Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Lyric Departure

Several years have passed since I first began to document the death of trees from air pollution, and it often feels there is nothing left to add as the trend accelerates - and is ever more assiduously ignored or misattributed.  It becomes more and more achingly difficult to write about it - not for lack of emerging material or evidence...but because it is so obviously futile.  Humans will continue to burn fuel unrelentingly, and the bad news from the climate front - ice sheets in irreversible retreat, methane leaks, violent weather extremes - overwhelmingly portends doom.  Nevertheless I cannot escape noticing that scientists continue to research the damage done to vegetation from ozone - without ever coming out and saying exactly how detrimental it is - so eventually this post will link to some of their most recent publications.  Why the hell not.
Bertil Nilsson
To begin with a wholly irrelevant digression, below is a haunting, piercingly poignant lullaby, based on a legend familiar to everyone in Iceland.

The lyrics are attributed to a poem recited within a 1912 play by Jóhann Sigurjónsson - Fjalla-Eyvindur - which was soon thereafter made into a silent film titled The Outlaw and His Wife - by a Swede, Victor Sjöström, in 1918.  That movie is said to present amazing scenes of nature - almost a century ago, which ought to be a valuable baseline if I can find it.

Even without comprehending the original language, this mournful ballad is breathtakingly gorgeous.  After listening repeatedly, I can almost follow some of the pronunciation, and I can see why it is so enduringly popular in Iceland.  This is how it reads in the original, which if nothing else, is (to me) astonishing for its richly exotic language, both phonetic and written.  It reminds me of what amazingly versatile and creative we humans can be, when we are not busy trashing the planet.

Sofðu unga ástin mín
úti regnið grætur.
Mamma geymir gullin þín
gamlan legg og völuskrín.
Við skulum ekki vaka um dimmar nætur.

Það er margt sem myrkrið veit
minn er hugur þrungur.
oft ég svartan sandinn leit
svíða og grænan engireit.
Í jöklinum hljóða dauðar djúpar sprungur.

Sofðu lengi sofðu rótt
seint mun best að vakna.
Mæðan kenna mun þér fljótt
meðan hallar degi skjótt.
að mennirnir elska, missa, gráta og sakna.

The play tells of an 18th Century outlaw, the eponymous Fjalla-Eyvindur.  His exploits whilst eluding the authorities in the wild highlands amongst the fjords are the subject of many legends, akin perhaps to an Icelandic Robin Hood.  His wife Halla left behind the safety of her home and chose the life of a fugitive, to be by his side. When they were attempting to evade capture, as her husband faced the swords, she sang this lullaby one last time to hush the baby, and then threw it into a waterfall, reckoning that to be a better fate than bondage.  The lyrics are redolent of death and grief and sacrifice, evoking the violent landscape of volcanos and ice...of a childhood where precious toys are comprised of humble trinkets made from animal bones, teeth and stones.

There are many varied English translations for the lullaby, none of which is very satisfactory.  After looking at all I could dredge up, I decided it is an art form that is subject to interpretation, and thought I may as well take poetic license to assemble together the parts I like best - so my own pastiche is what follows:

Sleep now softly little one
tears of rain are falling
mother guards your treasure trove,
hoard of bones and chest for stones.
We shall not stay awake through dimming nights.

Many secrets darkness keeps,
my mind is dark and heavy.
Many times I’ve black sand seen
scorch the grassy meadows green.
From glacial ice the fissures groan deep as death.

Sleep serenely, sleep you long,
later would be best to waken.
Troubles soon will teach you so,
while each day will quickly go,
we live a tale of love, longing, loss and sorrow.


To listen to this a cappella version, mouse over the picture below, and click the big arrow that pops up.




Most odd and delightful, this brief video is a preposterous and charmingly incongruous concept trailer for the first Icelandic-Hindi film.  The human imaginations doesn’t get much more absurdly lovely than this surreal amalgamation:


Eyvindur & Halla: गैर कानूनी इश्क from Arnar Sigurðsson on Vimeo.

For anyone who has decided by now they really cant get enough of this motif, here are links for a choral version, an ethereal interpretation by Sissel Kyrkjebø; and wonderful lecture with information about traditional Icelandic instruments in which can be found yet another version, a beautiful piano composition by Jón Leifs (to hear it you must scroll waaay down the page to the first little arrow underneath the heading:  And now a few Icelandic folk songs), all worthy of a listen.

I suppose that mournful song resonates with me because it seems to reflect the tragic path our species has embarked upon.  I got interested in Iceland when I read a brilliant and prescient essay from 1977, The Reykjavik Imperative (reproduced in this post) which talks about the deforestation initiated by the first Norwegian settlers in the ninth century, from which the island has never recovered.  The irreversible ruination of the delicate ecosystem on that fragile island is a microcosm of what is occurring on a much grander scale now, where our tender, tenuous web of life is spiraling into a mephitic, scabrous charade.  Our unrestrained fetish for expansion seems fixated on leaving behind a wake of putrid collapse, a reeking eruption of death.  There is so much to see and say about this; and simultaneously, nothing worth imparting...because there is nothing to be done about it.  Most of us are ignorant and the few that are cursed with the ability to see the imminent convulsion, are as helpless as that baby thrown into the churning, freezing waterfall.

Nordic fables, like many from cultures around the world, rest the foundation of their ancient mythology on a sacred tree.  In fact the more I look, the more I find a prominent role for trees not only deeply embedded in religions but also in literature, songs, paintings, and historical events.  Our recognition that our very existence springs from the forest, our fervent reverence for trees, is exceeded only by our habit of cutting, burning, and poisoning them...which kind of encapsulates the tortured triumph of Thanatos in our relationship with Nature in general, when you think about it.
Source
It was on the ash tree Yggdrasil that the god Odin, most closely associated with poetry and death, sacrificed himself by hanging in order to gain knowledge of the alphabet and give it to mankind.
Source
This is just a tiny portion of the voluminous entry at wiki:  “The cosmology of the worlds in which all beings inhabit—nine in total—centers around a cosmological tree, Yggdrasil. The gods inhabit the heavenly realm of Asgard whereas mankind inhabits Midgard, a region in the center of the cosmos. Outside of the gods, mankind, and the jötnar, these Nine Worlds are inhabited by a variety of beings, such as elves and dwarfs. Travel between the worlds is frequently recounted in the myths, where the gods and other beings may interact directly with mankind. Numerous creatures live on Yggdrasil, such as the insulting messenger squirrel Ratatoskr and the perching hawk Veðrfölnir. The tree itself has three major roots, and at the base of one of these roots live a trio of norns.  Elements of the cosmos are personified, such as the Sun (Sól, a goddess), the Moon (Máni, a god), and Earth (Jörð, a goddess), as well as units of time, such as day (Dagr, a god) and night (Nótt, a jötunn).”
Source ~ Bertil Nilsso 
The number of visual artistic interpretations for images of Yggdrasil seem to be endless. Not only is there an enormous number of paintings and drawings, but it is a rather bizarrely popular subject for astonishingly huge and detailed tattoos (I leave you to your own devices to search for those bodies).

