Posts Tagged ‘Climate Catastrophe’

Climate Catastrophe: California Forests Dying. Giant Fires Coming In 2018

January 10, 2018

Power corrupts, and apocalyptic power corrupts apocalyptically.

The Sierra Nevada forests are dying. The deterioration in a few weeks has been spectacular.  I did twice the same long-range high altitude run in 6 weeks, and I was astounded by the deterioration, during those six weeks. I would have expected such a deterioration in 6 years, and would have called it fast. A related, but greater worry occurred when I discovered hundreds of bear tracks in the snow at 9,000 feet. In the middle of winter, bears, up high in the mountains, are supposed to sleep. It looked instead as if they were looking for dinner: ain’t cold enough! And dinner there is! Besides yours truly, I saw deer happily grazing at 8,000 feet. In January. A picture is worth a long discourse:

December 31, 2017. Picture From Tahoe Rim Trail At 8,200 feet, looking down 300 meters (1000′) lower, towards the south. The forest should be green, if not covered with snow. Instead thousands of the conifers below are grey, or rust color. All dead, or dying. Many of these trees are centuries old, and are uniquely adapted to high altitude. Next summer, after the first lightning strike accompanied by a gusty wind, they will all burn. Notice the spectacular absence of snow, in the heart of winter. Thirty years ago, you would have had ten feet of snow there. For eight months.

Many naive locals think the trees are dying from drought. Actually they are dying from an invasion of Bark Beetles. Up to a few years ago, the Bark Beetles were killed by hard freeze. Now, because of the global warming, the hard freeze happens only at higher elevation. A rough computation says that one loses 7 degrees Centigrade per 1,000 meters gain. As the Sierra has arguably warmed up by 3 degrees Centigrade, that would correspond to an altitude gain for the Bark Beetles of 500 meters, as observed. Lower elevation trees, such as giant Ponderosa pines, are genetically adapted to the Bark Beetles.

In some places, woodpeckers thrive, as they find the Bark Beetles delicious. However, the trees are otherwise unexploitable. The trees rot, and, once down, one can kick right through them. This also makes the trunks soft and younger trees bend, while still alive. Example: t

Picture at 7,000 feet (2,150 meters). High altitude conifers, beautiful white firs, behind with the rust color should be green. The tree in front had its trunk so weakened by the beetles, it is bent. This is very frequent with younger trees..

White firs are now dying in large numbers. The primordial cause for the fir mortality is the fir engraver (Scolytus ventralis), a small black bark beetle that flies to a tree (often in high numbers), bores an entrance hole, excavates an egg gallery, and lays up to 300 eggs. The larvae feed on the cambium layer underneath the bark, creating a maze of small galleries. If the adult gallery or the larvae galleries girdle the tree, the flow of water and nutrients is blocked – killing the tree. The trees only defense is gluing the offenders in sap, but they need to have plenty of water to produce sap. Not the case during this millennial drought.

Notice the tini tiny patch of snow, just above the word “snow”. A few years ago, this would be covered with snow for 6 months each winter. (It is taken in an ex (?) cross-country ski area, Tahoe X country… X country areas have not opened in Tahoe this year, nor will they. All the dead or dying trees in this picture were healthy looking, two years ago.

When people think of “climate change”, they repeat that soporific, propaganda laden semantics, “climate change”. A soothing incantation. Like, excuse me, I will change now. This is mistaken: climate change will show up, and already shows up as “galloping glaciers” (yes! Albeit counterintuitive), hundreds of millions of dead trees, enormous fires of a style generally associated to an asteroid impact, surging seas, giant storms, lethal massive floods, droughts unheard of, in the last three million years. Oh, yes, because the climate may reverse 50 million years in a few decades. Time travel is upon us.

It’s not “climate change”. It’s climate catastrophe.

Patrice Aymé

P/S: Most of the world’s mountain, temperate and Arctic forests are threatened by a similar catastrophe. As they burn, the CO2 greenhouse will evolve into a CO2 greenhouse chain reaction. I am against geoengineering, as a misplaced hope. However, I am not against bioengineering. Powerful biological weapons should be brought to bear upon the devouring insects. One may be capable of slowing them down through sterilization programs. And then there is the possibility of using gene drives.

Why the rush? because it’s urgent! At this rate, California, or Pacific Northwest forests may disappear in five years. Applications of gene drive include preventing the spread of insects that carry pathogens (in particular, mosquitoes that transmit malaria, dengue, and zika pathogens), controlling invasive species… The technique can be used for adding, disrupting, or modifying genes, in such a way as to cause a crash in the population of a disease vector by reducing its reproductive capacity. The San Francisco Bay Area, a great bio research center, endowed with self-declared “philanthropists”, should re-orient itself as a tree-huggers capital… Considering the disaster, one can take some risks (with a well-chosen method, it’s not clear there is any, differently from the hare brained geoengineering proposals…)