Have you been watching the Showtime global warming disaster series, The Years of Living Dangerously? In the second episode, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joins an elite team of wild-land firefighters known as “Hot Shots” as they battle a new breed of forest fires made more deadly by climate change. They discover another killer wiping out trees at an even faster rate than the fires: Bark Beetles.
Bark Beetles have killed more trees than all fires combined over the last ten years in US and Canada. “Freezing winter temperatures used to kill the beetles, but now with longer summers, they can reproduce twice in a single season and are infesting whole new sections of North America. The beetles have been able to move hundreds of kilometers further north because it’s now warm enough for them to live there.
The death of all of these trees from beetles and fires is setting off a vicious cycle. All of the carbon released by the dead trees will speed up the rate of climate change, which will only lead to higher temperatures, more beetles and more fires. Wildfires in the United States burned four million acres in 2013. They destroyed more than two thousand structures and caused nearly a billion dollars in damage. The Forest Service spent over a billion dollars fighting fires and for the seventh time in the past twelve seasons they have run out of money. Forcing them to siphon money from other programs to pay the bills.” This is the new normal of our fire seasons.
One prediction is that if the destruction continues at this rate for the next 50 years we can expect to lose about 50% of our forests. What kind of a landscape will it be if half the trees are gone? What about rising sea levels, higher temperatures and extreme weather?
Join us in the coming weeks as we examine the shocking new National Climate Assessment issued earlier this month by The White House.