Pining for Cooling

In Colorado, people have been fretting about the lowly pine beetle for some time now. 

Why?

Because estimates are that all–that’s right ALL–the mature lodgepole pine in the state will be dead within four years–or so says a year old Denver Post article “Beetle Scourge Goes from Bad to Worse.”

How significant is this? Check out some of the statistics from this old article:

The bark beetle infestation ravaged 500,000 new acres of forests in Colorado in 2007, bringing the total infestation to 1.5 million acres — almost all of state’s lodgepole forests — according to the latest aerial survey. The infestation has now worked its way north and east, including an increase of more than 1,500 percent in the acreage affected in Boulder and Larimer counties.

The local ag college has a fact sheet on what can be done. I read it and became depressed. In short, I don’t see anyone doing this for the million and a half acres of affected lodgepoles in the state. That is–they are doomed. The mountain landscape of the state will change.

One of the agreed upon causes of this catastrophic infestation is that of late Colorado winters have not had extended periods of sub-zero temperatures, one of the natural controls for pine beetle populations.

And now that the trees are dying, we have to worry about more forest fires. We in Colorado expect fires–especially when, as now, we are in a major drought.

But how many of us are prepared for the dead trees adding to the CO2 problem?

I read somewhere that in Europe last year trees added to the carbon dioxide problem. Today came more news: “Forests Could Flip from Sink to Source of CO2: Study.”

Boy, I’m so glad all those skeptics keep telling us that the globe is cooling, but they need to tell it to the trees.

Cassandra

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3 Responses to “Pining for Cooling”

  1. Babz Says:

    Another cause of pine and fir beetle spread, at least in MT, is clear cutting, practiced in unholy amounts by logging companies who own huge tracts of land alongside the National Forests. This encourages ever more the spread of beetles to healthier trees that they would normally be deterred from. As far as the warm winters, Western MT has only a foot or two of snowpack at 6000 ft. It’s very very bad and I’m anticipating a busy fire season this year.

  2. Babz Says:

    Another problem contributing to this spread of infestations, at least in the National Forests, is, unfortunately, some environmentalist organizations. The Nat Forests are Maintained under the Dept. of Agriculture- that’s right, agriculture, as in growing and selling products. When the NF finds a severely infested area, a study is done and a proposal made to the public of a plan to log the area (in a controlled, healthy way) to save the trees they can and sell the dying trees, effectively getting the beetles out and providing a usable product. When some get wind of the project, they immediately file a lawsuit against removing the trees. These lawsuits typically go on for years, and by the time the Forest IS able to go on with the project, the trees are long dead and the timber useless for anything but fuel for a wildfire. I have seen this process firsthand and it is very interesting, yet also ironic. People try to “protect” the public’s land and yet private companies get away with murder- that is, clearcutting.

  3. Pining for Cooling, Part 2: Peak Sawlog « Uncommon Scolds Says:

    […] Since I’m sitting here looking at the little beetle holes in a piece of pine firewood, I thought I might as well update my 16 April 2009 post “Pining for Cooling”. […]

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