"There may be insects and fungal pests that emerge at that point in time, but underlying it is the physiological stress on the trees that compromises their defences. You could think of it actually sort of like HIV in humans. HIV doesn't directly kill people, but by compromising our immune systems, it makes us vulnerable to secondary ah, you know, viruses and other things that can kill us. It's similar in trees." Sound familiar?? That was getting much, much closer to the unspeakable truth, and if Craig will just take another itty bitty baby step just one further and wonder WHAT trees all share in common that could be compromising them EVERYWHERE (hint: it's the composition of the atmosphere!!) then I will bequeath him my blog.
I can't embed the video from that site but with a click here it will pop right up with the transcript.
They also observe a failure to fruit, and seed bank decline - again, well established reactions to tropospheric ozone as recorded in published scientific literature over decades of research, amply summarized by both the EPA and USDA. At least the Australian professor admits there's a missing element:
"Prof Giles Hardy:
The canker problem is probably the most severe thing that's happening in our forests at the moment. We've never seen it causing these levels of deaths, and now it is. So something has changed...we don't fully understand what's driving these declines, but in some areas we're losing a hundred per cent of the trees."
And then to top it off, the "man who loves trees" almost as much as he loves himself had yet another stupid anthropocentric article in the HuffPo, to which I commented after this quote from him:
"They sweep air pollution out of the air in our cities and suburbs and clean water through their complex root system."
That's great, Jim Robbins. What happens to those trees that are absorbing our pollution through their leaves and roots? Ozone gives people cancer and other fatal diseases. It does even much worse things to trees. It rots their roots making them more vulnerable to drought and wind, and rots their interiors making branches break. Ozone and acid rain make them lose their natural resistance to insects, disease and fungus. Pollution lowers their production of nuts, seeds, and fruits so they can't reproduce. If you really care about trees so much, why not talk about that?
He of course blames warmer winters for bark beetles: "They are dying all around us in the American West. I came to realize what climate change can do to trees when bark beetles, their season lengthened by unusually warm winters, attacked trees on my 15 acres of pine forest in Montana," conveniently ignoring the fact that the first ever proven case of trees dying from bark beetle infestation, thanks to a compromised immunity from exposure to ozone, was from back in the 1950's in the extraordinarily polluted hills above Los Angeles, where it NEVER approaches extended winter freeze.
What I had really intended to share in this post, before I got distracted into that foray with the endless, inescapable "tree expert" folderol, is this next film that charmed me with my two favorite themes for photography - the exquisite perfection of nature's tenacity and diversity, and the tantalizingly extravagant decay of symbols of civilization. This wonderful cinematography depicts the remarkable resurgence of habitat and wildlife in the midst of the radioactive ruins of Chernobyl, since it was abandoned by humans after the nuclear plant meltdown.
It's got gratifying scenes of water re-flooding the parched wetlands, thanks to the industrious beavers that build dams across drainage canals, and rampant vegetation reclaiming the rusting, crumpled skeletons of homes, barns, schools and factories, where the former human inhabitants have been supplanted by surging populations of wolves and peregrine falcons, moose and bison. What could be a more welcome reassurance to someone who fears that life on earth may not survive the wanton destruction and pollution of homo sapiens sapiens?
I'm not certain, but a disclaimer says it is only available to view in the US. Anyone in another country who really wants to see it can order the overpriced DVD. Or just skip it altogether and instead watch "Expect Us!" below - a movie from Occupy Wall Street that was just released in anticipation of the big strike on May 1, to see if you recognize a certain hat at 2:08 minutes in!
These three short films are entirely apropos of my sort of mental progression of late. Since I finished the treetise, the culmination of over three years amassing links to articles, websites, scientific research, and photographs, I feel a faint frisson of liberation. It seems I must now have said everything I can possibly say about pollution killing trees and other plants...and causing ecosystem collapse and wildfires and landslides and crop failure and famine (far TOO much is more like it - "longish" was how author Charles Little charitably described it, ha).