Text by Anders Lorenzen
Photos by Mette Lampcov
Have you heard about California’s tree mortality? If you hadn’t we guess you’re probably not alone. There has been general knowledge about California’s prolonged drought, the lack of snow at mountain peaks and the increase of forest fires which many scientists link to climate change. But the worsening of the state of the trees has received very little news coverage so far.
But below these Instagram posts from Danish photojournalist, Mette Lampcov beautifully captures the tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. They were created for #everydayclimatechange, an Instagram channel which raises awareness about climate change. Her photos illustrate how the social media network can be used for displaying photojournalism and raise awareness about important issues.
Lampcov writes on Instagram ‘People working in the forests ( they do not want to be named ) feel these forests that are left untreated and the level of mortality presents a massive fire threat and is an ecological catastrophe waiting to happen. Among experts, there is a general consensus that it is the heat itself (rising temperatures due to climate change ) that is contributing to the death of millions of trees and increasingly larger wildfires. The Sierra Nevadas have seen unprecedented levels of tree mortality with as many as 129 million trees across 8.9 million acres lost. Overgrown and unhealthy forests provide optimum conditions for the spread of Bark Beetles. With so many trees competing for water and other resources during the extreme and prolonged drought California faced between 2011 and 2017, many fell into distress, making them more susceptible to the Bark Beetle. California has seen an increase in warming of around 1-2C over the past century. In a recent study, climate scientists at UCLA project big increases in the frequency of extreme events at both ends of the wet-dry spectrum: big flood-inducing storms as well as droughts. California can expect further warming of 3-5C by the end of the century under “business-as-usual” increases in greenhouse gases.’