Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Panic Room

Announcing the creation of The Panic Room - a facebook group for Ozonists, Ozonistas, Cassandras, Malthusians, and other doomers of all sorts...all are welcome!  I was tired of being accused of being too dismal, even at sites that purport to be doomy, so TPR (it's a joke!  I got over the panic part years ago!) is for those who know or even suspect that there is no hope humanity is going to wake up no matter how obvious it is to the few that we are despoiling the earth.

And now...it's time for another comparison that depicts the mind-boggling deterioration of autumn leaves.  November 11, 2010...a sunny day with a brilliant, cerulean sky...I took a few pictures of the trees that stand along the fence at the United Equestrian Team Headquarters (most of which is no longer trails and courses, but an expensive private golf club) in Gladstone, New Jersey.  Already by then, many branches were broken.
Below is the same tree, from a bit further away, yesterday.  Same date, three years later...some of its leaves are still green even as most have fallen to the ground.
 Here is a neighboring maple in 2010, a cascade of gold.
It concerned me then that the color wasn't quite as saturated as it should be, and many of the leaves had brown edges (marginal leaf burn in Ozonista talk).
By now the damage is far worse and widespread.
Every leaf looks battered, parched, and speckled with brown lesions.  The totally dead branch on the right below, however, is from the cicadas that emerged in most unimpressive numbers this year - not surprising that there were nowhere near as many as anticipated, since for 17 years they live in the soil, feeding on the roots of trees that have been shrinking from air pollution. The noisy insects are above ground only briefly to mate, and then the females lay their eggs at the tip of a branch, causing it to break and wilt early in the season.  By now those look black.
 Even the green leaves are spotted before they turn yellow.
There are still people saying the autumn foliage is glorious - I guess they're just not looking very closely and/or, they have forgotten what it used to look like, not that long ago.
I walked from that grove towards the driveway.
Every tree had the same injured leaves.
 At the entrance to the club, several red Japanese maples flank the gate, as seen in 2010.
The reason I stopped back then to take photographs is that the maples there were by far the most brilliant color I could find that year, and I wanted to record how beautiful they were before the plague got worse.
 Above are the best leaves that year - below are the worst.
 This is from yesterday:
 Below are the best leaves I could find:
 Here (other than those that had already shriveled up completely and fallen off) are the worst:
WindSpiritKeeper sent this photo of a composition from Oregon, and wrote in response to my last post:

I see from your Saturday, November 9, 2013 All Lies and Jest that:  "√Čva, who is recording the smog and miserable trees in Budapest, Hungary (she describes the leaves there with the extraordinary term “mummified”)..." 
Right, just as in the past, I have used the terms embalmed, or tanned to describe abnormally dead leaves etc. 
You have seen, and wrote about, "bronze" or "rust" colored foliage. 
Most of the dead twigs, leaves, and leaflets look rusty or bronzed or russet, or resemble burnt copper. Many look like they have been caramelized, where sugars, or carbohydrates have likely been morphed -- which is similar to the embalming or tanning chemical process where protein breakdown is suspended. 
"I" am positive that this all basic organic chemistry that botanists should know about... much air pollution has reactive volatile organic compounds that contact the organic foliage, and cause further chemical reactions within the cells and tissue of the leaves -- and cause all manner of observable abnormalities.
The big pine tree that dominates the lawn at the USET is still limping along, but the groundskeepers must know it is not long for this world, because in the picture from yesterday, below, there is a newly planted replacement just behind it.
When I returned home, on the sunny afternoon in 2010, I stopped by the barn and took this photo of a maple tree I had planted five years earlier.  I was worried about it, because the leaves at the top were sparse.
The red wasn't as fiery as I would have expected, and most of the leaves had at least a few spots.
Here is the same maple, yesterday.  Same date, three years on.  Yes, it's really still there, right in the center of the photo.
 Here's a zoom of the top.  See all the red leaves? No?
Justin Gillis just wrote an article in the New York Times, A Jolt to Complacency in the Food Supply.  I am struggling to point out without acrimony that he neglected to mention ozone.  Yes, extreme violent weather and more pests and weeds from climate change is going to continue to reduce crop production, disastrously.  But why he fails to report that crop yields are already reduced by up to 20% from air pollution, is, uh, mysterious to me, since everyone from NASA to the USDA has issued public releases about it.  And that's just annual crops like rice and wheat and soy.  Now, consider that, as the EPA recognizes, ozone damage is cumulative.  This means, obviously, that for plants and trees that live more than one season, the damage accumulates.  That's why trees are dying - that, and increased susceptibility to attacks from insects, disease and fungus.  So, the losses to perennial foods like asparagus, artichokes, and blueberries and orchard crops like peaches, apples, and nuts, is going to be far worse than for annual crops.  Ultimately, if we continue burning stuff for energy, the loss will be total.



  1. Extra! Panic Room Gets Rave Reviews!

    Dante explains how to cope
    When hope’s always answered by “nope”:
    “In the Panic Room,
    It’s safe to assume
    Ye who enter abandon all hope.”

    The T-101 came on track
    For a hasta la vista attack;
    He found out instead
    That he liked what he read,
    And on leaving, he said “I’ll be back.”

    “Panic Room knows that we’re screwed,”
    Said Einstein, “so we must conclude,
    Though things couldn’t be worse,
    Infinity’s perverse,
    And makes everything relative, dude.”

    “The Panic Room cuts like a knife
    To the marrow of all the world’s strife”;
    Then, empty of mind,
    The Buddha opined,
    “It’s suffering, but then, that’s life.”

  2. THANK YOU BtD!!! That made my day!!!

  3. BtD: you are a master of the limerick. That was sensational! We miss you over at NBL, but I understand.

    Gail: great comparison of just a few years ago. What I realized today on the way home is that an awful lot of big trees are just basically faking it right now (or lichen covered and looking weak via the leaves) and sooner or later are going to crash down through homes (like mine), take out utility lines, stop traffic and rail service, and destroy a lot of property and probably some lives before it's all over. The ozone component isn't going down any time soon. The last time I looked the measurements of methane, and N2O keep rising so i'd expect ozone to keep increasing in concentration too. It will be undeniable in a few more years, if the trees keep going this way. It very scary watching this all unfold and us still, like Homer Simpson or something, just oblivious to it all.


  4. Gail: Have you seen this?



  5. I had seen it. Totally different aspect of ozone but still the interesting question is what is causing the pause in global warming. It seems the scientists aren't sure. But my question is how can they use warming as the explanation for tree deaths brcause they aren't even correlated. Tree deaths have vastly accelerated in just the past few years which is correlated with increasing concentrations of background tropospheric ozone, not temperatures. Thanks for reminding me - maybe I'll put that graph in a post.

  6. Gail, you are most welcome. :)

    Tom, thank you! :)


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