I do a lot of stories about changes in the world’s forests because the forests are like canaries in a mine. Ronlyn and I live on a heavily forested rural island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and we are already seeing significant changes in our forests. When I was last in Colorado I saw the same, as I did when we drove to B.C. in Canada. All over North America this process is going on as the climate changes. The implications are profound and will affect everyone of us in unhappy ways.
When one sees these changes and at the same time hears candidates like Ted Cruz claim that believing in climate change is the equivalent of being a “flat earther” it is very hard not to feel depressed
In May 2011, a postdoctoral student at Los Alamos National Laboratory named Park Williams set out to predict the future of the dominant iconic conifers of the American Southwest — the Douglas fir, the piñon pine and the ponderosa pine. As the planet warms, the Southwest is projected to dry out and heat up unusually fast — few places will be more punishing to trees. Williams couldn’t rely on climate models, whose representations of terrestrial vegetation remain crudely unspecific. He needed a formula that could accurately weigh the variables of heat, aridity and precipitation, and translate atmospheric projections into a unified measure of forest health.
For decades, all over the planet, heat-aggravated droughts had been killing trees: mountain acacia in Zimbabwe, Mediterranean pine in Greece, Atlas cedar in Morocco, eucalyptus and corymbia in Australia, fir in Turkey and South …