National Park Service


Date of this Version



Published in Weber, Samantha, and David Harmon, eds. 2008. Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World: Proceedings of the 2007 GWS Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites. Hancock, Michigan: The George Wright Society.


Twenty years ago, I became the first chief of resource management at North Cascades National Park Complex. One of the first things I did was to bring in a team of scientists who sat around with me and my staff and we talked about the future of the park. I asked each one to suggest what we should do to better understand the challenges before us. Jim Agee, then with the Cooperative Park Study Unit at the University of Washington, suggested that we deploy remote weather stations every one thousand feet from the lowest to the highest range in the Cascades. He actually suggested that the climate could be changing and we should be documenting it.We all thought he was nuts, of course, and ignored his idea. But ever since then, I have tried to stay up on the science and the politics of climate change.

A few weeks ago, I was watching the former Vice President Al Gore on CSPAN testifying before congress on global climate change. Let me make sure you all understand that Congress and particularly the Senate is an exclusive club and they treat members, especially former members, with a certain respect. That comes with the knowledge that membership in the club can be fleeting and they never know when they themselves might be sitting up there testifying before the body. Al Gore was answering questions when one senator called him a movie star. Gore responded, “No, senator, Rin Tin Tin was a movie star and all I did was put on a slide show.” I want you to remember that quick retort as I will come back to it.