Mike Chowla
Jasper and Banff:

Buildings, People & Human Impact

Parks Canada takes a lighter hand than the US Park Service when it comes to human influence on the parks. The highways run right through both Banff and Jasper including the trans-Canada highway. While the highways may be more of a practicality due the history and location of the parks, there's also a difference in philosophy. I can't see the the US parks service putting red chairs at the end of trails for people to sit in.

Sadly, the major impact of humans on the parks is not chairs or even highways. The glaciers are melting at at alarming rate. The Athabasca glacier has shrunk a shocking amount since the first time I saw it in 2001. There are markers at the glacier that show where it was at various points. The amount of retreat is huge, almost 1 mile in the last 125 years. The shrinking of glacier is visceral and unmistakable evidence the planet is warming.

While the markers make the retreat objectively clear to all visitors, seeing the difference with my own eyes between my first visit and now really drove home the impact. This experience reminded me of the Wild Ones Episode of 99% Invisible podcast which explored Shifting Baselines. Each generation accepts the state of the natural world as their baseline and doesn't realize cumulative impact of humanity on the environment. Will people 100 years from now even realize it if these glaciers are lost or since they never saw them will their "baseline" just not include them? I hope as a species we can confront and solve the warming of the planet before it causes irreversible damage.