Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Obama, and Flowers Out of Sequence

On Sunday, October 18, this forsythia was blooming. A feeble, paltry show to be sure - but the question is, why? Numerous other species are blooming now, out of sequence. When I have time, in the next few days, I will post more pictures of them.
But for now - the leaves of the bush are an intriguing, if rather lurid, shade of lime green to aubergine.
This bush is typical of the weird growth patterns this year, where extremely long branches are reaching out in lanky stretches.
This Katsura, one of my favorite trees, isn't acting normally at all. The leaves in the fall should turn golden.
But instead they have this bizarre pattern of purpling along the somata.
The same year I planted the Katsura, near the barn, I put in some young saplings, with such anticipation that they would outlive me, my children and grandchildren!
Now, I really hope my children never reproduce. It will only bring them horrible grief, to see their offspring inherit a world of extinctions.

The willow oak is also plagued with bizarre foliar damage.
As is the sugar maple.
This leaf is typical on the tree. It isn't merely turning autumn color, it is singed.

Here is my reply to one of the scientists at FACE, who actually bothered to write back:

Dear Dr. Kubiske,

Thank you so much for responding.

To answer your question, what is my background and what prompts my interest, would probably bore you to tears so I will try to make this brief (TRY).

First, I have no scientific or technical expertise. For some reason, I have always been attached to trees, since I was very little and my favorite playthings were sticks, leaves, acorns, pine cones, and moss. My favorite place to play was under trees, in their roots, and up in their branches.

As an adult (I'm now 56) I have planted hundreds of seedlings on my farm and in the woods surrounding. Because I care about them, and also of course have invested quite a bit of time and money and effort, I monitor their growth. I also have made countless visits to arboretums here and internationally.

So, I became quite alarmed last summer (2008) when I noticed the leaves of trees becoming wilted, droopy, scorched at the edges, and falling off prematurely. I began to do research and learned about tree decline, what causes it, and the fact that it is irreversible once such extreme symptoms appear.

This time last fall, the coniferous trees started dropping needles, and were covered with ridiculous numbers of cones, in what I discovered was a desperate attempt to put all their energy into reproduction. This fall, many are bare, and it's now impossible to locate a single specimen that doesn't have yellowing needles.

I once was one of those contentedly deluded people, who are still in the vast majority, who thought perhaps climate change was real, and even that humans are causing it - but that the effects were going to occur slowly, in a linear warming, far off in the future and most likely, at some remote place, like Madagascar. In fact I have read enough and seen enough to know that terrible results of burning greenhouse gases is going to bring about change that is abrupt, violent, and actually happening in my own back yard, now.

Witnessing the wholesale degradation of every species of tree, of every age and habitat, convinced me that there had to be an over-riding agent at work. No particular insect or disease or fungus could be responsible for such universal impact. I speculated that perhaps long-term drought, acid rain, decreased snow-pack and/or warmer temperatures leading to an inability to go dormant, might underlie the phenomena.

I considered many causes and still don't have the answer because, as I said, I'm neither a botanist nor atmospheric physicist. However, as this past summer progressed, by process of elimination I became convinced that something in the composition of the atmosphere must be the primary cause. Nothing else can account for the empirical evidence, particularly, in aquatic plants.

So, assuming (big assumption) I am correct, that something in the atmosphere is killing not just trees, but all other vegetation, the question becomes, what is it? Is it cumulative ozone? I doubt that because the damage is relatively speaking, so sudden. So what is relatively speaking, a recent and large scale change?

That would be burning ethanol.

I hope you will take some time to visit my blog, which has a search window.

Please get back to me and let me know what you think. I am so petrified that my children will inherit a horrible future of deprivation.


Here is Why I love Obama!

He really understands. He is the best hope, aside from the Flying Spaghetti Monster, that human civilization has to survive.

I don't think I linked to this yet, so read it!


  1. I'm really impressed with your blog - I live in a city, and I'm nowhere near as well in touch with the natural world as you are, but the evidence in your photos certainly looks persuasive. Have you been taking pictures of trees and plants for years? I was just thinking that it would be interesting to do a comparison of then-and-now, to show that what you're seeing now is not normal.

    (Portsmouth, UK).

  2. Hey thanks, John/Icarus, that is a very nice compliment. And no, unfortunately, I haven't been taking pictures of trees for years - I had no reason to, I thought they'd always be here. (sob) I really just started last May when I began the blog.

    But your point is well taken. I should make more of an effort to find some pictures from years past and do side-by-side comparisons. Thank you for the suggestion - that will keep me occupied when all the leaves are gone for the winter and there's nothing to record but thinning pines and spreading lichens!

  3. You're very welcome - getting out and enjoying the peace and beauty of the natural world is like finding water when you're dying of thirst. It's one of my few escapes from a noisy, hectic, stressful life, and I hate to think that we're responsible for its growing destruction.

  4. Ah Icarus, if you want the full-blown, unadulterated, in the trenches, overwhelming truth, outclick on Desdemona. Read every day, because if you miss a day or two, and have to catch up, it's utterly crushing.

    Cheers! And thank you for reading. Go for physics and chemistry. Those things don't change, the laws are immutable, and will outlast our piddling creation and destruction.

    Small comfort perhaps, but its the most I find lately. That and like-minded folks.


  5. Hi Gail... I'm a bit dense but what is 'Desdemona'? Cheers! :-)

  6. Sorry! On the right side of this page is a list of blogs I read and recommend, one of which is http://desdemonadespair.blogspot.com/ which excels at gathering the grimmest most doomsdayish current news related to climate change. Really ghoulish, and unique and unrivaled in its comprehensive global coverage that I've never seen gathered so comprehensively in one spot other than perhaps apocadocs.



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