Global Warming and Forest Change   Robert Leverett
  Sep 23, 2005 09:40 PDT 

Lee and Ernie:

   Given the well-documented receding of mountain glaciers nearly
everywhere and the shrinking of the larger permanent ones in the Artic
and Antarctic, Given the calving of ice bergs from the ice sheets, given
the strength and frequencies of major storms especially over the past
several years, and given the rise of annual mean temperatures, does
either of you have any doubts that global warming is a real phenomena -
regardless of its causes? I pose this question to two individuals whose
answers I recognize will incorporate and understanding of what science
likely knows at this point versus popular speculation.

   As terrifying storms bear down on us and begin reshaping forests, as
mean global temperatures continue to rise, does either of you have a
sense of what the impact on forest composition might be in the East over
the next 50 to 100 years?

Global Warming and Forest Change
  Sep 23, 2005 10:51 PDT 


Yes, global warming is real and is caused by CO2 and other greenhouse
gases emitted by people into the atmosphere. You really have to stretch
the evidence to maintain that is not the case at this point. The number of
people who formerly held out on this conclusion has dwindled to virtually
nothing in the last two years.

One aspect of global warming we have not considered as much as we should
is the potential for more frequent storms, larger storms or more intense
storms. If a warmer climate were to lead to the same hurricane frequency,
size and intensity as the last two years, it would essentially bring an
end and reverse the economic growth the Southeast region has seen, and
send people back to the northern U.S. The forestry industry in the
southeast would be put out of business. Also, we don't know whether having
60 tornados per year in MN, and having downbursts like the one in 1999 in
northern MN, which was the size and intensity of a category 4 hurricane,
is a result of warming.

The other thing we don't know is how forests will respond. Some people
think that trees can evolve rapidly enough to stay in place during
warming, although the structure of forests might be reshaped by more
frequent storms.
Personally, I think our forests will be wiped out by invasive species and
deer before they have a chance to respond to warming, so warming might be

However, we simply have not put a sufficient effort into research on these
topics. Analyses of how using more air conditioning would affect the
economy, and whether more people would die from heat stroke have filled
the pages of scientific journals with nonsense that whitewashes the
potential impact of extreme events. We don't know enough about how climate
change will influence extreme events and forest dynamics, and no one wants
to or likely will fund it.


Global Warming and Tree Changes   Edward Frank
  Sep 24, 2005 18:56 PDT 


Bob Leverett ask what effect global warming will have on our forests. One
way to llok at this is to see what the North American forests looked like
during past geological epoch which were warmer.   The Pleistocene epoch
incorporates most of the last 1.8 million years or so and includes the
periods of glaciation. At least seven separate cycles of continental
glaciation and interglacial warm periods occur during this epoch. The
period since the last continental glaciation, ending about 11,000 years ago
is called the Holocene. Most geologists believe it does not represent a
true change in epoch, but is simply another interglacial warming period.

The Pliocene epoch preceded the Pleistocene and ran from 5 million to 1.8
million years ago. It represents a period of warmer climate than the
Pleistocene, but still it was generally cooler than the preceding Miocene
epoch. There is a discussion of Pliocene climate on a NASA site that has
some information 

Some excerpts from the site:

"If our interest, however, is in climates warmer than today, we must look
back at least three million years, to the middle of the Pliocene epoch, to
find a period in Earth history with global average temperatures more than a
degree (Celsius) higher than the present."
"In the Arctic, Pliocene forests dominated where tundra exists today. In
altering the specified vegetation cover to match this change, wetter soil
moisture condtions were also assigned. Throughout the simulation, Pliocene
Arctic soils remained wetter than the present day, fed by increased rainfall
originating over the warmer Arctic ocean. The results indicate, at least,
that these specified wet conditions are in equilibrium with the simulated

The Miocene Epoch extended from 23.8 to 5.3 million years ago. The site says:

"The Miocene was a time of warmer global climates than those in the
preceeding Oligocene, or the following Pliocene. It is particularly notable
in that two major ecosystems first appeared at this time: kelp forests and
grasslands. The expansion of grasslands is correlated to a drying of
continental interiors as the global climate first warmed and then cooled.

Global circulation patterns changed as Antarctica became isolated and the
circum-polar ocean circulation became established. This reduced
significantly the mixing or warmer tropical water and cold polar water, and
permitted the buildup of the Antarctic polar cap. Likewise, the
African-Arabian plate joined to Asia, closing the seaway which had
previously separated Africa from Asia, and a number of migrations of animals
brought these two faunas into contact."

