Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Grand Challenge...and Hurricane Irene Severs Trees

The London Free Press reports:  "Stressed Trees Shedding Leaves Early", with the following illustrative photo:
A maple tree in old north London shows a heavy infection by a fungus that causes a disease called tar spot Friday. The black round spots do not normally hurt the tree, but if the tree is under drought stress, it may shed the leaves.

Is that rake still in the garage? Or has it made an early appearance this year, collecting withered leaves kicking around on the front lawn?
A soggy, rain-filled spring followed by a scorching summer has left some London trees in poor shape, with formerly lush leaves developing black spots, withering and falling.
Postma said the state of London trees isn’t a major concern for the city. They’re just showing signs of stress because of the recent heat, he explained, adding that they generally will bounce back.
Mr. Postma is afflicted with a case of Panglossia.  And, isn't that amazing?  The English trees are losing their leaves  early because of drought...while here in New Jersey, they're losing their leaves - but it's been wet!  Mushrooms are popping up everywhere.
Here are some typical leaves I photographed after I read that story, with similar spots, but not from maple fungus.  It's simple to find examples anyplace now - all you have to do is walk outside and look.
Above are pear; below are hydrangea.  Every sort of leaf exhibits damage.
 
Last week I was in the parking lot of the grocery store in Chester when a little girl, age two years, suddenly shrieked and pointed.  "What's wrong with that tree?"  she demanded.  Her grandmother looked and then answered, "The tree is dying.  All it's leaves are falling off.  "All it's leaves are falling off," the little girl repeated softly.  Here's the tree she saw:
The grandmother did not trouble to note that in fact, ALL the other trees are dying as well.  Of course, realizing that would then require asking some very awkward questions, followed by highly unpleasant answers.   Following are some specimens in the immediate vicinity.
It is often suggested that older trees are dying from drought several seasons prior - but young trees like this were being watered in nurseries.
Towns everywhere are spending money replacing trees, only to have the new ones die.

It's only a matter of time before the landscaping businesses incur such financial loss and wrath that they cannot continue to pretend they are losing stock from natural causes.
In the photo above, the young tree on the left is completely bare, as is the huge pine tree directly behind the maple - you can just see the branches protruding from the top of the maple's crown, which is thin.  Below is a closer view of the maple's trunk.  It is oozing fluid from holes, which has become common for all sorts of trees, especially maples, beeches and pine trees.
Another article about "premature senescence", this one from the Daily Mail proclaims, "Autumn comes early - Leaves changing colour thanks to a hot dry Spring".  I'm serious!!  The first blames a wet spring and this one blames a dry spring!  Do you get the feeling that people are grasping at straws rather than face up to the real cause for trees to go haywire - air pollution???  There are lots of pictures that look amazingly just like scenes in New Jersey:
This photo demonstrates two things that have been occurring in New Jersey - coarsening bark, a prelude to more pronounced splitting and breaking off - as in the tree on the far right.
Judging by this rich display of russet, gold and green, you would be forgiven for thinking autumn was already well under way.  
According to experts, the seasons have been ahead of schedule this year following an unusually warm and dry spring.  And, for these plants at least, it seems it is – a month early.
Those balmy weeks, combined with the recent rainy weather, have brought autumn to the Surrey village of Wisley this August weekend, where the apples already look ripe for picking. 
Walkers strolling though the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship gardens, above, marvelled at the  spectacular colour show.
Garden manager Matthew Pottage told the Mail: ‘We had a very warm spring which brought things forward.
‘Some plants have put on extra growth and other groups are starting to go into autumn mode.’
He said trees such as the Japanese maple were already showing off glorious reds, while others, such as the spindle tree, had started displaying their berries.
[Below are the apple's at Wit's End - ripening up in July.]
While the onset of autumn is controlled by temperature and day length, the unusually early colour being seen on trees such as maples, hazels liquidamber and laburnum is a response to the dry soils left over from the spring, the RHS said.

The society has seen yellowing, and some red and brown tints, on leaves at its gardens at Wisley, Surrey, particularly on leaves in the middle of trees which they can afford to lose without stopping much photosynthesis.

The brown foliage on chestnuts, however, is caused by damage from the leaf miner moth - which like other insects will have benefited from the warm weather.
[These are leaves of a chestnut in New Jersey and no, we have no moth...plenty of brown leaves though.]
Fruits are also ripening several weeks early on apple and pear trees, while autumn raspberries and wild fruits such as hawthorn are ahead of schedule.

Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser at the RHS, said: 'We are certainly beginning to see plants beginning to show colour because of the unusual weather we have had.'
He said a reasonably wet winter was followed by an extremely dry spring, and despite rainfall since the spring, it had not been enough to counter extremely dry soils.

[above is from the story in London; below is Bedminster, New Jersey, last week]
As a result, he said: 'Trees and shrubs are under a lot of water stress. It’s not fatal because they are well adapted but it makes them get rid of their leaves.'
He said it was not a problem for the trees, which had a very good growing season because of the early warm weather and would be in good condition for next year.
This season’s weather, with its mid-summer rain, has also led to unseasonal blooms on winter flowering plants, including some hellebores, viburnum, mahonia and magnolias.
But Mr Barter said the plants were just 'chancing their arm by producing more seeds' and it would not affect their normal flowering season of November to April.
["chancing their arm by producing more seeds" is exactly what plants do WHEN THEY'RE DYING]

