Picture of the Day: Rocky Mountain National Park

August 3, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (click photo to enlarge) Left: September 22, 2003. Right: September 25, 2010. Mountain Pine Beetles killed about 60 percent of the medium-to-large lodgepole pines on the western slopes of the park between the years depicted here. In the 2003 image, dense vegetation (dark green) is seen near the center. In the 2010 image, the dark green has been replaced by shades of brown over large areas, indicating tree loss. Warmer winters are allowing more pine beetles to survive. (NASA)

2 Responses to “Picture of the Day: Rocky Mountain National Park”

  1. neilrieck Says:

    This is shocking information. Adding insult to injury, I just learned two horrible new facts:

    1) on a molecule-by-molecule basis, “as co2 is going up, o2 is going down”. If co2 was really good for plants, you would expect an explosion of plant growth forcing them to compensate. Since we see o2 going down then we know that photosynthetic life is not able to keep up (too much o2 consumption is either due to too many people, or too many fossil fuel guzzling machines, or both). Now we aren’t going to see a full percent drop in o2 for centuries, but it is falling.


    2) as temperature goes up photosynthesis slows then stops. In many C3 plants, the optimum temperature for photosynthesis is 76F (on average) but there is a 10% drop for every degree above 76F. At 86F photosynthesis has fully stopped and the plants’ stoma are fully closed to preserve water. This means that plant life can not be relied upon to stop the buildup of co2 while creatures dependent upon plant life (like us) are going to see food shortages.


    C4 and CAM plants work a little differently. But transplanting them everywhere would be an enormous undertaking.

  2. witsendnj Says:

    Actually, toxic ozone pollution is weakening the trees allowing the beetles to run rampant. Don’t forget, the aspen are dying too, and they don’t get the beetle. Scientific studies have documented that insects, disease and fungus proliferate on trees that are weakened by pollution:


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