Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I wish I could communicate something profound - important thoughts that will resonate - when I make a post here on this blog. But when I come across scenes like this, I become inchoate. I recall the first time I saw a dead tree - long before I reflected on the cause - and how shocked I was.
Now look, whole swaths of pines are dead, in just the past 2 years.
Trunks are rotting.

And bark is splitting. Why is shell putting nitrogen into gasoline - don't they understand how delicate the nitrogen balance is in nature? I guess not!
Sunday was such a gorgeous day I decided to return once again to Willowwood, a nearby arboretum. I expected the witchhazel to be blooming, and I wasn't disappointed. It doesn't look very impressive but as a plant in the garden has several advantages - it blooms very early and has a wonderful, pervasive scent that travels great distances.
This particular arboretum has many varieties, as they do with other trees and shrubs. I last took some pictures of damaged trees in October, and earlier as well, posted in July 2009.
Many areas were carpeted with the blossoms of a cheery yellow groundcover.
I began checking the trees for BALDness - which is a revolutionary new diagnosis for the symptoms of bark atrophy lichen decline - in which the bark of branches and trunks of trees lose begins to split, fray, curl, and fall off, which often but not necessarily is accompanied by the rampant growth of one or more lichens, and either way, foretells a decline heralding the imminent death of the tree.
This very large hickory is a good example. Different trees have bark that responds to BALDness in their own peculiar fashion. Hickories have long, vertical, curls of bark that look like they are about to spring off into space.
In fact they are popping off.
When pieces of bark jump off, the vulnerable underneath is revealed.
Conifers are going BALD as well.
This Japanese Red Pine has a very thin crown, and the trunk clearly has BARK.
The branch has the same problem.
The arboretum is a useful venue for examining the effects of toxic greenhouse gases that interfere with photosynthesis and the production of chlorophyll, because there are so many varieties of trees. Foresters and nurserymen and the USDA like to blame individual pathogens, insects, or fungi for the rampant dying of particular trees.
But a survey of an arboretum like this makes clear that every form of vegetative life is equally impacted. For instance this thinning
Cedar of Lebanon
which of course has lichen gnawing on its branches
as does this Western Yellow Pine that has raw exposed bark
and the same can be observed on this exotic import
a Chinese fringe tree with BALD branches.

The original home of the landscape architect has boxwoods that look like this now:
I wrote to the trustees in October, when the boxwood looked bad, but not as bad as they do now! Not one of them answered me. October:
This is incredibly fast deterioration.
In the formal beds, the yew hedge is suffering.
Take a look at the inner branches.
An euonymus bush should be green all through the winter.
Instead, it is fading and the leaves display the classic effects of toxic greenhouse gas poisoning: loss of pigment, and stippling from damaged stomata.
Most of the plants and trees are labeled, but this one isn't. I'm including it as an example of BALDing, even though it had no label and maybe it is supposed to peel like this, because, while trying to get a picture, I slipped into the creek and suffered from a rather serious mud attack. And besides, it's amazing coloration!
There is a grove of various apple and crabapple trees. Here is a spokestree for the rest:
Hello? I am being smothered with a voracious lichen! Is anyone listening? Excuse me I'm dying! Hello?
This is another rather exotic tree, a Chinese Elm.
losing bark and exposing raw wood.
This pine has no nametag, it is on the outskirts of the park.
It has really gone downhill just since last October:
The trunk is drenched with sap.
Here is a picture of a low branch last July
already thin, but now it is just about totally bare.
As is this row of pines. They are black:
The woods are so foreign to me now. They used to be robust and suddenly, they are bleak.

Here is a mesmerizing and infinitely sad tale of how human activity is driving the sixth great extinction event, described at this guardianUK article. It's really only necessary to think about it a minute or two to realize in all its bathos the fact that we are a predatory species which is not only causing untold species to go expire but is well on track to cause the extinction of ourselves. Rather annoyingly however, they list the reasons humans are causing extinctions and never even mention pollution!

"Conservation experts have already signalled that the world is in the grip of the "sixth great extinction" of species, driven by the destruction of natural habitats, hunting, the spread of alien predators and disease, and climate change."

There is never any lack of links to stories along these lines at DesdemonaDespair but this one about the disappearing oysters in the Pacific northwest in particular reminds me that what is happening in the oceans is mirrored on the land.

A comment found at this post at Greenfyre's blog is quite likely the most deeply cynical explanation for the complacency of deniers I have yet to come across; and also quite likely to be the most accurate assessment!

A couple of things I’ve discovered over the years and some observations:

1) Conspiracy theorists never investigate real conspiracies because the fake ones are much safer to investigate. Investigating real conspiracies can get you hurt or killed. This is why Monckton can safely rant about Global Warming being a conspiracy by what essentially comes down to the Illuminati, but we see very little in the mainstream media about how the deniers function.

2) The professional deniers know what the consequences of their actions will be if they are successful, in fact they are counting on them. If large areas of the Earth are turned into lifeless desert that opens up all kinds of opportunities for oil and coal exploration. Besides we will need those energy resources to survive in a world growing more hostile to life. So what if a large portion of the Earth’s population dies, it will mostly hit the poorer people who don’t buy much coal and oil anyway. This is the way they are thinking.

3) Drawing parallels between “Climategate” and Watergate may not be a bad thing. I recall that there were a series of other break-ins before the Plumbers were caught that caused all kinds of problems for the Democratic party and helped Nixon get elected. But the investigation of Watergate break-in eventually revealed the truth. I expect that a similar series of events can be made to happen by investigating who was behind the hacked emails.

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