The concept that humans were created in trees is not uncommon in ancient beliefs.  The Norse predicted that in the future, two humans would find refuge in Yggdrasil to survive Ragnarök and repopulate a newly cleansed earth, thus owing life to trees twice.  It makes you wonder why we insist on chopping them all down and failing that, poisoning them.  Well, we won’t go on any further about the mythical Norse Ragnarök, since we’ve got a real one well underway...and Götterdämmerung is probably my least favorite opera (hey, Nietzsche didn’t think much of the “Twilight of the Idols” either!).
Yggdrasil, by Ludwig Burger, 1882
This is probably as good a time as any to revert to the purpose of Wit’s End - which is to investigate the perennially neglected and resoundingly detested topic of trees dying from ozone pollution.  The photos that embellish this list of new papers are purely, personally nostalgic - because I took them last summer at First Daughter’s annual Pig Roast, and never got around to posting them.
This is just as well because the Pig Roast - despite the effort middle daughter and I put into making murals of dancing pigs by Monet, Degas and Pig-asso - has been discontinued until further notice.  It is the end of an era...among the first of many downfalls the privileged can anticipate.  I know most of the pictures from this event are just my friends and family, but I like them, so there they are - oh, and the food!  We are all going to miss the food...
About halfway through the woods a copper fox reassures guest that they are on the right trail.
Then a long elegant drive, lined with newly planted silver maples, beckoned towards the barns.
The caterers had shelter at the entrance to the big tent where the band will play.
The field garden is fenced from the voracious deer.
The kitchen garden with herbs, berries is protected by a picket fence.
Tables are places around the house with bowls of fresh cherries.
The grounds were manicured.
The flowers were blooming.
The pool was crystal clear...
and even the tack room with all the trophies and ribbons was immaculate.
Everybody likes to wander through the courtyard and visit the horses who peer, curious at the commotion, from their stalls.

Before presenting the latest research and new recent items in the media, it is worth visiting an air pollution primer especially for those unfamiliar with the topic.  The Smithsonian Institute presents this image of leaves damaged by ozone:

To a plant, ozone looks like this.
“The spots on these leaves are damage caused by ozone exposure. Every bleached spot hampers the plant’s ability to grow through photosynthesis.”
Specimen courtesy of Dr. Gretchen C. Smith, Department of Natural Resource Conservation, University of Massachusetts.

[Dr. Smith was formerly in charge of the Forest Service Ozone Biomonitoring Program, until the funding was eliminated.  I highly recommend following leaves through the summer season to watch for this symptom of injury due to pollution.]

To susceptible people, ozone looks like this.
“During an asthma attack, airways in the lungs constrict and fill with thick mucus, so that people with asthma can’t get enough air into their lungs. Asthma kills more than 5,000 Americans every year. Smog and smoke are asthma triggers. Some people attribute part of a three-fold increase in asthma in the past 20 years to increased air pollution, both indoors and out.”

What Does Code Red Mean?

“Code Red means that ground-level ozone levels are unhealthfully high. Children, older people, and people with chronic lung conditions should stay indoors.”

“On Code Red days, it’s smart to postpone buying gasoline or pouring gasoline into your lawnmower until after sundown. That’s because ozone forms when hydrocarbons like gasoline fumes mingle with sunlight and heat.”
Why is ozone so dangerous?

“Oxygen is an element. The oxygen we breathe usually comes in pairs of atoms, or O2. Under certain conditions, some pairs of oxygen break apart, and each atom joins another pair to make ozone, O3. O3 is unstable and even more reactive than O2.”

“Ozone will react with living tissue. In plants, ozone can hamper photosynthesis and lower crop yield. In people, ozone can inflame delicate tissues in the lungs, leaving them open to asthma and infections. Children and elderly people are especially at risk from ozone exposure.”
Oxygen—a Pollutant?

“Oxygen, a gas that we inhale with every breath, is essential to life on Earth. But as a chemical, oxygen is reactive. That property makes it life-sustaining and also a source of pollution.”

“A single molecule of oxygen (O2) contains two oxygen atoms. But add another oxygen atom, and you have ozone (O3). In the stratosphere, ozone protects us, absorbing much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. But at ground level, in the troposphere, carried in the air we breathe, ozone is a poison that burns and corrodes living and non-living things.”

“Small amounts of ozone develop naturally, especially during lightning storms, but spew industrial chemicals and automobile exhausts into the atmosphere, cook them with heat and sunlight, and ozone levels can rise dangerously high. Ozone is the main component of “photochemical smog.”
Exhaustive

“On-road vehicles, including trucks, buses, cars, and motorcycles, are responsible for 29 percent of the volatile hydrocarbons (VOCs) and 34 percent of the nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide (known collectively as NOx) that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.

Ozone on the Move

“Our National Parks are good places to get away from ozone pollution, right? Wrong! Because the atmosphere transports, urban pollution plagues retreats such as Shenandoah National Park, 75 miles west of Washington, D.C.”

Dickey Ridge, Clear
On a clear day, visibility at the Dickey Ridge area of Shenandoah National Park can be 100 km (62 mi).
Dickey Ridge, Ozoned
When pollution wafts in, visibility at Dickey Ridge drops to 5 km (3 mi).

“Ozone isn’t the only traveling pollutant. When gases from the burning of fossil fuels meet up with water in the atmosphere, they make sulfuric acid and nitric acid. These acids fall to Earth in rain, snow, or fog. They can kill fish in rivers and lakes, burn the leaves on trees, and dissolve limestone in buildings.”

“Wouldn’t it be perfect if we could pump the excess ozone in the troposphere up to the stratosphere to fill the ozone hole? Alas, there’s no way to trap tropospheric ozone. Even though it’s harmful, it’s still scarce—only about 50 molecules of ozone per billion molecules of air. And even if you could trap it, ozone is so unstable, it would react with other gases in the air before it could be pumped up to the stratosphere.”

I particularly like the historical perspective:

It Didn’t Happen Overnight

“People have been affecting the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years. Although a few notable people complained about polluted air, no one paid much attention. Human impact on the atmosphere skyrocketed during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, but human nature being what it is, it took some major environmental disasters to get people to take corrective action.”

