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Hobbits and orcs blamed for Middle Earth deforestation

Middle Earth’s vast forests are being destroyed by irresponsible behaviour of dragons, orcs and hobbits claims wizard

Source: Flickr / Zanthia

Source: Flickr / Zanthia

By Sophie Yeo

The forests of Middle Earth are in serious decline due to deforestation by dragons and orcs, according to a new paper by Radagast the Brown, a wizard from Mirkwood.

The region’s valuable forests are disappearing thanks to fires caused by dragons, deforestation by dwarves, hobbits growing pipe-weed, and the wanton destruction of orcs.

This could contribute to climate change, as the forests act as a vast sink of carbon, which enters back into the atmosphere when they are destroyed.

Radagast writes: “Much of the rest of Middle Earth is covered with forests. This is consistent with reports I have heard from Elrond that squirrels could once travel from the region of the Shire all the way to Isengard.”

Unfortunately, an overall figure for the damage is unavailable he says, as the Interkingdom Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the most important scientific body in Middle Earth – was recently disbanded when a fight broke out in the final plenary, where several lead authors were tragically beheaded.

Mapping Middle Earth’s climate

In reality Radagast goes by the name of Dr Dan Lunt, is an expert on climate change at the University of Bristol.

He examined the climate of Middle Earth by applying the UK Met Office climate models to Tolkein’s famously detailed maps of the fantasy land.

Given enough information on what the landscape looks like, Lunt told the Guardian the model can calculate any climate scenario, including historic or imaginary worlds.

“The serious side is that the climate models I used, and those [other models] out there, are actually based on our fundamental understanding of science, of fluid mechanics, fluid motion, the science of convection in clouds, radiation from the sun, and the science of biology.” he said.

Lunt also discovered that the climate of Mordor would be inhospitable, even ignoring the effects of Sauron. The hot, dry landscape has little vegetation, while the annual-average temperature is similar to Australia’s Alice Springs.

The Shire is more hospitable with an average temperature of 7C and 61cm of rain per year, and closely resembles the climate of Belarus in eastern Europe, or Lincolnshire in the UK.

He adds: “This work could be developed by assessing the sensitivity of the Middle Earth climate to uncertainties in the applied boundary conditions.

“In particular, given the undoubted variations in CO2 due to the nefarious activities of Sauron and Saruman, evaluating the climate sensitivity of Middle Earth would be an interesting exercise.”

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