Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When the Music's Over

What have they done to the Earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered
And ripped her
And bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences
And dragged her down

- Jim Morrison
Yesterday afternoon I watched as a mature tree with all it's leaves shriveled was dismembered and removed from the front yard of a gated home in Far Hills.
Next I read a new study mentioned in comments at Greenman's latest production - which is utterly astonishing. Researchers in Canada have reported that trees are not taking up the expected amount of CO2! Not only are forests absorbing less than predicted, but they are actually in decline. All species! Imagine that.
"Scientists and policy-makers hoping to use forests to naturally soak up increasing amounts of carbon dioxide may have overestimated the role of trees as carbon sinks, according to a new study by University of Guelph researchers."
Foliage turning fall colors (in August!) is indicative of exposure to ozone. The leaves cannot produce chlorophyll, and so they lose their normal pigmentation.
"Contrary to expectations, tree growth has declined over the past century despite rising amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, said Madhur Anand, a professor in Guelph's School of Environmental Sciences."
This is now typical of deciduous trees. Many branches have lost their leaves altogether.
"They found that warming has caused a growth decline in temperate and boreal forests during the past century and especially since the 1950s."
The crepe myrtle is flourishing! It loves the hot temperatures.
"Some trees with growth declines not clearly connected to climate might have been affected by lack of nutrients, but more research is needed, said Anand."
A lack of nutrients? What could possibly cause such a widespread lack of nutrients? Notice that the soothing terminology of "tree decline" continues. It is a euphemism for "tree death".
'They focused on Ontario forests after they discovered tree-growth declines in Brazil and then in other parts of the world."
WAIT! WHAT??? Trees are dying all over the world???
The original article can be read here. As far as I can tell, they didn't factor ozone into their observations and place the entire blame on processes of water uptake affected by warming. More research is needed, naturally.
This clematis is struggling to climb up the mailbox post.
And no wonder - the leaves have a spectacular pattern of chlorosis...before they turn brown.
Another team of scientists have just used satellite imagery to document that mangrove swamps all over the world have been reduced far more than expected, as linked at DesdemonaDespair. From my trip to Costa Rica posted here, it was obvious the mangroves are in trouble - and not just from habitat destruction. They can't even keep them alive in a resort - they are having to decapitate and them remove them:
RPauli found a study that indicates long-term exposure to ozone leads to premature deaths. It has been asserted many times that ozone is detrimental to human health, but it suddenly occurred to me how odd it is that when there are extreme heat waves followed by increased rates of morbidity, the deaths are always blamed on the temperature. But those higher temperatures exist in places that are normally hot, and people live there - Palm Springs or the mid East. However, in cities particularly, higher temperatures mean higher levels of ozone - so I think it quite possible the link should be made directly. I'm sure the media and even doctors would rather blame the weather than pollution, so that is just what they do.

In another story posted on Des, about Russia, the headline blames heat primarily, and secondarily pollution from forest fires for thousands of premature deaths in Moscow - without a word about ozone!

It was difficult to choose which version of The Doors classic song to post here, there are quite a few concert videos. This one is very long, but I like it the best, mostly for the very last bit on the second portion of these youtubes, which is devastating. Jim Morrison is so young (and so stoned!) - it is very poignant. It reminds me that my biggest problem with mass extinction is my expectations, helplessly hoping, feeling furious and...knowing better. If only I could just accept it. Then I could quit pestering scientists and blogging - and do something fun, instead!
Here's the rest - some silly theatrics, you can fast forward to find the the ineffably sad pronouncement: "The end of laughter...and soft lies...This is the End."

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