[Above is from the story; below is New Jersey about two weeks ago.]
The photos that follow were taken around Wit's End, in mid-August, also showing early fall color and we had quite a wet spring and summer.
People search for reasons that trees are turning early, fruit is ripening early, leaves are falling.  The newscasters on the teevee are saying that there are so many trees down and people out of power from Irene which cannot be explained by the winds, which weren't that strong, so there must have been localized "micro-bursts".  Right.  Sure.  It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that the trees are weakened, rotted, and more vulnerable to insects, disease and fungus because of air pollution?  As we shall see, a new publication about the "nitrogen cascade" indicates it could very much have to do with industrial emissions.  Now you may ask, isn't this blog about tropospheric ozone?  Why yes but, boys and girls, understand that reactive nitrogen in its many forms CREATES ozone.  The reason the good scientists are writing about nitrogen and not ozone is that for the most part, nitrogen is unmeasured and unregulated, and without doing that, ozone cannot be controlled.
I found it because I decided to take a peek at the Union of Concerned Scientists website in the wistful hope of finding any possibility of a Million Scientist March on Washington to demand political action on climate change - which of course, isn't happening.  Whilst there however, I noticed a bulletin that finally the EPA Science Advisory Board on Reactive Nitrogen has birthed their Report (following a prolonged and difficult labor).  Apparently it takes a lot of finagling to agree on language bland enough to protect everybody's career and reputation.  First I'm going to reproduce my letter from last summer to that committee, which I wrote upon discovering their draft report in 2010 (and posted the aftermath here following a frustrating phone conversation with Thomas Armitage, the EPA's Designated Federal Officer).  The pictures come from a new veterinary hospital in Oldwick, where trees planted a year ago started turning fall color or their leaves just shriveled up to brown starting last month.  The bigger trees that existed before the building are doing the same.


Dear Drs. Doering, Aneja, Boyer, Cassman, Cowling, Dickerson, Kohn, Lighty, Mitsch, Moomaw, Mosier, Paerl, Galloway, Theis, and Armitage,
I am writing in reference to this article published in Scientific American about nitrogen.  I am delighted to see that there is an Integrated Nitrogen Committee advising the EPA, because as you can see from this google search of my blog, I have become extremely concerned about the effects of atmospheric toxins on vegetation, in particular emissions of nitrous oxide.
I think you all should know that, outside of academic laboratories, SOMETHING is killing every species of trees - no matter what location or age - and, most recently, is visibly damaging annual crops, ornamentals in pots, and aquatic plants at a rapidly accelerating rate.  I have seen the identical symptoms of injured foliage up and down the East Coast of the US, and just last week documented even more extreme plant loss in Costa Rica.
If we do not determine the major contributor to vegetative damage then imminent, massive crop failures will lead to famine even in the developed countries.  Already farmers such as these as reported on Memphis tv are in a panic - they have no idea that their crops exhibit the classic marks of ozone exposure - stippling, brown streaking, leading to leaf drop.
Scientists and researchers have a critical role - and a unique obligation - to determine the causes of ecosystem collapse and then take every opportunity to inform the public about the existential threat posed by fuel emissions and profligate use of nitrogen.  If it IS primarily nitrogen - or a mix of nitrogen and biofuel emissions - it should be possible to quickly reverse the process before we destroy the bottom of our food chain.  Then maybe we will have a little breathing space to tackle climate change and ocean acidification.  Please treat disruption of nitrogen distribution as the emergency it has become!
Any comments or questions are welcome.  Click here for a link to my WWF Climate Witness profile for personal background.

Respectfully,

Gail Zawacki
Oldwick, NJ
This is a very large tupelo, at the back of a field that was once a Christmas tree farm.  The pines are yellowing, and the poor tupelo has lost many branches.  It's supposed to turn a magnificent red in fall but by then the leaves that remain will have fallen.
But lets turn to the Nitrogen report.  Here's a photograph from the cover.  Does it look anything like the leaves in London and New Jersey at the top of this post??
I assume they chose this photo carefully as evidence of damaged foliage.  I think it is most likely aspen.  Does it not look similar to this picture of my katsura, taken July 17?
To facilitate comprehension of just how monumental the information imparted in this publication really is, I'm going to quote some excerpts (with citations removed, for simplicity, because they are available on the report I linked to - but you can be sure that every assertion in their assessment is solidly substantiated by unimpeachable and exhaustive research, or these scientifically reticent scientists would never base their recommendations upon it) and follow those with translations of the unvarnished truth in plain English, which will be printed in red.  I'm also going to alternate with photos from (because, why not?!) Irene.  In many of them it is easy to discern that these trees started out with very few leaves, and sometimes you can tell from the picture that the interior is rotted.  On the news they mentioned repeatedly that saturated ground would lead trees to lose their anchoring, but I never heard one person mention the well-established result that exposure to ozone leads to decreased carbohydrate allocation to the root system.  But in case anyone thinks they blew over because of the rain and the wind, I'll start with a few that were most obviously just waiting to fall.
This first has a good view of the splitting bark that is characteristic of injured trees, with the infamous lichen.
This is noteworthy for the unintentionally revealing caption:  "The storm is just approaching and a tree has already fallen!"