There is some palynological data online from the period, but overall there
has been only minimal examination of the forests of these earlier epoch,
partially due to lack of fossil sites. Northern sites generally have been
overrun by the continental glaciations of the Pleistocene. As it stands now
we could expect warmer climates overall. The bands of forests types would
migrate northward. It is likely the great plains would expand as the
central portion of the continent receives less rainfall. Storms in the
south - hurricanes and tropical depression would be more common and
intensify. Warmer weather means warmer water and warm water powers these
storm circulations. The derechos in Minnesota would likely be displaced
northward. These are estimates, because in actuality the global
circulation pattern has changed drastically from the Miocene epoch,
particularly with the closing of the gap between North and South America in
the Pliocene by the formation of Central America. Who knows what will
happen? Some respected criminologists suggest the climate must warm enough
to increase precipitation to enable northern Canada to form a perennial ice
cap - thereby triggering the next ice age.

Ed Frank

Re: Global warming and impacts on forests    Lee Frelich
   Sep 27, 2005 16:38 PDT 

(material deleted)... A discussion of the
potential synergistic impacts of warmer temperatures combined with invasive
species (including pests such as emerald ash borer and Asian long-horned
beetle) and high deer populations would be very appropriate for this site,
even though it is a depressing topic. It seems like ENTS should be able to
come up with some suggestions for forest management and policy makers that
might mitigate these impacts.


RE: Global warming and impacts on forests   Roman Dial
  Sep 28, 2005 22:15 PDT 

This post is to folks who are following the subject of global warming
and the possible impacts on forest growth.

One impact that we (scientists) have documented in Alaska is an
increased growth in shrubs and other woody plants over the last 50
years. There have been several recent papers: from Arctic Alaska (Brooks
Range and North Slope), Seward Peninsula, and Kenai Peninsula (plug here
for paper by my grad student Eric Klein in Canadian Journal of Forestry
35:1931-1941 [August 2005]). Generally these are studies that look at
aerial photos taken 50 yeasr apart.

What we have seen all over the state is a warming and drying trend
leading to shrubs and trees where there were none 50 years ago. Melting
permafrost in some cases will lead to warmer soils and taller woody
plants there.

Global warming and impacts on forests? This will have to be a regional
answer. For some places it ooks like increased woody growth. In Alaska
this seems to be well correlated with the drying out of landscapes that
may have been previously too wet and/or cold for tree and shrub growth.
There were also recent reports from the tropics of a documented increase
in liana cover in Peruvian lowland forests. This would might be
considered an increase in woody growth but a potential reduction in
survivorship of trees there.

Roman Dial, Ph.D.
Department of Environmental Science
Alaska Pacific University
Anchorage, AK
RE: Global warming and impacts on forests   Ernie Ostuno
  Sep 30, 2005 10:03 PDT 


Do you know of any recent studies that relate forest age to rates of
carbon uptake? Specifically, all else being equal, are young forests
better carbon sinks than mature/old growth forests?

RE: Global warming and impacts on forests   Lee Frelich
  Oct 01, 2005 09:51 PDT 


Its not just accumulation that is important, it's also C storage.

C sinks and storage ability depends on whether the young forest is on
abandoned farmland (in which case its probably a bigger sink, since it will
start to replenish soil C and will likely be a sink for several centuries)
or in a previously forested area on a forest soil, when it will still be a
sink until age 200 or so for the type of forests you have in MI, mainly
through above ground storage in biomass. Old growth forests on forest
soils have a net C flux of close to zero, but they have a lot of C storage,
so if you replace them with younger forests, there may or may not be net C
storage each year depending on what happens to the harvested wood. You can
store the maximum amount of C on a forested landscape if all of the forest
is old growth.

I would say that reforesting formerly forested lands to forest and leaving
the existing forest to become old growth on mesic sites would remove from
the atmosphere and store the maximum amount of C. I restrict that to mesic
sites (which generally are not fire dependent) because in dry soil fire
dependent systems the fuel buildup could lead to severe fire problems.

All of these statements could be made false (or more true) by the European
earthworm invasion, which affects soil and aboveground C storage in unknown
ways. That's a big wildcard that we know little about.


== 4 of 4 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 7 2007 10:40 am
From: "Lee E. Frelich"


Last week The Washington Post had an article about forest damage from
Hurricane Katrina. An estimated 320 million trees were toppled, opening
vast tracts of land to invasive species and making an important addition to
atmospheric CO2.

