at energizing the Rangers’ pro-active global warming education efforts might change that.
Earlier this month, the White House issued a directive asking the Park Service to create a national blueprint for climate education.
“We still have some park managers who think it’s too controversial to talk about climate change,” says Julia Washburn, the Park Service associate director for interpretation and education. “This nationwide plan will really show that this is a priority.”
And what about the presentation of opposing viewpoints from those who don’t buy into the man-made global warming narrative?
While there’s no indication the National Park Service will present, or even acknowledge, opposing opinions and theories to the officially adopted, Obama-approved climate change curriculum, we are told that Rangers will be kind enough not to force unwilling vacationers to sit through a global warming lecture.
…visitors who don’t believe in global warming may opt out of educational talks and leave climate brochures sitting on the shelves of visitor centers.