Following are the images from their timeline:











It’s great to have this historical overview because currently, the dieoff of many species is blamed, if not on climate change, then on invasive insects.  This is annoying because there has been intensive global trade for centuries, both of lumber and live plants, not to mention all the wooden packing and sawdust used for other goods...AND the well-known fact that fungus travels vast distances on the wind.  If invasive species were that virulent, they would have killed everything off at least a hundred years ago, or earlier.  A poster child for this invasive theory is the American elm, which has largely died off due to Dutch elm disease.  It turns out however, that the elms in Europe died off too - so the latest theory is that a mysterious fungus from Asia started it in Europe.  The sad fact is that insect vectors spreading fungus have been around forever, and it is only since the rise of atmospheric pollution that the combination is in the process of devastating virtually every species of tree you can think of.  (So Say I...and it gives me no pleasure to do so.)
The following is from the Dutch Elm disease Wiki entry:

“A less devastating form of the disease, caused by a different fungus, had possibly been present in Britain for some time. Dr Oliver Rackham of Cambridge University presented evidence of an outbreak of elm disease in north-west Europe, c.1819-1867. “Indications from annual rings [a reference to the dark staining in an annual ring in infected elms] confirm that Dutch elm disease was certainly present in 1867,” he wrote, quoting contemporary accounts of diseased and dying elms, including this passage in Richard Jefferies’ 1883 book, Nature near London:”

“There is something wrong with elm trees. In the early part of this summer, not long after the leaves were fairly out upon them, here and there a branch appeared as if it had been touched with red-hot iron and burnt up, all the leaves withered and browned on the boughs. First one tree was thus affected, then another, then a third, till, looking round the fields, it seemed as if every fourth or fifth tree had thus been burnt. [...] Upon mentioning this I found that it had been noticed in elm avenues and groups a hundred miles distant, so that it is not a local circumstance.”

“Earlier still, Rackham noted, “The name Scolytus destructor was given to the great bark beetle on evidence, dating from c.1780, that it was destroying elms around Oxford.” [The History of the Countryside (London 1986), p.242-3,232] It has been suggested, indeed, that “for thousands of years elms have flourished in natural balance with the scolytidae, combating occasional infections of Dutch elm disease.”[Vaclav Vetvička, Trees and Shrubs (London 1985)]

“Sir Thomas Browne, writing in 1658, noted in The Garden of Cyrus an elm disease that was spreading through English hedgerows, and described symptoms reminiscent of DED.”
Recently, the President of the Philippines issued an Executive Order authorizing emergency measures, from injection of pesticides to quarantines, to combat an invasive beetle that claimed 2 million coconut trees and threatens 338 million more.  Such outbreaks have occurred in the past, one of which was recounted by A. Reyne, Studies on a Serious Outbreak, written in 1948 but based on Dutch materials from 1920’s.

“In the annual reports on pests and diseases of cultivated plants in the Netherlands Indies, published by the Institute of Plant-diseases at Buitenzorg (Java) since 1913, damage by Aspidiotus destructor is nowhere mentioned before 1925.  The more remarkable was a serious outbreak in the coconut-palms of Sangi, an island half-way between Celebes and Mindanao (Philippines)…when nearly 400,000 coconut-palms were attacked and without fruits; about 30,000 of these palms were killed.”

Does that rule out a role from pollution?  This smog even from a fire outbreak is recent, but given the millennia that humans have been using slash-and-burn agriculture, it may well have been a problem in the past.
“The 1997 Indonesian forest fires were caused mainly by slash and burn techniques adopted by farmers in Indonesia. Slash and burn has been extensively used for many years as the cheapest and easiest means to clear the lands for traditional agriculture. Fire is also used during the long fallow rotation of the so-called jungle rubber in Sumatra and Kalimantan to remove most of the biomass, including the woody parts before new plantations are re-established.”

“Fire may also be deliberately used as a weapon to claim property on the islands and provinces where land ownership is not clear, an action taken by both smallholders and large operators alike. After burning out its previous owner, the smallholder or large operator plants their own crops there, gaining de facto control over the disputed land.”

“During the fire season, dry fuels readily ignite and lead to large wild fires. In cases like this, fire suppression can be very difficult and costly especially when they reach the highly flammable peat-swamp areas.” (wiki)
Michael Allaby wrote in his book, Fog, Smoke and Poisoned Air:

“Air pollution is not a new problem.  We have been polluting the air for as long as we have been using fire.  That is not surprising, because the burning of fuel is the major cause of air pollution, nor are we the first to recognize the problem.  People realized something was wrong centuries ago when they noticed that the air smelled bad, made them cough, and made their eyes run.”
“As long ago as 1273 King Edward I of England passed a law that forbade the cooking of food over a coal fire.  Coal smoke imparts a distinctive flavor to food, and the king was responding to a popular belief that it could make people ill and even kill them.  It is doubtful whether the law had much effect, and it seems that it did little to improve the quality of London air, because in 1306 the same king issued a proclamation that banned the burning of coal in London.  That law was enforced, at least for a time.  One manufacturer who disobeyed was tried and beheaded.” [...pay attention, Koch brothers!]
“Modern attempts to address the problem began in the late 19th century.  Smoke abatement laws were passed in the United States in the 1880s.  These death with smoke from factories, railroads, and ships and were administered by local boards of health.  In Britain the Public Health (London) Act of 1891 aimed at controlling smoke emissions, but its effect was quite limited because, like the American legislation, it failed to deal with the principal source of citThe Public Health (Smoke Abatement) Act of 1926 recognized that smoke was harmful to health, but lawmakers shrank from dictating what people should do in the privacy of their own homes.  Householders went on burning coal for heating, hot water, and cooking until the middle of the 20th century.”

“Despite the lack of progress, more was being discovered about the effects and extent of polluted air.  The year of the feeble British legislation, 1926, also saw the first large-scale survey of air pollution in the United States, centered on Salt Lake City, and two years later the public health service began monitoring air quality in the easter industrial cities.  It found that pollution over New York City was reducing the amount of sunshine by 20 to 50 percent.”
Now - finally! - for some items from the news:

In March it was announced that campgrounds in the National Forest that is part of greater Yellowstone will be closed.  This provoked some displeasure and incredulity, since the reason initially stated was that “Two camping areas on the Wind River Ranger District will remain closed until further notice.  Brooks Lake Campground and the Pinnacles camping area will remain closed even after the summer season begins. These closures are for public safety due to several hazard trees in the area that must be removed.”
Apparently this led to the follow-up announcement on the Forest Service webpage - and it turns out that it was so far beyond “several” trees that had been deemed hazardous that the original advisory looks almost, um, deliberately disingenuous:

Dubois, Wyo.(June 9, 2014)

“ - Reaction to the closure of the campgrounds in the Brooks Lake area of the Shoshone National Forest has highlighted a need for further clarification.  The primary reason for the closure is to protect those who would have camped in the campgrounds.”

