Tree Deaths Double Across Western US

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“The majestic old trees of the western US are disappearing twice as fast as they were three decades ago, and climate change is most likely to blame, say scientists. Philip van Mantgem of the US Geological Survey and colleagues collected data from 76 plots on the west coast – from California up to British Columbia, Canada – and in Idaho, Arizona and Colorado. These are plots without any direct human management, so any tree loss is not due to logging.

The team focused on old forests, where many of the trees were at least 200 years old, and sometimes as much as 1000 years old. In 87% of the plots, trees are disappearing faster than new trees are springing up. Death rates varied, but the trend held whether the trees were old or relatively young, big or small, high up in the mountains or down in valleys.

The Pacific Northwest, including the pine trees of British Columbia, were the worst affected – death rates there are doubling every 17 years.”

(via New Scientist)

3 Comments

  1. Their analysis sends up tons of red flags for me — especially “These are plots without any direct human management, so any tree loss is not due to logging.”

    Just because a man with a chainsaw didn’t walk up and cut the tree down doesn’t exempt the logging industry from responsibility, here. The effects of logging range for many miles, and the downriver effects stretch for hundreds of miles. Synchronicity once again, that this article should come right next to the Stamets piece — my first thought would be that something in the soil-food web had gone horribly wrong.

    I think it’s much more plausible that there’s either 1) a growing lack of some key nutrient or 2) more likely, a growing surplus of some industrial poison that’s damaging the soil.

    Also, all this speculation is based on the pacific northwest being the hardest hit — I know nothing about the ecosystem in Arizona.

    Is there any data about the effects of “climate change” in the pacific northwest? Is there enough of a change in the data to actually point the finger at Al Gore’s favorite boogeyman?

  2. I just want to say one thing…

    HERE WE GO!

    Am I the only person who has watched the apocalypse films, or read the apocalypse books and was excited by the idea?

    HA!

  3. Justin- According to an article in the NYT, there’s been a pine beetle infestation which is destroying many pine trees.

    http://tinyurl.com/cq3nk4

    And your theory may be correct. If we’re logging trees which this natural predator depends on for food, where are they going to go? BTW, do you have a link to the Stamets piece by any chance?

    G.V.- Thanks! I gotta admit, I didn’t think about that… ;>)

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