The pine bark beetle has killed “hundreds of millions of trees.” There are upsides in using the wood, I suppose.
Posts tagged forests.
Click through for the Denver Post’s coverage of the Black Forest Fire, the worst in the state’s history. The cause of the fire is unknown, but the severity is traced to persistent drought, massive tree deaths by bark beetles, dry soils, and budget cuts.
Globe and Mail claims it’s the largest spill in North America. It’s also the third major leak in Alberta, including one burst pipeline that spilled nearly one million gallons of oil in May 2012.
Also of interest, the company didn’t report the spill until a citizen reported it to a local TV station.
In declaring the state of emergency, Peru’s environment ministry said tests in February and March found high levels of barium, lead, chrome and petroleum-related compounds at different points in the Pastaza valley.
Pluspetrol, the biggest oil and natural gas producer in Peru, has operated the oil fields since 2001. It took over from Occidental Petroleum, which began drilling in 1971, and, according to the government, had not cleaned up contamination either.
Several multimillion dollar fines have been levied against Pluspetrol in recent years. The company has appealed against all of the fines in the Peruvian courts…
Note, though that “The Peruvian government plans to auction a further 29 new oil and gas concessions this year.”
U.S. Drought Monitor - April 2013
Brutal wildfire year lies ahead for the west and south west.
Climate Change Shifts North’s Growing Seasons
temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.
“Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more,” said Ranga Myneni of Boston University’s Department of Earth and Environment. “In the north’s Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems.”
Image: Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years. Satellite data in this visualization are from the AVHRR and MODIS instruments, which contribute to a vegetation index that allows researchers to track changes in plant growth over large areas.
Oil operators claim innocence since Peru did not have clear environmental standards when drilling began. Because, you know, screw ethics.
Peru’s government declared an environmental state of emergency on Monday in a remote Amazon jungle region it says has been affected by years of contamination at the country’s most productive oil fields, which are currently operated by Argentina-based Pluspetrol.
Indigenous groups in the Pastaza River basin near the Ecuador border have been complaining for years about the pollution and the failure of successive governments to address it. Authorities say one reason the pollution was never addressed is that until now Peru lacked the requisite environmental quality standards.
In declaring the emergency, Peru’s Environment Ministry said the contamination included high levels of lead, barium and chromium as well as petroleum-related compounds. The region is inhabited mostly by the Quichua and Ashuar, who are primarily hunter-gatherers.
The fields have been operated for roughly 12 years by Pluspetrol, the country’s biggest oil and natural gas producer, and it will be obliged to clean up the contamination, said Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.
The government also said the field’s previous operator, Occidental Petroleum, had not adequately remediated contamination either. It began drilling there in 1971. Pluspetrol took over in 2001. The 90-day emergency orders immediate action to reduce the risk of contamination to the local population.
One year ago National Geographic posted this open letter from eleven respected scientists alarmed by the prospect of a massive palm oil plantation in a global biodiversity hot spot. Close to 2 million hectares of Congo Basin rainforest are already earmarked for destruction by palm oil plantations.
We are witness to extinction.
Ireland is so broke, they’re talking about selling off their forests, which they’re famous for. Seriously. (via Hacker News)
Selling 80 years of forest harvest rights will equal 3 weeks of the country’s loan interest.
An ancient Cypress forest was discovered at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Not a hoax. Hurricane Katrina stirred up the sand on the bottom of the Gulf, exposing a 50,000 year old forest.
For thousands of years, sand protected the ancient forest from rotting. Now that the sand has been removed, the trees are being torn apart by critters, fish, and exposure to water.
Here’s a video, which I can’t embed because tumblr hasn’t completely figured out How to Internet: Underwater Forest.
The forest is about 10 miles off the coast of Alabama in the Gulf of Mexico and lies under 60 feet of water (about the height of a 6 story building). Researchers say you can see tree rings, and even sap when the wood is cut with a saw. In fact, they say it even smells like freshly cut Cypress.
The trees apparently lived along a river.
Why is there a forest at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? Sea level rise from melting glaciers. Sea level rise chewed away and drowned millions of miles of coasts around the world after the last Ice Age, but I’ll leave that for you to google and for future posts!
“10 Ways the Sequester Will Expose Americans to Greater Health Risks and Other Perils”. That link-baity headline is the intro to a slew of alarmist clap-trap from the: Center for American Progress (CAP).
