June 18, 2012

Are the forests out of breath?


If, as scientists say, the forests are the lungs of the planet we should be greatly concerned by the following two articles.

The first is one of those scientific articles that tells us (those of us who are paying attention) that the forests are changing, and maybe not for the better.
Forests are widely known as repositories of carbon — about 104 billion tons of it worldwide — but the role they will play in a warming world is less understood, although crucial, as my colleague Justin Gillis reported in an extensive article last fall. If they become carbon emitters rather than carbon sinks as temperatures rise, projections of how fast climate change will occur may have to be adjusted.

Second, here's a first-person account in from a researcher studying the precipitous yellow-cedar tree decline in Alaska. She writes:
Forest diebacks related to climate change are occurring on all six plant-covered continents. What we see in southeastern Alaska is not an anomaly, but part of a global pattern that has been unfolding for several decades.
I'm no scientist. But I've seen the beetle-infested forests of the Sierras and I have seen the clear cutting of forests around these parts. We continue to take our forests for granted.