Yet another story about trees dying...being blamed on warming and drought, AGAIN! This time the conclusion comes from researchers in Alaska. Of course, they have no way of knowing that trees are dying everywhere, not just in the high northern latitudes where warming and drying have been more dramatic. So naturally I wrote to tell them:
Dear Dr. Wendler, Dr. Karlsson and Dr. Juday,
Pasted below FYI is my comment to a news story about your research. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I think it is critical and urgent that people understand the underlying cause for tree death, because it might persuade them that it is really essential that we alter our lifestyles if we wish to continue to eat food.
Thank you for reading,
While I do believe that warming and increasing dryness from climate change will kill trees, there is a much more immediate problem that is killing trees. I have seen that trees are dying off where I live in New Jersey, and everywhere I have visited recently, from California to Seattle to Costa Rica, where the change in temperature has been less dramatic than Alaska.
Ozone is killing the trees. It is toxic to humans - there is a reason there is an epidemic of cancer, emphysema, and allergies.
Plants are even more sensitive. Tropospheric ozone damages the stomata of needles and leaves, interfering with the ability to photosynthesize and produce chlorophyll. Long-term cumulative exposure by long-lived species like trees is causing them to die from direct responses and also secondarily an increased vulnerability to insects, disease and fungus.
It has been documented for decades in scientific research that ozone, which forms from burning fuel emissions, stunts vegetative growth, but the subject is largely taboo because the only way to stop destroying the ecosystem is to stop burning coal and oil. The concentration in the atmosphere is now so high however, that annual crops are being lost.
The choice is going to be: burn everything and starve to death quickly, or stop burning, and maybe buy some time from the climate change that is already in the pipeline from inertia and amplifying feedbacks.
Its depressing being one of the few thousand (looked at your clustrmaps) who know about this problem. I have some pics of damage in boston. I will try to get around to getting them to you.ReplyDelete