The Conundrum of Change


Donald Reid
Emeritus Scientist


Boreal Climate change



Viewed from afar everything appeared dull and dead. Black and grey skeletons of trees stood above the browns of exposed soil.

The vibrant pines and willows I’d seen here before had been scorched away by fire. I knew to expect it but was astonished by the sight. Yet walking through the burn, I was struck by a different sign of change. Brilliant dabs of green poked out of the ground everywhere. Young pines were growing from seeds in cones burst open by the fire’s heat.

Human beings often have a conflicted view of change. We like certainty and stability. In conservation, however, we have learned that living with certain changes is essential because they create the conditions for many species to thrive. Lately, however, climate warming is creating new and different kinds of changes, often taking place more rapidly than we are accustomed to.

Conservationists tend to separate ecological change driven by “natural” events from change driven by human activities. Researchers hope to understand how natural disturbances such as wild fires occur in space and time, and how various species respond in stages after such disturbances. Although disturbance brings instability, the whole ecosystem passes through predictable changes before another disturbance hits. In other words it’s “resilient.”

Read the full post on Medium.

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