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GUEST OPINION: by Chris Kramer

“Nature. That’s the one thing that tips the balance in terms of living here in California. Within minutes, I can be in a desert, at the ocean, in a park, and that’s the most nourishing food for my soul.” – Lara Pulver, English actress.

Whether we were born here or are transplants, we love our parks, but climate change is having a negative impact on them. The warming ocean and air temperatures concurrent with the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions skyrocketing since the industrial revolution have dire consequences on our more than 280 California State Parks.

A rising sea level and an expected increase in shoreline erosion will shrink popular California State Park beaches, and threaten many facilities.

We have already seen that at Doheny State Beach with the loss of parking spaces, and at the beach south of Doheny, with the loss of bathrooms, erosion of the walking/bike trail and the loss of the basketball court.

Tide pool animals typical of Southern California are replacing colder-water species along the central coast, competing with local species.

A few inches of sea-level rise could mean the loss of thousands of acres of valuable wildlife habitat.

Some spring wildflowers are already blooming earlier than before, disturbing their relationship with pollinators.

In Joshua Tree, the loss of trees will reduce bird species by 40%. 

The State Park System’s 1.6 million acres are a rich storehouse of biodiversity, and the Park works to preserve, protect and expand park wildlands to make it possible for many climate-threatened species to survive.

Our parks are doing their part to reduce greenhouse gases by making their facilities more energy-efficient, relying more on solar power, and using lower-emission vehicles.

But even with these actions, human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are changing California. Regardless of Earth’s historical fluctuations between warm and cool, wet and dry, the proven relationship between increasing temperature and dramatic CO2 levels since the 1800s is fact. To save the planet from runaway temperature rise, we must stop the increase in the atmospheric CO2.

Please read the excellent web version of the Park’s brochure “Climate Change and California State Parks” for more information.

And don’t be discouraged! You can make a difference by reducing your “carbon footprint.” Keep reading future columns for actions you can take.

Chris Kramer is an 18-year resident of San Juan Capistrano and a member of the South Orange County chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby/Education.

She and her husband, Larry, have moved 26 times in their married life, including to India (Andhra Pradesh) and Africa (Ghana). She has a MLIS from University of Hawaii and a BA from University of Michigan (Go Blue).

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