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Climate change threatens 30 U.S. landmarks -science advocacy group

Source: Reuters - Tue, 20 May 2014 23:06 GMT
Author: Reuters
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An image of the Statue of Liberty is pictured though a rain-covered taxi window in New York, April 15, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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By Curtis Skinner

May 20 (Reuters) - Climate change is threatening U.S. landmarks from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor to the César Chávez National Monument in Keene, California with floods, rising sea levels and fires, scientists said on Tuesday.

National Landmarks at Risk, a report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, highlighted more than two dozen sites that potentially face serious natural disasters. They include Boston's historic districts, the Harriet Tubman National Monument in Maryland and an array of NASA sites including the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"The imminent risks to these sites and the artifacts they contain threaten to pull apart the quilt that tells the story of the nation's heritage and history," Adam Markham, director of climate impacts at the union, a non-profit organization for science advocacy in Washington D.C. and the study's co-author, said in a statement.

The report is not slated for publication in a scientific journal, said Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist who co-authored the report. It said that reducing carbon emissions could minimize the predicted risks posed by climate change.

The issue of climate change or global warming and its causes are being debated in the United States with splits along party political lines and disagreement about the extent to which human development is to blame.

Jamestown, Virginia - the first permanent English colony - could be completely inundated due to rising sea levels, and the nearby Fort Monroe, "will become an island unto itself within 70 years," Markham said.

In the western United States, rising temperatures have led to an increase in wildfires by melting winter snowpacks earlier, leaving forests drier for longer, the report said.

Among California's 20 largest fires since 1932, a dozen have happened since 2002, the report said.

An unrelated report published on Monday showed that the California drought has cost thousands of jobs and $1.7 billion to farmers in the state's Central Valley. Governor Jerry Brown has partly blamed climate change for the drought.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Grant McCool)

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