Sunday, October 2, 2011

Going, going...gone...

Why Are The Trees Dying?

Here's a Blingee I made of a graphic from The New York Times, which ran this story, about the Deaths of Forests, wherein there is the following quote:

“A lot of ecologists like me are starting to think all these agents, like insects and fires, are just the proximate cause, and the real culprit is water stress caused by climate change,” said Robert L. Crabtree, head of a center studying the Yellowstone region. “It doesn’t really matter what kills the trees — they’re on their way out. The big question is, Are they going to regrow? If they don’t, we could very well catastrophically lose our forests.”

Dr. Crabtree (love the name!) is one of a handful of experts I know of to admit that trees are dying - ALL the trees.  The other dozens I have contacted deny there is a universal decline.  Although I would disagree - I think it DOES SO matter what is killing the trees, since if it is ozone - especially from biofuels - we CAN STOP IT, I sent in the following comment (which I believe did not make it through moderation):

At last researchers are starting to understand that the death of trees around the world has a common link, and that the insects, disease and fungus generally blamed for the decline are only the secondary cause, much as pneumonia is only the secondary cause of death for a victim of AIDS who has a fundamentally compromised immune system.

The questions then becomes, what is the primary reason?  When I first realized trees everywhere are dying, I too thought the only explanation for such a widespread and universal phenomena had to be gradually increasing evaporation from increasing temperatures due to a warming climate.  But then I had to acknowledge that this explanation does not account for the readily available, empirical evidence, which is that trees that are being irrigated in nurseries, in enriched soil, have the identical foliar damage that well-established trees have, whether in city, town, or national park,  Furthermore, leaves of annual plants being watered in pots, and even lilies and lotus always in water, exhibit the same stippling, singeing, and chlorosis.

The only explanation - and one which, by the way, has been well-known to scientific researchers for decades - is that the background level of tropospheric ozone is inexorably rising due to unregulated increased emissions of reactive Nitrogen.
The destruction is most analogous to the acidification of the ocean and consequent bleaching of coral reefs, and is accelerating rapidly.

It's no secret that ozone is highly toxic to people, causing cancer, emphysema, asthma, allergies, Alzheimer's, heart disease and other maladies - all epidemics.  What is less well known is that vegetation is even MORE sensitive.  The US Dept. of Ag. estimates losses in yield and quality to annual crops in the billions of dollars, and the Forest Service knows the air in even remote parks is killing trees.  

This remains the biggest environmental disaster you've never heard of because it is what scientists call an "intractable problem" - in other words, the only way to solve it is to drastically curtain burning fuel.  The possibility remains that biofuel emissions are the worst because the emissions of VOC's persist longer in the atmosphere.

Since early 2009 I have been documenting with the characteristic symptoms of ozone exposure from Cape Cod to Seattle, to California, and Costa Rica on a blog, here:  http://witsendnj.blogspot has photos and have also posted links scientific research and reports on this topic on the page Basic Premise at the top of the page.

Losing trees is a travesty that must be stopped.  With them will go the entire ecosystem dependent upon them for shelter, food, shade, and all the delicately intertwined complexities of life that took imaginably long periods of time to evolve.  Perhaps if people understood the existential threat that ozone poses through destroying plant life which is ultimately our source of food, the transition to clean sources of energy - and the interim sacrifices necessary to conserve and reduce consumption and population - might seem less onerous.

The alternative is to let Nature take her revenge and that will be far more ugly than voluntary actions. 


Gail Zawacki

Following is a video of trees in New Jersey taken Thursday, the day before I left for California (to visit youngest daughter who is having all her wisdom teeth removed next week).  It's not very good, because I did it in a hurry...but I wanted to document how trees looked in September, when they should still have had a full complement of green leaves, gradually turning fall colors...but instead have damaged foliage which is, most importantly, true for every age, even seedlings, of every single species (included here are oak, maple, willow, sycamore, ash, and others) - and thus is not due to specific insects, diseases, or fungus, or past seasons of drought.  I had hoped to shoot from the vantage of a hot air balloon, but the weather wasn't cooperating.  Maybe when I get back, after next week.  In the meantime, expect some ghoulish scenery from the Bay Area which, I know from last year, is like walking through a soulless Land of the Dead.


  1. I see the same in my area as well - this is of great concern to me. I would like to join your group on your next demonstration regarding this important environmental issue.

  2. Gail, never mind the New York Times, send your letter directly to Dr Crabtree!


  3. The trees are fighting back!

    NEW BUFFALO, Mich. (AP) – A 52-year-old resident of Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood has died in a freak accident on a New Buffalo golf course.

    The Berrien County sheriff’s office said the victim was walking between the course’s first and second holes about 8:30 a.m. Friday when a large tree toppled and struck his head.,0,6118965.story

  4. Ha Serinde, I sent him a bcc...if I hear back I'll post his reply (assuming he gives permission).

    Anon, did you see this post?


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