SOD is a disturbance of similar magnitude. It won't kill all the oaks. For example it only kills black oaks (coastal live oak, interior live oak, California black oak, ...) but not white oaks (blue oak, valley oak, ...). What it likely will do is over time dramatically change the makeup of the oak woodlands, especially along the coast and in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Google image search, and I found someone else posted a pic of the map:
As a people they were apparently "drained" nearly out of existence, also, through the combined efforts of Mexican and European settlers, around the time that lake was drained (down to an estimated population of 600 by 1910).
It turns out one of the only things that can grow on depleted cotton land is rice, but the pesticides used against weevils contain arsenic, and for some weird reason people don't like to eat rice full of arsenic!
I've wondered; if we built a huge trench from the ocean into the Sahara desert, what would the environmental impact be??
How much of it actually would die is obviously depends on factors like how big the replacement lake is and how much it affects the phosphorus, but I'm constantly amazed by how seemly separate systems are actually intimately interconnected.
Here on the Central Coast, there are eucalyptus groves everywhere (some are massive). They are messy, a fire hazard, and useless for firewood.
I was sad at first from seeing these trees I grew up with go away, but then my friend educated me about the invasive nature of the trees, and now that a few years have passed since the first wave of removals in my neighborhood, I can say that I've become accustomed to the new sights.
I guess I should clarify my previous post. Most people in CA don't burn wood for heat. I was specifically referring to burning wood for cooking (aka Santa Maria Style BBQ). For that, oak is superior and eucalyptus is a no-go.
You can cook with it, but you need to let the fire die down and cook on the coals only - that is unless you love the taste of cough drops.
On the topic of building with it even young eucalyptus is OK if you let the timber season while strapped so it doesn’t twist and warp. The only problem is that it become like iron and is impossible to nail. When I was a kid we had a huge supply of seasoned eucalyptus that my brother and I used to build all sorts of things. We had to pre-drill all the nail holes before we could use it. If you did this it was a 100x better structural timber than pine.
My favourite was logs that had the core eaten out by termites - now they were nice and easy to split :)
Talking of arthropods did you ever have the fun of chainsawing through a bull ant nest while collecting seasoned logs? They are not happy and do they hurt when they bite.
About 15 years ago, after years of drought causing tree weakness, we had a bark beetle epidemic. It affected only the piñon, but losses were close to 100% in many areas. We had probably around 150 piñon trees: after the epidemic, 4 remained. It was heartbreaking to drive around and see huge swaths of brown, dead trees covering the land. The alteration was dramatic.
Only now, the progeny of those dead trees are beginning to come back. It will still probably be another 20 years before things start to look normal to me. The makeup of our forests in California will be altered for a long time, in the best case.
Once the disease has run its course (read: all affected oaks dead), couldn't we reintroduce the extinct oaks? We've bought back a species from near-extinction already.
PG@E hires tree companies to trim all branches around their power lines. When the tree company was trimming around my residential trees, I noticed a complete lack of any disinfection protocol.Didn't disenfect tools, boots, gloves, etc. These trucks, and employees looked like they were actively spreading disease. Think about those tree shredders. It seems like if a diseased black oak goes in, it might blow the pathogen everywhere? (I did ask an employee if he knew the difference between White, and Black Oak. Just looked at me puzzled. Went to another employee, and asked the same question--he spoke a little bit of English, and said no. It wasen't their fault. They just weren't trained.)
I complained. When they came back to my street, they acted like they were going into surgery. Spray for tools. Spray for boots. Spray everywhere. It was quite a show.
I belive it was just a show for my behalf? When they arrived a few months later--no disinfects. I know don't notice any safety precautions on their part. This was a few years ago. They came back this year to trim trees, and no disenfectant.
I fiqure we pay a lot for out electricity. PG&E should make sure they hire tree companies that are not spreading Suddden Oak Disease. Plus, it's costly to remove a diseased tree for property owners.
As a second point, this demonstrates the danger presented by monoculture. The industrialization of agriculture horticulture has been unquestionably beneficial for us as a species. However, we do an absolutely terrible job of managing existential risks in horticulture. When we grow crops, we grow millions of acres of the same crop. When we plant trees, we plant thousands of the same trees. City streets in the US used to be lined with Ash trees, as they were inexpensive and fast growing. Now there are areas where almost every tree has been cut down because of the Emerald Ash Borer.