“Late last fall a large number of spruce trees were observed to be dying in the campgrounds.  The trees were being killed by the spruce beetle, which has become more prevalent on the Wind River Ranger District.  It was estimated that there were 200+ trees dying between Brooks Lake and Pinnacles campgrounds and the overflow area located between them.  It is highly likely that number will increase when we are able to survey the area in the next couple of weeks.  The number of trees needing to be removed is beyond our capacity in personnel and budget to handle it ourselves.”
“Unlike previous years, these dying trees are generally sound and have a commercial value.  This offered the Shoshone the opportunity to address the issue via a commercial timber sale.  By the time we learned of the magnitude of the issue in 2013, it was too late to prepare a timber sale.  Consequently, we are striving to prepare the timber sale and offer it next month.  We hope the sale will start in the beginning of August.  For safety reasons, we cannot permit camping in the areas where there is an active timber sale.”

“The decision to not open the campgrounds until the timber sale starts is simply a matter of camper safety.  The risk of a tree falling and injuring a camper is far too high.  Since 2009, the Wind River Ranger District has actively removed over 500 dead and dying trees that posed an increased risk to campers from falling over.  Through the years there have been close calls with trees falling near campers.  Fortunately the only casualty to date is one tent.”
Finally, it has been noticed that the Joshua Trees in the National Park are dying although, not surprisingly, this is blamed on climate and not pollution, despite the fact that, being downwind from LA, it is one of the most polluted rural areas in the country.  Here is the University of Maryland Smog Blog entry for June 19:

The EPA AirNow peak ozone map, below left, shows a large area of Moderate ozone in southern California, with areas at Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in the same area and in Georgia, suggesting that as a cause for the poor air quality in those areas. The webcam image from Joshua Tree National Park, below right, supports the EPA data, showing a largely obscured far ridge line and blurred hills nearby.
When you can plainly see how toxic the air is, why do they use as a headline “California’s Famous Joshua Trees Are Falling to Climate Change”??

What else can you expect from a publication that uses as a title this misleading:  

Children with Asthma Replace Polar Bears As the New Face of Climate Change

“Rising temperatures bring more smog, more asthma, and longer allergy seasons,” McCarthy added. “If your kid doesn’t use an inhaler, consider yourself a lucky parent, because one in 10 children in the U.S. suffers from asthma. Carbon pollution from power plants comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, putting our families at even more risk.”

“It’s a smart strategy.”

[No duh!!  I have been telling the professional climate activists for years that, obviously, people care more about their sister dying from cancer and their father dying from heart disease and their kid dying from asthma than they do about melting ice - but they shunned any association with tree-huggers as stupidly as they rejected any connection with Occupy Wall Street.  I said - SCARE THE WITS OUT OF THEM!  But...We don’t want to scare people! they whined.  Brilliant!]

Oh well - does the average American really care anyway??  (If you can bring yourself to read the article that featured this video you will find this is ON PURPOSE).


How ironic then is this accident?


Next are recent papers - titles and abstracts - on the impacts of ozone on plants, published within just the last few months.  Apparently, scientists all over the world - from China to Switzerland and Brazil; from Japan to Italy and Scandinavia and everywhere in between - consider it important enough to continue to do meticulous research.  The only mystery that remains is why they aren’t screaming from the rooftops about their results [and why, as noted at the top, the US Forest Service has completely abandoned their decades-long ozone biomonitoring program.  This week I called one former regional head of research and asked him WHY.  Hesitantly he suggested...lack of funds?  lack of interest?  ...But, isn’t the problem getting worse?  I asked.  You’d think so, he said.]

For easy skimming for those who aren’t complete ozone nerds, I have highlighted the most salient points.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24858282
Environ Res. 2014 Jul;132:421-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.03.035. Epub 2014 May 21.
Associations between ozone, PM2.5, and four pollen types on emergency department pediatric asthma events during the warm season in New Jersey: A case-crossover study.

