Bill Nye may be serious about climate change, but he’s not above using a little dark humor to spotlight the serious threat that rising temperatures pose to our national parks.
Speaking in Brooklyn, New York, on Monday at an event marking the centennial of the National Park Service, Nye turned his focus to Montana’s Glacier National Park, one of the most threatened among the service’s 412 parks and other protected areas and monuments.
“The company line is the glaciers will be gone by the year 2030,” Nye told HuffPost. “There’ll still be snowfields because it still will snow ... but the glaciers themselves will be gone. So it will be Sandy Hillside National Park.”
Ouch. (See the moment in the video above.)
Funny or not, “the Science Guy” seems to be spot-on in his assessment of the situation at Glacier, a 1,600-square-mile wilderness that features hundreds of lakes and streams and is home to a range of animals, including grizzlies, elk and mountain goats.
In 1850, Glacier is estimated to have had 150 glaciers, most of which were present when the park was formally established in 1910. As of 2010, there were a mere 25 glaciers that covered more than 25 acres.
And Glacier isn’t the only national park that’s imperiled by climate change. A 2014 study of the parks between 1901 and 2012 found that parks are now “overwhelmingly at the extreme warm end of historical temperature distributions.”
Temperatures aren’t rising in isolation, of course. Sea levels are rising too. Extreme weather is increasingly common, as are wildfires. Each of these forces is exacting a toll on parks across the country, from the die-off of trees in California’s Sequoia National Park to the loss of marshlands (and alligators) in Everglades National Park. And, of course, Glacier’s glaciers.
“We are starting to see things spiral away now,” Gregor Schuurman, an ecologist at the NPS climate change response program, told The Guardian.
Given how bleak the situation seems to be, Nye’s dark humor may be the only sensible response.