I think the blame can be assigned as much to the consumer as it can with the individuals growing the plants. Consumers, (myself included) are extremely picky about what they will eat or buy. Varieties of crops are selected for their looks, and varieties of crops that are not consistently good looking fall by the wayside.
I don't think this will cause a famine in the first world in the near future, but the poor genetic diversity of our horticulture is definitely an area of concern.
In the course of writing this comment, I checked the Wikipedia page for Oak Savannas to see if it had any interesting insights. I didn't realize that California oaks formed oak savannas as well. Hopefully that means that research in the Midwest and Californian savannas can be shared and used to draw insights into one another.
It's thought that a major route of infection is late spring rain, when the weather is warm. As rainwater drips through the canopy of infected trees, the pathogen releases it's spores into the water, which then drip on neighboring trees and into the soil. Matteo Garbelotto of the UCB forest pathology lab claims that four years after an especially late spring rainfall event, you usually see a wave of dead trees (it takes about four years for the pathogen to kill a tree).
FTA, with minor edits; I think we'll see a lot more language like this in the coming ten years. The consequence, which absolutely no one would be against ("what do you mean, there's 90% fewer oak trees?!"), always seems to logically follow the general disinterest in preventing the problem ("what do you mean, the _forestry service_ needs a 800% budget increase?!"). OTOH, it's generally clear what we should have done, in hindsight, but there's all kinds of stuff like this running around. The ever-eastward spread of the Asian long-horned beetle; what ocean acidification is going to do to corals and anything else that uses calcium carbonate to build its shell; etc
And as we've only recently come to grips with the ecological benefits of forest fires, I expect we'll also eventually learn that not all invasive species represent irreversible ecological disaster, and that they actually play an important role in encouraging the spread of new variants that we didn't realize were going to be beautiful and useful to us.
In other words, Life... uh... finds a way.
There's always someone desperately trying to get The Powers That Be to notice.
?? Why? What's special about the coming ten years?
FWIW I've always seen this kind of language, it's not in the slightest new. You could go to most any point in history and find similar things.
The problem is you can only tell what needs [needed] the money in hindsight. In 2002 did you know we needed the money for this? Did anyone?
Is it? You keep reading this story and that story about how this crop failed, or changed or whatever, and they always blame climate change.
Then you check and see - oh yah, that also happened in this year and that year.
Climate change is becoming like dark energy - blame absolutely everything you don't understand on it.
Climate change is a very slow, very subtle process that is difficult to even see unless you look very closely. It's not responsible for every single thing that happens differently this year compared to last year.
That doesn't seem dishonest to you?
For example the story in this article has exactly zero to do with climate change - but I assume you would be happy to blame it on climate change anyway?
> to avoid a whole bunch of extinction and ecosystem collapse
Really? Who is predicting that? Only in the worst case scenarios will that happen, and the data is not trending that way. You are so caught up in your desire to fearmonger-for-change that you have gone a full circle: Now you are trying to prevent a catastrophe you yourself invented.
And that attitude is why society's belief in the reliability of science has never been lower.
Tell the truth. Don't lie to get change.
Wild Earth is going away, Garden Earth is coming, the first planet we terraform as a species will be Earth.
Note: I'm not saying this is a good thing but we will survive as a species and I wouldn't bet against us thriving.
Which is perfectly true. In fact, you'll never be able to conclusively show that a single person is jobless because of the recession.
But when recession comes and millions lose jobs, I'll bet my ass that people will blame the economy and politicians will scramble to "do something".
Also, with something like this, how do they remove the trees without the disease spreading in the process? I know when I go to prune bits of my roses that have black spot or rust, it can spread just by contact in the course of removal which can be damn near impossible to avoid. I can only imagine how that scales at tree size.
Something similar has happened with Ash Die Back in the UK with a resistant tree named Betty.
Here's a bit about Ash dieback: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35876621
Another example is phylloxera, which plagued Vitis vinifera (European grape) vines in the 1800s. And to this day, the only solution is to hybridize or graft them with American rootstock.
The danger of course is forest fires. So long as nothing catches fire, the system can continue to build upon the non-resistant trees.
"Why do you assume that the experts missed a plan that some random guy on the Internet came up with in 30 seconds?"
"given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linus%27s_Law
But now we have homes right up to the forest and no one wants to look at charred land for two decades. So I suppose it's still a no go. The thing about fire though is eventually it probably happens anyway.
