(Written on 9/12/2016)
On the tops of the Rocky Mountains there are trees dying from something called Pine Bark Beetles.
Whole forests turned gray with the life sucked out of them because these little beasts are going on parade in the summer haze.
The pine bark beetles have always been an issue for these forests. They’re not a foreign invader. The difference from then and now is global climate change.
Remember how it was 40 degrees in the North Pole last December? Or rather 70-80 degrees in Philly? Well, the Rocky Mountain tundra no longer freezes. Or rather 15,000 feet up it’s not freezing for long enough.
The pine bark beetles need a three day freeze to keep their eggs from living in any special quantity. That hasn’t happened in a decade. It’s left these forests unchecked. Pine bark beetle populations are sweeping the landscape, feeding on the sap of the trees for miles and miles.
Imagine death. Death is not some grim reaper. Death is the gray carcass of a dead tree that no longer breathes out oxygen. Now drive through it for over an hour. A hefty tinder box, the size of an entire mountain range that spreads across our midwestern horizon, waiting for a lightning strike that sets off an untameable apocalypse.
It starts with climate change. Which leads to warmer weather and the survival of something as lonely as a pine bark beetle. Which then results in the death of an entire alpine forest. Then lightning starts the fire and the whole thing burns for months, years. In turn, there are no longer any living roots holding the thing together. So now there’s flash floods and mudslides. Eventually one of the most immaculate places in our country becomes the scene of utmost devastation. And the most we can do is sit back and watch what the previous generations of industrial conquistadors have caused.
What’s next? We still have the choice for change, but we’re almost out of time.