After reading the article, my natural attraction to statistics led to some
rough calculations regarding numbers of trees killed by large-scale
derechos and trees that could potentially be killed by warming resulting
from a doubled CO2 climate. As I pointed out in my presentation at the ENTS
Forest Summit several weeks ago, the latter would result in a 300 mile
northward shift of the prairie-forest border which currently runs from
Edmonton, Alberta, to southern Michigan, deforesting about 800,000 square
kilometers of land.

The three great derechos in combination (dating from 1977, 1995, and 1999)
that originated in MN and WI, but continued to NY or Maine, downed a number
of trees about equal to Katrina (but of course northern trees are smaller
than most trees in Louisiana and Mississippi where Katrina did the most
damage, so that less biomass was deposited on the ground).

The 300 mile shift in the prairie-forest border would kill about 20 billion
mature trees, about 62 times as many as Katrina.


From: Mike Leonard <>
Reply-To: <>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2007 06:15:03 -0500
To: <>
Subject: [ENTS] Re: Katrina forest impacts/big numbers

Speculation like this only feeds those who are thriving
on milking this issue for all its worth.

It is far more likely that a very slow warming trend
will gradually move forest types northward a few miles. In central New
England, does that mean we should be favoring oak, hardwoods over
northern hardwoods as some in the USFS have suggested? No it does not.
Foresters should just keep practicing good silviculture and favoring a
diverse mix of healthy full crowned native trees that are best adapted
to the site.

If the Chicken Little crowd was really serious about
reducing the likelihood of catastrophic climate change they would reject
amnesty for illegal aliens (who will help double greenhouse gases in the
US), push for more nuclear power (no greenhouse gases), and work to
preserve most of the Amazon rain forest which have called the "lungs of
the earth".


== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Sun, Dec 9 2007 7:47 am
From: Lee Frelich


I wish it was speculation. Actually my estimates are based on one of the
lower estimates CO2 increases, and the GCM that predicts the minimum degree
of climate change per unit CO2 increase (GISS) among those available. Some
recent estimates of biome locations put the prairie-forest border at Cape
Churchill, Manitoba, for a doubled CO2 climate, thus moving it 800 miles

The the new high resolution techniques for analyzing the paleolecological
record show large changes in the location of the prairie-forest border
within a few decades in response to smaller magnitude of climate change
than we are likely to experience in the next century. The paleoecological
record also shows that many tree species in eastern North America in the
past have changed their ranges by 500-1000 miles or more in response to a
magnitude of temperature change similar to that expected in the next
century, in contrast to the conservative 300 mile estimate that I used.
Responses twice my estimate are within the range of possibility, whereas
smaller responses are unlikely. And the response in the prairie-forest
border in Russia will be 2-4 times what it is on North America due to its
location further north and larger continental land mass. These things have
happened in the past and they will happen again with this episode of
climate change because the laws of physics and biology are still the same.

Regarding good silviculture, it won't hurt, and will help a little, but
won't suffice for a response to climate change. Even if we achieved 75%
reduction in CO2 emissions in the next few decades, the magnitude and rate
of change coming would overwhelm the ability of most tree species to
migrate or undergo selection and adaptation to a warmer climate.

Its an interesting question whether natural selection could have resulted
in black spruce and tamarack forests still existing in a place like
Tennessee, where they were dominant 17,000 years ago. The answer is
probably yes, if those species had been systematically selected for
resistance to heat over the 2000-4000 year period during which the major
upward trend in temperatures occurred, which would have allowed 40-120
generations of selection. In the next century we will experience a
magnitude of climate change similar to that that moved black spruce from TN
to northern MN, but that's only 2-3 generations of trees, not enough to
allow adaptation. The reason trees moved their range in response to such
slow climate change of the past, rather than adaptation by natural
selection, was because trees from the south were preadapted to the warmer
conditions and were able to competitively displace northerly tree species
before they could undergo natural selection.

The real Achilles heel for trees, that makes either adaptation or migration
difficult when there is rapid climate change, is that they do not have
uniform genetic structure throughout their range, in which case the trees
in the overlap between the current and future range would survive climate
change. Instead, they have great diversity across their range, with many
ecotypes, each of which has relatively little ability to tolerate change
compared to the species as a whole. Thus, when high rates of climate change
occurred in the past (and if they occur in the future), the population
declines precipitously, leaving only a few scattered individuals on sites
with unusual environments, and it takes about a millennium to recover and
reclaim the landscape when the climate settles down. The paleoecological
records shows this pattern of rapid disappearance of a forest type followed
by slow recovery after a variety of types of environmental change,
including the last time hemlock went almost extinct, 5000 ybp. A millennium
of recovery time is nothing in the life of a forest, but it seems rather
long to people.


