Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the Jersey Shore (sigh)

I said goodbye to what I expect to be the last lotus in the pond - their leaves and those of the waterlilies are badly chlorotic, and burnt.
Once again, I find myself transported to Spring Lakes for a week. At first light in the morning, there was a racket across the street. The twin to this sickly maple was swiftly removed, before breakfast.
A stump grinder did its work rapidly and noisily...and now all that remains is this circle of chips. I couldn't make this stuff up!
Adjacent to the house, a branch has fallen onto a dead, brown lawn.
Next door, a tall cedar has a transparent crown,
bark splits from the trunk in shreds, and tufts of foliage are fried.

Entire trees are spangled with clumps of dead leaves, indicative of terminal, irreversible decline.

This is true for every specimen, in every yard. Nothing looks healthy and normal.
Pines are thin, and they have burnt needle tips.
What's most important is that it isn't just long-lived trees, which have suffered decades of cumulative exposure to toxic ozone, that are damaged. The foliage of annuals such as these canna lilies have identical stippling and singeing. It cannot be heat - these flowering tubers love really hot weather. It cannot be drought - these have received plenty of water. Nothing else explains why these plants would have the same sort of damage as trees, other than the composition of the atmosphere. Furthermore, something has changed recently because annual ornamentals and crops didn't have such obvious and universal impacts until last summer. What is different? Either we crossed a tipping point of background tropospheric ozone concentration, or ethanol emissions are worse than gasoline, or the chemical soup, especially the nitrogen cycle, has become intolerably caustic.

Here is a link to teleconference with Lester Brown, discussing the threat of climate change to world food security. According to this ClimateProgress post, he is "one of the world's foremost authorities on the connection between climate and agriculture." Did he mention ozone? No. But he did say growing corn for ethanol is a mistake...although not because of emissions. Nobody really knows what the effects of peroxyacetyl nitrate and acetaldehyde emissions might be, because nobody has bothered to study the issue!

Apparently, in a former life Mr. Brown was quite a successful tomato grower, right here in New Jersey. Mr. Brown, we aren't going to be growing tomatoes much longer if we don't stop burning fuel and pouring poison into the atmosphere. You mentioned during your teleconference that it might be prudent to develop plants suited to higher temperatures with smaller stomata, to prevent them from losing so much water - with the caveat that this would impede their ability to absorb CO2, photosynthesize, and grow.

But that is exactly what ozone causes plants to do - close their stomata.

Please, Mr. Brown! Maybe you can find out what is killing all the vegetation so it can be stopped before there aren't any seeds and nuts left!


  1. Do you have any scientific support behind your ozone theories? What are you credentials? To an outsider, it seems to me that you are just walking around with a camera and attributing any and all unhealthy plants to "ozone". This sort of superficial circumstantial evidence would never pass muster in scientific circles since there are countless ways a plant can exhibit "chlorosis". Just look at the wikipedia page for a list of causes:

    a specific mineral deficiency in the soil, such as iron[2] or magnesium [3]
    deficient nitrogen and/or proteins[3]
    a soil pH at which minerals become unavailable for absorption by the roots [4]
    poor drainage (waterlogged roots) [4]
    damaged and/or compacted roots [4]
    pesticides and particularly herbicides may cause chlorosis, both to target weeds and occasionally to the crop being treated.[5]
    exposure to sulphur dioxide[6]

    I'm all for trying to document the destruction we're doing to the biosphere, but proper attribution is key. Every plant that dies is not because it was poisoned by "ozone" and you have to connect the dots better than just showing photos and drawing preconceived conclusions.

  2. Hi Straker,

    I suggest you go up to the top and click on Basic Premise, and then read some of the research linked to in the list.

    Then come back!


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