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?