Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

News

Pine Beetles Add To Global Warming

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

I know every animal plays its part in the circle of life, blah, blah, blah — but if I could eradicate one animal from the planet, the pine beetle would be pretty high on the list. The miniscule bugs are singlehandedly responsible for destroying entire swaths of forest in the Rockies, opening the door to catastrophic fires. Typically their populations are controlled by long, hard freezes, but temperature increases related to global warming have enabled them to survive winters and chomp massive amounts of pine — 2,300 square miles in Colorado alone.

Now Canada is under extreme threat from the little buggers. 33 million acres, or about 51,562 square miles of British Columbia have suffered a vicious pine beetle attack. But other than destroying beautiful montane forests, the pine beetle is limiting Canada’s ability to absorb CO2 emissions via their carbon sink forests. Even worse, decaying trees actually release carbon dioxide: New, sobering research indicates that by 2020, the forest is expected to release more carbon dioxide than it absorbs.

It can take a colony of beetles less than two weeks to kill a tree; when the population explodes, it’s easy to see how they can take down entire national forests. The outbreak in Canada could be so severe that the normally environmentally-conscious country could have trouble meeting new carbon emissions goals.

Damn. That’s one nasty bug. — Ted Alvarez

Pine beetle outbreaks turn forests into carbon source (AP)

How to Pack for Backcountry Skiing

Get to know the winter safety gear you need in your pack.

Keywords: