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Old 08-24-2013, 12:03 PM
 
147 posts, read 187,674 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
..... It is said that the USA has more trees now than it did in 1600.

I think you are right the forests we see today in the west are artificial. Most likely if we let nature take it's course the forests overall would be much younger and healthier than the mess today.....
We do indeed have more trees. This is because trees are a huge and important commodity. So we plant, nurture, harvest, repeat. We are, however, imperfect creatures. Nature corrects our shortcomings.

 
Old 08-24-2013, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Fort Collins, USA
1,448 posts, read 2,355,834 times
Reputation: 1775
I think you can make a good case for the forest die-off in the Western mountains being related to global warming. The problem is that there is a tendency in some "climate change" circles to stretch the cause-and-effect argument to other events where the evidence is far more tenuous (such as hurricane Sandy). Of course, the other side does the same in reverse (whenever there is an unusually cold season or an excessively snowy winter).

I can't help but think of the this debate (at the popular level) as being something of a propaganda war. If the climate change side can motivate enough people to feel that there is imminent crisis then we could conceivably reverse the increase in emissions enough to perhaps stave off disaster. The other side is apparently motivated by keeping taxes low, minimizing subsidies for renewable energy and conservation, and preserving the "American way of life" (which apparently means not having to conserve in any meaningful way). The climate-change side has urgency and fear of irreversible negative change on it's side; while the status-quo side has apathy on it's side (I know there are true-believers there, but realistically they are tapping into a much larger pool of people who don't care or feel like there is nothing that can be done).

So I'd like to say that the climate-change side would make more inroads by being more conservative about it's claims as to whether any given natural phenomenon or weather event is climate-change related and that this would improve their credibility and win over more people. But I know this isn't true (even though it is what I would prefer). Just realize that being willing to pay more for energy (whether it's because of more expensive renewable sources or more stringent emission standards) is the easy way out for middle-class Americans. Lifestyle changes are harder (but more important IMO).

Last edited by xeric; 08-24-2013 at 12:43 PM..
 
Old 08-24-2013, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,764 posts, read 16,838,766 times
Reputation: 9316
freewest wrote: We are, however, imperfect creatures.

OR, perfect.....depending on ones viewpoint!
 
Old 08-24-2013, 05:43 PM
 
Location: Vernon, British Columbia
3,019 posts, read 2,680,735 times
Reputation: 2126
Quote:
Originally Posted by xeric View Post
I think you can make a good case for the forest die-off in the Western mountains being related to global warming.
I disagree, and it looks like I'm not the only one. We have had the pine beetling ravaging our most common tree here in British Columbia (1/3 of the entire province's trees are lodgepole pine). People said that this is because we don't get the cold snaps that we used to. Interestingly, our weather is still as cold as you'd ever find in Colorado, but somehow people in Colorado are saying that if only they had weather like us it would kill the beetles (even though it doesn't kill the beetles in BC).

The doomsayers are crying wolf yet again. I've looked back at the data, and aside from 1985, there has never been a November cold enough to kill the beetles going back 100 years before that. Also, doomsayers love talking about the pine beetle, but don't like to talk about the spruce budworm and other such pests are less prevalent today than in years past.

The pine beetle is running out on its own up here and not killing as many trees as they predicted. The forest doesn't actually look that bad. I see the trees growing further apart now because the bigger ones have died, but makes better habitat for deer.

Rocky Mountain High  - temperatures that is-insectdeath.jpg
 
Old 08-24-2013, 09:32 PM
 
2,253 posts, read 6,020,776 times
Reputation: 2622
Wink 397.23

"As a college professor who lectures on climate change, I will have to find a way to look into those 70 sets of eyes that have learned all semester long to trust me and somehow explain to those students, my students – who still believe in their young minds that success mostly depends on good grades and hard work, who believe in fairness, evenhandedness and opportunity – how much we as people have altered our environment, and that they will end up facing the consequences of our inability to act." [1] *

– Laura Faye Tenenbaum
Oceanography Professor, Glendale Community College; Communications Specialist for NASA's Global Climate Change Website
( * any number of interesting quotes on this topic in this reference)




I was determined not to use any references in this post (and let the skeptics do their own research), and yet I'm already at it. Nevertheless, references will kept to a minimum. But one should find the following said has a basis in fact.

397.23 ppm (parts per million) is the monthly average of atmospheric CO2 measured at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, as of August 5, 2013. That 400ppm was reached and exceeded in May 2013, when the upper safe limit is 350ppm, might receive more attention than it probably will. But the implications are sobering.

