Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cosmopolitan...NOT the magazine!

GAETANUS BREVISPINUS: Same Species, Polar Opposites: The Mystery of Identical Creatures Found in both Arctic and
Here is a truly humbling slide show of tiny creatures that are identical and exist in both the Arctic and Antarctic seas.
LIMACINA HELICINA: Same Species, Polar Opposites: The Mystery of Identical Creatures Found in both Arctic and
Nobody knows how this could be possible.
It hasn't got much to do with the topic of tree decline but is so fascinating anyway.
And another thing!
I made a comment at ClimateProgress.org and apparently really annoyed some guy, which ultimately led to where he is banging his head on the wall (found on this link) and he hasn't been heard from since - but for brevity here is my original post:

I do not understand why people who decry any cost involved in averting climate change through regulation ignore the cost of doing nothing. CO2 is only one greenhouse gas. The others - nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxides, aldehydes from ethanol - create ozone.

Ozone gives people cancer, emphysema, and asthma. Not to mention toxic heavy metal deposition, such as mercury.

Who should pay for the costs associated with that? They are very real costs.

Vegetation is even more sensitive to poisonous greenhouse gases than humans. Right now, across the US, every species of tree is rapidly dying from exposure to ozone and associated emissions from burning fossil and biofuels. What is the cost of that? No more wood for paper or lumber, no more nuts, apples, peaches, cherries, maple syrup? No more shade to cool houses and streams for fish that need cold water, no more habitat for wildlife like birds, squirrels, and opossums, and no more sink for CO2 leading to accelerating warming.

What is the cost of that? What is the cost of cutting down those dead trees before they fall on your house, car, or head?

What is the cost of fighting fires that start in tinder-dry wilderness and threaten structures as they spread? What is the cost of crop failure and famine? Already, the losses from ozone are measured in the millions of dollars, and it's only getting worse and worse and we burn more and more fuel and it accumulates in the environment.

Personally, I would rather pay a tax on carbon emissions, and have my government promote conservation and subsidize clean energy (solar and wind) and electric cars instead of ethanol and coal. Otherwise we are going to bring upon the extinction not just of trees but humankind.

Here is a link to information from the park service about air quality and its impact on trees, by the way. Here's an exerpt:

Ozone levels are injuring trees and other plants. Thirty species of plants showed leaf damage after being exposed to controlled ozone levels identical to those that occur in the park. To further quantify ozone injury to plants, permanent monitoring plots were set up in the park. In general, researchers have found that ozone exposure and damage to plants are worse at the higher elevations. They have also documented that up to 90% of black cherry trees and milkweed plants in numerous park locations show symptoms of ozone damage. Some of the other plants that show ozone damage symptoms include tuliptree, sassafras, winged sumac, blackberry, and cutleaf coneflower.

Acid Rain, Acid Clouds, and Nitrogen Overload
Plants and animals in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are also threatened by airborne sulfur and nitrogen pollution. The park receives the highest sulfur and nitrogen deposits of any monitored national park. These pollutants fall to the ground not only as acid rain, but also as dry particles and cloud water. The average acidity (pH) of rainfall in the park is 4.5, 5-10 times more acidic than normal rainfall (5.0-5.6). Clouds with acidity as low as 2.0 pH bathe the high elevation forests during part of the growing season.

Research shows that certain high elevation soils in the park are receiving so much airborne nitrogen that they are suffering from advanced nitrogen saturation. This condition limits the availability of forest nutrients, especially calcium, to plants and causes the release of toxic aluminum that can hurt vegetation and streamlife. Mountain streams and forest soils are being acidified to the point that the health of the park’s high elevation ecosystems is in jeopardy. Nitrate levels in some streams are approaching the public health standard for drinking water.

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