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).


  1. Gail, Someday. And it may be very soon. A news organization will do a story on you... the headline may be: "New Jersey blogger figures why plants are dying. Scientists and mass media totally missed the story"

    Or perhaps they will be completely embarrassed by their stupidity. The longer they go the more serious their shame.

    Really, why is this getting totally overlooked? I suspect that people do not want to see this.

  2. Well, RPauli, as far as I can tell, only total collective insanity can explain it. That means you, and I, and approximately 5 to 10 other people on this planet AREN'T insane.

    NOW, where did I leave my meds....

  3. Gail, Outstanding. And thank you for your dedication to the commonweal.

    The mystery of chemtrails ... aerosols of nanoparticles of aluminum, barium, strontium, and others, is solved.

    It's a lousy, evil ending, but, maybe not too late. PLM

  4. Some UK scientists are saying what you, I, and the other crazies have been saying:

    Rising Surface Ozone Reduces Plant Growth And Adds To Global Warming


  5. Hi Catman,

    I sent a letter to the New York Times, and the author of that study, Peter Cox, and some other scientists. Only one answered: my letter and his message follow separately, I have too many characters for a comment. Of course the NYT ignored it. But even the scientists who know the problem best are largely silent about the dangerous implications. Go figure!

  6. Dear Editor,

    Below please find an open letter to the following scientists who are researching the effects of ozone on plants:

    Dr. Victoria Wittig, University of Illinois
    Dr. Elizabeth Ainsworth, USDA
    Dr. Shawna Naidu, University of Illinois
    Dr. David Karnosky, Michigan Technological University
    Dr. Kevin Percy, Natural Resources Canada
    Dr. William Manning, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Dr. Thomas Sharkey, Michigan State University
    Dr. John Reilly, MIT
    Dr. Peter Cox, Exeter University

    Dear Scientists,

    Recently I have begun documenting on a blog ( the deteriorating plight of trees in New Jersey. In my state as well as others I have visited along the Eastern Seaboard, the vegetation is in such rapid and universal decline that only a very significant agent, such as one related to climate change, can be broad enough to explain it.

    Until recently I could only speculate as to which exact mechanism could cause all species of trees and shrubs, of all ages, to show the extreme symptoms of drought and irreversible decline. I thought it most likely related to the fact that the average temperature has increased from pre-industrial levels, leading to unpredictable weather and faster evaporation of less regular precipitation.

    In just the past few days however, the following excerpt of a study by Dr. Cox, and subsequent reading other of your comments and published works, have convinced me that the main (though certainly not the only) driver in the vegetative damage that is now rampant must be due to exposure to ozone:

    "The chemical known as ozone may be making a much more significant contribution to global warming than scientists had previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.
    'Ozone could be twice as important as we previously thought as a driver of climate change,' said study co-author Peter Cox.

    Ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere, but is produced in the lower atmosphere when sunlight strikes industrial pollutants such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides.

    Scientists have long known that ozone is a greenhouse gas, trapping radiation within the atmosphere and leading to rising global temperatures. But the new study suggests that ozone may have a much more significant climate impact by adversely affecting plants' ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    According to the researchers, high concentrations of ozone and carbon dioxide damage plants' ability to engage in photosynthesis. This weakens the plants, causing their stomata (pores in the leaves) to close. In turn, this reduces that amount of carbon dioxide or ozone that the plants are able to absorb."

    (found at

  7. rest of my letter:

    I am writing to you all because you have published research on this topic and it appears to me that to a certain degree, you are laboring in obscurity - at least as far as the media and the general public that it supposedly informs are concerned. Even for someone as alarmed as I am, it has taken me almost a year of writing dozens of letters to foresters and conservationists and environmentalists and climate scientists to finally discover the wealth of research in which you are engaged, about the effects of ozone. Most of the people I wrote to were kind enough to reply, including Dr. Jim Hansen - yet not one of them defined ozone as the likely culprit.

    I hope you will take this report of massive and widespread plant injuries with utmost seriousness, because I believe that once people understand that the trees in their own backyards and parks - and the food products on their grocery store shelves - are at risk of extinction, they will wake up and support government action to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

    It is, alas, mainly you scientists who possess the truth, and who have the authority to speak out and save humanity from its own stupidity.

    Below is a link to an early post that summarizes my motivation in starting this blog. If you go to other entries, you can find pictures and more recent observations.

    Frankly, the decline unfolding from week to week is worse than my worst imaginings when I first noticed a year ago that something terrible is threatening our forests. And now, the picture is even more dire, as ozone clearly is dangerous for all plant life, including crops.

    We really are in an emergency and should behave accordingly.

    Here's the link to the post I mentioned:

    Thanks for reading. I am very interested in sharing information and appreciate any responses.

    Gail Zawacki
    Oldwick, NJ

  8. Dr. Sharkey's response:

    Dear Gail,

    It is generally recognized that 10 to 20% of potential crop yield is lost each year because of ozone. I have a long list of issues that are related to ozone. Ozone is a very difficult topic for news media for several reasons. !. there is a “good” ozone/ “bad” ozone problem. First we wanted people to be alarmed about the loss of high altitude ozone (a success story for global response to an environmental crisis by the way). Now we tell people that ozone (in the lower atmosphere) is bad. This is slightly complex but not really that hard to understand.

    Next, ozone is the result of chemical reactions in the atmosphere. No one emits ozone, not electricity generating plants, not cars, but rather a mix of NOx (cars, coal-fired plants) hydrocarbons (from the trees!), and sunlight undergoes reactions that result in ozone in the air we breath. The reactions are complex and vary a lot from time to time, so that many days each summer are quite clean. Nevertheless, the stunting of plants even by “acceptable” levels of ozone is quite amazing.

    Ozone is complex and whether it is going up or down with global change is not completely clear. Still, I think it is a major concern for the health of people and plants. I think the news media do report it on occasion but it is exceedingly difficult to get the general public’s attention because it is such a complex topic.

    Tom Sharkey

  9. I applaud your efforts on behalf of humankind. I am appalled by all I've read in your blog, and by the destruction I've seen firsthand in my own neck of the woods.

  10. Thanks Linda! Try to spread the word! We can't possibly fix the problem until people realize there is one.

  11. You got my attention. This is something I've kind of suspected, and you're confirming that it's true and extensive.

    What I know is from your comments, and I'll be paying close attention.


    St. Louis, Mo


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