The truth is, it is not known which programs or projects will be cut as a result of sequestration. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post has a much more reasonable take on Congress’s inaction (unlike CAP, Klein seems to have read and comprehended the Budget Control Bill):
The sequester is set to cut spending across the board. But how? We know an awful lot about what the sequester can’t do. It can’t cut Social Security, Medicaid, military salaries or any number of of exempt programs. It can’t mess with federal pay scales. It can’t favor certain programs over others. But the actual process by which cuts are to be determined, and who is involved in that process, is more obscure.
The problem, budget experts say, is that the Budget Control Act was simultaneously very strict in its dictates and not specific about what those dictates mean. “The law states that the ‘same percentage sequestration shall apply to all programs, projects, and activities within a budget account,’ ” former OMB director Peter Orszag says. “That’s pretty restrictive, giving little room for creativity.”
What room there is comes from defining exactly what is meant by “programs,” “projects” and “activities.” “There is not a standard definition,” Stan Collender, a longtime Congressional budget hand currently at the PR firm Qorvis, explains. “It’s not something that exists anywhere else in nature.”
In Austerity Crisis, Greeks Turn to Wood-Burning, Illegal Logging
“A steep increase in heating costs has led many Greeks to switch from heating oil to wood-burning. But the price of using cheaper fuel is growing.
Illegal loggers are slashing through forests already devastated by years of summer wildfires. Air pollution from wood smoke is choking the country’s main cities. And there has been an increase in blazes caused by carelessly attended woodstoves.
Three children died in a northern village last month when a fire gutted the home of their grandparents, who had recently changed from oil-fueled central heating to a wooden stove to save money.
In Athens, the capital, officials have warned of severe health risks from the low-lying smog that smothers the city at night, when fireplaces and woodstoves burn at full blast in poorly insulated homes. Greece’s leading medical association is demanding urgent action to clean the air. But those warnings have largely been ignored for a simple reason: Burning wood provides the same warmth as heating oil, for roughly half the cost.
For the past three years, the country has been wracked by its worst financial crisis since the end of World War II. Living standards have plummeted, pensions have been slashed and a quarter of the workforce is unemployed, following deeply resented cutbacks demanded in return for international bailouts shielding Greece from total ruin.
The heating crisis was triggered by taxation changes, and made desperate by financial woes. For years, fuel for vehicles was taxed more heavily than heating oil. That encouraged crooked traders to sell heating fuel for use in vehicles and pocket the difference.
Hoping to boost faltering revenues and foil tax fraud, the government this year harmonized taxes on vehicle fuel and heating oil, which now costs about 40 percent more than last winter, although lower-income residents of colder areas get a rebate. Critics say the move backfired due to a drastic decline in sales.”
Part of this complicated issue is that Greeks aren’t used to paying market rates for basic services. Nor is the government itself used to the process of collecting taxes (sounds weird, but true). After recent austerity cuts, taxes and public services adjusted to (or attempt to) reflect a more market-oriented structure to help create a less corrupt, tax-dodging culture. The measures, as the above shows, may have been too strong and too fast, causing more damage to the country than taking a slower approach.
Report: Emboldened by warmer climates, Pine Bark Beetles devastate forests: "Unstoppable eating machines" ›
Vulnerable trees losing natural defenses against the beetles, which are now seen as “one big salad.” The beetles are surviving winters because the climate has turned warmer on average. And since spring comes earlier, the beetles are able to fly further north, extending their range.
The conifer forests of the North American west have been under a massive assault over the past decade by bark beetles: one species alone, the mountain pine beetle, has killed more than 70,000 square miles’ worth of trees, equivalent to the area of Washington State, and two recent studies have shed some light on how climate change is helping fuel the assault, and what’s likely to happen in a world that continues to warm.
The first, published in the journal Ecology, shows how intense drought can bring on a population explosion in the voracious insects — and how this creates a vicious cycle of tree-killing even when drought subsides. The second, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals that warming lets beetles move to higher elevations, where they’re encountering trees that are unusually susceptible to infestations.
More at Climate Central
The Ash Dieback Problem
Our resident tree expert Markus Eichhorn on the latest tree crisis - Ash Dieback or Chalara Dieback. See more tree videos at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3E28E3F38ACCE317
Forestry Commission info at: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara
Test Tube by video journalist Brady Haran for the University of Nottingham.
More at http://www.test-tube.org.uk/
by Test Tube.
If I understand the narrator, 75% of mature Ash trees have died in western Europe since the late 1990s. He shows how to identify Ash Dieback fungus. Ash trees are the 3rd most abundant tree in the UK after oaks and birch. The main issue is the die out will change the structure of forests. I disagree with his final analysis, which is to just shrug it off.