By Elmer Beauregard
Today this article appeared in the Star Tribune called “Saving The North Woods” where they talk about how a changing climate will change the boreal forest in northern Minnesota and we are seeing those changes starting to occur. In the article they acknowledge that this is nothing new, most of Minnesota used to be boreal forest at one time but through climate change that is shrinking and eventually Minnesota won’t have anymore boreal forest.
I agree that Minnesota was once covered in boreal forest and through a changing climate that forest is shrinking, I disagree with their claim that this was somehow man’s fault. I think that this is a natural process and is what happens when you come out of an ice age. I also think that this has nothing to do with the, mostly natural, increase in tree food (CO2) in the atmosphere.
Their claims of Minnesota being 12 to 13 degrees warmer by the end of this century is totally bogus. Minnesota has warmed 1ºF in the last century and shows no signs of speeding up, in fact it hasn’t warmed now for over 15 years.
I have been to the Boundary Waters more than a dozen times over the last 40 years and I have noticed many changes over the years. The maps need to be constantly updated because lakes keep moving because of the beaver dams. The biggest changes I have seen have occurred in the last 14 years when global warming has been on hiatus.
In 1999 a huge storm swept through the Boundary Waters knocking over millions of trees including many of the ancient 100 foot plus tall White Pines. It was very sad to see what were once beautiful places became eerie looking with uprooted root systems everywhere. The boundary waters doesn’t have a lot of dirt it is mostly bedrock so the fact that these giant pines can be 100 feet tall and have such shallow root systems is amazing but now most of them were toppled over.
I remember back then that some logging companies offered to go in and take out these giant trees. They said they would do it with as little impact to the environment as possible and plant new trees and even offering to helicopter the trees out, but the DNR said no they wanted to just let nature take it’s course.
Well nature did take it’s course in the form of huge forest fires that burned hot and deep from all that extra fuel. The fires burned so hot that it even burned away much of the precious little topsoil, changing the landscape forever. What took thousands of years to create was undone in a few days. This is just nature taking it’s course probably like it did in southern Minnesota thousands of years ago.
I don’t think man is speeding up the process of the northern forests disappearing but I think there is something we can do to slow up that natural process.
If the logging companies were allowed to go in and take out all of the fuel in 1999 we wouldn’t have had those huge fires and the forest would have remained largely unchanged. Now 14 years later things do look different up there but they are blaming it on global warming when there hasn’t been any in that same time period.
I agree that the Boundary Waters has dramatically changed in a short period of time and that man is to blame, not by our actions but by our inaction.
P.S. The wolves are killing the moose not global warming. Reduce the wolf population and you will see the moose population come back.