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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ours is not to question why...ours is just to figure out

what the heck is goin' on! And can we do anything about it?

This morning's Oregonian includes an article on the broad subject of in Oregon. Noting that infestations of beetles have increased, particularly around Mt. Hood, the article details the measurable impact: the number of trees killed in the past year went from around 10,000 in 2003 to 145,352 in 2004 (I'm not sure how they knew it was 352). That's a phenomenal number of dead trees. That's a phenomenal volume of fire friendly fuel on the slopes of the mountain. Last year, Mary and I were driving the backroads from Dufur to Hwy 26 and we could see clearly the ugly orange and gray stands of death. The less measurable impact? How many forest fires can dry stands of dead trees make? What's the effect on our weather when those trees are no longer engaging in photosynthesis. The article talks about possible reasons for the bark beetles' spread in this and other range- warmer average temperatures, crowding, aging stands of trees that are stressed for nutrients. No question, though, that this is changing the Oregon I grew up experiencing. And in ways that have unforeseen outcomes.

More disturbing though, is that this kind of change isn't an isolated regional phenomenon. The NOAA website today carries a posting on their measurement of massive coral bleaching taking place in the Caribbean (http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/s2526.htm). The article notes that this is probably partly due to the increased stress on coral because of the extended number of days in which water temperature is high enough to seriously stress the coral. Continuing for an extended period of time, the reefs die.

I know I've thumped the table on this subject before. But examples of disturbing changes continue to thrust themselves in front of us. And it doesn't make a difference, at some point, how we got here. The thing that makes a difference now is what are we going to do about it. My fear is that the answer will be next to nothing....at least until things get much worse.
I don't have grandchildren- yet- but I am not looking forward to trying to provide them with some semblance of the kind of life I had. Or to explain what happened....


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