“Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘Till it’s gone”
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi (1970)
I was just 14 when Big Yellow Taxi struck an emotional chord in me. Nearly a half century later, these words matter more to our own survival than any time in human history. This May, carbon emissions hit an all-time high as temperature gauges near the Arctic Circle in northwest Russia recorded the unthinkable: 87 degrees F when it’s supposed to be in the 50s! Perhaps, even worse, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released findings that 1 million species will soon go the way of the dodo, as humanity draws down more of its share of the planet’s life-giving systems. This is a crisis of immense proportions and most of humanity really won’t know what we got till it’s gone.
Every single species on this planet is a freak of the Universe. We were born out of a Cosmic explosion billions of years ago triggering swirling star-dust clouds and Cosmic debris that eventually coalesced into this amazing and highly improbable (unique) blue-ball-of life.
With blatant disregard for the great Mystery in all this, we face an ultimatum.
Originally published on April 21, 2019 in the Medford Mail Tribune
By Dominick A. DellaSala, William J. Ripple and Franz Baumann
Another Earth Day is here and it’s time to see how the planet’s life-support systems are doing and what it means for Oregonians.
Since clean, renewable energy solutions are becoming increasingly available, we remain hopeful. Given the risk, though, that they might not be deployed at scale, and because the planet is creeping dangerously close to a tipping point, it’s hard not to be alarmed.
For decades, scientists have been monitoring the planet’s systems like the warning lights on a car’s dashboard. We scan satellite images of humanity’s growing ecological footprint on the world’s forests, rivers, and oceans that is setting the stage for the biggest extinction event since the dinosaurs went extinct. We use thousands of weather stations to track rising global temperatures and super-computers that forecast catastrophic impacts awaiting future generations if we ignore these telltale signs.
originally published April 21, 2019 at OregonLive
By Dominick A. DellaSala, William J. Ripple and Franz Baumann
Another Earth Day is here and it’s time to check on the planet, our climate, and what it means for Oregonians. While we remain hopeful that climate change is solvable if we act now, it’s hard not to be alarmed.
For decades, scientists have been monitoring the planet’s life-support systems like the warning lights on a car’s dashboard. We scan satellite images of humanity’s unprecedented ecological footprint on forests, rivers, and oceans. We use thousands of weather stations to track rising temperatures and super-computers to forecast impacts.
In 1992, we joined 1,700 scientists in issuing a warning that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In 2017, more than 21,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a second warning that conditions had worsened and time was running out.
What makes a forest a forest? This simple question becomes much more complicated, depending on who you ask. Thankfully, Dr. Dominick DellaSala, President and Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute, helps us explore this question and settle the debate in a chapter on “Fake” vs “Real” forests that will be published in The World’s Biomes, scheduled to be released in 2020. Topics that will be explored include:
If a tree grows in a forest, does that make it a forest? Industry classifies forests as “an area at minimum 120 ft wide, 1 acre minimum wide, with at least 10% forest cover.” Does that sound like a forest to you?
The US Forest Service is an arm of the USDA. The department of agriculture’s focus is growing crops. Stated plainly, that means the Forest Service sees trees as crops. This typically means tree plantations are planted in dense rows like corn to be thinned, sprayed with chemicals, and fertilized for the fastest growing cycle for logging and the highest “return on investment.”
By William J. Ripple, Dominick A. DellaSala and Franz Baumann
Our nation has a long history of scientific innovation that has produced the computers that run our businesses, new discoveries in medicines that can extend our lives, and the rockets that take us to distant worlds in search of other life. Photo: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and senator Ed Markey present their Green New Deal resolution to reporters (Credit: 350.org)
In short, science is our best hope to enable informed choices about our future. Big ideas like president Roosevelt’s New Deal also gave our nation hope for reversing the downward economic spiral of the 1930s with government programmes that still benefit us today. However, when it comes to a safe climate, science and policy have operated in a vacuum.
The Green New Deal in Congress provides an opportunity for bringing both science and policy together in shaping a sustainable future for our nation that avoids a pending crisis to the planet’s life support systems if we do not act boldly and promptly.
by Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph. D, Chief Scientist, Geos Institute
Originally posted on the Oregon Wild website
If a tree grows in a forest, does that make it a forest? Does planting trees compensate for cutting down a forest? How do we know we are in a forest or an unreasonable facsimile (“fake”) there of?
A new publication “The World’s Biomes” is set for release in libraries globally in 2020. It will feature my chapter on fake vs. real forests. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an advanced copy of this chapter.
In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of what’s inside a real vs. fake forest.
Dominick DellaSala’s presentation in Portland at a public event in Portland hosted by Oregon Wild.
Aired Monday November 2, 2018
The wildfires in Northern and Southern California this month are a grisly foreshadowing of a world in the fiery grip of climate chaos. It is apparent – unless you’re a climate denier – that climate change is upon us and that fire seasons without end are a stark indication of how much human activity and fossil fuels have intensified wildfire regimes as well as catastrophic weather events.
On this episode of Locus Focus, host Barbara Bernstein talks with fire and forest ecologist Dominick DellaSala, with the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, about what we need to be learning from California’s escalating problems with destructive wildfires, driven by a warming, drying climate, and a massive expansion of housing in the wildland–urban interface.
Get more information or listen to the recording at the KBOO website.
By Peter Aldhous, BuzzFeed News Reporter (Posted on November 20, 2018, at 4:36 p.m. ET)
Some of the news photos from the devastation in Paradise, California, show a surprising scene: Green, living trees stand near homes that have been reduced to ashes.
They reveal that wildfire is a capricious enemy, but also indicate that there’s more to preventing catastrophic loss of lives and property than the prescriptions offered by the president of the United States — whose tweets and public statements suggest that what California needs to do is hoard water, cut down trees to prevent fires spreading, and get busy raking.
While thinning forests might work in some areas, studies indicate that it’s unlikely to be an effective remedy for California or the West as a whole — and it would have done little to curb the state’s most destructive recent fires.
As BuzzFeed News reported in July, California’s escalating problems with destructive wildfires have been driven by a warming, drying climate, and a massive expansion of housing in what experts call the wildland–urban interface. This has not only put people in the line of fire but has also increased the chances of a conflagration — because power lines and other human infrastructure and activity are the main sources of ignition.
Keep reading at BuzzFeedNews.com
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