Brian Ettling
Crater Lake park ranger Brian Ettling.

Brian Ettling has been a seasonal ranger at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon for more than 20 years. Over the decades, he’s witnessed the worsening effects of climate change. There’s less snow in the park than there used to be, and the lake is getting warmer.

For a long time, Ettling was hesitant to talk to park visitors about these changes.

Ettling: “I was scared about getting a lot of pushback and argument about park visitors that did not accept the science and reality of climate change.”

But six years ago, Ettling decided to go for it. He started leading a fireside program about how global warming is affecting the park.

He sticks to topics that are easy for non-scientists to understand – like how warming temperatures threaten the habitat of the Pika, a small, rabbit-like mammal found in the park’s high elevations.

He says visitors have been overwhelmingly receptive to the information.

Ettling: “When I talk about climate change, they’ve been very supportive, they’ve been very open to the message, and very appreciative.”

For others who want to talk about global warming, Ettling says the changes we’re seeing at national parks can be a great starting point.

Ettling: “Cause that’s a good inroad. Because who does not love our national parks?”

Crater Lake comparison, 2012 and 2015

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photos: Courtesy of Brian Ettling.

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...