A new post on Yale Environment 360 reports on the large-scale dying off of the world’s forests at an extraordinary rate. Much of the death has been attributed by entomologists to the mountain pine beetle, which due to warming winters is enabling their lifecycle to decrease from two to one year, able to produce more larvae in pines of the west. Colder temperatures had once kept the beetle out of higher altitudes, but a slight warming is now bringing devastation to mountaintop forests.
Since 2000, a forest area the size of Washington state has been killed and attributed to insects. But scientists see this as a sympton of an even larger problem of a warming climate. North America has not been the only continent affected, as forests in Australia, Russia, China, and France have been lost to drought, high temperatures, or both. Drought and higher temperatures leave forests ecologies weaker and more susceptable to pests and wildfires.