TOPIC: Katrina forest impacts/big numbers

== 1 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 2:50 am
From: "Mike Leonard"


Some scientists say that basing warming estimates solely on the amount
of CO2 increase is flawed because of:

1. Increased CO2 will increase plant growth.
2. The oceans will absorb more (it's a huge "carbon sink").
3. At least some of the warming is based on natural solar cycles (more
radiation from the sun).
4. Increased cloud cover could offset some of the warming.

If the prairie-forest border moves substantially, then it stands to
reason that other borders will move as well. The tree line (the boreal
forest) will move farther north. And perhaps some prairie will revert to
forest. It all depends on how rainfall patterns change in the future.
One could offset the other. In other words, there will be winners and
there will be losers - this applies especially to the agricultural
sector but water supplies are a concern as well.

So if one is to accept your scenario that climate will move 300 miles
northward, then only those resilient species with wide ranges that can
grow on a wide variety of sites (red oak, red maple, white pine in the
east) may be able to adapt to the swift climate change.

What about sea level rise? How many feet do you predict? Maybe you'd
like to suggest that buying real estate in Florida or Cape Cod might be
a bad investment? How about the 100 million people who live in the delta
in Bangladesh? They're screwed right?

There is no way in hell that we earthlings will be able to achieve a 75%
reduction in greenhouse gases. We won't even be able to cap them at
existing levels. Hell coal mine fires in China give off as much CO2 as
our entire transportation system! And keeping China and India out of the
Kyoto Accords make that a joke. Why should we kill our economy so
industry will simply expand in China? It makes no sense. What makes
sense is to conserve and produce more of our own energy.

Well I'm not as pessimistic as you. There are many promising
technologies which will mitigate any serious climate change such as
seeding the oceans with iron which will increase plankton growth taking
huge amounts of CO2 out of the air. Hey you have to be positive,
otherwise what do we tell our kids that they better buy a lot of guns
and learn to become survivalists?


== 2 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 7:02 am
From: "Lee E. Frelich"


There is a lot of new information in the last few years on the first four
points that you make, and I am now satisfied that we have a good (not
perfect) understanding. Increased CO2 can only increase growth up to a
point, because the kinetics of CO2 entering the leaf and being used in the
chemical reactions are limited by other factors than CO2 concentration, and
then there is the issue of the increased demand for nitrogen at higher
growth rates, which in our FACE (free air carbon exchange, in which plots
of land with intact plant communities are fumigated with CO2 to simulate a
doubled CO2 climate) experiment in Minnesota, resulted in a negligible
increase in plant growth after several years of doubled CO2. Recent data on
the oceans indicates their capacity to absorb CO2 will also soon be
saturated, and this is also shown in the paleo record to have happened with
past episodes of high atmospheric CO2. The warming based on solar cycles is
well known and has been thoroughly taken into account in the models
presented in the IPCC report, where they show increasing residual
differences between trends caused by changes in solar output and
temperatures change caused by CO2 in the past 100 years as well as for
future predictions. Clouds can either increase or decrease temperature
because water is a greenhouse gas, and in addition the effects will vary by
location. This is the least well understood aspect of climate change, but
major strides in understanding clouds and taking their impacts into account
in global circulation models has been accomplished in the last decade.

Your comments regarding red oak, red maple and white pine are right on the
mark (for the Midwest I would also add American basswood and bur oak). I
have been telling people to expect those species to do well, with the
caveat that the prairies are also going to expand.

I remain positive about people using their ingenuity to solve this problem
though a combination of energy conservation, renewable energy, nuclear
energy, carbon sequestration, and albedo modification, thus negating the
impacts I have pointed out to some degree. That positive attitude may start
to fade in a few years if I don't see some major progress. I am not
offering any predictions on rate of sea level rise, since we don't know
much about lag times for melting of large ice sheets. We know that the last
time CO2 was as high as it is predicted to be by 2050 (for a business as
usual scenario), the oceans were 70-90 feet higher than they are now, but
if history repeats itself, we don't know how long it would take for that to


== 3 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 7:25 am
From: Josh


Two of your quotes:

"Well I'm not as pessimistic as you."
- Are you sure you know how pessimistic someone else is, or are the
possibilities of climate change just getting you down?