All arguments concerning climate change should be understood in this context, for the fact of CO2 levels are irrefutable, and of what they will certainly lead to far more than conjecture.

There is no direct correlation between CO2 levels and the average global temperature. There is a complex interplay between the atmosphere, oceans and landmass. So just doubling CO2 levels will not automatically double the greenhouse effect. But, ultimately, higher CO2 levels result in higher average global temperatures—with all the resultant changes in ecosystems that represents.

This earth does naturally cycle through periods of warmer and colder temperatures. In moving from ice ages of the past several million years global temperatures have risen in the range of 4º to 7º Celsius over about 5,000 years. What is notable is that anthropogenic climate change is far more rapid. In just the past century the temperature has risen more than 0.7ºC, or about ten times faster than ice age recovery. According to scientists with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, average global temperatures have risen by roughly 0.8ºC (1.4ºF) since 1880, with two-thirds of that warming since 1975. This is an unprecedented exponential rise having not been seen before in nature, but due our additional artificial input of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. In 1958 the CO2 level stood at about 315ppm. The average annual CO2 increase between 1993-2002 was 1.7ppm per year. Between 2003 and 2013 that annual increase was 2.1ppm, or an exponential ever increasing amount. Current CO2 levels are the highest on this planet in at least the last 800,000 years, and more likely the last 15 to 20 million. We are on course to soon DOUBLE the amount of CO2 in this atmosphere from pre-industrial (roughly circa 1750) levels, where before such time they had been quite stable going back many centuries and basically the dawn of mankind.

What that translates into is we on track to experience a global average temperature increase of between 4ºC (7.2ºF) and 6ºC (10.8ºF) by the end of this century. Some effects from ever warmer temperatures, some we are already experiencing, will be the loss of ecosystems, as well ever more extreme weather events. Some of these changes are already with us, and due latency others already in the cards no matter what we do. A measure of 400ppm of CO2 was the level we were never supposed to reach and a tipping point, but beyond an increase of about 3ºC in average global temperatures we will have lost all control of the process. Therein no possibility of turning back. With in result one likely outcome a collapse of human population and societies through war, famine and pestilence.

Homo sapiens have grossly exceeded the carrying capacity of this earth. It will be small relief to us if a more even balance is achieved naturally through our mass near extinction. Nor will technology alone save us. Refinements in farming techniques overlook the wide scope of resource needs in minerals, timber and all else to maintain a lifestyle by modern western standards. Practical widespread solar energy awaits only a truly viable battery. Yet the implementation of such things depends on the continued functioning of highly complex and intricate modern societies. The basis of which will be severely tested, at best, with the onset of severe climate change, the outliers of which are just beginning to be felt.

In light of the likely near future, the plight of our forests may be of little interest to most. Yet they serve as a distinct sign of where we are headed.

At least in any time frame we may care of, forests never covered the entire extent of North America. For one, the Great Plains in the center of what became this nation were exactly that and natural grass plains for as far as the eye could see. From 1850 to 1910 more forest was cleared by American farmers than in the previous 250 years, or about 190,000,000 acres; most prairies and native grasslands in this nation have been converted to agriculture and other uses. There is, in example, little of anything natural left in the Pawnee National Grassland of northeast Colorado. Where today some 500,000 bison exist here, at one time before being nearly exterminated perhaps as many as 50,000,000. But forests were still more widespread in total extent than today. East of the Mississippi River the land was almost entirely of natural forest cover. Even as mankind has planted and increased the growth of trees in places such as Boulder, Colorado, overall this state witnessed a notable decline in forests once the white man arrived. As well, as witnessed today, in their health.

In just the past 10 years some 321,000,000 acres of the world's forests have disappeared, mostly cleared just for the land. But 4,000,000 acres were lost in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West since the late 1990's through no more than the mountain pine beetle. The unnatural spread of this natural insect and others has devastated forests from New Mexico far into British Columbia, Canada, with some 33,000,000 acres of forests lost there alone. The ips beetle has killed pinyon pine, and aside from the mountain pine beetle also the spruce and fir beetles at play. The massive wildfire this summer in southwest Colorado that burned over 100,000 acres and almost the town of South Fork as well was fueled not only by drought and the warmer than normal temperatures, but also due all the many spruce trees dead from insect infestation.

If these insects are natural to the environment, that they are as prevalent now with as much destruction is due mankind's intervention with our atmosphere. These trees are already stressed due often less precipitation and ever higher temperatures they are not suited for, in conjunction with ever warmer winters on average which do not kill off as many beetles as before. And where they once flew for but two weeks of the year, now continually from May until October.

