Friday, May 09, 2008

Pine Beetle Joins Humans in Warming the Globe

Human beings aren't the only species working towards a hotter planet, the recent pine beetle infestation that's devastating North American forests are a big contributor as well. This according to a report at the Independent UK.

Trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it, simply put, as wood. But when something comes along and kills trees (in this case, pine beetles), that carbon is released back into the atmosphere as the trees decompose, or worse, as they burn in forest fires.

Humans aren't off the hook. Blame milder winters, driven by manmade climate change, for the severity of our pine beetle problem here. Milder winters mean bigger pine beetle populations.

This is what scientist mean when they talk about the snowball-effect in global warming. Once the first domino tips, they keep falling, and falling.

According to the Telegraph article, 7.5 percent of Canada's carbon emissions are caused by the pine beetle disaster. Over the next 12 years, this problem will send 990 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Speaking of snowball-effect, the Independent added that, as oceans warm, they are less capable of absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. Oceans absorb about a quarter of the CO2 we humans crank out each year.

Pound360 Archive

About Me

My photo
I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.