preserving the health of forests meant that individuals must reduce their use of substances, like gasoline, that pollute the environment. 'And what politician wants to tell people that?'' he asked."
"Dr. Prinz objected to Dr. Schutt's use of the word ''Waldersterben'' (forest death) as 'overly dramatic,' saying that he preferred to describe what was happening as a 'forest decline.' "
"The primitive forests encountered by the early British, Dutch and French colonists were filled with trees of mythic proportions and biblical age. White pines reached 200 feet in height. Great stands of hemlocks, more permanent than Gothic cathedrals, were common. Black walnut trunks measured five and six feet through the middle. Chestnuts spread 200 feet from branch tip to branch tip. Graceful arching trunks of elms sheltered the nurslings with dappled shade. Magnolias, crabapples, loblolly bays and basswoods perfumed Southern woodlands."
"Dr. Art Johnson of the University of Pennsylvania stressed the need to look at natural causes of forest decline: winter stress, age, disease, insects and wind."
"Once the ozone is inside the cellular structure of the tree, it bleaches the chlorophyll from the needles -- just like Clorox, also an oxidant -- so that they lose their ability to photosynthesize and then drop prematurely."
I remember what West Virginia landowner and self-taught naturalist Joe Aliff told me when we were tramping through the "falling forest" in the Appalachian hollows. To see what is happening, he said, "All you got to do is look." By that he meant something more than having one's eyelids in the open position. And when you look, you see that the trees are dying.
I have since learned to see a world of dying trees -- dying because the trunks have been bored into and the leaves have been stripped by pests; dying because fungi are girdling their bases and branches and turning their leaves to black corpses; dying because their shrunken roots can no longer absorb enough nutrients and water to keep them alive; dying from the direct effects of too much ozone in the troposphere and not enough in the stratosphere; dying because neighboring trees have been clearcut, allowing cold, heat and drying winds into their precincts; dying because of being bathed too often in the sour gases of industry; dying because the weather patterns have changed and they cannot adapt quickly enough."
"In the course of my research, I have learned things I wish I had not learned. I have learned that the trees are dying. And that the more trees die, the more will die. I have learned that we have crossed the threshold. And I simply do not know how we can get back safely to the other side.
Such a conclusion can lead to despair. I think the only antidote to despair is to stay firm in the belief that, as William Wordsworth put it in Tintern Abbey, "nature never did betray the heart that loved her."
We must begin to love her as we have never been asked to love before. Even then, it will take a century or more for environmental repair; for letting nature heal herself.
Thus have we come to the crux of the matter: the trees could save us, if we would save the trees."