These dead branches were stripped of bark and leaves long before the storm - and the next is indubitably deceased.  It looks like it fell over slowly, not fast from high wind - and has barely dented the gutter.
From a google search it would appear hardly anyone is particularly interested in the printing of the Nitrogen report despite its relevance to the survival of our forests and farms - other than, oddly enough, ranchers...because a certain amount of Nr comes from manure.  So on their message boards, like cowboybyte, they discuss the prospect of government regulation with all the flourish of elaborate stories spun by the campfire that their ilk is known for, such as this consumate triumph of locution, by a fellow named Tom - evidently a master of ostentatious panache (reproduced verbatim!):


Next thing they will try to regulate may be VOLCANOS, Forest fires, Dust storms in the Sahara and other deserts, maybe the oil that oozes out of the earth under the oceans and gulfs, gamma rays from the sun……………..WHAT ARE THESE NYMPHS THINKING????????????
The world and the atmosphere thak care of themselves.THE AUDASITY OF MAN TO THINK THAT CAN HAVE AN EFFECT ON EARTH THAT IT CAN’T RESOLVE ON IT’S OWN……..man has had absolutely NO effect on the climate of the earth or any effect on the atmosphere……………..hr sin’t capable…………..man is less than a spec of dust in the grand scheem of things.
Get off it………..al gore go home………..you have made enough money off this charade…….you have caused turmoil all over the world……………leave it be, please!!!!
Tom


Impressive, no?  There's lots more if you care to visit, about communists and immigrants, and Jesus and Saint Ronnie Reagan, but I guess that will suffice.
Before we get to the report itself, here are some passages from the UCS announcement:

Statement by Noel Gurwick, senior scientist with the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists:
“Nitrogen pollution – resulting from industrial agriculture and fossil fuel combustion – causes severe problems for human health and the environment. People experiencing health problems, such as asthma and cardiac disease, may not be aware that nitrogen pollution is exacerbating their condition.
Right.  People are NOT AWARE of the impacts of nitrogen pollution.  They think they have allergies from pollen and mold, they think they have cancer because they have bad genes, they think leaves are stunted because of drought or naturally occurring pests.
“This new report from EPA’s Science Advisory Board is just the scientific community’s most recent call to act and avoid the worst consequences. A 2009 assessment found that we have surpassed the nitrogen needed to maintain safe conditions for human well-being, and we need to cut nitrogen pollution to one-fourth its current amount – starting now.
This is a very stern warning as is the next paragraph.
“Nitrogen pollution doesn’t recognize regulatory boundaries and these boundaries interfere with effective action. The report calls for EPA and other agencies to break down those boundaries and manage nitrogen pollution from agriculture, industry and transportation more comprehensively. It also calls for additional monitoring to improve our understanding of nitrogen pollution. We need this improved coordination and monitoring, but what is critical is to start implementing the solutions we already know will reduce nitrogen pollution.
Wow, did he say "critical"??
“The advisory board shows how we can achieve a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen over the next 10 to 20 years. The EPA, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and other Executive Branch agencies need to implement the report’s recommendations. And they need to do more. The steps the advisory board identifies are a good start, but the consequences of nitrogen pollution for the environment and human well-being are too great to wait 10 to 20 years for a modest reduction. With the right resources and authority from Congress, these agencies can help America’s farmers and industry solve this problem quickly. 
Now that is hoping for the impossible.  This Congress isn't going to do a damn thing to curb pollution.
“For example, Congress is beginning to debate the 2012 Farm Bill, which will provide opportunities to cut nitrogen pollution. Overall nitrogen emissions could be significantly reduced by the bill’s conservation measures, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program. Supporting programs like that one should be Congress’ highest priority, but unfortunately, many of these initiatives are threatened by budget cuts.”  Notice, it says "highest" - not one of the highest.  How much higher than highest can you go?  Could it be more explicit that the cascade of nitrogen is an existential threat?
“At the same time, Congress is supporting programs that increase nitrogen pollution. Roughly two-thirds of farm bill funding for agriculture, about $13 billion dollars annually, supports commodity crops, including corn, through programs that encourage farmers to grow these crops. Nitrogen fertilizer application rates are higher for corn than most other crops, and the increased production of corn – grown to meet the federally driven demand for biofuel and to produce processed food associated with an obesity epidemic – therefore contributes disproportionately to nitrogen pollution. At the direction of Congress, USDA shells out billions in taxpayer dollars to support agriculture programs that pollute our air, land and water.”
This basically just says that Congress is insane and doing everything wrong.  But why?  Oh, could it be Congress is controlled by corporations and industry lobbying groups?
Following are passages from the cover letter to the EPA administrator, which summarizes the findings of the report.  Since this blog is about trees, for the most part I'm leaving out the effects of reactive Nitrogen on water deposition - the lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands and coastal areas contaminated by ammonia coming from the feedlots so jealously protected by Tom and his friends at Cowboybyte.  Suffice it to say that there's a reason there are dozens and dozens of reports of mass fish death, and Nr is most likely why.
