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Event Details

Disease event report

Category: Disease
Observation: 28.08.2009
Continent: North-America
Country: USA
State: State of Washington
Area: Yukon Forest
Severity: Hight
Event details
A tiny beetle spells big trouble for the remaining forests across the Yukon down to parts of Washington State. Further north, Siberia is bracing for an onslaught of the Siberian silk moth, the most destructive defoliator of conifer forests in Northern Asia that thrives in hot weather. Moutain pine beetle public domainPine and spruce bark beetles have been happily devouring millions of acres of boreal forests for several years across northern regions of the world--with no signs of slowing. Scientists say warming temperatures are to blame, because winters have stopped being long enough or cold enough, (with extended freezing periods of 20 degree weather) to kill off the vast population of the destructive beetles every year. The insects are blamed for killing more trees than wildfires or logging. The bugs bore into the core of the tree in great numbers, as the females lay their eggs. The larva’s hatch and start munching through the bark, which provides a winter food source. The result is massive swaths of gray skeletal dead trees, which are useless to every one--even the beetles. They lay eggs, feed, drain the tree of life--then migrate on to other healthy forests to repeat the process. The area from Colorado to Washington has already lost 6.5 million acres of forest during the last dozen years. But the worst damage has been in British Columbia, where swarms of the insects have chewed their way through a jaw-dropping 35 million acres—an area roughly twice as big as Ireland. "It's a fingerprint of climate change," Aynslie Ogden, senior researcher for the Yukon Forest Management Branch, said in Whitehorse, the territorial capital. "The intensity and severity and magnitude of the infestation is outside the normal." Further more, U.S forest ecologist, Scott Green is concerned about the possible domino effect of crucial forests of spruce and pine, losing their “sink” ability to absorb carbon dioxide, if too many tons of greenhouse gases are expelled from burning dead, decaying forests: a cycle that will only add to effects of pine beetles on forests public domainclimate warming. Domino effect indeed: warmer climate creates drier conditions, which allows invasive pest populations to thrive, killing entire forests, that create fuel for wildfires, often sparked by increasing lightening storms, then millions of acres burn; belching soot and carbon dioxide laden smoke into the atmosphere. "These things may occur simultaneously." Green said. "If the bark beetles kill the trees, you'll have lots of dead, dry wood that will create a really, really hot fire, and then sometimes you don't get trees regenerating on the site." Earlier this year, Washington State congressman, Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-D) member of the Natural Resources Committee convened a meeting on how to combat the invasive beetles. Unfortunately, he met resistance from individuals on the floor, who were reluctant to admit that climate change was responsible for the increasing advancement of tree-killer beetles and the meeting ended up being counter productive. President Obama made a campaign promise that his administration would make environmental decisions based on science, not politics. So, what happens when the politicians refuse to believe the scientists?
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