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The trees talk to him

28 Aug 2019 | Science Notes

Jim Steele finds that time spent with trees is instructive as well as enjoyable. Specifically, teaching students about the history of forests in California reveals that forests devastated during the Gold Rush rapidly recovered. Also that wildfires happen a lot, and were common during the Little Ice Age recently wiped from the history books. And that it used to be warmer than it is.

It gets worse, or better if you don’t cherish disaster, because Steel says stumps in the Arctic dating back 9000 years, in places no tree has grown for millennia since, show clearly that “cooler temperatures have pushed trees to lower latitudes and warmer elevations” than those in which they once flourished and could again. And not just since the Holocene Climatic Optimum.

“Hikers in the Sierra Nevada often encounter dead trees several hundred feet above our current tree line. Accordingly, researchers determined that for the last 3 thousand years, tree line was mostly higher than today because temperatures were much warmer. However, during the Little Ice Age, between 1300 AD and 1850 AD, it got so cold, tree line dropped and tree seedlings in the Ural Mountains couldn’t germinate for hundreds of years. Ancient tree lines suggest if temperatures increase over the next century, it will not be a crisis. Trees will simply reclaim their former habitats.”

What? No crisis? Normally people like to be told not to panic. But there’s a certain kind who insist on panicking.

If you want a really bad experience, one that might induce panic of a different sort, you can listen to Clint Eastwood singing “I Talk to the Trees” on YouTube. As the lyrics go on to say, “but they don’t listen to me.” It’s no wonder they don’t listen to Clint given the cringe-inducing performance. But they also don’t listen to people saying there was no Medieval Warm Period (nor apparently did the Tibetan Plateau) or Little Ice Age or Holocene Climatic Optimum. The trees just keep growing when it’s warm and dying when it’s cold even if alarmists would rather they didn’t.

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