The introduction of human created Nr into the environment degrades air and water quality, which can cause harmful algae blooms, hypoxia, fish kills, loss of drinking water potability, loss of biodiversity, forest declines, and human health problems resulting in losses of billions of dollars per year.
"Forest declines".  What do they mean by that, exactly?  Okay I'll say it.  Decline is a euphemism for death.  A decline is a trend - going in a diminishing direction, as opposed to a steady state, or growth.  At the bottom of the decline is ecosystem collapse.
The greater the inputs of Nr to the landscape, the greater the potential for negative effects caused by
greenhouse gas (GhG) production, ground level ozone, acid deposition, and Nr overload that can contribute to climate change, degradation of soils and vegetation, acidification of streams, lakes and rivers, estuarine and coastal eutrophication, hypoxia, and habitat loss. (p. ES3)
By definition, prior to human presence in the U.S., there was no introduced anthropogenic Nr prior to 1900, no Haber-Bosch Nr was introduced, fossil fuel combustion introduced very small amounts relative to today, and cultivation-induced biological nitrogen fixation created approximately 2 tg n. thus, between 1900 and 2002, the amount of Nr introduced to the U.S. has increased by approximately
10-fold. (p. ES4)
The committee finds that uncertainty associated with rapid expansion of biofuels, losses of Nr from
grasslands, forests, and urban areas, and the rate and extent of denitrification have created the need to
measure, model, and report all forms of Nr consistently and accurately. (p. ES9)
This means that the incredibly rapid increase in Nr into the environment is NOT currently being consistently and accurately modeled.
....this should be accomplished through a coordinated effort among cognizant federal and state agencies, and universities.  [heh, as opposed to non-cognizant?]
More lichen-infested bark
Implementing these suggestions will decrease the amount of Nr introduced into the United States by about 25%, which will similarly decrease the amount of Nr lost to the atmosphere, soils and waters. the committee believes that these represent realistic and attainable near-term outcomes, however further reductions are undoubtedly needed for many N-sensitive ecosystems and to ensure that health-related standards are maintained.  (ES10)
Notice they don't say how those further necessary reductions can be effected, because it's nigh impossible without drastically changing current lifestyles and expectations for growth.
Reactive nitrogen (Nr) includes inorganic chemically reduced forms of N (NHx) [e.g., ammonia (NH3) and ammonium ion (NH4+)], inorganic chemically oxidized forms of N [e.g., nitrogen oxides (NOx), nitric acid (HNO3), nitrous oxide (N2O), N2O5, HONO, peroxyacetyl compounds such as peroxyacytyl nitrate (PAN), and nitrate ion (NO3-)], as well as organic compounds (e.g., urea, amines, amino acids, and proteins).
"...peroxyacetyl compounds such as peroxyacytyl nitrate (PAN)" - this is increased in ethanol emissions and is a more persistent ozone precursor.
The negative consequences of Nr flux in the U.S. environment include increases in photochemical smog and atmospheric particulate matter (pM2.5), decreases in atmospheric visibility, both increases and decrease in productivity of grasslands and forests, acidification of soils and freshwaters, accelerating estuarine and coastal eutrophication, increases in the emission of greenhouse gases (GhG) to the atmosphere, and decreases in stratospheric ozone concentrations.
The tall tree behind the house is turning red or brown.
Most of these changes in environmental conditions lead to a variety of negative impacts on both ecosystem and human health.  In light of the magnitude of the human alteration of the nitrogen cycle, and the resulting negative consequences on humans and ecosystems, the National Academy of Engineering has identified management of the nitrogen as one of the “grand challenges” facing this country.
Yes - it's a "Grand" challenge in that we aren't going to meet it without fundamental changes in the way we live and use energy.
Nitrogen limitation of ecosystem production has driven humans to use increasingly sophisticated and
energy-intensive measures to obtain Nr to sustain food production and to produce other commodities (e.g., nylon, explosives).  In pre-history, hunters and gatherers harvested food from natural stocks. With the advent of agriculture, local sources of Nr were used (soil stocks, crop residue, and manures) to increase productivity of landscapes. in the nineteenth century, long-range transport of Nr to sustain food production increased with the shipment of bird guano from the Pacific islands and nitrates from South America to Europe and other locations.
Oh yay!  Let's get a picture!
[See the Columbian Exchange for more amusing anecdotes from the history of fertilizer production.]
By the beginning of the twentieth century, these sources were not sufficient to sustain the growing global population requirements for food.  This deficiency led to what has been called one of the world’s most important discoveries – how to extract N2 from the atmosphere and convert it to ammonia (nh3) – called the Haber-Bosch process. Today, this process and cultivation induced biological N fixation (c-Bnf) introduce over 140 teragrams (tg) of N per year (hereafter expressed as tg n/yr) into the global environment to increase food production. Another 23 tg N/yr are introduced by the Haber-Bosch process for the chemical industry, and 25 tg N/yr are introduced via the combustion of fossil fuels.  (p. 3)
Finding 8:  Scientific uncertainty about the origins, transport, chemistry, sinks, and export of Nr remains high, but evidence is strong that atmospheric deposition of Nr to the earth’s surface as well as emissions from the surface to the atmosphere contribute substantially to environmental and health problems. Nitrogen dioxide, NO2, is often a small component of NOy, the total of oxidized nitrogen
in the atmosphere.  The current NAAQS for NO2, as an indicator of the criteria pollutant “oxides of nitrogen,” is inadequate to protect health and welfare. NOy should be considered seriously as a supplement or replacement for the NO2 standard and in monitoring....
In other words, EPA has standards only for NO2, which is the very least of total damaging Nr.

