Climate change poses a huge threat to the West. The current mountain pine beetle epidemic with over 50 million acres of dying trees in western North America has created a powerful “teachable moment” across the region.
A primary goal of the Forests At Risk symposium was to reframe the nation’s climate change dialogue by making the issue both personal and real to many who may not appreciate its connection to the immediate world around them. While some may have difficulty relating to rising sea levels, falling water tables, imperiled polar bears and melting glaciers in far-off places, they are still shocked by the sight of vast dying forests around their homes. The Forests At Risk symposium explored the statement by Andy Jacobson, a carbon cycle scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, that “this is the kind of feedback we're all very worried about in the carbon cycle ... a warming planet leading to, in this case, an insect outbreak that increases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which can increase warming.”
The overwhelming scientific consensus holds that climate change is one of the most serious threats facing humankind today. We have a soberingly short time in which to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases if we are to preserve our quality of life and environment. In addition to the global urgency, the American West is deeply dependent on the health of its forests, mountains and streams for both its quality of life and its economy. Put simply, if global warming shortens our winters, diminishes our recreation, and unleashes wildfires, diseases and insect epidemics that devastate our forests, the regional damage would be incalculable.
NOW is the perfect time to learn more in this ebook. The Forests At Risk symposium represented the first substantial public forum focused directly on the connection between climate change and forest health in the American West. In the wake of millions of acres of pine beetle devastation across our continent, this is the ideal moment to highlight the climate change connection and focus on the question of what happens when our forests transform from carbon sinks into carbon sources.
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About the Author
ACES' mission is to inspire a life-long commitment to the earth by educating for environmental responsibility, conserving and restoring the balance of natural communities, and advancing the ethic that the Earth must be respected and nurtured.
Table of ContentsIntroduction by John Bennett, The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.
Sudden Aspen Decline & Climate Change – Why More SAD May Await Us, by Jim Worrall, U.S. Forest Service
Climate, Forests & Insects: From Montana White Pine to South African Euphorbia, by Diana Six, University of Montana
Can Our Forests Take the Heat? Increasing Tree Mortality Rates Across the Western U.S., by Phillip van Mantgem, U.S. Geological Survey
Wildfire, Climate & People: Perspectives and Warnings from the Past, by Tom Swetnam, University of Arizona
Sinks & Sources: The Role of Forests in Carbon Sequestration … and Why It Matters, by Werner Kurz, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada
We’re Not Alone: Forest Die-off Risks Around the Globe, by Craig Allen, U.S. Geological Survey
The Future of Our National Forests: Enhancing Adaptive Capacity, by Linda Joyce, U.S. Forest Service
Sequestering Carbon in a High Elevation Peat Bog, by Tom Cardamone, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies