Saturday, July 31, 2010

"The Perfidy of Sarah Palin"

I have been following the lies of Sarah Palin mostly because her outlandish escapades afford welcome comic relief from fretting over ecosystem collapse. But there is a serious side to her faked pregnancy and her creepy fundamentalism and vicious exploitation of the environment. The complicity of the press in enabling her to continue the charade - even with the sickening, cynical exposure of her teenage daughter's out-of-wedlock second pregnancy as a diversion from the first - is important. The press is owned by corporations and they refuse to expose the lies by Sarah Palin just as they are promoting lies by energy companies about climate change. Two videos produced on Palingates demonstrate this explicitly, as exemplified by this screenshot from the end of Part II:

Note: NONE of the many blogger who have accused Sarah Palin of faking the pregnancy have been sued by her - because it's all true! If she sued them, it would be revealed in discovery that she is not the mother of Trig, so she can't.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stephen Schneider, Still Speaking to Us

I haven't mentioned anything on this blog or commented anywhere about Dr. Stephen Schneider, who died recently. There have been many eulogies on the internet and in print - but I haven't felt qualified to say a thing although I have felt terrible about his loss. I didn't know him, I only knew of his reputation as one of the pillars of climate science and policy. But having read this essay, which was just published posthumously and I highly recommend, I will copy a passage from it, below these photos of a house in Pottersville.
These first two were taken on July 29, 2009, exactly a year and a day ago. I stopped then to snap pictures because the morning glories were absolutely gorgeous.
I kind of forgot about them until this morning when I went by again.

I couldn't believe my eyes.
There wasn't a single flower anywhere on the porch.
And if these leaves aren't classic examples of chlorosis...
and necrosis, I can't imagine what would be.
Just for good measure here are the trees across the street.

It has been reported that Professor Schneider died of a heart attack. It has also been reported that he had survived a rare lymphoma, which was treated with R-CHOP, a particularly brutal course of chemotherapy which is known to damage the heart.
So I would hazard a guess that pollution caused his death, as it is causing the death of the entire biosphere.

This is all so ineffably sad:

" the Reaganites, the very admission of global warming was an ideological no-no. It represented the collective planetary-scale footprint of personal, corporate, and national decisions to use the atmosphere as a convenient, free sewer to dump our smokestack wastes, tailpipe emissions, and side effects of land-use changes like deforestation. To admit that we were harming the planetary commons was to admit that we needed regulatory solutions, some internationalist—the ultimate no-no to ideologists of American hegemony and economic power. So denial of global warming became de facto government policy, since the ideology of protecting entrepreneurial rights over public amenities was Reaganite doctrine."
Thanks as always to RPauli for sharing the link

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Evidence that toxic emissions in the atmosphere are destroying the World

Update: The US Dept of Ag has somehow removed many links referred to in this post...imagine that!

Original post:

Here I am, back in New Jersey after a brief but timeless respite on the west coast - again in the vortex of rampant ecosystem collapse. Ugh.
This poor, magnificent heron is slogging through my neighbor's pond, which I have never before seen so clogged with algae. It's hard to believe he can find any fish in the muck.

I am more fascinated than ever on the nitrogen issue whose role in ozone has been an ongoing concern of mine - mainly because of all the nitrogen-loving lichens growing berserk on trees, dead wood, and today I called Thomas Armitage, a self-described Environmental Scientist who is the unfortunate go-to guy at the EPA for the Science Advisory Board, listed as their contact. He did return my call, in the early evening - working overtime!
He sounded like a very sincere and decent fellow. I asked him, what is happening with the latest draft report from the Integrated Nitrogen Committee, (which is one of so many many draft reports over YEARS)...and he told me to check back in the fall for ANOTHER meeting for comments, which will be announced in the federal register, on the board's website on the calendar for advisory activities meetings list, somewhere at the labyrinthine site...maybe September...or October...where I register for a teleconference for which I can find a number to call the office for a number...because its such a long process for approval...

kaySo...I finally asked him something along the lines...thanks for all the links but, I just want to know is there ANY sense of alarm in the government, is ANYBODY worried - are YOU worried - about ozone killing trees and causing crop failures, and mass starvation, is anybody talking about that???

Oh ho ho ho he chuckled, that is a broad subject. I can't really comment on that as a person or as a representative of the EPA, I am just in the Program Office...REALLY you should talk to somebody in the atmospheric department...just send me an email and I'll direct you to the right department...


NO, he didn't exactly say that! This is my blog - and that is what I heard.

It's just the same as the assholes at the Dept. of Ag, which are clearly cognizant of the dangers, because it's posted right on their own website - and yet they DO NOTHING TO WARN PEOPLE OF THE IMMINENT DANGER OF STARVATION. Here are portions of the Department of Agriculture's page about ozone - enjoy! And when you get to this part: "The most extensive research on crop loss was performed from 1980 to 1987"
you might ask yourself WHY?? WHY OH WHY hasn't there been any "extensive research on crop loss performed" in more than 20 friggin' years??? Or if there has been, why isn't it on the AgDept's webpage??? (thanks as ever to RPauli for bringing this travesty to my attention).
"Ozone enters leaves through stomata during normal gas exchange. As a strong oxidant, ozone (or secondary products resulting from oxidation by ozone such as reactive oxygen species) causes several types of symptoms including chlorosis and necrosis. It is almost impossible to tell whether foliar chlorosis or necrosis in the field is caused by ozone or normal senescence. Several additional symptom types are commonly associated with ozone exposure, however. These include flecks (tiny light-tan irregular spots less than 1 mm diameter), stipples (small darkly pigmented areas approximately 2-4 mm diameter), bronzing, and reddening."

"Ozone symptoms usually occur between the veins on the upper leaf surface of older and middle-aged leaves, but may also involve both leaf surfaces (bifacial) for some species. The type and severity of injury is dependent on several factors including duration and concentration of ozone exposure, weather conditions and plant genetics. One or all of these symptoms can occur on some species under some conditions, and specific symptoms on one species can differ from symptoms on another. With continuing daily ozone exposure, classical symptoms (stippling, flecking, bronzing, and reddening) are gradually obscured by chlorosis and necrosis."
"Studies in open-top field chambers have repeatedly verified that flecking, stippling, bronzing and reddening on plant leaves are classical responses to ambient levels of ozone. Plants grown in chambers receiving air filtered with activated charcoal (CF) to reduce ozone concentrations do not develop symptoms that occur on plants grown in nonfiltered air (NF) at ambient ozone concentrations. Foliar symptoms shown on this web site mainly occurred on plants exposed to ambient concentrations of ozone (either in NF chambers or in ambient air)." are my pictures from today:
snow on the mountain...look familiar??? More from our Department of Agriculture:

Seasonal mean of ambient ozone concentrations between 09:00 and 16:00 h over the continental United States from 1 July to 31 September 2005 (Tong et al. 2007. Atmos. Environ. 41:8772). Areas shown in brown, orange and red can experience significant crop yield loss and damage to ecosystem function from ambient ozone.

Yield Loss Caused by Ozone

Field research to measure effects of seasonal exposure to ozone on crop yield has been in progress for more than 40 years. Most of this research utilized open-top field chambers in which growth conditions are similar to outside conditions. The most extensive research on crop loss was performed from 1980 to 1987 at five locations in the USA as part of the National Crop Loss Assessment Network (NCLAN). At each location, numerous chambers were used to expose plants to ozone treatments spanning the range of concentrations that occur in different areas of the world. The NCLAN focused on the most important agronomic crops nationally.

Yield response to seasonal 12 h daily ozone concentrationThe strongest evidence for significant effects of ozone on crop yield comes from NCLAN studies (Heagle 1989). The results show that dicot species (soybean, cotton and peanut) are more sensitive to yield loss caused by ozone than monocot species (sorghum, field corn and winter wheat).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Widening Gyre

I am home again in New Jersey following what seemed like a vertiginous trip to the left coast - this post will have photos of the final segment of my travels, to California, where I was a grateful guest at this delightful farmhouse
which is the home of one of my oldest, bestest friends.
If I thought what I witnessed in the Pacific Northwest (as described earlier in this post) was alarming, then what I found in California was simply terrifying.
The death of trees and shrubs is so blatantly egregious that I simply do not understand what sort of collective insanity allows the residents of this state to go about their daily routines without pausing to reflect on the implications of the ecosystem collapsing in front of their very eyes.
The destination on the first day was Golden Gate Park. It was hideously frigid despite global warming!
The sky was overcast, the terrible fog seeped into useless layers of chilled, dampened clothing, and the trees were in such abysmal condition that I was appalled.
It has been suggested to me that since this blog is all about (mostly) ozone killing vegetation, I should offer a primer for those who haven't been quite as obsessed as I've been, as to what evidence indicates that a tree is afflicted by poisoning from toxic greenhouse gases.
A very short list would be fairly simple to describe and quite evident in a quick tour through any park, yard, or forest.
Golden Gate was no exception, Regard:
Thin crowns.
Bare branches.
Overproduction of reproductive cones, seeds, and flowers - putting all energy into procreation.
Smaller than normal seeds, nuts, leaves.
Wilted leaves, leaves lacking normal color (loss of chlorophyll).
Splitting bark.
Stippled foliage.
After some miserable shivering, the looming Conservatory offered respite.
We plunged inside, where there were spectacular displays of flora.
Interesting blossoms crowded the pond.
And there were delightful orchids
of many varieties
and hues.
Plants I don't recognize from exotic locations refracted brilliant colors

which was a joy to see!
I can't say if the anthuriums are supposed to exhibit this range of palettes.
Perhaps it is normal, or they have been hybridized.
But I can say with some assurance that the leaves of this tropical flower (LOOK at the top right leaf!)
are classic examples of chlorosis.

I have already quoted extensively from the prolific professor, Dr. Garg of India, who has published several other blogs on various topics from yoga to history to algae. He was kind enough to answer my letter - but does not so far seem inclined to dredge up links for his sources behind the encyclopedic references to acid rain and ozone he had amassed while teaching Botany over a 30 year career.
Much of his work is about acid rain, not ozone, as linked to before.
However, I am going to post a series of pictures of leaves that were seen in the conservatory, and obviously not subjected to acid rain.
Yet, they have the identical damage to foliage seen outdoors, in all locations, whether wild forests or suburban plantings.
I will be interspersing some tantalizing quotes, in italics, about ozone - from his blog titled Pollution and Plants:


In presence of strong sunlight and in hot weather a series of complex chemical reactions involving nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons may produce certain photo-oxidant chemicals.
These chemicals do not have any specific anthropogenic source but are formed over wide areas in which suitable environmental conditions are prevailing.
Two such photo-oxidants that can reach ambient concentrations toxic to plants are PAN (Peroxyacetylnitrate ) and ozone.

PAN (Peroxyacetylnitrate-CH3CO.O2.NO2)

Impact of this secondary pollutant is not affected by humidity. However, the impact decreases with lowering of temperature and increasing drought conditions. The impact also increases in the morning and in bright sunlight.
Young plants and young rapidly expanding leaves are more sensitive to this pollutant. PAN interacts with SO2 and O3 in complex manner producing variable impact conditions.

The common visible symptoms of exposure to PAN are chlorosis and necrosis in leaves. It also interferes with photosynthesis, respiration and absorption and synthesis of carbohydrates and proteins.
It inhibits photorespiration, NADP reduction, carbon dioxide fixation, cellulose synthesis and the enzymes associated with photosynthesis and respiration.

Ozone (O3)

The impact of ozone on plants increases with humidity and decreases with drought, darkness, low temperature, high soil salinity, deficiency of soil phosphorus and excess of soil sulphur. Middle aged leaves and young plants are more sensitive to ozone. This pollutant interacts with SO2, NO2, PAN and heavy metals in complex manner.

Common symptoms of ozone pollution are yellowing, flecking and blotching in leaves, premature senescence and early maturity. It interferes with pollen formation, pollination, pollen germination and growth of pollen tubes. Increase in the level of RNA, starch, polysaccharides and number of polysomes is observed in ozone pollution.
Ozone stimulates respiration, inhibits oxidative phosphorylation and changes membrane permeability. In some species, it inhibits the synthesis of glucon and cellulose and reduces the level of reducing sugars, ascorbic acid and ATP while in other species the effect is opposite to it.

Secondary pollution conditions
Certain primary inorganic and organic pollutants in the atmosphere under certain specific environmental conditions, undergo a variety of complex photochemical and other chemical reactions.
These reactions produce certain specific secondary atmospheric pollution conditions that also adversely affect plants. Important such secondary atmospheric pollution conditions are acid rains, photochemical smog, ozone depletion and greenhouse problem.