"There is no way in hell that we earthlings will be able to achieve a
reduction in greenhouse gases."
-Doesn't sound very optimistic to me.

"Hey you have to be positive.."
-I agree that positivity make life more fun, but we don't "have" to do
anything. I think it is more important to be able to consider all
possiblities, and make our choices based on what we think is most
likely. I also gree with you that there are some technological fixes
- if we chose to support them. I think that the greatest chance to
make a difference comes in our own consumer choices and choice of
political leadership.

It seems like many people are opposed to climate change because acting
to mitigate it would be inconvenient. I really hope we can tell our
grand kids: "We had to make some sacrifices and there were some tough
times, but we still have an atmosphere, and some of my favorite places
are still relatively intact". The alternative might sound like: "We
had the chance to avoid some of this, but were were too selfish to
make any sacrifices. No way was I going to use less energy when
people in China were using more"

Yes, people want forests, and they want a 6,000 sq. ft. house. They
want a pleasant climate and want to heat that 6,000 sq. ft. house and
drive a Hummer.

I am hopeful that if I am able to come to the conclusion that if
having forests and a livable climate is important to me, then I must
consume less, that most people will also be able to make that


== 4 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 7:25 am
From: "Gary A. Beluzo"


Well summarized. The clouds are one of the big unknowns. High level
clouds tend to absorb IR from above and thus have a cooling effect
whereas low level clouds tend to absorb IR from below and thus tend to
have a warming effect. The origin of the clouds varies as well. For
example, higher level clouds can form from anthropogenic particulate
pollution emitted from tall industrial stacks (some see this as a
rationale for increasing stack emissions!). There is also the
negative feedback between the ocean and the atmosphere regarding DMS
(Dimethyl Sulfide), a byproduct of metabolism by coccolithophorids
(microscopic photoautotroph). The basic ideas is that
coccolithophorid blooms caused by anthopogenic pollution can lead to
higher levels of DMS which become cloud nuclei and increase rainfall.
Of course this is only one example of the exceedingly complex web of
positive and negative feedback loops that are part of the biosphere, a
complex dynamic, and adaptive system. I am not optimistic that humans
will ever elucidate the biosphere in toto. Let's hope that the
"planetary engineers" don't implement their rather simplistic plans
for altering global warming, such as releasing iron into oceanic gyres
to increase productivity and CO2 fixation (plausible but
unpredictable), the placing of satellites with large mirrors to
redirect sunlight on the surface of the Earth (not quite plausible),
or halocarbon injection into the stratosphere to interfere with ozone
depletion (plausible).

The Precautionary Principle seems prudent.

On Dec 10, 2007, at 10:02 AM, Lee E. Frelich wrote:

== 5 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 7:45 am
From: Ariel

The points Gary and Co. raised are quite right though they only brush the surface explaining the complexity of the systems we are 'experimenting' with. It occurred to me the other day that our jobs (as foresters) are going to become very 'interesting' in the next few years.

Some scientists say ....

I have to ask which scientists those are? The handful who are getting their paycheck from the hydrocarbon industry or the other 98% who agree that global warming is man caused and immanent and likely to cause problems for our species that we can't even imagine yet.

To those who argue to me that global warming is a 'natural' process, I remind that there were times in earth's 'natural' history that we could not have survived here. Was it the Pleistocene when 90% of all life on earth vanished because of a global temperature shift? It's been a while since worked with global geology, but the point is it's not a matter of whether a global warming is 'natural' or not but whether we, and the organisms we rely on, can survive it.

Lin Greenaway

== 6 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 7:51 am
From: "Lee E. Frelich"


Yes, I agree that trying to engineer things too much as a solution to
global warming might backfire, and that strategies such as energy
conservation, and carbon sequestration using technology invented millions
of years ago in the form of trees are a safer way to go (although I am not
opposed to a few nuclear power plants using the new technology developed in
the last few decades that would be very much safer than the current nukes
in service).

Surely someone could find some genetic variants of paper birch trees that
can withstand drought and heat, and we could plant a few million acres of
those to sequester carbon and due to their light colored bark and leaves,
slightly raise the earth's albedo as well. This would probably be better
and cheaper than putting giant mirrors in space and dumping iron in the
ocean, and it would be quite attractive for humans and wildlife at the same

BTW--wouldn't dumping iron in the ocean quickly lead to other growth
limitations such as P or N shortage? History indicates that most
fertilizations with single elements lead to a short pulse of growth,
followed limitation in other nutrients, rather than to the predicted
sustained increase in productivity.


