Jan 28, 2013

Global Warming & the Pine Beetle

In my Naturalist training with the Audubon Society we've been exploring the effects of increased CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) in our atmosphere, and how what is going on in Colorado effects the larger world.

The current increase of CO2 in our atmosphere comes largely from burning fossil fuels, such as combusting coal, driving cars and flying planes (basically participating in the western way of living we've created since the industrial revolution). This increase of CO2 is a leading cause of the global warming effects we are experiencing and leaving for our children and future generations. 

One of the models we explored was how the effects of the Colorado Pine Beetle ties into the larger ecological processes happening in the world. As many of you know, large amounts of pine trees are dying in Colorado due to the Pine Beetle. We have always had the Pine Beetle, but many of them would die off in the cold winters, which kept their effects contained. Due to global warming, winters in Colorado are not cold enough to kill the Pine Beetle, which has enabled them to proliferate at extreme rates, killing 80-90% of the pine trees in many Colorado counties. 

Trees are not only dying in Colorado, forests are dying all over the world, due to heat and water stress, deforestation and fire. As a result, more and more of the trees that take in and cleanse CO2 from our atmosphere are being reduced. CO2 has to go somewhere, and a lot of it is making it's way into our oceans, which in turn is making our oceans more acidic. Marine life forms the foundation of our food chain on so many levels. To turn our oceans into acid...well, that's just not a vital solution for the future if we want a healthy planet.  

Now back to the trees.... We have less snow falling, with less trees providing shade, which means the snow we do get melts faster, which means our drier summers are more intense, and with less water supplies fires becomes more destructive, which means more trees get destroyed, releasing more CO2 into the air... and the cycle continues and increases. 

Wowee...so much interconnectedness with what happens in one area of the world and how it affects everything else. The planet has gone through many shifts in it many billion of years; species have been wiped out due to many factors, and that may be a cycle we are moving into now. Those of you with children want a vital, alive and healthy place for your offspring to prosper. Those of us in love affairs with nature want the ecology of the planet to be healthy and vital, so animals can continue to rear their young and the oceans can continue to be clean waterways for life. So what can we do....?

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