Recommendation 8a:  EPA should reexamine the criteria pollutant “oxides of nitrogen” and the indicator species NO2 and consider adding chemically reactive nitrogen as a criteria pollutant, and NHx and NOy as indicators to supplement the NO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

Recommendation 8b:  Monitoring of NHx and NOy should begin as soon as possible to supplement the existing network of NO2 compliance monitors.  We had better hurry up and figure out what is going on!
Recommendation 8c:  EPA should pursue the longer term goal of monitoring individual components of Nr, such as NO2 (with specificity), NO and PAN, and HNO3, and other inorganic and reduced forms, as well as support the development of new measurement and monitoring methods. [33]
This sounds like a great idea to me, because it's pretty obvious from the damage being done to trees and other plants that there's something fetid happening in the atmosphere that isn't being monitored, and as the damage is rapidly worsening, it is quite likely from PAN, specifically, from ethanol and other biofuels - so maybe they should make that a SHORT TERM and not just a longer term goal.


Acidification of forest soils leading to decreased availability of nutrient cations including calcium,
magnesium, and potassium and aluminum toxicity, established most clearly in the eastern U.S. and both
central and northern Europe.  Nr saturation of forest soils (which results in increased Nr release to the water draining the soils), presently occurring mainly in high-elevation forests of the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada. p. 33
This brings us to the all-important sections, 3.2 and 3.3

3.2. Impacts of  Airborne or Atmospherically Deposited Nr on Human Health and Ecosystems

Six major atmospheric effects are associated with increased NOx and NH3 emissions, and two with N2O
emissions. For NOx and NH3 emissions, the effects are:

 Decreases in atmospheric visibility caused by fine PM
 Elevated ozone concentrations that enhance the greenhouse potential of the atmosphere
 Serious ozone and fine particulate matter impacts on human health
 The important role that NH3 plays in the direct and indirect effects of aerosols on radiative forcing and
        thus on global climate change
 Decreased productivity of crops, forests, and natural ecosystems caused by ozone deposition
"Decreased productivity" ultimately means DIEBACK.
 Atmospheric deposition of NH, NH3, NOy, and organic forms of Nr that can contribute to ecosystem
     acidification, fertilization, and eutrophication
For N2O, the effects are the greenhouse effect in the troposphere and O3 depletion in the stratosphere.
3.3. Impacts of Nr on Terrestrial Ecosystems

As previously discussed, in many terrestrial ecosystems the supply of biologically available Nr is a key factor controlling the nature and diversity of plant life, and vital ecological processes such as plant productivity and the cycling of carbon and soil minerals. Human activities have not only increased the supply but enhanced the global movement of various forms of nitrogen through air and water...

 Ozone-induced predisposition of forest trees to damage by fungal diseases and insect pests, most clearly established in the case of root disease and bark beetles in the pine forests of southern California.
I guess the authors must have had Jim Bouldin in mind when they wrote this.
 Ozone-induced inhibition of photosynthesis in both softwood and hardwood tree species most clearly established in controlled exposure studies in both the U.S. and Europe at ambient concentrations of ozone above 60 ppb. Such concentrations occur frequently throughout the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.

 Ozone-induced direct injury to foliage, most clearly established in the case of “emergence tip burn” in eastern white pine.
It is now impossible to find ANY foliage, including that of annual crops and ornamentals grown in pots, that doesn't exhibit direct injury...but maybe the authors don't get out much.


 Acidification-induced decrease in frost hardiness of high-elevation conifer forests, most clearly established in the case of red spruce in the northeastern U.S.

 Acidification-induced alteration of beneficial symbiotic relationships in forest soils, especially mycorrhizae, most clearly established in both northern and central Europe.
 Biodiversity losses in natural grasslands and forest areas caused by Nr-induced decreases in abundance
of Nr-limited tree and grass species and replacement by Nr-loving weed species, most clearly established in both Minnesota and California, and even more vividly in The Netherlands.
This will prove to be less of a problem since every plant needs to photosynthesize, eventually the weeds will succumb too.

 Decreases in visibility and increased haziness of the atmosphere at scenic vistas in national and state parks and wilderness areas.
This is important to refute certain idiots who claim that remote rural areas are unaffected.
 More leaching of Nr to aquatic systems via both groundwater and surface runoff—a cascade effect.  p. 42
hmmm...A Cascade Effect...definition:  a series of steps or stages (as of a physiological process) that, once initiated, continues to the final step because each step is triggered by the preceding one, resulting in amplification of the signal, information, or effect at each stage.
WHAT IS THE FINAL STEP?
Impacts such as loss of biodiversity cannot be readily quantified at all...
p. 47  Did you catch that?  They can't quantify the loss of biodiversity.  hmmm.  Let me guess.  It's incalculable??

...the focus on compliance monitoring for NO2 ignores the other, equally important members of the NOy family such as HNO3 that deposits quickly onto the earth’s surface. It is clear that a causal relationship exists between current levels of N and S deposition and numerous biologically adverse effects on ecosystems across the U.S.
A causal relationship...between deposition and adverse effects on ecosystems...it is clear...a causal relationship...
Conversion of the existing network of NOx monitors to NOy monitors with a detection limit of 0.1 ppb would still demonstrate compliance with the NO2 standard but greatly increase the utility of the measurements for model evaluation as well as for understanding nitrate deposition and formation of photochemical smog, and haze.

Ozone and PM, the two most recalcitrant of the criteria pollutants, cover large spatial scales. All of the ozone and much of PM are secondary pollutants in that they are not released at the tailpipe but form in the atmosphere.  Ample evidence shows that much or most of the PM in American cities is secondary. Violations are declared on urban scales, responsibility for their control was assigned to states, but the physics and chemistry of smog and haze are regional. In the eastern U.S., ozone episodes often cover several states and involve pollutants emitted in upwind states that do not themselves experience violations.
"...most recalcitrant of the pollutants..." means, the only way to reduce ozone is to stop emitting the precursors!  Less driving!  DRASTIC conservation!  Switch to clean energy and stop burning coal and gasoline.
The only Nr compound for which there is currently a NAAQS is NO2, which may not exceed 0.053 ppm (100 µg/m3) for the annual arithmetic mean and 100 ppb for the one-hour average. This standard, based on the direct health effects, is certainly inadequate because NO2 concentrations well below 0.053 ppm lead to concentrations of secondary pollutants well above acceptable levels (i.e., PM2.5 and O3).
The NO2 concentration required to achieve the current 75 ppb ozone standard has not been rigorously established, but it must be well below 0.053 ppm, because information provided by EPA indicates that areas currently in violation of the ozone standard typically have NO2 concentrations below 0.020 ppm (U.S.EPA, 2010a). The NO2 concentration required to achieve the current 15 µg/m3 PM2.5 standard
is probably also below the 100 µg/m3 standard for NO2 because of the role of NO2 in secondary particulate formation. States in the eastern U.S. are considering substantial additional NOx emissions reductions in order to comply with the new 8-hour 75 ppb ozone standard. One scenario being tested (G. Aburn, Maryland Department of Environment, personal communication) involves the following reductions: (1) reducing NOx emissions for point sources by 65%, (2) reducing NOx emissions for on-road sources by 75 percent, (3) reducing NOx emissions for nonroad sources by 35%, and (4) reducing VOC emissions by 30% for all source groups.
p. 51
This confusion is part of the long struggle to monitor and control ozone, when the precursors come from outside the monitored area...and there is a vast and organized industry-funded effort to object to any efforts to regulate emissions, and to complicate measurements until they are ineffective.
The Integrated Nitrogen Committee believes that the primary reason critical loads are not now used in the U.S. is that policy makers in this country have so far not been willing to adopt unfamiliar air and water quality management approaches or approaches that have not been evaluated directly in this country. Thus, the Committee recommends that EPA consider implementation of the critical loads concept for management of deleterious Nr effects in various parts of the U.S.
In other words, there is a better way to monitor pollution but the US agencies and government DON'T WANT a better way because they DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW HOW BAD IT IS.
Finding 16: The Committee finds that there have been persistent increases in the amounts of Nr that have been emitted into and retained within various ecosystems, affecting their functioning. Unless this trend is reversed, it will become increasingly difficult for many of these ecosystems to provide the services upon which human well-being is dependent. The Committee believes that there is a need to regulate certain forms of Nr to address specific problems related to excess Nr, and we believe that
the best approach for an overall management strategy is the concept of defining acceptable total Nr critical loads for a given environmental system.
Translation for the bolded sentence - we're screwed, because the trend isn't going to be reversed, so the ecosystem is going to collapse, and we happen to depend upon it.
Another tree covered in lichen.
Recommendation 16: The Committee recommends that the Agency work toward adopting the critical loads approach concept in determining thresholds for effects of excess Nr on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.  In carrying out this recommendation the Committee recognizes that it will in many cases be necessary for the Agency to enter into new types of research, policy, and regulatory agreements with other federal, state, and tribal units based on cooperative, adaptive, and systemic approaches that derive from a common understanding of the nitrogen cascade.
hahahahaha.  No wonder they didn't rush to present this synthesis.  It's a waste of time.
Given the interactions among oxidized and reduced N species, it is important to recognize the potential for unintended consequences to occur as a result of strategies that are aimed at limiting one form of Nr in air or water but lead to the increased production of other forms of Nr, or the formation and release of other contaminants of concern. For example, stringent control of point sources of Nr can be energy-intensive, requiring significant energy investments for chemicals, electricity, and other support, and this may in turn lead to the production of more reactive nitrogen and increased CO2 emissions. Furthermore,
there may be environmental impacts of these treatment processes, particularly in the production of solid wastes that can be significant environmental hazards. This is the main reason that a life cycle approach is necessary in evaluating any remediation or treatment scheme. In addition, as discussed in Section 3.1.2, numerous lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and fjords worldwide exhibit N and P colimitation, either simultaneously or in seasonally-shifting patterns. Therefore, strategies are needed to reduce both P and N inputs.
p. 53
I can't resist including this bit of chemistry because of the piquant phrase (I would love to know who authored it):  "several potentially interesting fates await the NH2 radical..." but also it gives a sense of the very complicated chemical reactions that are constantly occurring in the atmosphere.
The gas-phase reactions in the troposphere that convert NH3 and NOx to N2 and N2O, start with attack of NH3 by OH:

NH3 + OH· → NH2· + H2O      (1)
Several potentially interesting fates await the NH2 radical:
NH2· + O3 → NH, NHO, NO   (2)
NH2· + NO2 → N2O + H2O      (3)
NH2· + NO → N2 + H2O          (4)
kO3 = 1.9x10-13 cm3 s-1
kNO2 = 1.8x10-11 cm3 s-1
kNO = 1.8x10-11 cm3 s-1
p 106
Appendix H, p 121:

There are limits to how much plant growth can be increased by N fertilization. At some point, when the
natural N deficiencies in an ecosystem are fully relieved, plant growth becomes limited by availability of other resources such as phosphorus, calcium, or water and the vegetation can no longer respond to further additions of Nr. In theory, when an ecosystem is fully Nr-saturated and its soils, plants, and microbes cannot use or retain any more, all new Nr deposits will be dispersed to streams, groundwater, and the atmosphere. Nr saturation has a number of damaging consequences for the health and functioning of ecosystems. These impacts first became apparent in Europe almost three decades ago
when scientists observed significant increases in nitrate concentrations in some lakes and streams and also extensive yellowing and loss of needles in spruce and other conifer forests subjected to heavy Nr deposition.
In soils, most notably forest soils because of their natural low pH, as NH4+ builds up it is converted to nitrate by bacterial action, a process that releases hydrogen ions and contributes to soil acidification. The buildup of NO3ˉenhances emissions of nitrous oxides from the soil and also encourages leaching of highly water-soluble NO3ˉ into streams or groundwater. As negatively charged NO3ˉ seeps away, positively charged alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium are carried along.  Thus, soil fertility is decreased by greatly accelerating the loss of calcium and other nutrients that are vital for plant growth. As calcium is depleted and the soil acidified, aluminum ions are mobilized, eventually reaching toxic concentrations that can damage tree roots or kill fish if the aluminum washes into streams.
Forests, grasslands, and wetlands vary substantially in their capacity to retain added nitrogen. Interacting
factors that are known to affect this capacity include soil texture, degree of chemical weathering of soil,
fire history, rate at which plant material accumulates, and past human land use. However, we still lack a
fundamental understanding of how and why N-retention processes vary among ecosystems, much less how they have changed and will change with time and climate change.
An overarching impact of excess Nr on unmanaged terrestrial ecosystems is biodiversity loss. In North
America, dramatic reductions in biodiversity have been created by fertilization of grasslands in Minnesota and California. In England, N fertilizers applied to experimental grasslands have led to similarly increased dominance by a few N-responsive grasses and loss of many other plant species. In formerly species-rich heathlands across Western Europe, Nr deposition has been blamed for great losses of biodiversity in recent decades, with shallow soils containing few alkaline minerals to buffer acidification.
Losses of biodiversity driven by Nr deposition can in turn affect other ecological processes. Experiments in Minnesota grasslands showed that in ecosystems made species-poor by fertilization, plant productivity was much less stable in the face of a major drought. Even in nondrought years, the normal vagaries of climate produced much more year-to-year variation in the productivity of species-poor grassland plots than in more diverse plots (Vitousek et al., 1997a,b)
 ["Loss of Biodiversity" sounds so much nicer than extinction.]


I recommend reading the entire report especially for the sections on the consequences for water and species that live in water.  It's well known that algal blooms and dead zones such as the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico are getting larger.
I always get excited when I see a big fungus like this, even though it means the tree is dying.
The next one looks like it is exploding with fungus that is pushing through every orifice.
A view looking straight up, at the top of the tree.
Now when looking out at distant hills, it's easy to pick out the dead trees.
I used to have to look for bare branches in the density of the woods, but they are becoming solid big brown patches.
Eventually this land will be barren.
Today, I've been thinking it's really too bad that Irene is coming along to knock over all the weakened and rotted trees, because it will all be blamed on wind and rain, when so much is actually due to ozone.  However, there are enough other places that haven't been impacted by excessive rain or drought or extreme temperatures where trees are still exhibiting identical damage.  Following are comments from a thread called "Fragile Earth" which was started on the 21st, by someone in Ontario who was perplexed by the leaves falling from the maples...which commenced an avalanche of corroborating observations from diverse locales.

Before we get to it though, these pictures from a storm in Toronto are fascinating for the lichen plainly visible on the bark.  This is the exact one that is spreading in New Jersey.
It's amazing that the same thing is happening over such a wide geographic area.
I took this picture yesterday before Irene started up.  The branch fell on my drive, along with many brown leaves that make it look more like late October than August.
At last count, people reporting trees dropping leaves early came from the following locations:

Manitoba CA
Santa Barbara CA
Western Europe
Wisconsin
Southern New England
SE Michigan
N. Ohio
Oklahoma
Cascades, both sides
N. Indiana
S. Illinois
NE Georgia
Scotland
Dallas
SE Kentucky
NE Pennsylvania
West Coast CA
Montreal
Tenn
New York
New Jersey
Melbourne AU
Maine
Bulgaria

Someone from Manitoba wrote exactly what I have been expecting, that wild animals will increasingly seek food from people (or people for food) because their natural sources are disappearing as the forest recoils from an onslaught of toxic gases;

"dozens of bears in town at night searching for food. It seems the animal kingdom is already on a high gear feeding frenzy.

We don't normally get bears in town (very rarely), but this year they're so rampant to the point that you can't sit outside on the back deck at night for fear of coming nose to nose with Winnie The Pooh... which tells me this has been a terrible growing season and thus they're resorting to scavenging in town for lack of enough munchables in the surrounding forest." 
More comments:  "I've got an update for you. In an earlier post I said we are not having a problem with Maples here in Windsor, the South-western tip of Ontario. My neighbour's trees across the street look great -- from here. However I was over talking to him today and couldn't believe my eyes as I stood under the largest maple.
Every single large green leaf was spotted on the underside with 5 or 6 large maroon dots about the size of dimes. I will go back and get a picture tomorrow and post it here. It really looks strange to say the least.





well...something very strange is happening...its like the beginning of those apocalyptic movies..."
"im writing from East Europe..Bulgaria to be exact...and i just noticed here that alongside a huge boulevard in our capital city...all of the threes have their leaves fallen out...like 70% of the trees' leaves....i was astonished..cause a couple of days i saw this thread and was like "meh...whatever..doesnt matter" and NOW i see it!! (( bad stuff"


Another person posted a clip from Maine teevee report about maple leaves falling early, blamed on a wet spring, and fungus.
Also, there was a link which led to these ominous Native American predictions:



Despite centuries of skepticism, the intersection of hard scientific investigation and the views of Native people is clear, according to Verna Teller, former Isleta Pueblo governor and project director for the Native Peoples/Native Homelands Southwest initiative.


"Scientists always have been skeptical, but now we have come full circle. The science community used to pooh-pooh our traditional knowledge as myth or legend, unfounded and whimsical, and now they recognize it is a reality that fits hand in glove with their science data," she said.


Native American interest in climate change is entrenched in their homeland roots. Through their spiritual ceremonies and code of teachings, their words and knowledge can be seen as predictive or reflective.
Oren Lyons, faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation, tells a story of Seneca chief Handsome Lake, who in 1799, brought to his people the visions and revelations from his journeys. "Handsome Lake said, 'They said the maple tree, the leader of all trees, will begin dying from the top down and nobody will know how to deal with it,' and now the trees are dying from acid rain and it's not just the maple trees", he said.
Onondaga prophecy says that the acceleration of the winds and how well people treat their children are the two indicators of the earth's decline. "Seeing how many children are abused and homeless, and storms are so violent, we know the earth is being impacted and it will get worse," he said.


Though global climate changes are happening slowly, "Anyone who says these changes are not going on has another agenda, is not observant, or is not interested," he said.


The Onondagas are just one of many tribes whose prophecies predict human effects on the planet. Hopi prophecy included in the journal warns that "if you disturb things that lie deep within the Earth, bring them up, move them around and scatter them, the whole direction of the world is going to change. They say that if deeply embedded material is moved out from under the Earth and put on the top, monsters will be released. These monsters, they said, could destroy the Earth."

I left a few comments, of course...which were completely ignored by people who think radiation from Fukushima is killing the trees:



Greetings all I am dropping in because a while back on the thread somebody mentioned my blog, witsendnj.

I am in a sad way rather thrilled that you have all noticed that vegetation is not behaving normally, because that is what I have noticed myself, beginning in 2008.

What I saw then was an abrupt and bizarre wilting of leaves on trees. As a life-long gardener and tree lover, this caused me great concern and so I began to search for any information I could find. For quite a while I was convinced that it was a result of long-term warmer and drier conditions (or more erratic, infrequent but heavier precipitation) from climate change...and I still do feel that eventually, that will likely doom our trees.

However, a number of empirical factual observations made that explanation premature. Something else is going on.

Along those lines, keep in mind these empirical facts:

1. There is a general, universal trend towards tree decline. All ages, all species, all locations.

2. There has been an enormous amount of scientific research that is largely ignored, which indicates that plants are even more sensitive than people are to air pollution. And only idiots deny that air pollution causes fatal conditions like cancer, emphysema, and heart disease, never mind is linked to asthma, allergies, ADHD, autism and diabetes. So imagine how the poor plants are faring.

3. Ozone damages foliage in very specific, visible ways (and also damages plants before this is obvious). Leaves are stippled, stomates that absorb ozone cannot produce chlorophyll so the leaves lose color, veins become pronounced, eventually they curl and shrivel up and turn brown...they can also turn fall color early. Pine needles turn yellow and the older, inner ones fall off.

4. Just like a person whose immune system is damaged by AIDS and they die from cancer or pneumonia, a tree with a compromised immune system (and they do have them!) is more vulnerable to attacks from insects, disease (bacteria), fungus. Because they are working overtime to produce more foliage, and also to produce more seeds, cones, and nuts in a desperate effort to reproduce, they allocate less energy to their roots and so are more likely to blow over in wind.

5. Those cankers someone noticed are the same as cancerous tumors in people. They kill the tree.

6. Most professional foresters, government regulators and of course lobbyists for energy industry will do anything to deny and bury this information...and most people let them - because the only solution is to stop burning oil and gas for energy, conserve like crazy, and switch to clean sources on an emergency basis.

Anything else is not going to save us from ultimately, ecosystem collapse. Remember that most trees would live for HUNDREDS of years absent human impacts. It is NOT normal for them to be dropping leaves, having branches break off, or fall over.

Oh, and it's also well established by the experts that BILLIONS of dollars are lost every year in agriculture from crop yield and quality stunted by exposure to ozone.

It's hard to imagine, I know. I had a hard time (to put it mildly) as I learned about this. Consider...you know that if you go in a garage and shut the door and leave the car running you are going to die of exposure to carbon monoxide. You can't see it or smell it - but then, you can't see or smell oxygen and you know you breathe it, right?

Well, the earth is like a giant, closed garage, and we've been running engines and emitting volatile organic compounds never seen in earth's history before the industrial revolution and the level of toxic tropospheric ozone is building up and up...and the trees and plants are being suffocated.

It's a big problem and it is going to take a huge change in course to fix. But the alternative is famine.

Anyone who wants to talk to me about this is welcome to email witsendnj at yahoo

And thanks for reading. 

And so, I'll end this post with the these words, from Malthus - 


The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world”.

—Malthus T.R. 1798. An essay on the principle of population. Chapter VII, p61[25]

7 comments:

  1. Homo Sapiens means maker of deserts.
    Someday a new bio-diversity will spring from those deserts. That ecology will be completely different than ours.

    Sorry 'bout that!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Satanists with chemtrails and HAARP machines can kill trees and people
    with equal ease.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very cool wet summer for us here in Vancouver until august. If anything we should be "behind in the seasons" yet, the trees are turning color early here as well.. Same as the last few years when we had hot dry summers, mainly the opposite of this one. Yet those years, also they turned early. It's because they are dying of course.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Deutsche Bank Championship golf course lost 50 trees to Irene.

    That's a lot of fallen trees.

    ReplyDelete
  5. With so much concern about the dying foliage on this blog ,some discussion about geoengineering,cloud seeding and weather modification should be breached.Better IDEA: Just go to youtube and watch the movie "What in the world are they spraying" ,,,,,Be well earthlings

    ReplyDelete
  6. There are a lot of differing opinions on the causes of global warming/climate change and you and I are on different pages regarding that issue; however, I think everyone can agree that reducing air pollution is a good thing. Whether or not carbon emissions have any long term macro effect on the planet, anyone who has been in the downtown area of a large city during rush hour can attest to the fact that exhaust fumes are unpleasant and unhealthy to breathe. Still, any solution must be developed in a reasonable environment and not as a knee jerk reaction to climate change alarmism.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Trees are growing faster than ever seen now that humans have liberated vast quantities of carbon dioxide formerly trapped under the earth. Humans are doing real damage to our environment but trees and forest have always died and always will. Trees we try to grown in the city face myriad microclimate issues and will always be difficult to grow there.

    ReplyDelete

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