National News

We are rapidly approaching forests' limits: 1975!

If this was the thought in 1975, where does that leave us today? Read the complete archived article.

Scientists Agree: We Made Climate Change Happen

Huffington Post (10/2/2013) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released the first of four chapters of its Fifth Assessment Report. It shows scientists are more certain now than in 2007 when the Fourth Assessment was released that humans are largely responsible for global warming -- mainly by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests -- and that it's getting worse and poses a serious threat to humanity. It contains hints of optimism, though, and shows addressing the problem creates opportunities....READ MORE

Defining Forest Health

What is forest health? We are bombarded by a variety of natural resources organizations – like the one I am employed for – about the importance of maintaining or improving forest health. However, it seems few take the steps to define what "forest health" actually is. Forest health can be as arbitrary as other terms and words used throughout natural resources jargon: pollution, toxicity, sustainability, natural, wilderness, primitive, pristine, open space, preservation, and conservation, etc. Adirondack wilderness activist Bob Marshall once remarked that "wilderness" was an area that took two weeks to traverse by horseback without crossing a road. Does this fit your definition of wilderness? What about "toxic?" One may ask, "Is substance X toxic?" It depends upon how many parts per million it takes to cause harm, but "harm" must first be defined too. The terms preservation and conservation have been so misused that they have been mostly rendered meaningless. A preservationist fences in a forest and stands proudly beside its caged ecosystem, only to realize that what is inside the fence continues to change behind his back, and often undesirably. Is this what you intended to preserve? In college we were taught that conservation meant "wise use" of natural resources, but being "wise" means different things to different individuals. The lists go on and are beyond the scope of this article, but allow me to fixate on this one, "forest health." READ MORE (Watershed Post, Aug 13)

Air alert: Smoke, ozone on the rise in San Joaquin Valley

Facing the double whammy of ozone and smoke, local air quality leaders have declared a second alert, running Monday through Wednesday, for the eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley. The region is sweltering with temperatures forecast above 100 degrees with only light breezes -- conditions that lead to ozone formation. The sprawling Rim fire in Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park is sending smoke and ozone-making gases into the Valley. Read more here (Fresno Bee, Sept 9)

NASA scientists link climate change with increase in wildfires

The devastating wildfire in Southern California that destroyed 26 homes and threatened hundreds of others in the San Jacinto Mountains before it was mostly contained on Sunday has prompted some scientists to examine whether climate change has impacted on the onset and severity of wildfire season. The so-called Silver Fire is expected to be fully contained by Monday, according to California officials. But on Friday, as the fire moved toward Palm Springs and threatened some 500 homes, NASA hosted a Google Hangout with a panel of scientists and researchers to discuss the factors behind this and other recent blazes. NASA said that ground surveys and its own satellites have shown that fire season in the western part of the country is beginning earlier in the spring than usual....READ MORE (Al Jazeera America, Aug 11)