Conclusions:  The ambient air pollutant ozone is associated with increases in pediatric emergency department asthma visits during the warm weather season. The different pollen types showed different associations with the outcome. High levels of tree pollen appear to be an important risk factor in asthma exacerbations
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12659540
Changes in tropospheric composition and air quality due to stratospheric ozone depletion.
Solomon KR1, Tang X, Wilson SR, Zanis P, Bais AF.
Author information
Abstract
Increased UV-B through stratospheric ozone depletion leads to an increased chemical activity in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere). The effect of stratospheric ozone depletion on tropospheric ozone is small (though significant) compared to the ozone generated anthropogenically in areas already experiencing air pollution. Modeling and experimental studies suggest that the impacts of stratospheric ozone depletion on tropospheric ozone are different at different altitudes and for different chemical regimes. As a result the increase in ozone due to stratospheric ozone depletion may be greater in polluted regions. Attributable effects on concentrations are expected only in regions where local emissions make minor contributions. The vertical distribution of NOx (NO + NO2), the emission of volatile organic compounds and the abundance of water vapor, are important influencing factors. The long-term nature of stratospheric ozone depletion means that even a small increase in tropospheric ozone concentration can have a significant impact on human health and the environment. Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and chlorodifluoroacetic acid (CDFA) are produced by the atmospheric degradation of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). TFA has been measured in rain, rivers, lakes, and oceans, the ultimate sink for these and related compounds. Significant anthropogenic sources of TFA other than degradation HCFCs and HFCs have been identified. Toxicity tests under field conditions indicate that the concentrations of TFA and CDFA currently produced by the atmospheric degradation of HFCs and HCFCs do not present a risk to human health and the environment. The impact of the interaction between ozone depletion and future climate change is complex and a significant area of current research. For air quality and tropospheric composition, a range of physical parameters such as temperature, cloudiness and atmospheric transport will modify the impact of UV-B. Changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere including aerosols will also have an impact. For example, tropospheric OH is the 'cleaning’ agent of the troposphere. While increased UV-B increases the OH concentration, increases in concentration of gases like methane, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds will act as sinks for OH in troposphere and hence change air quality and chemical composition in the troposphere. Also, changes in the aerosol content of the atmosphere resulting from global climate change may affect ozone photolysis rate coefficients and hence reduce or increase tropospheric ozone concentrations.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24861238
Environ Pollut. 2014 Aug;191:215-22. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2014.02.035.
Ozone and ozone injury on plants in and around Beijing, China.
Wan W1, Manning WJ2, Wang X3, Zhang H3, Sun X3, Zhang Q4.
Author information
1State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China; College of Life Science, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050016, China. Electronic address: wan.wx1972@126.com.
2Stockbridge School, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.
3State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China.
4Institute of Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Science, Shijiazhuang 050061, China.
Abstract
Ozone (O3) levels were assessed for the first time with passive samplers at 10 sites in and around Beijing in summer 2012. Average O3 concentrations were higher at locations around Beijing than in the city center. Levels varied with site locations and ranged from 22.5 to 48.1 ppb and were highest at three locations. Hourly O3 concentrations exceeded 40 ppb for 128 h and 80 ppb for 17 h from 2 to 9 in August at one site, where it had a real-time O3 analyzer. Extensive foliar O3 injury was found on 19 species of native and cultivated trees, shrubs, and herbs at 6 of the 10 study sites and the other 2 sites without passive sampler. This is the first report of O3 foliar injury in and around Beijing. Our results warrant an extensive program of O3 monitoring and foliar O3 injury assessment in and around Beijing.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20175438
Ambio. 2009 Dec;38(8):406-12.
Northern plants and ozone.
Manninen S1, Huttunen S, Tømmervik H, Hole LR, Solberg S.
Author information
Abstract
Forests in northern Fennoscandia are mainly composed of the O3-sensitive species--Scots pine and downy, mountain, and silver birches. Seminatural vegetation also contributes to biodiversity, carbon cycling, and ecosystem services as a part of forests, mires, meadows, and road verges. Fumigation experiments show that current O3 concentrations of 30-50 ppb reduce plant biomass production and reproduction. Visible foliar injury is attributable to peak O3 concentrations and relates to fast phenological development and high growth rate. Trees can acclimate to O3-induced water stress by producing more xeromorphic leaves or needles. The direct effects of O3 on grassland vegetation also translate to changes in the structure and size of the soil microbial community, and ecosystem N cycling. It is necessary to reduce the emission of O3 precursors and maintain high biodiversity to protect northern ecosystems. Regular, systematic, countrywide monitoring and validation as well as quantification of the effects of O3 on plants in the Nordic countries are also necessary.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24892227
Ozone phytotoxic potential with regard to fragments of the Atlantic Semi-deciduous Forest downwind of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Moura BB1, Alves ES2, de Souza SR2, Domingos M2, Vollenweider P3.
Author information
Abstract
In the Metropolitan Region of Campinas (MRC), Brazil, high levels of primary pollutants contribute to ozone (O3) formation. However, little is known regarding the O3 effects in the tropics. Objectives in this study were to characterize the present levels of O3 pollution and to evaluate the relevance of current concentration-based indices for assessing the phytotoxic potential of O3. Changes in O3 concentrations and precursors at 5 monitoring stations within towns of MRC were analyzed. The daily O3 profile was typical for urban sites and showed little yearly variation. Given the permanently foliated forest canopy, yearly rather than seasonal O3 indices were thus more appropriate for estimating the effective ozone dose. With yearly SUM00, SUM60 and AOT40 of 156, 16 and 14 ppm h and confirmed by evidence of O3 injury in foliage, oxidative stress in the MRC has reached levels high enough to affect trees from the Atlantic Semi-deciduous Forest.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3718789/
Foliar Symptoms Triggered by Ozone Stress in Irrigated Holm Oaks from the City of Madrid, Spain
Carlos Calderón Guerrero, Madeleine S. Günthardt-Goerg, and Pierre Vollenweider
Background
Despite abatement programs of precursors implemented in many industrialized countries, ozone remains the principal air pollutant throughout the northern hemisphere with background concentrations increasing as a consequence of economic development in former or still emerging countries and present climate change. Some of the highest ozone concentrations are measured in regions with a Mediterranean climate but the effect on the natural vegetation is alleviated by low stomatal uptake and frequent leaf xeromorphy in response to summer drought episodes characteristic of this climate. However, there is a lack of understanding of the respective role of the foliage physiology and leaf xeromorphy on the mechanistic effects of ozone in Mediterranean species. Particularly, evidence about morphological and structural changes in evergreens in response to ozone stress is missing.
“Visible injury caused by ozone stress in urban holm oaks from Madrid.
A the non-irrigated intensive study site at Escalonilla. Trees were asymptomatic. B, C the irrigated intensive study site at Atocha. At tree level, the older and symptomatic foliage showed dark brownish tones whilst the newly flushed leaves were green (C). D–L visible injury in holm oak at Atocha in 2007. D at branch level, the symptomatic foliage showed a bronze discoloration that increased with leaf age. E–L at leaf level, symptoms were characterized by, tiny, slightly depressed, intercostal and necrotic adaxial stippling surrounded by still green leaf parts. The high stippling frequency gave an overall bronze appearance to the injured leaf (E, L). Shaded leaf parts (*) showed less injury (F–G). The stippling frequency increased with leaf age (asymptomatic: H: C+0; symptomatic: I: C+0, J: C+1, K: C+2, L: C+3; leaf formation: C+0[ratio]2007, C+1[ratio]2006, C+2[ratio]2005, C+3[ratio]2004).

