Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Pine Beetle" by Nina Berman

Across British Columbia, 36 million acres of pine forests are dead and dying.  The killer is a small beetle the size of a rice kernel.

Indigenous to the forests of North America, the mountain pine beetle’s population was kept in check by cold winters.  But global warming in the last two decades has allowed the beetles to thrive.
The path of destruction caused by this infestation can be seen in a cataclysmic shift in the color and shape of the landscape. 

To the untrained eye, the attack appears beautiful at first.   Swaths of green trees turn red, like autumn leaves changing.  But these pines are evergreens and a color shift is a sign of inevitable mortality. From red, the leaves turn purple, brown, and finally grey. At this point, they can no longer stand and whither to the ground, their pinecones dried out and scattered across the forest floor, their branches, ready fuel for fires.