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General · 10th December 2012
Barry Saxifrage
A tiny gem of a book "The Insatiable Bark Beetle" by Dr. Reese Halter tells the story of how unchecked global warming threatens to unleash our native bark beetles on a continent-wide killing spree through some of the oldest and largest forests on earth.

Humanity's unchecked emissions of billions of tonnes of fossil fuel pollution are overheating our forests. The ancient climate stability that has allowed long-lived trees and their complex forest ecosystems to thrive is being shattered. Our new ever-hotter climate is rapidly tipping the balance in favour of predatory tree-killing beetles.

New delicacies being served up range from the awe-inspiring 4,800 year old bristlecone pine trees perched atop California's remote desert peaks to the vast pan-Canadian northern boreal forests. From Arizona to Labrador, the future looks very tasty for forest destroying bark beetles.

For the billions of trees being exposed for the first time to the massive, synchronized, chemical warfare attacks of bark beetles, the future looks grim. If we want to save these magnificent forest ecosystems we will have to leave most of the known reserves of oil, natural gas and coal in the ground.

The short, pocket-sized "Insatiable Bark Beetle" packs a wallop. Dr. Halter spent months reading "a couple thousand scientific papers and several dozen books." Readers will be treated to a rare example of enjoyable general-audience nature writing that manages to weave in cutting-edge science from botany, biology, entomology, ecology and climate science.

But best of all it does what all good books do: it tells a compelling story on a grand stage full of rich characters. In this first article I'll cover the first part of the book where Dr. Halter describes the forest stage and the facinating beetles that are swarming across it.


For a few years I've been reading a lot and writing occasionally about the mountain pine beetle's epic attack on BC's lodgepole pines. All this time I've been bothered by the lack of discussion about: "what comes next?"

Finally someone has laid out for the general public the larger picture of "what comes next?"
Here are a few insights and excerpts from the book's later chapters on specific tree species.