As far as I understand, fires essentially burn up the dead bits on the ground. When it happens naturally, the fires don't hurt the trees. But humans stop areas from burning and the dead bits build up and burn hotter, setting the trees ablaze and then we get these crazy forest fires. We just need to let them burn on their own, it'll sort itself out.
I hear this all the time from people I work with, Forestry department at a University.
Sure, people built close to forests. People also built close to fault lines, flood plains, tsunami zones, unstable soil, on top of limestone, near industrial areas, in hurricane, tornado, ice storm, or "lake effect" zones, etc. There are precious few places that are devoid of some periodic natural ravaging. We can't just say, ah well, let it all happen and don't do anything about it.
My impression is that it's an American West political problem, not a fire management problem. Maybe I'm wrong. It is drier there.
It wasn't until I happened to be out with someone who does environmental impact studies for the army corp of engineers that I learned how easily SOD can be transported from place to place through the soil that collects on clothing. Most of us wash after a trip outside, but we should be bleaching our shoes. The pathogen is quite hardy and can survive the seasons without a plant host. Without a thorough wash, the next trip we take is likely to drop off a few spores, risking its introduction to plants we touch and the watershed.
That said, this is just one of many preventative steps, and one that's unlikely to be broadly adopted. We're likely too far down the road already for a lot of impacted forests.
As such we've had intensive public education campaigns here, instructing people to carefully clean down things like boots and boat hulls with either hot water or bleach solution. Its spread continues, though perhaps less quickly than without such a campaign.
Fire might strip out some of the carriers of the disease (California Bay Laurel), but infected tress would still spread the infection and many of the affected oak species have very thick bark and are very well adapted to survive fires. I suppose regular fires would get rid of the dead trees, which might or might not be a good thing.
I was in Ireland a few months ago. Someone I met in Galway said this famine wasn't really a famine; that there were plenty of crops. The king simply withheld the potato supply, forcing the famine.
It is correct that there were plenty of crops, but these were grain crops, not potatoes, which were raised largely for export. In earlier famines the government had banned exports and made those non-potato crops go to feeding the Irish. That was very unpopular with businesses. In the Great Famine the government did not curb exports, and so even though Ireland was producing enough non-potato food to feed those who had been depending almost solely on potatoes, that food was exported instead. So in that sense, much of the blame for results of the potato crop failures can be laid at the hands of the government.
Edit: there is an interesting song, written by Steven and Peter Jones, based on letters their great-great-grandfather in Ireland sent to their great-grandfather, who had immigrated to the United States. There are five verses, covering the contents of five of the letters, between 1860 and 1892. Although this is after the Great Famine, it provides an interesting look at what life was like in Ireland for ordinary farmers as they went through hardship and had family members leaving the country.
Here's a nice performance of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRHQAtKbRTk
* English people owned the land and the produce of the land in Ireland.
* Irish people had little choice but to work for English people, and were allowed tiny plots of often-horrendous land on which to grow their own food.
Potatoes were one of the few things that could grow on the land the Irish were allowed to use. When disease affected the potato crops, the English simply shrugged, kept exporting their own produce, and let the Irish die (and notably took steps to try to prevent foreign aid reaching Ireland, on the theory that it would be shameful for foreigners to do more for the Irish than the English were doing).
There are strong arguments to be made, especially given the historical English attitude toward Ireland and the Irish, that it turned into an opportunistic genocide: the English didn't set out at first to kill so many Irish, but given the opportunity to simply sit back and let the Irish die off, they took it.
Of note, the english landlords didn't own the land out of any deservedness. The english crown had passed a number of penal laws fully intended to — and very successful at — transferring irish land from catholic owners to anglican owners.
* catholics were mostly barred from education
* catholics were barred from buying or inheriting protestant land
* catholics could not buy land under leases of more than 31 years
* catholics were barred from primogeniture (inherited land had to be equally split amongst all sons, fragmenting it), unless the heir converted
Over just the 18th century (between 1688 and 1776) Catholic ownership went from ~25% of irish land to ~5%.
And it started that low because the 18th century round of Penal Laws followed from the early 17th century one between 1606 (gunpowder plot) and 1660 (declaration of breda), which had already generated significant land transfer from irish catholics to protestant english and scottish settlers.
The Government imported millet from India to help feed people, but Irish radicals called it "Peel's Brimstone" (it's yellow remember) and said those who ate it endangered their immortal souls. They preferred the propaganda value of dead children.
