VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 10 (UPI) — Canadian researchers say the pine beetle has killed so many trees, the forests of British Columbia now put more greenhouse gases into the air than they store.
The experts say that has been true since 2003, The Toronto Globe and Mail reported Saturday. By last year, dead lodgepole pines had a bigger carbon footprint than the province’s human population.
By February 2008, when the province’s premier Gordon Campbell praised the forests as a sink for greenhouse gases, that was no longer true.
“We have few natural allies in our fight against climate change that are more important than our forests,” the Campbell government said in a policy speech.
The problem is that the carbon plants take in during their lives returns to the atmosphere when they decompose. The pine beetle has killed an estimated 1 billion trees, most of them expected to decay over the next half-century or so.
The pine beetle is native to North America, and many trees have natural defenses. But the most recent infestation in western Canada and the United States has been far more severe than previous ones, with experts blaming global warming.
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