It seems essential to take a peek at the kind of cell damage that occurs from observing ozone:
Caption:
Structural and histochemical changes in the leaf blade.
Leaf age/formation C+0/2007, (G, H) and C+1/2006 (A–F, I). Symptomatic (C, D, F, H, I) versus asymptomatic (A, B, E, G) foliar samples. Leaf parts with stipples in symptomatic versus asymptomatic (C versus A) material showed discrete groups of necrotic and collapsed palisade parenchyma (PP) cells surrounded by degenerating mesophyll tissue. At cell level (D versus B), necrotic cells showed cell wall thickening (arrowheads), cracking (*) and folding and a disrupted cell content. The intercellular space contained cellular remains (cr). Degenerating cells showed thickened cell walls, enlarged vacuoles (v) filled with phenolics (vp) and smaller and condensed chloroplasts (ch). Within the spongy parenchyma, cell wall protrusions (red arrows), the frequency of which increased in symptomatic versus asymptomatic material (F versus E), were indicative of oxidative stress in the apoplast. G–I Photo-oxidative stress in stipples (st) of symptomatic (H, I) versus asymptomatic (G) samples was shown by gradients of condensed tannin reacting with acid-vanillin (red staining) between the upper (stronger staining) and lower (weaker staining) mesophyll cell layers. In older samples (C+1, I) and in contrast to younger symptomatic samples (C+0, H), stronger oxidation of proanthocyanidins in stipples was shown by the weak reaction of condensed tannins to acid-vanillin. UE, LE upper and lower epidermis; Ve: veins; n: nucleus; t: trichomes.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23597803
Environ Pollut. 2013 Dec;183:71-80. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.03.012. Epub 2013 Apr 15.
Role of Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOC) emitted by urban trees on ozone concentration in cities: a review.
Calfapietra C1, Fares S, Manes F, Morani A, Sgrigna G, Loreto F.
Author information
Abstract
Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOC) play a critical role in biosphere-atmosphere interactions and are key factors of the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere and climate. However, few studies have been carried out at urban level to investigate the interactions between BVOC emissions and ozone (O3) concentration. The contribution of urban vegetation to the load of BVOCs in the air and the interactions between biogenic emissions and urban pollution, including the likely formation of O3, needs to be investigated, but also the effects of O3 on the biochemical reactions and physiological conditions leading to BVOC emissions are largely unknown. The effect of BVOC emission on the O3 uptake by the trees is further complicating the interactions BVOC-O3, thus making challenging the estimation of the calculation of BVOC effect on O3 concentration at urban level.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18977568
Environ Pollut. 2009 May;157(5):1506-12. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2008.09.019. Epub 2008 Nov 1.
Ozone and urban forests in Italy.
Paoletti E.
Author information
Abstract
Ozone levels along urban-to-rural gradients in three Italian cities (Milan, Florence, Bari) showed that average AOT40 values at rural and suburban sites were 2.6 times higher than those determined at urban sites. However, O(3) also exceeded the European criteria to protect forest health at urban sites, even when the standards for human health protection were met. For protecting street trees in Mediterranean cities, the objectives of measurement at urban sites should extend from the protection of human health to the protection of vegetation as well. A review of forest effects on O(3) pollution and of O(3) pollution on forest conditions in Italian cities showed that it was not possible to distinguish the effect of O(3) in the complex mixture of urban pollutants and stressors. A preliminary list of tree species for urban planning in the Mediterranean area shows the average tree capacity of O(3) removal and VOC emission.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24911370
Environ Pollut. 2014 Jun 6;192C:129-138. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2014.05.016. [Epub ahead of print]
Growth losses in Swiss forests caused by ozone: Epidemiological data analysis of stem increment of Fagus sylvatica L. and Picea abies Karst.
Braun S1, Schindler C2, Rihm B3.
Author information
Abstract
The estimate of growth losses by ozone exposure of forest trees is a significant part in current C sequestration calculations and will also be important in future modeling. It is therefore important to know if the relationship between ozone flux and growth reduction of young trees, used to derive a Critical Level for ozone, is also valid for mature trees. Epidemiological analysis of stem increment data from Fagus sylvatica L. and Picea abies Karst. observed in Swiss forest plots was used to test this hypothesis. The results confirm the validity of the flux-response relationship at least for beech and therefore enable estimating forest growth losses by ozone on a country-wide scale. For Switzerland, these estimates amount to 19.5% growth reduction for deciduous forests, 6.6% for coniferous forests and 11.0% for all forested areas based on annual ozone stomatal uptake during the time period 1991-2011.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24297466
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2014 Mar;21(6):4220-7. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-2326-1. Epub 2013 Dec 3.
Response of Brazilian native trees to acute ozone dose.
Moura BB1, de Souza SR, Alves ES.
Author information
Abstract
Ozone (O3) is a toxic secondary pollutant able to cause an intense oxidative stress that induces visual symptoms on sensitive plant species. Controlled fumigation experiment was conducted with the aim to verify the O3 sensibility of three tropical species: Piptadenia gonoachanta (Mart.) Macbr. (Fabaceae), Astronium graveolens Jacq. (Anacardiaceae), and Croton floribundus Spreng. (Euphorbiaceae). The microscopical features involved in the oxidative stress were recognized based on specific histochemical analysis. The three species showed visual symptoms, characterized as necrosis and stippling between the veins, mostly visible on the adaxial leaf surface. All the studied species presented hypersensitive-like response (HR-like), and peroxide hydrogen accumulation (H2O2) followed by cell death and proanthocyanidin oxidation in P. gonoachanta and A. graveolens. In P. gonoachanta, a decrease in chlorophyll autofluorescence occurred on symptomatic tissues, and in A. graveolens and C. floribundus, a polyphenol compound accumulation occurred. The responses of Brazilian native species were similar to those described for sensitive species from temperate climate, and microscopical markers may be useful for the detection of ozone symptoms in future studies in the field.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24278250
PLoS One. 2013 Nov 20;8(11):e80147. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080147. eCollection 2013.
High environmental ozone levels lead to enhanced allergenicity of birch pollen.
Beck I1, Jochner S, Gilles S, McIntyre M, Buters JT, Schmidt-Weber C, Behrendt H, Ring J, Menzel A, Traidl-Hoffmann C.
Author information
Abstract
BACKGROUND:
Evidence is compelling for a positive correlation between climate change, urbanisation and prevalence of allergic sensitisation and diseases. The reason for this association is not clear to date. Some data point to a pro-allergenic effect of anthropogenic factors on susceptible individuals.
OBJECTIVES:
To evaluate the impact of urbanisation and climate change on pollen allergenicity.
METHODS:
Catkins were sampled from birch trees from different sites across the greater area of Munich, pollen were isolated and an urbanisation index, NO2 and ozone exposure were determined. To estimate pollen allergenicity, allergen content and pollen-associated lipid mediators were measured in aqueous pollen extracts. Immune stimulatory and modulatory capacity of pollen was assessed by neutrophil migration assays and the potential of pollen to inhibit dendritic cell interleukin-12 response. In vivo allergenicity was assessed by skin prick tests.
RESULTS:
The study revealed ozone as a prominent environmental factor influencing the allergenicity of birch pollen. Enhanced allergenicity, as assessed in skin prick tests, was mirrored by enhanced allergen content. Beyond that, ozone induced changes in lipid composition and chemotactic and immune modulatory potential of the pollen. Higher ozone-exposed pollen was characterised by less immune modulatory but higher immune stimulatory potential.
CONCLUSION:
It is likely that future climate change along with increasing urbanisation will lead to rising ozone concentrations in the next decades. Our study indicates that ozone is a crucial factor leading to clinically relevant enhanced allergenicity of birch pollen. Thus, with increasing temperatures and increasing ozone levels, also symptoms of pollen allergic patients may increase further.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24121421
Environ Pollut. 2014 Jan;184:457-63. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.09.023. Epub 2013 Oct 10.
Seasonal ozone uptake by a warm-temperate mixed deciduous and evergreen broadleaf forest in western Japan estimated by the Penman-Monteith approach combined with a photosynthesis-dependent stomatal model.
Kitao M1, Komatsu M, Hoshika Y, Yazaki K, Yoshimura K, Fujii S, Miyama T, Kominami Y.
Author information
Abstract
Canopy-level stomatal conductance over a warm-temperate mixed deciduous and evergreen broadleaf forest in Japan was estimated by the Penman-Monteith approach, as compensated by a semi-empirical photosynthesis-dependent stomatal model, where photosynthesis, relative humidity, and CO2 concentration were assumed to regulate stomatal conductance. This approach, using eddy covariance data and routine meteorological observations at a flux tower site, permits the continuous estimation of canopy-level O3 uptake, even when the Penman-Monteith approach is unavailable (i.e. in case of direct evaporation from soil or wet leaves). Distortion was observed between the AOT40 exposure index and O3 uptake through stomata, as AOT40 peaked in April, but with O3 uptake occurring in July. Thus, leaf pre-maturation in the predominant deciduous broadleaf tree species (Quercus serrata) might suppress O3 uptake in springtime, even when the highest O3 concentrations were observed.”
The US FS has been churning out reports about climate change affecting forests, but has nearly abolished the impact of ozone.  Why do they do that?  Let’s look at one report that was just released, over 200 pages about how climate influences the Minnesota forest - Minnesota Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis:  A Report from the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework Project.  Of course, even more amazing than that they ignore ozone in their report is that they don’t seem to notice that the forest they are studying is dying off at an incredibly rapid rate - even though their own Fig. 6 on p. 22 shows a staggering trend of decline, for practically every major species - quaking aspen, paper birch, tamarack, oaks and “other hardwoods”, plus jack pine, balsam fir, white spruce, and ash!


