Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Dr. Willie Soon; According to NPR’s Julia Simon, climate change is killing all the trees overhanging power lines which utility companies thought were safe to ignore.

Climate Change Is Killing Trees And Causing Power Outages

September 21, 20215:00 AM ET

On a hill in Oakland, Calif., Igor Lacan looks out from under his Stetson hat at the neighborhood below and begins listing trees.

“Maples to birches to plums to liquid amber,” says Lacan, horticulture adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension. “A cedar. I see some palms, and then you’ve got a monkey puzzle up here!”

In between the trees is a crisscrossing web of power lines, delivering electricity to the houses below. Lacan works as an adviser for California utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electric, and he says while most of the trees seem to be flourishing, that’s not true for some nearby acacias. He points upward to a spiral of dead bark hanging off an acacia branch.

According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, opportunistic fungi are killing these trees. California’s climate change-fueled drought, which has persisted for the better part of two decades, has stressed the trees and made them vulnerable to parasites.

According to more than a dozen of the country’s largest utilities, branches and trees falling on power lines are a leading source of power outages. Some utilities say that because of factors related to climate change, trees are dying faster than they can reach them on their normal trimming cycles.

Nina Bassuk, professor of urban horticulture at Cornell University, explains that climate change can kill tree cells through a confluence of stressors. “It’s not like an animal, which dies when you pierce the heart — trees die cell by cell,” she says.

As climate change leads to more tree mortality and more blackouts, horticulturalists such as Lacan say the solution isn’t to plant fewer trees. It’s to plant different trees that can better endure drought and a hotter climate. Plus, shorter trees, he adds. “There are a number of short tree species that work quite well under those distribution lines.”

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In Australia where our tall Eucalyptus trees are all flammable fuel air bombs, more effort is made to keep power lines clear of trees, because our trees don’t have to be dead to start a major fire. The interesting part of ensuring there is no vegetation next to power lines is it works – even climate change can’t cause dead branches or trees to cut the power and start a fire, if there are no dead branches or trees close enough to fall on the lines.

via Watts Up With That?

September 22, 2021