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Lament for the Boreal Forest

Lament for the Boreal Forest

“The climate has shifted. It’s done, it’s clear, and the climate has become unsuitable for the growth of the boreal forest across most of the area that it currently occupies.” — Glenn Juday, University of Alaska, Fairbanks forestry professor

Not good news the week after Earth Hour. Just last week scientist were talking about the need to protect Canada’s boreal forests, including the fact that it’s got 25 percent of the world’s unfrozen freshwater.

To see and hike in a boreal forest is to experience and know majesty. I grew up surrounded by boreal forest, so to hear of it disappearing because of climate change is like watching Caesar get slowly stabbed in the back — that is, if I were a fan of Caesar. Point being, it’s a slow death for a majestic presence that feels like an act of betrayal.

In many ways, the entirety of the United States (and Canada) exists because of our abundant natural resources, and a look at this map is like reading The Lorax, but without the rhyme and the cute character…

New research from the folks at the University of Virginia outlines profound shifts in kinds of trees growing in Russia’s boreal forest. This article in Daily Climate Change will give you the details, but the point is that as we change the climate, forests begin to break down, which ends up feeding on itself and making it all break down and change even faster. A snowball effect until it’s too warm for snow, perhaps.

“What we’re seeing is the system kicking into overdrive. Warming creates more warming.” — Hank Shugart, University of Virginia environmental sciences professor

It’s happening in Canada, Alaska, and Russia. Who will be our Boreal Lorax?

Photo Credit: Yukon White Light via Flickr under CC, Map Credit: Daily Climate

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Scott James

Scott James is a new media storyteller living and working in San Francisco. He writes, edits and manages projects in the green and social media spaces. In his free time you'll find him hunting down good coffee, camping along the coast, and spending time with his wife and their dog. You can read more of what he's thinking about on his blog.


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5:07AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

Thanks for the article.

10:11AM PDT on Apr 4, 2011

thanks for the article.

10:39AM PDT on Apr 1, 2011

so sad

4:38AM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

How very, very sad. Unspeakably sad to know that the forest is under threat from Global Warming. Of course, it is even more sad because the beginning of the forest's end is the beginning of our end.

12:28AM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

Hi, everyone!
Symple ecosystem is:Sun->Water->Green Leaf->Oxygen = Life
Just plant a Tree for your breathing. Was born a child? Plant the Tree for its breathing. Love pets? Have a dog? Plant the Tree for its breathing. Drive a car? Plant the Tree...

12:12AM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

Crumb!! Here's to more logical and progressive solutions NOW, not later!!! Thanks!

11:05PM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

''s a slow death for a majestic presence that feels like an act of betrayal' - that's exactly how it feels to me!
Growing up in Alaska allowed me to feel that unbelievably beautiful place just as you describe - a majestic presence. Watching it being destroyed, not only by climate change, but by human greed and casual disregard, not only breaks my heart, but makes me sad for those who will never be able to experience the pristine majesty of these places.
It will be gone forever.

7:44PM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

OVERPOPULATION is the problem- less breeding by humans is the solution.

7:35PM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

Never give up to fight for the planet!

5:30PM PDT on Mar 30, 2011


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