Global cooling? That would be good news for the forests


Climate change denialists (sorry, Mr. Watts – denialism is what it is) frequently argue that since the peak heat year of 1998, the planet has been cooling, and may be in a long-term trend to a much cooler planet.

Has anyone told the beetles?

Has anyone told the pine bark beetles (Dendroctonus ponderosae) that are devastating North American forests?

Colorado conifers affected by pine bark beetles (brown trees are dead) - image from Chad Crawford,  Homebrewed Christianity

Colorado conifers affected by pine bark beetles (brown trees are dead) - image from Chad Crawford, Homebrewed Christianity

I was interested to find this photo and this post at Homebrewed Christianity, by Chad Crawford.

But my trips to the mountains are always simultaneously joyful and mournful. The story I want to tell is about seeing the effects up close of the North American pine beetle outbreak. It’s devastating the Rocky Mountain forests in the U.S. and Canada and growing exponentially each year. The epidemic is occurring because our winters have not been cold enough to stop the beetles from multiplying. Bark beetles are good for the ecosystem, but not in this amount. The fall colors in our evergreen forests are telling us that global warming is no longer something our kids will face; it’s happening now. And it will accelerate if our forests disappear.

Mr. Watts, it’s not me you have to convince.  There are several millions of beetles in Colorado who must be persuaded the climate is not warming — and they’ll be a tough sell, since a colder climate means death to their future generations.

A greater challenge for you, Mr. Watts:  Not one of those beetles reads your blog.  How will you reach them?

Crawford went to Colorado and saw Fr. Thomas Berry.  Maybe we should buy a ticket to Colorado for Watts.

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8 Responses to Global cooling? That would be good news for the forests

  1. [...] “Global cooling?  That would be good news for the forests” [...]

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  2. http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/global_dimming.html

    The Website above shows the actual data and is is very clear that there has NOT been global cooling. Many just either cannot understand “climate” vs. “weather” and others just wish to confuse the public for political agenda.

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  3. John Mashey says:

    Ed: re continent-wide

    Yes, of course.

    I pointed at B.C. because:

    1) Unlike some of the areas further South, where sever beetle problems have occurred before, this is a relatively new effect in B.C.

    2) Changes are more visible and more easily tracked at the edge: the change over 10 years, from “No real problems with beetle infestations” to “Serious problem” is more obvious than “We’ve had these before, and they seem worse now.”

    B.C. is at the Northern edge (although the beetles are chewing on Alberta now also).

    3) Finally, timber is very serious business up there, which assures good tracking.

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    John, it’s continent wide. Eastern forests have been fighting the infestations for years. Southern forests are fighting a related pest.

    Reuters has a story you may want to see, from Wyoming (just north of Colorado), with notes about the continental scale of devastation:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090804/wl_canada_nm/canada_us_usa_forests_beetle_4

    Here’s a story from Rapid City, South Dakota:
    http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2009/07/03/news/local/doc4a4d1c06836f3144651439.txt

    Here’s the leaflet from USDA on the southern pine beetle infestations — note that this is not the first time we’ve had widespread destruction:
    http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/fidls/so_pine_beetle/so_pine.htm

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Michael, are you serious?

    Dileo thinks satellite data are accurate when they show a year cooler than the previous year, but wrong when they show the entire planet is in a warming trend? Does that strike you as a little bit of cherry picking?

    Jay Lehr thinks climate is dictated by sunspots? Where did he get his physics degree? (I know — he’s a “geological engineer.”)

    So his papers?

    In this post, I note that the difficulty with Lehr’s claims is that every other living thing on Earth acts as though climate is warming — in this case, the pine bark beetles, which are normally checked in their growth by cold winters. If we had a fantastically cold winter recently, why didn’t it slow the pine beetles, anywhere in North America?

    Spring comes 8 hours earlier every year — has done for at least four decades. Birds change their migratory paths, and times, and nesting locations. The USDA has to adjust the “plant zone” system because crops and commercial flowers, and every other plant, is changing its range to accommodate warming as well as they each can.

    Warming isn’t an imaginary thing propagated by politicians. Warming occurs, and scientists observe it. Cooling? Not yet. It would be good, but not yet.

    Both China and India have taken steps to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions — remember China working to make it happen prior to the Olympics? — so I gotta wonder what planet Lehr lives on where his China and India haven’t done that.

    Did you send that video along to make the point that fools exist on television, I hope? Surely that’s not your claim.

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  6. John Mashey says:

    It’s not just Colorado, but British Columbia:, a place that takes trees and lumber business rather serious, and they are scared (because the beetles ignore WUWT, etc):

    see B.C. main page on beetles,
    warming amplification of beetles (kill trees, less CO2 sequestered),
    satellite image, and image,

    and especially

    historical animated maps, 1959-2002, and

    slideshow of cumulative tree deaths, 1999-2015 (data&projections)

    We ski up there (near Kelowna, in the south) every year; one can *see* this happening.

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  7. Michael says:

    An Inconvenient Sun – Trailer

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  8. Rob F says:

    There’s also a bad outbreak of these beetles here in British Columbia. It would take one deep freeze in this coming winter (or better, a succession of deep freeze winters) to kill them off. As we are currently in a developing El Nino, I don’t think this upcoming winter will be cold.

    According to Wunderground’s Jeff Masters, a former NOAA meteorologist and ex-hurricane hunter, “[I]t is scientifically correct to say the globe has been warming since 1998, not cooling.” The gist of his reasoning is that 1998 was an outlier, due to the effects of the 20th century’s strongest El Nino.

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