Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Copied below is a comment to the story about globalchange.gov (the new government website about the impacts of climate change) that I found on Daily Kos this morning, which reads like this:

"Extreme weather damaging the trees (4+ / 0-)
I live in a wooded area in Kentucky and for the last 3 years we’ve had extreme weather that’s damaged the forest. First it was drought. I would guess around 10% of the trees died outright. Then it was a late freeze in spring, which killed all the leaves. The freeze wasn’t too bad since trees are able to leaf out again. This spring was the ice storm, which was an eerie, end-of-the-world kind of experience. Every 20-30 seconds you could hear something breaking and falling to the ground. Usually a treetop but often an uprooted tree. Very few were undamaged, maybe as many as 5% are gone.

I’m starting to wonder if this woods I have lived most of my life in will be here ten years from now.

by Jack the R on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 10:33:44 AM PDT"

I would have responded to Jack the R but I have to wait 24 hours after registering to make a comment on Kos. So tomorrow, I will try to track him down and compare notes. He and I may be the only people between Kentucky and Rhode Island, at least, who are actually looking at trees and understanding how critical is their condition. It's, like, an emergency.

These pictures illustrate some of the signs of decline. One young tree just fell over. My understanding is that swings of excessive dryness and heavy infrequent rains cause the roots to rot, so the tree has no anchor. The mature deciduous trees behind the cemetery are thin and frail as are the pines. There is a very large tree and a closeup reveals how the leaves are turning brown already, in June. If you click on a picture, it should enlarge for more detail.

Sometimes I wonder why I write this blog. By the end of the summer such a large percentage of the trees will be bare or have brown leaves that a mass extinction event will be undeniable.

And this is way way ahead of even the worst predictions. What might that mean for the other effects of climate change, do you suppose? The methane release, the melting polar ice and glaciers, the temperature rise, the extreme storms, the die-off of corals and life in the oceans?

I do not think it is a positive portent.


  1. The comment sections at Kos are often so vile and troll filled, I've given up visiting there.

    Jack's forest and what you see in your trees illustrates the difference between weather and climate.

    Kudos for your photography. Do you know the species of the trees pictured?

  2. Thank you for your comment Paul Kelly! I only went to Kos because I followed a link about the globalchange.gov site from climateprogress.

    I shall try to label the trees from now on. The species that are in decline, almost all of which are pictured on this blog somewhere, are pin, red, and white oak, various maples, hickory, sycamore, locust, ash, black walnut, hemlock, willow, catalpa, beech, plum, crabapple, tulip poplar, osage orange, spruce, cedar, douglas fir, yews and junipers. Also noticeably suffering are shrubs both native and cultivated, evergreen and deciduous. In short, just about every species of tree and shrub that grows here is showing signs of drought, whether or not long-term drought is the immediate cause.

    Which is precisely why I cannot agree that this illustrates the difference between weather and climate, comforting as that notion may be. The problem is just too severe, and too widespread, to be attributable to one or two isolated severe weather events.

    The ice storms, which have wreaked destruction as far north as Maine as well, are in the first place attributable to climate change because if it were colder, they would be snow. Aside from that they cause more damage than otherwise because the trees are weakened.

    You just have to look at the way the power companies are frantically cutting branches away from the lines to know they realize they are coming down more frequently.

    If this were merely weather, the trees wouldn't look the way they do now or the Europeans wouldn't have found the vast mighty forests that they then plundered when they arrived 300 years ago, because Jack is right - they aren't going to be here in 10 years. It's simply a fact that once they exhibit the symptoms I photograph, they are already in the process of dying.

    This morning I was sent this link, perhaps that will be more authoritative a source:


    The only difference is that I am seeing these effects here and now. But they are predicted by the experts to be a result of climate change, just coming faster than expected.

    And that is not a good thing.


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