Climate-Driven Pest Devours N. American Forests

pinebeetle.gifThe pine beetle infestation is the first major climate change crisis in Canada” notes Doug McArthur, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

The pests areprojected to kill 80 per cent of merchantable and susceptible lodgepole pine” in parts of British Columbia within 10 years — and that’s why the harvest levels in the region have been “increased significantly.” One analyst calls the devastation “probably the biggest landscape-level change since the ice age.”

It is slamming this country too:

The largest infestation of mountain pine beetles in 20 years has hit more than a million acres of forest in northern Idaho and Montana, while 2.5 million acres in Washington face disease and insect problems.

Climate change is the culprit. Milder winters since 1994 have reduced the winter death rate of beetle larvae in Wyoming from 80 percent per year to under 10 percent. Alaska is also being hit hard:

In a May 2006 speech on climate change, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska pointed out that the tremendous recent warming had opened the door to the “voracious spruce bark beetle,” which devastated over three million acres in Alaska, “providing dry fuel for outbreaks of enormous wild fires.”

And this catastrophic climate change impact was not foreseen even a decade ago — which suggests future climate impacts will bring other equally unpleasant surprises, especially if we don’t reverse direction soon.

2 Responses to Climate-Driven Pest Devours N. American Forests

  1. yomama says:


  2. fabfarmer says:

    I was there camping in the Rocky Mountain National park this past weekend, it was very disturbing… scary, sad, upsetting…beyond mere words to describe the utter sadness I felt.
    It was not like a natural forest fire mosaic. It was pure devastation, those trees were completely ravaged. Like a Beetle massacre. So few trees were left alive all I wanted to do while I was there was cry. When I went on my hike I felt as though I were in a tree cemetary.
    But just as disturbing was the people that I came near my campsite and began to dig up and uproot aspen trees. I began to yell at them about how could they take from a forest that had already been so devasted and I called them “forest rapists”. Then they showed me that they were actually given permits to dig up these trees. A speci of tree, by the way, that is intertwined from tree to tree in it’s clump because it is one organism….apens rarely transplant well when dug up.
    So, what can we do? Put on yer walkin’ shoes and stop driving so much, stop using so many chemicals, conserve energy, recycle… and plant a tree, don’t just dig one up and transplant one. We Don’t have dominion over this planet, we are the caretakers. Our home is worth saving.