Other than references to stratospheric (natural) ozone and one footnote, here are the sole mentions of ozone in their study - which is basically only there because they used a model developed back in 1997:

“A strength of the PnET-CN model is its ability to simulate forest responses to many simultaneously 
changing environmental factors, including climate, N deposition, tropospheric ozone, and atmospheric 
CO2.” 

“For this assessment, we ran PnET-CN from 190 to 100 across the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province in Minnesota using a grid resolution of 0. miles. Two future climate scenarios, PCM B1 and GFDL A1FI, were used to simulate a range in potential future climate and atmospheric CO2 concentration. Current tropospheric ozone concentrations and N deposition rates (data provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) were held constant into the future.”

“As mentioned in the discussion of PnET-CN results, several factors might actually limit the CO2 fertilization effect. Nutrient and water availability, ozone pollution, and tree age and size all play major roles in the ability of trees to capitalize on CO2 fertilization (Ainsworth and Long 2005).”
So why did they exclude any future increase of ozone - which scientists say is certain to occur - in the model??  They never once mentioned acid rain, and there is virtually no concern about nitrogen deposition, either.  In table 19, their summary of major stressors, pollution is not included in any way, shape or form.  Compare it with a similar assessment prepared by the Forest Service for the Northeast using data from 2011 and earlier, published July 2012.  Although still inadequately addressing pollution, it is far better than the Minnesota study, which eliminated it from consideration altogether.

Who gave the order to eliminate pollution from the calculations - and why?

From the earlier study, Changing Climate, Changing Forests: The Impacts of Climate Change on Forests of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada

“Air-borne pollutants can change productivity and influence how trees respond to climate change. Some of the most important pollutants in the Northeast include ground-level ozone, acids, and nitrogen compounds...Ground-level ozone can damage plant tissue and decrease photosynthesis.”
“Studies suggest that ozone damage can off set CO2-induced gains in productivity and make trees more vulnerable to other stresses (e.g., McLaughlin et al. 2007). Ozone levels, which are already high in the Northeast, may increase with climate change as plants produce more volatile organic compounds, which then react with nitrogen oxides to produce ozone....Acid deposition already occurs across the Northeast and may increase, especially in high elevation forests, if climate change produces more cloud cover and precipitation. Acidic deposition can impair nutrient availability, reduce reproductive success and frost hardiness, cause physical damage to leaf surfaces, and increase susceptibility to decline.”

“Other stresses, particularly altered winter freeze-thaw cycles, increased drought and fire potential, air pollution, and heightened vulnerability to pests and disease, can reduce productivity. These stresses are difficult to fully capture in forest models. In the case of spruce-fir forests, models predict a decline under both low and high emission scenarios. The effects of additional stressors are likely to make the decline worse.”
But here’s the real crux of the issue - the Forest Service is in service of the lumber and biomass industries:

Mitigation III: Replace Fossil Fuels with “Smart” Biomass
“Sustainably managed forests can supply woody biomass for energy production. Most scientists 
agree that the displacement of fossil fuel by wood from existing harvests is likely to result in 
a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, provided that the wood is harvested sustainably 
and used in efficient applications such as community-scale combined heat and power biomass 
energy systems. Wood biomass projects can provide additional income to forest landowners 
and may prevent or defer the conversion of forests to other land uses and thereby prevent the 
emissions associated with forest conversion. However, the carbon benefits from biomass energy 
production are not guaranteed, and will only be secured if the forest management is sustainable 
and energy generation is efficient.”

Adopted daughter Laura is a vegetarian and looked askance at the main course.
But she was awfully good at persuading other daughters to have their pictures taken - thanks Laura!
After the Pig Roast First Daughter went to a dressage competition in upstate New York.
Sister Sophie checks out the new, obscenely humongous rig.  Well, how else to transport five horses.

As usual she didn’t appreciate any pictures that didn’t have a horse in them.

Here she is warming up for the first round.
You can see the wind was picking up.
By the time her friend Lauren began on horse #2, a downpour commenced.  It is one of those microbursts we are becoming all too familiar with.
She rode the entire thing anyway.
She even stood and listened to the judges’ critique.
But then she couldn’t get back to the stables soon enough.
As quickly as the storm came, it left.
So all remained clear for horses #’s 3, 4 and 5.
I am not fond of the musical tract, but there is a remarkable 5-minute slideshow assembly of “The Worlds Greatest Trees” that reminds us, like the photos below, of just how big trees can get - of course raising the question of why so many younger specimens are dying now, far short of their natural lifespan.
That photograph above was taken from a book by Eric Rutkow, titled American Canopy: Trees, Forests and the Making of a Nation.  In it he observes that, like the rest of the world if you go far back enough in time, “How easy it is to forget that much of American history has been shaped by trees”.  What is really forgotten is that our future will be shaped by the lack of trees.

