Friday, May 29, 2009

I've been following the links provided to me last October (see prior post) on the Mudflats. One is from a forester in Virginia a few years ago, this is what he wrote:

"Homeowners in the eastern portion of Virginia are seeing an unusual number of Oak trees dying in their yards - and they have been getting some conflicting information as to the cause.
Officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) want to help clarify the issue.
Dr. Chris Asaro, VDOF forest health specialist, said, "Dozens of citizens have called VDOF offices throughout Eastern Virginia to report hundreds of dead or dying Oak trees on their property. While we typically see some Oak mortality this time of year, the high number of trees affected this year is unusual."
The most plausible reason is simply the result of the weather - five years of drought followed by two years of extreme precipitation.
"The eastern portion of the state experienced a tremendous amount of rain from Hurricane Isabel and Tropical Storm Gaston. The trees were inundated with water, thereby causing their roots to rot slowly over the last couple of years. With the onset of hot, summer weather this June and July, trees with rotted root systems were unable to obtain enough water and simply wilted under the stress. Combine this with the advanced age of most of the trees affected and you have a formula for tree mortality. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to save these trees. By the time symptoms of leaf wilting show up, they are effectively dead," Asaro said.
"Many of these trees have become susceptible to other diseases and insect pests - especially the Asian ambrosia beetle - that attack weakened and dying trees. Although these insects are very widespread (noted by the appearance of white sawdust at the base of the tree), there is no evidence to suggest that the primary cause of death is Asian ambrosia beetles, as some homeowners have been told. Few, if any, healthy trees have the ambrosia beetle and are unlikely to be killed by it directly. Only highly stressed trees are being hit by this insect. Therefore, spraying a healthy tree with insecticide would probably be a waste of money."
David Terwilliger, VDOF forester in Hanover County, said, "The hardest part of this is having to tell the landowners that there isn't anything that can be done to save their beautiful Oaks. Most of the trees that are dying are more than 100 years old, and they mean so much to the families.'"


In my opinion, although he is denial of the real cause - not weather, but climate chaos - he still is actually more astute than most professionals in the field. He doesn't go so far as to say "climate change" but he does make two important distinctions:

The most plausible reason is simply the result of the "weather" - five years of drought followed by two years of extreme precipitation...trees with rotted root systems were unable to obtain enough water and simply wilted under the stress

and

By the time symptoms of leaf wilting show up, they are effectively dead.

Expand what he is stating to include trees of all ages and species, and it adds up to exactly what I see. Most foresters dissemble far more than he does. They say, it's a bug, or it's a disease or it's a fungus. They almost never tie a mass die-off to "weather" and they often assert that the trees will recover because they're "resilient". This guy is admitting that once they exhibit the signs of "decline" they are doomed, and collectively so, as a species.

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