As for the "English", we were thrown off our lands by the Enclosure Acts, and forced into the factories as the only way to avoid starvation - by the same Norman-British upper classes that were abusing Ireland as well. But for some reason, although we are fellow victims, we are the ones that always get the abuse for acts not of our doing.
There was a potato blight, potatoes were grown by the Irish folk for sustenance.
Many Irish peasants & farmers starved to death on Absentee Estate Farms which were exporting food crops to be sold - worse aid from England was withheld for considerable time.
It is a shameful episode in the History between Ireland and England.
In those times many viewed the lower classes and other nationalities as somehow less human than themselves.
Just look at the current migration issues (I refuse to call it a "crisis" or "problem", as that dehumanizes the refugees) in Europe. These times are (no longer) past, they resurface right now with all the ugliness.
Especially Eastern Europe, where millions of people fled the Sowjet bloc and were accepted by Western Europe, now refuses to aid others. It's sick.
Many of these trees were in large forests, but it's most noticeable in my area due to the sudden change in suburbia from large oak trees planted when the homes were originally built (some a half-century or more ago) now having unusual looking, small maple trees adorning the front of their property. It's sad to see yet another pest attacking those same trees.
He was so pissed because every time trees on campus got a disease, they'd cut them down and replace them all with a single species. So in 50 years when those trees got a disease, they had to cut them all down again.
So 50 years from now some maple disease will have your town cutting down all the trees all over again :/
Since the various jurisdictions didn't pay for the replacement trees (but all had ordinances requiring a tree every "x" feet where the property meets the roadway), people were free to purchase any kind of tree they wished. The problem is that Maples were the most inexpensive tree that could be purchased at a reasonable size so nearly everyone planted a variety of Maple. So,... yup ... give it a few years.
I guess basically, it doesn't seem like the name of the disease is really the point of the article.
It's not a situation where the title might obscure which disease is causing the problem. There's one problem.
And "sudden oak death" is sort of a fake name anyway.
His writing is usually decent. His headlines are pathetic. I've been hoping he'd stop for years. He hasn't.
But it's also worth pointing out a lot of this is the result of travel or remote trade. Stopping this sort of thing doesn't look anything like "stop burning so many fossil fuels" or "recycle more", it looks like telling humans they aren't allowed to stray more than a few dozenish miles from where they live. It's not really clear how to prevent this. We have mitigation policies in place, yes, but in the biological world 99.9999% enforcement can be as good as 0% enforcement and that's a hard bar.
Heck, we can't even contain the spread of human diseases all that effectively, and that is something that you'd think we have every motivation to do.
"The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range."
They're trying to reintroduce blight resistant strains by cross breading with Chinese trees.
I'm trying to think of specific instances of pathogen based flora destruction, and don't know if I could mention many offhand. In California specifically, the replacement of wild bunchgrasses with European annuals (the "Golden Hills" are very much a modern phenomenon) would be one.
More generally, though, the motto "forest preceed us, deserts follow" has applied to human settlement for millennia. The Cedars of Lebanon and Pines of Rome aren't just allegorical. The former are where the Egyptians secured their lumber (painfully scarce along the Nile), the latter previously surrounded the Eternal City.
I'd be interested to know the history of forests in India, Persia, and China, other great centers of ancient civilisation.
Maybe we should do nothing, and let trees that are more capable of surviving fill in the gaps left by the oaks.
I have five enormous oaks and four full-size pines on my 1 acre lot. That adds up to a potential liability of $18,000 or more. Doing nothing does not sound appealing.
It's really only a problem if the trees are crop trees and someone's livelihood is at stake (see: Orange Greening). Otherwise it's best (easiest) to just leave the problem alone and accept that something else will take the place of those trees.
Interesting how the Great Barrier Reef and the oceans fisheries are currently 'evolving'
Rather remiscent of how the Western European population evolved in response to the plague.
Where environmental change is so rapid that none of the individuals are fit, you don;t get evolution, you get extinction.
But it's not like it's going to turn into some sort of desert, the area, after forest fires, will be replaced by another species that is presumably resistant to the fungus, and life moves on.
It just depends whether we value preserving diverse ecosystems, or if we're happy to spread species / diseases around the world and just see what survives. I'm not saying there's a fundamentally "right" answer, but I prefer diverse ecosystems to the point I think it's worth trying to intervene when possible.
Yes, Life (capital L) moves on, but perhaps not the kind of life that we'd prefer. We can just shrug and say, "Oh well" or we can take a moment to reflect on what, if anything, we might do to steer natural selection in directions we find more pleasant.