Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the letter that started the nursery notice

I sent the letter copied below to a number of nurserymen and farmers, who had authored articles in a local newsletter. It appears to have generated some response, although not directly to me, even though I welcome any discussion on this topic. We all need food to eat. Following is my message, to the authors, from last week:

I picked up a copy of Gardener News and notice that many articles are unwittingly describing the effects of gasoline emission poisoning on vegetation. These effects mimic the symptoms of drought, blight, excess rainfall and fungus but are in fact also well-documented to be produced by exposure to atmospheric toxins.

Just because the gasses produced by burning coal, gasoline and ethanol are invisible, it does not mean they are not deadly. The scorched and falling leaves, thin tree crowns and forest canopies, bare branches, and dropping pine needles are ubiquitous in New Jersey and up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The hundreds of trees that were damaged recently in a thunderstorm in New York's Central Park was not from mere weather - the trees are weak, and they are covered with a lichen that is a harbinger of death.

It's quite likely that the relatively sudden and dramatic decline in trees is a result of the mandated addition of ethanol to gasoline.

It's well known that burning gasoline emissions react to UV radiation, creating ozone. It's less well recognized that ozone is very detrimental to plants - and even less discussed is that the damage from ethanol may be worse. Ethanol emits acetaldehyde which is the precursor to peroxyacetyl nitrates (PANS), that are highly dangerous to vegetation (and people: see http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/ClimateHealth4.pdf)

Before attributing this widespread and universal damage to individual diseases, excessive rain, pests, previous drought, and other blights on vegetation, which is what foresters, ecologists, and conservationists usually do, please consider this fact: the leaves of plants in ponds show the identical process of chloration - a loss of the ability to create chlorophyll. In the classic response to ozone and PANS, the leaves close their stomata, basically causing the organism to suffocate.

I would like to direct you to this report http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-022/430-022.html which describes exactly the condition of vegetation in New Jersey. I would question two statements that I believe may be out of date - one is that some species are more susceptible than others. Currently, it's impossible to find any species that isn't affected. The other is that PANS are less of a problem than ozone.

The evidence of this phenomena is readily detectable in an objective, cursory inventory of any woods, park, back yard, farm, arboretum, mall parking lot, pond, or nursery. It is irrefutable that the composition of the atmosphere is the primary causative agent for what is rapidly becoming an existential threat. Note that there is not one species that normally photosynthesizes that is immune, and that trees of every spectrum of age, and plants in every situation, whether wild or in nurseries, in pots or ponds or in the ground, share the same degree of impact.

If we do not stop squandering fuel we are headed straight for ecosystem collapse and mass extinctions, not to mention crop losses.

I am not a chemist but if it could be determined to be primarily linked to ethanol, we can consider ourselves lucky. We could stop this wholesale slaughter of trees and go back to the slower path of destruction through climate change.

You who are directly involved in agriculture and landscaping should be in the forefront demanding that the government take swift and strong action to enact clean energy legislation, because it is your livelihood that is at stake. Of course everybody who eats, and every species that depends on trees for fruit, nuts, shelter, and shade has everything to lose as well. But you will be the first to be impacted when your crops fail to produce adequate income for you, and people and businesses give up purchasing and planting shrubs and saplings in their landscapes because it will be a waste of money. Eventually they will notice that nothing they install will thrive.

Please fell free to write or call if there is anything I can clarify; and/or visit www.witsendnj.blogspot.com where there are many links to scientific research, and photos documenting the carnage.


Gail Zawacki
Oldwick, NJ

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