On Beetle Kill and Climate Change
Look at this beautiful view. Then notice…the entire forest is dead.
For the past week or so, there have been more and more views like this one. Beautiful vistas filled with dead trees. The cause? Beetle kill. I’ve been talking to locals about it for over a week now. The forest service has no money to clear the dead trees, and the wood itself is useless for construction. Why is this happening? CLIMATE CHANGE.
Colorado used to experience deep freezes, which would kill the larvae. Apparently this isn’t happening the way it used to, or for as long as it used to. Since the larvae aren’t dying, it’s gotten out of control.
Enter Colorado lightning storms. For anyone that hasn’t been paying attention, most of the state has been on fire this year. When we started the trail, over 50,000 acres were burning in the San Juan area alone. All it takes is one lightning strike in this field of dead wood and the whole area goes up in flames.
The views lately have been smoke shrouded, not because of local fires, but from California. There is no longer “wildfire season”. Now it’s just whenever there’s no snow on the ground.
I sat on this view the other day as we talked about “what could be done” and the realization hit me that, this is just what it’s like now. The damage is done. This is what our forests look like now. Wildfire smoke is going to be common and out of control and annual now. Snow is less consistent, more erratic, and each year gets worse. We screwed up, and here’s the result.
I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, but we have to do more. We have to start caring about things like climate change and global warming. I know it’s all just something to talk about as we sit in our living rooms over dinner, but what’s happened is real, what’s happening is real, and we’re going to lose some really extraordinary places if more of us don’t act.