== 7 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 7:54 am
From: Josh

"Was it the Pleistocene when 90% of all life on earth vanished because
of a global temperature shift?"

No, it was the end-Permian extinction

== 8 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 8:04 am
From: Ariel

As I was just reading - thanks. I see also that it was 96% that died. I just think it's pretty arrogant to automatically assume we'd be part of any percentage that might survive another mass extinction.


== 9 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 8:27 am
From: "Gary A. Beluzo"


Yes dumping iron in the ocean would lead to other growth limitations
such as P or N but not until the productivity has increased markedly
(i.e. enough N and P is present but very low amount of Fe in the
gyres). Of course what you refer to is the "Limiting Factor"
concept. And for the uninitiated on the list this means that there
will always be a limiting factor (in many cases limiting nutrient)
that keeps the biotic potential of any species from becoming
realized. In freshwater aquatic environments the limiting nutrient is
often phosphorus or nitrogen (also silica for diatoms, the dominant
plankters in spring and fall) but in these oceanic gyres the limiting
nutrient is iron so if you increase the iron concentration the
photoplankton will respond by increasing their populations; something
else is then limiting (such as N or P or LIGHT because the population
is so dense).

An good example of what happens with anthropogenic augmentation of
limiting nutrients is when leaky septic tanks and agricultural runoff
increase the level of P entering the lake system. As more and more
Phosphorus enters the system and the ratio of N/P changes the nitrogen
usually becomes limiting but not to the extent that the P controlled
the population. Why? Because cyanobacteria ("bluegreen algae" are
capable of fixing nitrogen; these photoplankton quickly outcompete
other the true algal groups (i.e. eukaryotic) to become the
predominant plankters of the system leading to taste and odor
problems. Silica also becomes limiting to diatomic species. This is
why there is a "parade" of photoplankton species throughout the year
as different nutrients, light, temp, and other factors wax and wane.
Superimpose on the changing environment the multitude of species with
different Hutchinsonian niches and one can see why changing a nutrient
can cause significant and often unpredictable change in the system
(and cascade down the food chain) due to postive and negative feedback
loops, lag phase, nonlinear relationships, "tipping points", and
system chaos.

We shouldn't be experimenting at the planetary level.


== 10 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 11:21 am
From: Carolyn Summers

Hi Mike,

We should not accept coal; most of us wouldnıt, but it is being forced on
us. I canıt discuss what the French do, but they do some things better than
we do and maybe this is one of them. But that doesnıt mean we can do it
safely; I live too close to Indian Point in an area that canıt possibly be
evacuated in an emergency; it is a constant threat. And the permitting time
for a new nuclear plant will undoubtedly exceed the time itıs taking for the
Cape Cod wind project. BTW, have you seen the lighter than air wind
turbines that fly at 1000 feet where there is always air movement? They
look like enormous kites tethered to the ground. So far there are just
prototypes, not yet operational. Could be much better than windmills.

Re Boston accents, I grew up thinking that the word ³bastard² was spelled
³bastid,² because that Œs the way my dad pronounced it. There were other
words, too, but that one sticks in my mind.

Carolyn Summers
63 Ferndale Drive
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

== 11 of 11 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 12:20 pm
From: dbhguru


Thanks for the great exchange between you and Mike. This response goes a long way in helping me understand the areas that previously were not sufficiently well understood and what is left to understand. In terms of leaderships, a giant leap for the United States would be to put someone in the White House that has the intelligence at least of an ordinary, rul of the mill chimpanzee. But for some reason the red states prefer a fake good old boy president one who falls just shy of having ordianry chimp smarts. Gosh, did I just say that?


