Excerpts from Why sections of the Pine Barrens are turning into 'ghost forests' By Michael Sol Warren of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The storied New Jersey Pine Barrens sprawl across seven counties and more than a million acres -- an undulant expanse of verdant forest that remains one of the state's great treasures.
But along numerous sections of the Pine Barrens' waterways, "ghost forests" are taking hold. Stands of Atlantic white-cedar are dying off, giving way to saltwater marshes and leaving thousands of acres of dead trees in their wake.
It's a natural phenomenon that has happened in the past, but traditionally the dead patches recover over time. Now, however, scientists believe that sea level rise, caused by climate change driven by human activity, has worsened the situation beyond repair.
George Zimmermann, a Stockton University professor who is an expert on Atlantic white-cedar, said that while the forests lost to saltwater are gone for the foreseeable future, other parts of the range can still be restored to compensate.
"The question is now, how much do people want to invest in this resource?" Zimmermann said.
"It all comes back to the bigger question of climate change," Walker added. "The best thing that everyone could be doing is cutting carbon emissions and switching to alternative energy."
I left these comments, edited for clarity:
“[S]cientists believe that sea level rise, caused by climate change driven by human activity, has worsened the situation beyond repair.”
There they are again. Those God-like, mysterious “scientists” who “believe”—never challenged by context or dissenting views. No mention of the fact that sea levels have been rising for 20,000 years; and that, after a 400 foot rise, the natural trend continues. Yet, we are supposed to be thrown into a panic because human activity may have contributed the last couple of inches!
“’The best thing that everyone could be doing is cutting carbon emissions and switching to alternative energy.’”
And how does it follow that what is going on in the Pine Barrens means we humans have to give up our vital, reliable carbon fuels, in favor of the expensive, crappy, so-called “alternative”—that is, unreliable—energy? (Is nuclear considered an “alternative” fuel?) Why are trees more important than human well-being? Reliable energy drives our industrial standard of living. And we’re supposed to give it up? Why? For the sake of trees that are destined to be swamped by rising sea levels anyway, albeit at a little slower rate if not for human energy production? Even if giving up reliable energy can, by some unforeseen miracle, stop the 20,000 year sea level trend, aren’t a few dead trees preferable to the devastation of energy poverty?
Not to environmentalists. I’ll tell you why. Environmentalists don’t have human flourishing in mind. They value any “natural” activity—that is, nature unaltered by human ingenuity—over humans. Seas rise 400 feet? Fine—it’s “natural.” Humans add a few extra inches per century? Catastrophic—it’s “unnatural.”
I'll tell you what. “Scientists believe” is not enough. Context is crucial. Climate is changing, and humans are contributing. So what? Sea level rise is accelerating, and humans are contributing. So what? Human life is better and safer than ever, and getting more so even as fossil fuel use and co2 levels grow, because human need industrial-scale improvement of the Earth more than they need an imperceptably cooler Earth. There may be problems to deal with. But unimproved nature is economic paralysis and collapse, followed by wholesale death for humans. Give me fossil fuels, industrial progress, and human flourishing, problems and all. The alternative is unthinkably cruel.
The Environmentalists’ War on People—Ari Armstrong for The Objective Standard