This is not just a North American phenomenon from Mexico to Alaska, but as well with forests in danger in such places as Australia, France and Russia. Here at home, a couple degrees warmer will create multiple generations of mountain pine beetles a year, posing a disaster for our remaining pine tree populations.

Where wildfires have always been a natural occurrence and even beneficial at times in forest regeneration, their size and intensity now is not. As with hurricanes such as Hurricane Sandy (that has resulted in the death of many trees due salt infusion), these mega-wildfires are the direct result of the greater energy in warming temperatures, and as well in fuels such as trees which can no longer cope. The 2012 wildfire in RMNP burned one area estimated not to have burned in 900 years. While habitats such as ponderosa pine are suited to frequent small intensity wildfires, other habitats, such as sub-alpine, are not, and all threatened now with ever more intense wildfires. Wildfires of such intensity that they not only crown and see entire stands of trees burst into flame at once, but also so scorching the ground that natural regeneration is difficult if not near impossible to the extent it would otherwise be.

We have but to look today at entire mountainsides with over 90 percent tree mortality to see what is going on. Even within our treasured national parks there is no refuge. A Campground such as Timber Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park, that was but a few years ago heavily shaded with forest, has but a few small scraggly lodgepole pines left in residence. The mountain pine beetle killed most of them, with the National Park Service finishing off most all the rest lest any eventuality of some tree falling on a camper. But a look across the meadow valley of the Colorado River to the Never Summer Mountains reveals the fuller picture. There are trees there yet, as unlikely to fall on any camper, but a good many of them are dead. It is more than idle speculation to look at hillsides even now bare and wonder what happened to their trees, and to what extent that will become the far more common picture of Colorado.

397.23 is the number, and it informs all the rest.



1) 'NASA scientists react to 400 ppm carbon milestone, NASA
Climate Change: NEWS
 
Old 08-24-2013, 11:46 PM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
3,111 posts, read 4,883,135 times
Reputation: 5429
I have many thoughts on those who have already posted in this thread, so here they are in no particular order:

- It seems that people confuse weather and climate a lot. Some say that climate change is not real because weathermen cannot predict the weather 5 days from now. Maybe their skepticism goes back to the time their birthday party at the amusement park was ruined because it was rained out on a day with only a 30% chance of rain. We seem to be surprised when it actually rains on a day with a predicted 30% chance of rain, but not surprised when a .300 hitter actually gets a hit. The percentages are not in your favor, but sometimes it happens. Ask lottery winners. Truth is, the global average temperature has exceeded the 20th century average for 341 straight months. I would call that a trend.

- In the past, scientists were not totally accurate, so naysayers think that the entire premise is bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. The seas did not rise by the predicted date, and the world's temps did not rise as fast as some predicted. Big deal. Sea levels and temperatures are up. I am reminded of the work done by a couple of scientists by the names of Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe. These two men pioneered the idea that the earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around. Initially, they believed that the sun (not earth) was the center of the universe and that the Earth and other planets revolved around the sun in circular orbits. We found out later that both of those premises were wrong. Today's climate Aristotleans would have us throw out all their work based on these mistakes. The fact remains that the major premise was correct and the details just needed to be improved.

- There are more trees in the US now than there were a couple of centuries ago for two reasons: 1) we stopped chopping down trees for fuel (and switched to carbon-based fuels), and 2) we have planted and cared for trees in cities. Check out any picture of a city in the late 1800s, and you will find that there was virtually no urban canopy. Once we stopped burning wood, trees became decoration that we kept around for decades.

- New technology can help, but not save. Right now, it will take centuries for the earth to absorb all of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere that has been put there largely by human activities. Think of it this way. You can fill a bathtub by pouring water in faster than it can drain, and even when you turn the water off, it will take some time for the excess water to drain out of the tub. This is what we have done with CO2 in our atmosphere.

- On a side note: one reason the US is falling behind in the sciences is because we don't believe our scientists. To us, science is driven by a political agenda, not a quest for truth. Maybe that is the case, or maybe it isn't. All I know is that either way, our science students will continue to lag behind the rest of the world.

I'd type more, but this post is too long, people's eyes will glaze over and, in the end, no one's mind will be changed. Time will prove one side right. For your kids' and grandkids' sakes you better hope that the climate change crowd is wrong. If we do something and climate change turns out to be just a scare, nothing is harmed. But, if climate change is real and we do nothing, then....
 
