Thank you Susan for contributing these beautiful and terrifying images from New Hampshire and Massachusetts! What follows are more of her pictures, with her comments and passages she chose from the book:
"The trees will die. Consider nothing more than that -- just that the trees will die."
"When I walk outdoors in the morning, instead of the slopes of trees, instead of the craggy white pines on the ridge toward Buck Hill, there may be yellowing and browning leaves and needles, thinning crowns, dead branches, and rotting stumps."
"This vast decline, this forest "dieback,' is not some distant proposition. A report described to a congressional committee last summer found that 'reproductive failure and forest dieback,' is estimated to begin between 2000 and 2050.'"
"'Things like birch trees and many evergreens (in the Northeast) may have a hard time surviving, even in the next ten to twenty years.'"
"As I walked in the autumn woods, I saw a lot of sick trees. With the conifers, I suspected acid rain. And so who walked with me in the wood..."
"...Well, there were the presidents of the Midwest utilities who kept explaining why they had to burn coal to make electricity and then there were the congressmen who couldn't bring themselves to do anything about it."
"...The walk along Mill Creek, or any stream, or up any hill, or through any woods, is changed forever...Note the small leaf size on the maples."
"The increased ultraviolet seems to limit leaf size, cutting the amount of energy the plants could capture from the sun."
"The climate is traveling..."and trees that have evolved to live for centuries in a given ecological niche can't migrate at the pace required to keep up with the agricultural zones marching towards higher latitudes in mere decades.
"'We are altering the climate,' says Stephen Schneider of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, 'at a rate ten to sixty times its natural rate of change.'"
"The weather of the future cannot be predicted from the weather of the past, nor can its effect. . . The chance for surprises grows as fast as the changes in the weather."
" When trees die, it is always hard, unfortunately, to say just why."
"'It's never going to be obvious that the climate change is doing it,'" said George Woodwell, an ecologist and director of the Woods Hole Research Center.'"Perhaps this is why whenever I enquire of foresters or naturalists about so many trees dying, they invariably blame insects or fungal disease. Here's a case in point, not of a whole tree dying, but of a large branch that fell, randomly, on a clear, still 100.1 degree day in Bedford, MA. On inspection, it appears to be insect-driven, although it is still curious that the large branch was so weak that it collapsed without even a breeze to instigate the crash.
"The new 'nature' ...won't be predictably anything, and therefore it will take us a very long time to work out our relationship with it, if we ever do. The salient characteristic of this new nature is its unpredictability, just as the salient feature of the old nature was its utter dependability. .. virtually all settlement patterns [of people] testify to the dependability of nature.'"
"It is this very predictability that has allowed most of us in the Western world to forget about nature..."which is, of course, why most of us, even those most alarmed about environmental pollution and climate change, are failing to observe the extent of the decline in our ecosystem, upon which even urban dwellers depend for their very existence...and failing to raise the alarm about the imminent threat it poses to all forms of life on Eaarth.
"I live in Western Quebec and our plants are dying. Within the last two weeks symptoms have showed across the board: White spots which turn brown/red then black and leave a hole in the leaf. Then the leaf will wither and die. Maple leaves on the ground look like they were bleached. Even milkweed and dandelion leaves turn black, show holes and in some places look like they have been sprayed. I have found the same signs on young soybean and corn crops, but not to the extent as on wild plants,yet I took a pH on rain water here last rain and it showed <5.0.>
Along with the temperatures the level of ozone in the atmosphere is rising. Here in New Jersey and I’m sure elsewhere the DEP has issued “severe weather” alerts, advising people to be cautious due to the toxic effects on human health. What that really means, but they don’t say, is that exposure to ozone causes cancer, emphysema and asthma attacks. And they rarely mention that the levels considered safe are not safe, and due to be revised soon, which will probably also not be really safe…and not enforced to the degree necessary to make them safe.
In the coming days as the leaves fall off the trees and shrubs and the crops shrivel up this will be blamed on the heat and lack of rain, without acknowledgement that aquatic plants in water and plants watered in pots and plants protected from extreme heat in buildings will also be exhibiting symptoms of foliar damage associated with exposure to ozone.
They’re also warning that there is “explosive fire potential” but fail to mention it is not just the hot and dry conditions but the fact that many, many trees are standing dead, ready to be torches.
It’s important to link rising temperatures to the changing climate , but it’s also time to link vegetative dieback to the “other” greenhouse gases so that people can make an informed choice as to whether they prefer their gas-powered toys, or food.
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