Wednesday, August 11, 2010


"Menhaden are not used for human consumption. They die quickly, and they spoil rapidly if not immediately gutted and iced. They are also very bony and smelly.

However, menhaden are the primary source of fishmeal, used as food for poultry and pen-raised fish, such as salmon. Atlantic menhaden are an important link between plankton and upper level predators. Because of their filter feeding abilities, “menhaden consume and redistribute a significant amount of energy within and between Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries, and the coastal ocean.”[5] Because they play this role, and their abundance, menhaden are an invaluable prey species for many predatory fish, such as striped bass, bluefish, mackerel, flounder, tuna, drum, and sharks. They are also a very important food source for many birds, including egrets, ospreys, seagulls, northern gannets, pelicans, and herons."
I grew up fishing with my dad off the Massachusetts coast in the idyllic summers, and we always followed the jumping schools of pogies, thrashing the water in their exuberant multitudes, to lead us the bigger fish. But, we gave up in the early '80's, because the fish were gone.

Anybody who tells you this sort of die-off is normal is an idiot. Many people making comments at HuffPo where I first saw this story are saying the stupidest things, like, there are so many fish in the sea, it doesn't matter if a some wash up on shore(!) Just because these morons can't see beneath the surface, and apparently don't read anything the least informative, they are under the illusion that there are plenty of fish left. What nonsense! Seafood is dying off in massive numbers, every indicator makes that obvious, and jellyfish are taking over (read "Altered Oceans" and weep, or vomit, depending on your inclination).

The rapidly accelerating mass extinction of life in the sea is just as plain to observe as that on land. There are many causes, such as habitat destruction, over-harvesting, a population run amuck, all sorts of pollution - and all instigated by humans - but chief among them are toxic emissions of burning fuel, which makes sense, since energy is the root of every other process. There is no doubt in my mind that toxic ozone is destroying the terrestrial food chain, starting by poisoning the crucial vegetation that is at the base - but who is paying attention to this either, even though it is in plain sight?

Notice this critical statement from wiki: Atlantic menhaden (Pogy) are an important link between plankton and upper level predators.

Collapsing food chain anyone??
So I am still here in Spring Lake, a mundane enclave on the Jersey Shore, where the clock downtown has been perpetually stuck at 6 o'clock for as long as anyone can remember, if that gives you any idea of the scintillating, provocative cultural scene.
There is an attractive bridge that crosses the lake in the middle of a wooded park.
The infamous lichen have colonized the planks. Some lichens just love them some nitrogen, and this one has been proliferating on dead things for the past couple of years - fences, rocks, and trees (dying trees).
Already in August! - some foliage is turning autumn colors, a known symptom of exposure to atmospheric toxins. click - some leaves are crimson!
Granted to the uninitiated this tree line might seem normal - but it isn't. The crowns are thin, and once crowns are thin, the tree is in irreversible decline. Just picture the condition of the roots, which mirror the bare branches, and it is easier to imagine the seriousness of the symptoms, and why branches fall off, and trunks topple over.
These are oaks, which should be dense with foliage, casting deep, cool shadows beneath.
Instead sunlight filters through, and clumps of their desiccated leaves litter the ground, where grass is brown and there is much bare earth.
This row of maples has extremely abnormal leaf color.
Ever since I have been searching for the reason trees are dying I have been told by professional foresters that it is because they are old, which is more distraction. First of all, many if not most trees are genetically developed to live for at least several centuries, absent human interference. Aside from that though, young trees like this one are dying at just about the identical pace as older trees.
It is unprecedented for lawns to be this brown in early August, and the top of this tree is a spectacular case of the uglies.
In the water, the lilypads are shades of yellow and brown,
and so are the leaves of this water plant, that I haven't identified.
A mother mallard and her two babies solicit scraps.
Even the hibiscus, though luxuriously colored, has a texture of crinkly shambles.
My last post about the Jersey Shore elicited a comment that was probably more well intentioned than it sounded:

"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."

I don't think I do though, really. I'm not a scientist, I don't pretend to be. I'm mostly just recording a few verifiable facts:

Trees are dying. All species, in all locations, of all ages. All other vegetation is damaged with variants of the same symptoms of terminal decline. There happens to be an explanation which has been demonstrated, by scientists, in published studies, many times - toxic emissions from burning fuel.

It's not up to me to prove it. If I could, I would, but I haven't got the resources or credentials...and I didn't have preconceived conclusions. When I first noticed trees are dying, I had no idea why, and I thought it must be drought from climate change. In fact I had a lot of internal resistance to the notion that it was disgusting, old pollution that could cause trees to be more vulnerable to pests, diseases, fungus and weather events. It was over a year of reading, corresponding, questioning, and careful observation before I finally concluded that something in the atmosphere (I still don't know exactly what combination) is the ONLY explanation that fits the empirical facts.

Anyone who has an alternative explanation for the empirical facts, I would love to hear it.

So, I'm just here asking the folks with resources and credentials...

WHAT is killing trees, and WHY aren't you doing anything about it??

1 comment:

  1. "I finally concluded that something in the atmosphere (I still don't know exactly what combination) is the ONLY explanation that fits the empirical facts."

    That's what I'm talking about. You've already decided, and so your entire blog is designed to back up your theory, right up its name which seems to express your exasperation that nobody is paying attention. The question you ask "WHAT is killing trees?" is entirely rhetorical since you've already answered it in your own mind. I hate to sound flippant, but you're interpreting this phenomenon kind of like how Richard Hoagland sees the face on mars.

    Would I be at all surprised to find out that your theory is correct? No. So I am not being critical because I want to put forward a "don't worry be happy" mentality.

    However, I don't think I could possibly connect the dots in the anecdotal way that you're doing. There are too many leaps of logic. To properly correlate what you're seeing to "ozone" would require a whole different method of research besides driving around snapping photos.

    You first have to establish a baseline of what constitutes normal growth and decay cycles to know whether there is even a problem. Then you have to start ruling out other causes. This is nothing that can be solved purely through superficial analysis. It's a bigger-picture thing. This sort of research can't really be conducted properly at anything other than an institutional level.

    For instance, I read a news article a while back talking about how some trees on the eastern seabord are growing at twice their normal rate, which is attributed to higher CO2 concentrations.

    Does that mean we have nothing to worry about from global warming? No. But you have to be careful not to filter out stories like this in order to put forward a uniformly doomy narrative. It's just not that cut and dried. I wish it were, as stories like the above just give ammo to the denialists.


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