Old 08-25-2013, 12:22 AM
 
Location: Vernon, British Columbia
3,019 posts, read 2,680,735 times
Reputation: 2126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
Where wildfires have always been a natural occurrence and even beneficial at times in forest regeneration, their size and intensity now is not.
Care to back this statement up with some hard data?
 
Old 08-25-2013, 12:30 AM
 
529 posts, read 1,250,201 times
Reputation: 676
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glacierx View Post
I disagree, and it looks like I'm not the only one. We have had the pine beetling ravaging our most common tree here in British Columbia (1/3 of the entire province's trees are lodgepole pine). People said that this is because we don't get the cold snaps that we used to. Interestingly, our weather is still as cold as you'd ever find in Colorado, but somehow people in Colorado are saying that if only they had weather like us it would kill the beetles (even though it doesn't kill the beetles in BC).

The doomsayers are crying wolf yet again. I've looked back at the data, and aside from 1985, there has never been a November cold enough to kill the beetles going back 100 years before that. Also, doomsayers love talking about the pine beetle, but don't like to talk about the spruce budworm and other such pests are less prevalent today than in years past.

The pine beetle is running out on its own up here and not killing as many trees as they predicted. The forest doesn't actually look that bad. I see the trees growing further apart now because the bigger ones have died, but makes better habitat for deer.

Attachment 116911
The reason people refer to BC having colder winters than Colorado is because it stays cooler longer overall in winter in BC than it does in Colorado. Yes both places can get very cold in winter but the spells of -10 F degrees last longer in BC than they do in Colorado and the average high temps in BC are also 20 or so degrees (F) colder in winter. You're correct though, it hasn't been cold enough long enough to kill those damn pine beetles in either the US or Canada overall.
 
Old 08-25-2013, 01:32 AM
 
2,253 posts, read 6,020,776 times
Reputation: 2622
Wink Increasing incidence of mega-fires

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glacierx View Post
Care to back this statement up with some hard data?

Sure. Consider this quote, then refer to the fuller article:
“On average, wildfires burn twice as many acres each year as compared to 40 years ago. Last year, the fires were massive in size, coinciding with increased temperatures and early snow melt in the West,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwelltold lawmakers on Capitol Hill last month, adding, “The last two decades have seen fires that are extraordinary in their size, intensity and impacts.” [1]

Do a search under 'mega fires,' for instance. This trend happens to be incontrovertible.


1) 'Western wildfires’ size, intensity and impact are increasing, experts say,' The Washington Post
Western wildfires? size, intensity and impact are increasing, experts say - Washington Post
 
Old 08-25-2013, 02:30 AM
 
Location: CO/UT/AZ/NM Catch me if you can!
4,697 posts, read 4,333,575 times
Reputation: 10278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glacierx View Post
I disagree, and it looks like I'm not the only one. We have had the pine beetling ravaging our most common tree here in British Columbia (1/3 of the entire province's trees are lodgepole pine). People said that this is because we don't get the cold snaps that we used to. Interestingly, our weather is still as cold as you'd ever find in Colorado, but somehow people in Colorado are saying that if only they had weather like us it would kill the beetles (even though it doesn't kill the beetles in BC).

The doomsayers are crying wolf yet again. I've looked back at the data, and aside from 1985, there has never been a November cold enough to kill the beetles going back 100 years before that. Also, doomsayers love talking about the pine beetle, but don't like to talk about the spruce budworm and other such pests are less prevalent today than in years past.

The pine beetle is running out on its own up here and not killing as many trees as they predicted. The forest doesn't actually look that bad. I see the trees growing further apart now because the bigger ones have died, but makes better habitat for deer.

Attachment 116911
I don't know who is claiming that all Colorado's forests need are a dose of BC's CURRENT weather. Since you've gone to all the trouble of looking through the climatic historical records searching for a temperature recording that was low enough to kill pine beetle, you must have noticed British Columbia's rising temperature trend along the way - especially as you slogged on through all that data. The rest of Canada certainly has noticed the warming weather,anyhow. And I could give you endless other links to other Canadian sources reporting the same things. But two links should be enough to give you a head start.

You folks up there in Canada have some pretty low standards in regard to the health of your own forests if you think "The forest doesn't actually look that bad."


Alberta forest ravaged by beetle kill. Picture included in article linked to above.




Attached Thumbnails
Rocky Mountain High  - temperatures that is-pine-beetle-kill-alberta.jpg  
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