California's Long Drought Has Killed 100 Million Trees By Kacey deamer

Summary of Article: Scientific research has recently discovered that California’s five year long drought is responsible for the death of over 100 million trees in the state. According to scientists the rate at which the trees are dying off has increased by 100% from 2015 to 2016. Prior to this past year “only” about 40 million trees had died over the course of five years. However, due to the accelerated rate of death of the trees from the worsening conditions of the drought, last year alone over 62 million trees died. Not only that, but in the coming months and years scientists are expecting millions of more trees to die in California, with no end in sight.

A big negative effect of the deaths of the millions of trees is that it causes a sharp increase in wildfires. The more dead trees in a forest, the more “fuel buildup” that leads to unexpected fires, and California’s fire season has been hotter and longer in recent years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anything will change, as trees are expected to continue to die at an accelerated rate in 2017.

Analysis of Article: The content of this article is very relevant because the severe loss of trees has detrimental environmental repercussions. To begin, there’s the issue of the increase in forest fires that was previously discussed. Additionally, though, the death of so many trees has other implications. One additional effect is the destruction of habitats for many plant and animal species, who rely on the trees for shelter and the regulation of temperature. Another effect is that all the dead trees result in massive amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, furthering the problem of global warming.

The environmental consequences are made even worse by the limited budget and resources that our government has to deal with the issue. Increased forest fires have become an extremely pressing issue for the United States Forest Services who, this year alone, spent 43 million dollars on drought and wildfire restoration, which was 56 percent of their total budget. However, the USFS expects in increases in money needed in the coming years, mainly due to obstacles such as limited resources and a changing climate affecting tree mortality. On a brighter note, after there was a state of emergency regarding the issue declared in October of 2015, the Tree Mortality Task Force was formed, whose focus was on the safe removal of dead trees.

Big Takeaway: My big takeaway from this article was the issue of constant wildfires that’s apparently taking precedent in California, and the necessity of the increasing of funds to deal with the issue. Perhaps my location on the east coast made me unaware of problems occurring far west, but the extent of the issue has become abundantly clear to me as I learned that there have been 6,883 wildfires in California so far this year alone. Although the USFS has been using massive amounts of funds to deal with the problem, it still hasn’t been enough. So, I believe that funding for the organization should increase to battle this very real and present danger. I agree wholeheartedly with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who said that “We must fund wildfire suppression like other natural disasters in the country,” which mainly concerned the issue of tree mortality. This is what the Tree Mortality Task Force has focused on, but the necessity of increasing funds includes their organization as well. Though some might be opposed to paying extra for citizen and environmental safety, I must warn that while wildfires have been focused in Southern California, evidence shows that they’ll spread to the Northern portion very rapidly, in the coming year.

Map of trees in the United States

Credits:

Created with images by Peter Blanchard - "Deforestation" • NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "Satellite View of Rim Fire On August 25, 2013" • crustmania - "Deforestation" • Brett Holt - "Wildfire" • Atmospheric Infrared Sounder - "Global Carbon Dioxide Transport from AIRS Data, July 2009" • BlatantWorld.com - "Deforestation - Mexican jungle burned for agriculture" • NASA Earth Observatory - "Where the Trees Are"

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