Global Warming is Here Now

This story from the Washington Post is full of terrible news about Canada’s (soon to be formerly) lush pine forests, which are the foundation for its logging industry. From the story:

Millions of acres of Canada’s lush green forests are turning red in spasms of death. A voracious beetle, whose population has exploded with the warming climate, is killing more trees than wildfires or logging.

. . .

“It’s pretty gut-wrenching,” said Allan Carroll, a research scientist at the Pacific Forestry Centre in Victoria, whose studies tracked a lock step between warmer winters and the spread of the beetle. “People say climate change is something for our kids to worry about. No. It’s now.”

More and more, recently, it has become apparent that the gloomy predictions of the past thirty years are beginning to happen. I blogged here about the acceleration of glacial melting that exceeded even the direst predictions. As the man says, Global Climate Change is here, now. It is occurring, with disastrous results.

The tiny beetle has always lived in high areas from Arizona to northern British Columbia, and occasionally populations have grown in limited outbreaks. In Canada, where the beetle’s favored lodgepole pine thrives, it has been controlled by winters with early cold snaps or long killing spells of 20 degrees below zero. But for more than a decade, forestry experts say, the weather here has not been cold enough for long enough to kill the beetle.

. . .

the beetle is moving eastward. It has breached the natural wall of the Rocky Mountains in places, threatening the tourist treasures of national forest near Banff, Alberta, and is within striking distance of the vast Northern Boreal Forest that reaches to the eastern seaboard.

It goes without saying that this infestation will damage the economy of Canada–logging is one of its mainstay industries. It is also an incalculable loss of habitat and environmental treasures. Tragedy. I sure wish my government were doing more than making up insane jargon to mask its total disregard for this global problem:

the President also is moving forward on our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas intensity. That’s the amount we emit per unit of economic activity, and we’re committed to reducing that by 18 percent over 10 years. So we are acting and leading the way when it comes to research and development, and investing in new technologies. While we work to continue to grow our economies

I get it. The administration cares more about growing our economy. I certainly agree that that is a worthy goal. But I would submit that it is totally bonkers to measure our greenhouse gas emissions in relation to economic productivity. That relationship has no bearing on climate systems whatsoever. It is as if I said “I want to lose weight, so I will try to reduce amount of pizza eaten compared to time spent watching tv. In this way I can watch more tv and be happier.” Idiocy. Here’s a definition of greenhouse gas intensity for you (halfway down). And here’s why such a measure is thoroughly, thoroughly stupid:

“This town is going to die,” scoffed Pat Karey, 62, who spent 40 years at the sawmill. Other men in the Quesnel cafe — “Smokers Welcome” said the sign in the window — nodded in assent.

“A mill job is $20 an hour, or $30 with benefits. The jobs they are talking about bringing in are $8-an-hour jobs,” said Del Boesem, whose runs a business dismantling heavy logging machinery.

Welcome to the future.

This entry was posted in Politics, Science. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

2 Comments

  1. Bill Lee
    Posted March 1, 2006 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Except that the beetle is species-specific. Pine is a dry-belt wood. Other species don’t have the beetle attack them.
    The loggging companies, as in Oregon and the fire felling story the other day, are cutting as much as possible and to a limited extent replanting with monoculture.
    So they are cutting first growth forests that they couldn’t get before.
    The beetle is going to cross the mountains into the broad belt of northern taiga (see http://www.atlas.gc.ca) and doom Alaska too.

    As it is, man is destroying the Amazon, Papua-New Guinea today in NYT, and Borneo island (several countries share it) along with Burmese pirate logging for China’s voracious appetite for woods.

  2. Posted March 1, 2006 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Bill, thanks for reading. I agree with you that mankind is deforesting the planet at an alarming rate, and as I’m sure you know replanting monoculture is a sure way to leave the door open for a disease or parasite to wipe out the whole forest.

    I am interested in your comment about the “species specific” nature of the parasite. Can you tell me a little more? I am curious.

2 Trackbacks

  • By Science and Religion Misused at The Liberal Walrus on February 19, 2008 at 12:38 am

    […] I am loving this column so much, and it seems like such a reflection of some previous blog posts of mine, that I encourage you once more to read the original. He deals with global […]

  • By Republicans: Party of Fiction at The Liberal Walrus on February 19, 2008 at 12:57 am

    […] the Time cover story on climate change, as well as the stories of homeless Inuits, threatened Canadian forests, and unexpectedly fast glacial melting in Greenland. The consequences are all around us, and it is […]

  • Pages

  • Categories

  • Older Posts