Should We Deliberately Move Species to Help Battle Global Warming?

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The government of British Columbia has begun an experiment at the heart of an environmental debate over how to confront global warming.

It's turning certain North American forests into laboratories of climate change. The seeds of more than a dozen timber species are being planted outside their normal comfort zones to see how well they'll do in the future.

The Western larch, for instance, normally grows in the valleys and lower mountain slopes of BC's southern interior. Foresters want to see how its seeds fare farther north just below the Arctic Circle.

Researchers also plan to uproot moisture-loving Sitka spruce from the coastal rain forests and plop them down amid the ponderosa pine of Idaho.

The environmental swapping begs the question: should people give nature a helping hand.

One climate-change panel suggests the answer is yes, noting that as many as 30 percent of the world's species face a high risk of extinction in the next hundred years as temperatures rise.

Others warn of the danger of unintended consequences, arguing people shouldn't play God with nature.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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