Monday, 14 May 2012

Global warming threatens pine forests, forcing federal officials to shift strategy

Really? It's global warming threatening pine forests? The ever-balanced and conclusive report in the Washington Times has all the facts:
A bag, a beetle and a warming threat to trees: A plastic bag that fights a beetle infestation on a western conifer is an emblem of how federal researchers are working to steel high-elevation pine forests in the West against the onslaught of climate change.
A beetle? A beetle is climate change? Seems the "federal researchers" are working to "steel high-elevation pine forests" against a beetle, not climate change. Are the beetles caused by climate change? There are plenty of links in the second paragraph to seemingly provide additional information from the WP archives of truth and light for those who bother to click on them. Most people don't of course, I do, I'm an inveterate link-clicker.
The conifer, with its accoutrements, represents a small salvo in the battle against a beetle infestation, fueled partly by warmer temperatures. But it is also a larger symbol of how researchers from the Forest Service — in concert with National Park Service officials and other scientists — are working to steel high-elevation pine forests in the West against the onslaught of climate change.
Let's take them in order, first the "beetle infestation".
The death rates of trees in Western U.S. forests have doubled over the past two to three decades, according to a new study spearheaded by the U.S. Geological Survey, driven in large part by higher temperatures and water scarcity linked to climate change.
Beetles feature in that report, but the emphasis is on other factors, the "driven in large part" factors, the immediate threat being from beetles, as one might expect.

What about the "Forest Service" - lots of information about that august body, their policies and their strategy? No, it's titled "Obama administration issues major rewrite of national forest rules", and it's about how the Forest Service will respond to that "rewrite". Two down two to go, so how about the "high-elevation pine forests" link? All about pine forests? No, it's about bark beetles, and there's a lot more about beetles in this article, supposed to tell us about forests, than on their "beetle infestation" link. Confused yet? Here's what it says about the main reason for the beetle-fest
In a natural forest, wildfires keep the percentage of prime beetle fodder at around 25 percent, says Allan Carroll, one of Canada’s foremost insect ecologists at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. But thanks to dedicated firefighting and other factors, aging pines made up more than half of some forests by 1990. In other words, human management of the forests has turned them into an incredible smorgasbord for beetles.
That's the main reason for forest fires also, the increase in older, diseased and dead trees, which the "join the dots" brigade ignore totally in blaming an increase in fires on "climate change". Try lighting a fire with green twigs.

The best is to come, the "climate change" link surely must do better, and explain climate change and what's causing it, and what the terrible outcomes will be? No, it's about the threat of rising sea level on Louisiana's Highway 1. Wait, what? The report blames climate change for the apparently imminent demise of one of the world's iconic species, a strip of concrete and tarmac. What does it have to say about the real reason for Highway 1's fate?
The land is sinking, in part because engineers have redirected sediment flowing from the Mississippi River more directly into the Gulf of Mexico, improving navigation but no longer shoring up the wetlands.
Score for this link: climate change 0, facts 1

That's the "informative" links done and dusted, ridiculed and debunked, so back to the reason for this post. The beetle infestation is "fueled partly by warmer temperatures":
Scientists know that global warming will reshape these forests, which provide crucial habitat and food for key species, curb soil erosion and slow melting snow destined for local water supplies. What they don’t yet understand is which trees are best poised to survive under these changed conditions and how they can help them adapt in the decades to come.
If they don't know which trees are "best poised to survive", then they clearly don't know which trees are "least poised to survive" either (if you know one, you must know the other), and by extension what the effects of "climate change" will be on pine trees in general (but they know a lot about beetles, so that's alright).
Now, some regions of the Northern Rockies have experienced an 80 percent die-off of whitebark pines, and the Natural Resource Defense Council projects that between 80 and 100 percent of remaining trees in some areas will be killed by mountain pine beetles, whitepine blister rust or a combination of the two.
Not "global warming", not "climate change"?
“It’s not as if after these threats come through and climate change continues that these ecosystems will return to what they were,” Schoettle said, “but they will persist and will continue to function.”
So it's not "global warming" that's the real threat, it's pine beetles and bark rust(aided by people nailing plastic bags to thousands of trees maybe?). From that last comment, the imminent demise of North America's pine forests has been greatly exaggerated. When has the Washington Post ever printed any good news? (It's a rhetorical question btw, but if you know of any, the comment box is below.)

For a factual and detailed of the mountain pine beetle, check out this on the Colorado State University site (beware, the linked pdf is 10mb, and takes an age to download)

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