You can, of course, buy the book (or just peek at a subset of pages) at Amazon, and there are worthwhile reviews, one rather critical at the LA Times (which notes that the industrious denizens of the US have reduced “close to a billion acres of ancient woodland to now what is more like 750 million acres of often young trees”) and another more complimentary at Businessweek since, obviously, trees are worth money.  Maybe trees ARE money.  The Businessweek article reveals one small aspect of early exploitation:


“Brawny chestnut and white oak were felled for railroad ties, usually just one tree per tie, 2,500 ties per mile of track, and at peak consumption, 60 million ties in a single year. Hand in hand with prosperity came profligacy. America’s original energy addiction was wood.”

My whole life I have regretted never having seen a truly pristine, ancient forest.  Rutkow writes:


“Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European to leave a detailed account of a journey to North America, marveled in 1524 the the woods [were] so greate and thick than an army (were it never so greate) might have hydd it selfe therein.’  He labeled this heavily forested land Acadia, meaning idyllic place.’  The trees, in his opinion, were the most useful thing the land had to offer.”

“John Ribault, one of the first Englishmen to record a voyage to North America, in 1564, wrote the Contrie…is the fairest, frutefullest, and pleasauntest of all the worlde, aboundinge in honye, waxe, venison, wilde fowle, fforrestes, [and] wooddes of all sortes.’”

Of course this was a description likely designed to inspire investment in the colonies.
Indeed, trees are marvelous - for building naval fleets, and houses and furniture, all sorts of transport, and fuel.

According to the author, these days despite the replacement of many wood products by plastics, still:

“Each year, the average American consumes roughly 250 board feet of timber, 200 square feed of plywood and other structural panel products, and 700 pounce of paper and paperboard.  More than 2.5 millions Americans hold jobs directly dependent on the country’s woodlands.  Nearly 20 percent of the nation’s freshwater originates in the national forests.”

He also notes more eloquently:

“They also provide sustenance: sap into sugar, seeds into nuts and fruits.  Their foliage brings life to desolate landscapes, their roots stability to shaky soils.  Finally, on a hot summer day, there are few pleasures that rival hiding in the shade beneath the boughs of a noble oak.”

The introduction opens with a detailed saga that culminates in the death murder of the tree known as Prometheus.  In 1964, Donald Currey, a graduate student in geography, spent the summer examining ancient bristlecone pines in the remote Wheeler Mountain park area of Nevada, and taking core sample of their rings.  He did this because he was hoping to learn about climate through dendochronology, thus being perhaps one of the very first examples of the conflict that seems to be inherent between climate scientists and true ecologists.  (hmmm)  Frustrated by his inability to obtain a sample from one especially large specimen, he enlisted the permission of the Forest Service to cut it down.  Eventually a scandal ensued once he quietly published the result that, as described in the book, the tree was likely 5,000 years old:


“Thirty-year-old Donal Currey had unintentionally felled the most ancient tree ever discovered - an organism already wizened when Columbus reached Hispaniola, middle-aged when Caesar ruled Rome, and starting life when the Sumerians created mankind’s first written language.”

Below are the words to the song, Bristlecone Pine, and beneath that, a nice version on youtube.

Bristlecone Pine
~ Hugh Prestwood

Way up in the mountains on the high timber line
There’s a twisted old tree called the Bristlecone Pine
The wind there is bitter, it cuts like a knife
And it keeps that tree holding on for dear life

But hold on it does, standing its ground
Standing as empires rise and fall down
When Jesus was gathering lambs to his fold
The tree was already a thousand years old

Now the way I have lived there ain’t no way to tell
When I die if I’m going to heaven or hell
So when I’m laid to rest it would suit me just fine
To sleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine

For as I would slowly return to the earth
What little this body of mine might be worth
Would soon start to nourish the roots of that tree
And it would partake of the essence of me

And who knows but that as the centuries turn
A small spark of me might continue to burn
As long as the sun did continue to shine
Down on the limbs of the Bristlecone Pine

Now the way I have lived there ain’t no way to tell
When I die if I’m going to heaven or hell
So I’d just as soon serve out eternity’s time
Asleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine

Asleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine

9 comments:

  1. Wow - what a tour de force! Here's one I found this morning that you should see. i'll comment on your current article when I've read it all. In the mean-time, check this out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elwDHJqdUus#t=40

    Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eh...the leaves are turning yellow and fluttering down to the ground, it looks like snow when the wind blows.

      Delete
  2. Hi Gail,

    I've followed your blog for some time and haven't looked at our ligniferous friends the same way since, nor do they appear the same. Confirmation bias?...maybe. maybe not. I think you're right about all of it.

    I hope you will continue to maintain Wit's End and post, if sporadically. It takes a great deal of energy to look honestly upon the "deserts behind us". In any event, nice work, thank you for it.

    Sjostrom was a giant of the silent era, if you haven't found it already: https://archive.org/details/TheOutlawAndHisWife

    Regards, Huckleberry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for posting that link, I had not found it! I am going to watch it tonight.

      Delete
  3. Spent the past 45 minutes reading most of this article - amazingly well written, in depth research, links, and the usual whimsy from you interspersed throughout. i'm seeing "burnt" leaves dropping daily from my large (over 100' tall) trees and small branches and twigs, some with an cluster of healthy looking, unspotted leaves attached. It's disconcerting to pick these up each day only to be replaced with more the next. One of these trees has developed a let's say 2' round, whitish, oozing "sore" at the base of the trunk where it meets the ground, and looking up, branches with spots of lichen can be seen where it wasn't previously seen (a few years back). This steady decline in the visible parts of these trees makes me concerned for the root systems which are probably rotting out, slowly and unseen.

    Thanks for another great post, Gail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment! It is probably fungus causing the oozing. Poor trees.

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gail, Thank you for a great batch of photos... and weaving of data. You continue to amaze me with the distillation of information blended with precious images. I had to re-enter this comment to challenge you one small premise - namely how is it that we can influence the timeline of our certain doom. Although it is unlikely that humans will act in a necessary way.. still we have quite a window of opportunity for solid mitigation work followed by some constructive adaptation. It is possible that multigenerational human survival could work for a few. It would be optimal to have a diverse genepool for that trip. So humans may want be devoted to that task.

    No matter how much and how soon, your presentations are vitally important message important to all and any children. Great assemblage.

    ReplyDelete
  6. rpauli: we've already triggered near 40 self-reinforcing feedback loops that will continue to make climate change worse for humanity (and the rest of the biosphere) and cause our habitat to be destroyed. On top of that, we continue to pump fossil fuel based by-product gases into the atmosphere, insuring that our self-created planetary chemical imbalance continues until long after we're gone. Add to that Fukushima, which is neither contained nor "under control" in any way, and it becomes rather obvious that we're on our way out as a species and that no mitigation will be successful in the short time we have left. Enjoy your days.

    Tom

    ReplyDelete

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