Mountain pine beetle infestation near Ollalie Butte in the Cascades showing recently killed trees (left) and old burned stand (right).
Many are watching with astonishment and horror the effects of the extreme temperatures and withering drought blanketing half the country. Weather records are broken daily.
Thanks to our cool, moist marine climate, we here on the wet side of the Cascades usually and generally are spared the worst mother nature offers. But occasionally we, too, feel the effects of nature’s fury, reminding us that no one actually is safe.
What worries us are the thousands of bug-dead trees on the mountain ridges south of Trillium Lake, below Mount Hood. God forbid that the tinder-dry dead trees catch on fire from a lightning strike or unattended campers’ fire. The resulting inferno will burn until the first snowfall.
The 2012 dry season in the American West is generating fires that are four times more common than in the past, climate watchers report. What’s more, the largest fires now are six and a half times bigger than the record-breaking infernos of the past.
Owing to the heating up of the planet, fires are starting earlier in the spring and burning later in the fall, a two and a half month add-on to the customary fire season. These startling statistics come from a study completed six years ago; drought conditions have worsened considerably since 2006.
The crop-destroying drought is causing cornfields to wither and die. Agriculture economists are predicting upwards of five percent price increases in food that is dependent on corn.
Trees are dying all around the globe because of the extreme heat and drought. Even if we could turn this around now, it would take a generation before we would see results.