deCroce blog of photography

Dying Forests –– Climate Change

A New Reality – Green Forests No More


Global Warming

This is a story about how how something once unusual becomes the new normal. It’s about bugs, drought, dying forests and a changing planet.

Dying forests is nothing new, neither are wildfires. We’ve seen the demise of trees worldwide for a while now. But sometimes, a worthwhile exercise is to take a step away and view our environment with fresh eyes.

Back in the last millennium, evergreen trees were still pretty green. We built roads and laid rails from cities into forests. We found our delight in nature’s jewels and we marveled at it’s vast purity. But in the last half of the last century nature began to speak a new language. It’s voice was soft at first –– almost undetectable.

Human industry, the catalyst for climate change, has altered the life span of insects that feed on live trees. Warmer winters increase beetle infestations. And dying forests make perfect fuel for wildfires. But this post is not meant to inform the reader about the science behind dying forests and climate chance. There are hundreds of reports available to peruse the subject.

The point here is that we really don’t give a damn. We’ve now grown accustom to dead and dying forests. Smoke filled skies from wildfires have become routine.

The trouble with climate change is that it’s happening too slowly.  Since the 1970s, average temperatures have risen less than .49°f per decade. While that’s a huge leap in geologic terms, human perspective is concerned largely with the daily grind of our lives.

We know that nine out of the ten hottest years on record have occurred in this millennium (the other was in 1998). Yet response is slow at best. As our planet heats up before our eyes, worldwide reaction remains muddled.

If temperatures were rising a half a degree every year instead of every decade, humans might more clearly see the looming catastrophe as apparent.

And that’s the paradox. We simply are getting used to it. We all see it happening. We talk about the heat, the droughts, the storms and the fires. Some friends actively seek to influence awareness. But most of us are consumed with our daily lives. Collectively, we consume more, desire more, compost less and save money for more vacations.

Climate Change

At first glance, these images might look like autumn scenes. But these are coniferous forests. “Evergreen” no more!

.Climate Change

Dying Forests

Beetle ravaged forests in Teton national Forest –– ready to burn.


Global warming Beetle Kill

The Grand Teton. Warming winter temperatures, even at this altitude, have allowed beetles to ravage diminishing Forests.


Vacations soothe the soul and reenergize our path. We all need to rekindle. So I took my son on a short road trip to The Grand Tetons last week, our first visit to that magical terrain. We hiked, kayaked, swam and made rock sculptures all under a thick haze from western wildfires –– there were dozens.

It’s impossible for me to leave my work behind entirely. I like to pack my photography gear along with my clever phone. But I rarely record the traditional scenes (as magnificent as the Tetons are). I prefer real-life stories.

The unmistakable story across the western landscape is the demise of our once great forests.

Climate Change



At the end of our short sojourn to the large mammilla, we stayed at a hotel in an armpit town along I-80. The next morning while retrieving a cup of coffee, this conversation jolted me back to reality:

Me: “Sure has been hazy with so many fires raging.”

Trumpster trucker: “There are no more fires than usual, it’s just the fake liberal news.”

I was in no mood to converse with ignorance. Nothing I could say would enter his contaminated mind.

I turned and walked away>>

Forest Regrowth

This image of the 1996 Buffalo Creek fire in Colorado was made in the summer of 2018. After 22 years, new forest growth is still sparse.


Beetle Kill Winter Slope

Dying forests


Returning home is always filled with mixed emotions. Vacations are rarely long enough and I wanted more, yet it was also good to be surrounded by the familiar. After this trip, I just couldn’t shake off the disgust I feel for the current U.S. administration.

Climate change denial by wealthy groups and the fake U.S. president Trump is more than abhorrent –– it’s evil.

Groups lead by the Koch brothers have been sending out free fake text books to every teacher in the country. The book entitled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” aims to twist facts.  The intent, of course, is to muddy the waters of reality with “alternative facts”.

Looking at the ludicrous nature of the fake president, his cohorts, and his followers, it’s not difficult to see the plan:

Bombard civil society with so much bullshit, that no one can muster the energy to see straight. Tear down every vestige of dignity. Attack the free press, attack higher education, and create doubt with lies.

Meanwhile, rich Russians and rich Americans divvy up the vast resources under the melting polar caps. Whoever owns the mineral rights as the ice melts stands to make enormous profit.


While writing this post about dying forests, I learned that the beetle infestation has begun to plateau. Beetles eat every mature tree until their food source is relinquished.

It’s not difficult to see a parallel, is it?













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