Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Pine Beetle Cometh – Polluters Beware

Hot and dry summers are quickly approaching British Columbia, which could spell sudden disaster for the province’s trees.

According to a recent report, the mountain pine beetle is expected to spread throughout the Okanagan this year, which could lead to the deaths of millions of trees. (I think it’s appropriate to anthropomorphize trees in situations like this).

As if this wasn’t bad enough, chances are that the pine beetle could infect other Canadian or American forests.

The pine beetle spread to parts of Alberta in the late 1970s to mid 1980s. Park officials and volunteers managed to eradicate the outbreak by quickly burning infected trees. Whether they would have been so successful had the outbreak been more widespread is unknown.

Policies need to be enacted now to prevent one of the leading causes of the pine beetle outbreak: Climate change.

Unlike Alberta, the pine-beetle is native to British Columbia. So, the bug is not an invasive species brought in from distant nations, but a natural part of the B.C. environment.

As our B.C. climate grows hotter and dryer, trees become weaker and less immune to the presence of the beetle. Although healthy trees can fend the beetle off, older trees, like those that make up the primary composition of our present-day old-growth forests, are less resistant to the beetle and more susceptible to infection.

The best solution? Prevent long, hot and dry summers by polluting less!

There is no quick fix to this problem, but if everyone pitched in and reduced their overall greenhouse gas production by driving less, buying only reusable/recyclable products and protecting green spaces, B.C.’s trees might have a chance.

No comments: