Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pine Beetle Devastation, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Snowy meadow and mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. 2 of 3 pine trees are dead from a pine beetle outbreak.
This beautiful view in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo., is less beautiful if you look closely. About 2 in 3 trees are dead from a pine beetle outbreak.

I saw this sad effect of Global Warming was all through the mountains of north-central Colorado and southern Wyoming. A decade of warm years and drought weakened the trees, allowing the pine beetles to overwhelm them. It’s a world out of balance.

Hopefully, the mountain ecosystems will find a new balance. But I can’t help but be fearful. I’ve heard that in some Rocky Mountain and Sierra Nevada forests, the trees have stopped coming back after forest fires and other disasters. In other words, the ecosystems as we know them are dying.

Besides being inherently bad, it threatens human well being by reducing watershed capacity and increasing soil erosion. Not only that, but fewer forests means less carbon dioxide sequestration and oxygen production. It becomes an unvirtuous cycle.

I remember seeing these mountains green with trees. I hope my grandchildren – and your grandchildren – get the same chance.

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