TOPIC: Extinction events

== 1 of 10 ==
Date: Mon, Dec 10 2007 6:03 pm
From: "Edward Frank"

there have been a large number of extinction events, most of which are
unexplained. The last major extinction was at the end of the Mesozoic era-
the death of the dinosaurs. There was a loss of about Most of the dinosaurs
species known were were dead already before the end of the era in a series
of smaller extinctions. The Alverez Meteor impact is blamed by popular
media for the final extinction, and dramatic animations have been made
depicting the event. Not everyone is sure it really happened that way.
There was a meteor impact and it coincided with the extinction event. but
it can not be proven that it caused the extinction. The actual distribution
of species that went extinct does not fit the pattern expected from a meteor
impact. There is a nice one page discussion of this on the Berkley website: (Alverez taught at

In the Permian extinction 90% of all species on earth, both plants and
animals died out. There were less than 2 dozen species of vertebrates that
survived the extinction event, and most of them were fish. Mammals had not
yet evolved, but their direct ancestor - a mammal like reptile group that
included the giant sail-back reptiles - was one of the 2 dozen species to
survive. The cause of the extinctions is unknown.

Here is a list of other mass extinctions in Earths history -

Ed Frank

TOPIC: Katrina forest impacts/big numbers

== 1 of 18 ==
Date: Tues, Dec 11 2007 3:17 am
From: "Mike Leonard"


Even if you are 100% correct it doesn't matter because I have always
thought that the global warming argument (who is responsible, how much
will it warm, etc.) is a waste of time. What is relevant is that we
should have had a real national energy policy starting in the 1970's
after the first oil shock by OPEC.
That would have meant higher fossil fuel taxes to make alternatives more
competitive until the new technologies arrived but the oil lobby won.
Now it's the farm lobby and their allies who have won with the obscene
and outrageous ethanol from corn scam. Getting ethanol from corn is
barely positive net energy, so why are we doing it? Ethanol from corn
also has other drawbacks: 
Federal subsidies cost $7 billion (equal to around $1.90/gallon!). The
grain needed to fill up an SUV would feed a person for a year!

How about "carbon trading" like the Euros are doing? It seems very
inefficient and it would be easy to cheat. It just shifts the pollution
around. Also it would mean a huge and wasteful bureaucracy to
administer. I think a carbon tax would be far more efficient. Huckabee
wants to do away with the IRS and have a consumption tax. I think this
is a great idea. Just piggyback the carbon tax along with it.

I'm not positive about any real changes coming no matter who gets
elected because most politicians only care about getting re-elected so
they don't want to offend anybody. And there's always gridlock as the
special interests pay off the pols. Term limits would fix this or how
about an environmental dictator?

Well if the oceans go 90 feet higher at least my house is 1,000 feet
above sea level!


== 5 of 18 ==
Date: Tues, Dec 11 2007 6:15 am
From: Ariel

Dear 'Mike' -

The main reason you get only 1% of your energy from renewables is because this country hasn't invested in the infrastructure needed to produce it. Consider Germany, whose government has pushed solar power and which plans on having 25% of it's power produced by renewable sources by 2020. It's not 100%, naturally, but between it and wind, and nuclear, which I have far less problems with than fossil fuels, they could. If Germany can put that much of a dent in their power production, imagine what a sunny place like New Mexico could do?

It isn't that renewable sources couldn't power our future, but just like the oil and gas industries, we need the infrastructure in place to let it do so. Traditional source power companies don't want to fund renewables' infrastructure because they don't make the margin of profit they are used to from it, so it is up to the people (or visionary politicians like Germany has) to do it. Nuclear is probably part of our future, but the very fact that it does produce dangerous waste, regardless of how 'safe' you can make it, would tend me to want to rely as heavily as I could on renewables.

Lin Greenaway

== 6 of 18 ==
Date: Tues, Dec 11 2007 6:53 am
From: "Lee E. Frelich"


I have long known that I am 100% correct but that it didn't matter. My
brother informed me of that 40 years ago. Basically, I agree with
everything you say below.

The predictions for the amount of global warming that would occur per unit
CO2 increase in the atmosphere have been known since Arrhenius published
his work on that topic in 1906, and detailed predictions for what would
likely happen in a doubled CO2 world were presented to the public in the
1970s and 1980s, and yet all the stuff you mention continues to happen.

Regarding what Ed, Bob, Carolyn and others said about human survival, I
can't see that global warming, even a high magnitude of global warming,
will cause us to go extinct, but it will probably wreck the economy and
reduce population. I can see standards of living ending up something like
farmers in Kansas during the 1930s dust bowl, which, given the laws of
physics and biology, is what the earth can actually support. At the same
time, I am not sure that our so-called high standard of living means much
if we live in a country where churches need an armed security force, as we
found out from the shootings in Colorado yesterday.

