Warmist models take into account only a fraction of the potential influences on climate, which is the fundamental reason why they have no predictive skill. But that they take more than one factor in account is very sophisticated by the standards of how science is generally conducted. Particularly in the reports I cover in my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog, medical scientists usually write as if there is just a one-to-one relationship between two variables. The possibility of a third variable complicating the story is rarely considered.

And a good example of such limited thinking among Greenie researchers was the cry of woe when they found that pine beetles are twice as active these days in lodgepole pine forests than they used to be. The Greenies of course attributed that to global warming without asking how a temperature change measured only in tenths of one degree could have such a large effect.

One group of researchers, however, were proper scientists and realized that there were a number of variables involved and decided to study several factors together to get a fuller picture of what is happening. And what they found was that pine beetle infestations REDUCE another great danger to the forests concerned — fire.

An evolutionary speculation which might flow from that is that the trees have not evolved good defences (such as toxins) against the beetles precisely because the beetles are on balance good for the tree. All that is far too profound for your average Warmist, of course. Journal abstract below:

Do mountain pine beetle outbreaks change the probability of active crown fire in lodgepole pine forests?

By Martin Simard1 et al.

Disturbance interactions have received growing interest in ecological research in the last decade. Fire and bark beetle outbreaks have recently increased in severity and extent across western North America, raising concerns about their possible interactions. Although it is often presumed that bark beetle outbreaks increase probability of active crown fire by producing high loads of surface and canopy dead fuels, empirical data are scarce and results are ambivalent. We combined field measurements and modeling to address the following question: How do fuel characteristics, microclimate, and potential fire behavior change with time since a severe mountain pine beetle outbreak in Pinus contorta forests of Greater Yellowstone (Wyoming, USA)? We measured surface and canopy fuels, and soil surface temperature in a time-since-beetle-outbreak chronosequence (n = 35 sites) from undisturbed to 36 years post-outbreak, including stands in red- and gray-needle stages (respectively, 1–2 and 3–5 years post-outbreak). Field data were used to parameterize the fire behavior model NEXUS and predict potential fire behavior at each site.

Dead surface fuel loads of all size categories did not differ among undisturbed, red, and gray-stage stands. Compared to undisturbed sites, red and gray-stage sites had on average 53% lower canopy bulk density, 42% lower canopy fuel load, and 29% lower canopy moisture content, but had similar canopy base heights (3.1 m). In subsequent decades, coarse wood loads doubled and canopy base height declined to 0 m. Modeling results suggested that undisturbed, red, and gray-stage stands were unlikely to exhibit transition of surface fires to tree crowns (torching), and that the likelihood of sustaining an active crown fire (crowning) decreased from undisturbed to gray-stage stands. Simulated fire behavior was little affected by beetle disturbance when wind speed was either below 40 km/h or above 60 km/h, but at intermediate wind speeds, probability of crowning in red- and gray-stage stands was lower than in undisturbed stands, and old post-outbreak stands were predicted to have passive crown fires. Results were consistent across a range of fuel moisture scenarios. Our results suggest that mountain pine beetle outbreaks in Greater Yellowstone may reduce the probability of active crown fire in the short term by thinning lodgepole pine canopies.

Ecological Monographs 81:3–24. 2011

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don’t forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here

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