It was quite a relief to find the section devoted to carnivorous plants.
Of course there were the Venus Fly Traps...
But there were many others I had never seen before -
so here are several, mixed up with more from Dr. Garg.
He has much more to say in that blog about the effects of water-born pesticides, herbicides, industrial effluent and other scourges of vegetation
but it's really too much for me to keep up with all the other sources that conspire to push our ecosystem past a tipping point to where it is collapsing.
But for anyone who has the fortitude, it is worth reading about.
That was a gloomy day in San Francisco,
where the palm trees along the Embarcadero
are shriveling up and dying.
Following that nasty cold interval, I had a few balmy days to explore the area around Petaluma, a town with meticulously maintained, colorful Victorian homes, and more rural enclaves.
They love their roses!
There are huge clumps of blossoms, which I have never seen before.
And long blooming hedges.
They breed particularly luminous mixtures of glowing hues.
And lots of standard formations bordering walkways.
Of course, there are loads of other flowers in the gardens.
Dahlias, and begonias.
This is a grand place to hone in on cultivated flowers.
For all that, the overall picture is bleak.
Shrubs are dying left and right.
Oleander is more robust than most but still is dying back.
Nasturtiums have no more and no less injury than in New Jersey or Seattle!
Evergreens are turning brown.
Leaves are singed.
Conifers are thin.
Crowns are transparent, with bare branches.
The leaves of lemon trees are turning yellow.
Armed with Dr. Garg's refreshingly blunt assessments, I read two articles in the Independent UK, one titled Car fumes raise spectre of 1980's revival, and the other, Acid rain: An environmental crisis that disappeared off the radar.
Then I realized that, though instructive, they are both actually month-old interpretations of this article, originally published in Scientific American magazine, which I already posted, in June(!) along with excerpts from a draft report to the EPA which include some rather dramatic statements about the impacts of ozone on forests...highly deserving of a second read.
To make this nitrogen redux even more delicious, I learned through the googling that the scientist quoted, Dr. Schlesinger, who is president of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, is also on the Board of the infamously derelict Doris Duke Foundation!!
In re-reading the article I scanned the comments. I don't know who DownRiverDiva is, but she is a woman after my own heart - I loved her remarks, especially because I copied Dr. Schlesinger this letter to tell him that ozone is killing everything, everywhere - and got exactly NO reply!:

"Why is it that there is all this reporting of things happening to the Earth and problems that are potentially devastating to the people and the environment by scientists but when they are asked why or what is going on they don't know? How are they reporting these things but don't understand them? Are the scientist just stupid and pretending to be working? Or are they in over their heads and need to be out painting billboards instead of in a science lab? Or don't they read their own studies? An example: "It's clear that humans are adding nitrogen to Earth's surface. Researchers do not know yet where it all goes, "but we do know that increasing concentrations of nitrogen in unexpected places will cause significant environmental damage that we will all learn to regret," Schlesinger wrote in a 2009 report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."  But then who can question scientists who have all kinds of degrees? Of course when this happens in medical science, they always say, "we don't know what the appendix does, but it's ok to remove it. It must not do anything if we can't figure out what purpose it serves."  Never fails. They do it all the time, for decades, till somebody says, "Hey, it does do something and we better leave it alone!" Bunch of educated fools, all of them. And don't question me, I have a couple of degrees too!"
This was a brilliantly outraged smack-down of those I perhaps more crudely have referred to as egomaniacal douchebags.

I do not recognize this shrub
with its waxy, ruby flowers,
But I can see it is dying back, with bare branches extending beyond the living tissue.
a weeping Rosemary
A brazen, winged beast
laughing, ecstatic destruction
a stoney sleep
rent from eternity
leaves on the grass
a hedge that is fading away
A fig tree with distorted leaves
More fun at a fantabulous candy store!
we visited all sorts of luxurious shops
including a purveyor of fine stationary that had a vast collection of shadowbox insects, all sorts of obscure beetles and butterflies arrayed in geometrically pleasing patterns.
At first I was enchanted but later I wondered if they had been collected while alive, and killed for the purpose of giving humans a momentary visual thrill. We so thoughtlessly murder other species for our own amusement and pleasure!
A sunny day trip to San Francisco yielded views of the hills around the ferry terminal.

Brush is clearly fried to a crisp.

The treetops are scorched, and not by fire!
Crowns are abnormally thin.
As we pulled out of the harbor, I took a photo of the receding hills of Marin County.
And then I cropped to look more closely. The zooms are blurry, but it is plain to see
that there are large clusters of totally dead, standing timber
No travelogue of the Bay Area would be complete without a picture of the fog held in abeyance behind the Golden Gate Bridge.
And a skyline of what I have always called the Emerald City.
Plus, the site of many luscious afternoon picnics, at the peak of Coit Tower.
But none of that compares to the pleasure of a visit with youngest daughter.
who I dragged by bicycle caddy to my old lunchtime haunt,
the Tadich Grill
who I already miss terribly as she has relocated to my alma mater, UC Santa Cruz, for her master's program.

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