Pine Beetle Rampage

Anyone living in British Columbia has heard of the Pine Beetle. A small insect, no bigger than a grain of rice, responsible for killing millions of acres of pine forest. The female bores into a mature tree secreting a pheromone to attract male beetles. The men arrive, packing another pheromone to entice more females. The pine tree protests with resin that’s toxic to the beetles. One step ahead; the beetles release spores from a blue fungus carried in their mouths, and distributed under the bark as they bore. This fungus stops the secretion of defensive resin, and serves as nourishment for the larvae now laid under the tree bark. Once mature, these beetles pack their bags, leaving behind a dead tree.

Within a few hours drive of coastal rain forests, cedar and hemlock trees give way to once vast stands of pine and spruce. At first glance you’re inclined to think a forest fire swept across the mountainside.  As far as the eye can see, the brown landscape confounds. us with a sense of disbelief.

Pine Beetles used to die off during the winter. Climate change has created milder winters, allowing these tiny pests to thrive. Quickly running out of mature lodge pole pine, they’ve started to attack high elevation white bark pines. Grizzly bears depend on seeds from white bark pines to store energy when they hibernate. Forests that would absorb carbon dioxide when healthy, now release it into the atmosphere as they decay. B.C. government attempts to stop the spread of pine beetle, have ordered clear cutting – leading to even fewer  co2 defenses, erosion, and consequently contamination of   waterways.

Ponder a tiny insect causing so much trouble. Global warming is much more than melting ice.

7 thoughts on “Pine Beetle Rampage

  1. Very true, and an excellent example to demonstrate it.

    The Christian right wing annoy me greatly because of their silliness, but it is their opposition to climate change that truly boils my blood. These people have forfeited their right to be considered sane. It’s as simple as that.

  2. Here in Wisconsin we have a fairly diverse eco-system — not nearly as single species tree-lined as BC. But in my lifetime we have already seen the decimation of our ELM forests by Dutch Elm Disease (40 yrs ago) and now we are fairly far along watching the destruction of the Ash population due to Emerald Ash Borers. You are not allowed to transport Ash lumber here. You are not allowed to burn it either. Just what we’re supposed to do with a few million dead trees I’m not quite sure.

    On a more conciliatory note….

    Parts of me are positive that we truly are in the midst of climate change, but having said that I have a sneaking feeling that we are being cataclysmic obsessives about something that probably can’t be monitored in terms less than 300-500 years. After all — except for the fact that there aren’t many people alive who remember it — the Great Dust Bowl Days were exceedingly worse than what most of us are experiencing now — and I’m sure in the day those who were involved didn’t know if their lives had ended. Yet today that same area is once again fertile and moderate.

    I’m sure that agronomists and foresters and all sorts of other -ists and -ers will have what they call “solutions” for all our problems and many of them will advocate one extreme act or another. And just like medical advice about whether eggs are healthy the population will bounce from one opinion to another over the next lifetime or two.

    A couple hundred years ago it looked like the human race might end because of Bubonic Plague…. but some of us made it through (or our ancestors did).

    All I know for sure is that the systems and laws that control this planet are way beyond my intelligence. I think I’ll grieve for the trees but admit I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do about the mess we seem to be in.

    A retired photographer looks at life
    Life Unscripted on WordPress

    • Climate changes, species come and go,and plagues ravage the world. Nothing we can do about it. The balance of nature boggles the mind, all we can do is marvel at the resilience, hoping for the best. The dust bowl however illustrates how badly mankind messes with this balance. It was the greatest man made disaster in North America. At some point we have to take responsibility for hastening really bad days. 🙂

      • Right you are.

        But I do wonder how often we really know what action our responsibility demands. Surely there is no lack of experts telling us.


  3. When pondering man’s impact on the planet, I am undecided whether our species is the worst virus currently scorching the earth, or the proverbial stewards whose master plan is still a little unclear. What is your view?

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