It doesn't matter to the ecosystem at all if global warming causes 50% of
all species to go extinct (because there is plenty of redundancy in
function among species) or if the boreal forest moves 300 or 800 miles
further north, or if forests are in a state of dieback and reorganization
for several hundred years. These are all things that the earth and its
ecosystems have been through many times before. The earth has no attachment
to having a certain type of forest in a certain place, but people do.

I still hold a slender hope that we can reduce CO2 emissions to the point
where it levels off at 420-450 ppm, which would allow the slow rate of
warming to which people and forests can easily adapt, that you and others
hope for. If we reduced fossil fuel use by 30% through fuel conservation,
get 30% of our fuel and electrical power from renewable sources, and plant
enough trees (or restore enough native prairie, which sequesters an amount
of carbon on a per acre basis about equal to a forest on similar soils) to
sequester 30% of the carbon we emit, we could accomplish that (although
right now the odds are against it).


== 7 of 18 ==
Date: Tues, Dec 11 2007 6:57 am
From: Josh


It is unfortunate how our political leaders are so different in their
private lives, and often in their policies while elected, than the
ideals they espouse. Al Gore for one, is and has been heavily
invested in Occidental Petroleum, which not only fuels global warming,
but is guilty of many abuses of the environment and people of Ecuador
- talk about destroying forests.

That sort of hypocracy and the neo-liberal trade policies (WTO, NAFTA,
etc.) that are so in vogue in both of the major parties are some of
the reasons I had such a hard time voting for Gore in 2000. I do
appreciate what Gore has done to educate the public about cliimate
change because I believe it is a serious issue.

I have similar concerns over John Edwards, who in many ways is my
favored cadidate this cycle. His private life and public discourse
just don't quite sync-up. I love it when he talks about local
economy, green energy, and ending corporate corruption of politics,

Well, back to trees. You have been bemoaning the lack of a market for
Hemlock. Here in the South there is a lot of discussion about biomass
fuel from non-comercial trees. While this could be very scary for
deforestation, it could also help us find an economic driver for
restoring the many clearcuts on public land, and pine plantations that
are about to be devastated by that exotic parasitoid wasp Jess was
telling me about.


TOPIC: Global Warming and Earlier Spring Seasons

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Tues, Apr 1 2008 5:24 am
From: "Gary A. Beluzo"

Global Warming Bringing Early Spring Seasons To Eurasian Forests
ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2008) -- With the help of satellite data,
researchers from laboratories in France(1), the UK, Japan and Russia
have completed the accurate and large-scale mapping of leaf appearance
dates in boreal forests. Their work has revealed a remarkable trend
towards earlier foliation, which occurred between 1987 and 1990, over
a large part of northern Eurasia, caused by the unprecedented increase
in spring temperatures since 1921. By comparing these results with the
previous studies available, they were able to reconstruct the
foliation trend over the whole 20th century. Their work, published the
journal Global Change Biology, enables the effects of global warming
on these forests to be measured.

Gary A. Beluzo
Professor of Environmental Science
Division of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics
Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Avenue
Holyoke, MA 01040


== 2 of 4 ==
Date: Tues, Jul 22 2008 1:16 pm

A number of times in the past, I recall comments in the forum bemoaning the absence of strategies to mitigate causes of global climate change. Ignoring the fact that we don't know all we need to know, I think most of think we know enough to start changing our ways, if nothing else to get "change" happening.
Towards that end, the Society of American Foresters has put out the following paper "Forest Management Solutions for
Mitigating Climate Change in the United States" which can be found at
It's 50 some pages long, so many may not get through it, but I'd be interested in responses from those that did.
This might be too much of a bite for the chat room or your new sister forum, but certainly could provide grist for a discussion mill...

== 3 of 4 ==
Date: Tues, Jul 22 2008 3:51 pm
From: Lee Frelich


An even better report was recently published by the National Commission on
Science for Sustainable Forestry (NCSSF), 'Beyond Old Growth, Older Forests
in a Changing World', available at their website (scroll down, its the third document
listed on their homepage). Its 2.5MB, but worth the wait to download. It
has syntheses from 5 regional workshops throughout the U.S. including one I
participated in for the Great Lakes Region.

Check out the following pictures by my Ph.D. advisor Craig Lorimer from the
University of Wisconsin: Old growth white pine in Sylvania Wilderness, MI
on page 9 (where Bob Leverett, Monica and I are going for a hike
tomorrow); Hemlock in the Porcupine Mountains on page 25; an Old northern
hardwood forest on Nicolet NF on page 34.

There is good discussion of the problems old growth forests face due to
global warming and other factors.