A's Reviews > Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America's Great Forests

Empire of the Beetle by Andrew Nikiforuk
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Nov 15, 2011

it was amazing
read count: 1

This might be the only book about forests I'd recommend to the average reader ahead of The Golden Spruce. Basically global warming and fire suppression have created a perfect storm, with beetles breeding faster, surviving winter more often and increasing in range every year. The Mountain Pine Beetle's moved east through Alberta's Peace river area, and now has unimpeded access to Jack Pines from Yukon to Newfoundland. There's a truly terrifying scale to all bark beetle bubbles from towering Sitka Spruce in Alaska to the aged and once fruitful Bristlecone pines in Glacier and Yellowstone Parks. This book might seem like a nerdy distraction, but it predicts a coming apocalypse, which anyone who's seen ghost-forests as far as the eye can see, can believe is only a change of degree, not kind.

Beetles might just be more ambitious than us, at least they're hungrier than us. They eat 1/3 of our food crops, they ate most of our damn timber, you saw that. Apparently ancient cultures used to venerate beetles. I mean we all knew there's more species of beetles than mammals right? They're one huge engine of the Cambrian explosion. Darwin and his ilk fussed over them; Darwin named some random non-bark beetle his favourite animal (but he named vegetation his favourite thing to look at, so). The Lady Bug's named after an apparition of Mary which apparently saved crops. The ancient Egyptians thought the dung beetle like the God which rolled the sun across the sky. I mean, there's lots of stuff ancient peoples didn't know about.
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