Sunday, November 28, 2010

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Other than a form of Chinese torture, the meaning, according to wikipedia, is:

"Creeping normalcy, the way a major negative change, which happens slowly in many unnoticed increments, is not perceived as objectionable..."
That definition is a perfect description of...just about everything lately.  Our ecosystem is being incrementally depleted and people hardly notice that the trees are dying and the plants are disappearing.  I have come across some intriguing postings on the intertubes, and accumulated a few pictures, so here is everything in a jumble, because...why not?!  If you need an introduction read the Basic Premise.
Roses blooming, frail and withered, at Thanksgiving is beyond absurd.
Even more bizarre is clematis!  It is supposed to bloom in spring or summer...but here it is a few days shy of December, puckered and shriveled - with even more buds surrounding.
Here are maples in front of the Gladstone Tavern almost two weeks ago.  Most other trees had shed their leaves early, but this sickly pair is too weak even to jettison their foliage.
The leaves haven't turned a nice bright autumn color - a few are yellow but most are wilted green going straight to brown.
I actually found an article from 2007 in the mainstream media - MSNBC! - that reports on research from the UK Met Office:  "Plant growth might be stunted worldwide by the end of this century due to air pollution," which should read, if written today:  "Plant growth IS being stunted and trees are dying worldwide due to air pollution."
It says:  "Such damage could cause large economic losses through reduced crop yields," which should actually now read "Such damage IS CAUSING large economic losses through reduced crop yields."
The article is accompanied by links that lead to these two photographs of leaves damaged by ozone.  Oh,  ALL the leaves on everything looked exactly as damaged as these, last summer!
The pictures are attributed to the late Dr. David Karnosky, who worked at the FACE experimental station until his death in October of 2008.  Unfortunately I never got the chance to talk to him about the trees, he passed away a few weeks before I found his webpage.  From his research I think he may have been the only expert who would have had the courage to acknowledge how urgent and widespread the problem has become, and not buried his head in the sand like everyone else.
I stopped to take this photograph of a sycamore because the color of the field struck me as very odd.  It is quite bright for this time of year, perhaps because it is so warm that the grass is trying to grow.  Colors everywhere in the landscape are peculiar.  I think the slightest change in hue of trunks and branches is enough when taken in totality to turn entire hillsides black.
Across the street from that meadow, here is a randomly selected copse of trees.
Each one exhibits the terrible decay that is just about universal.
Bark is falling off of trunks.
Multiple cankers are spreading and growing.
Not only has the color of the woods turned nasty but the whole scope of the landscape is much larger - I can see the contours of distant hills that were obscured until now by the proximate treeline, which has noticeably shrunk.  I do not recognize my home of almost 30 years, it is so changed.
Being able to see sky through a tree is a bad sign.
Yesterday afternoon, a small flock of Canadian geese flew overhead, and that reminded me that in autumns past their loud honking overhead as they migrated south was a daily occurrence for weeks, and this is only the second time I have heard them this fall.  Moreover, they were not in their typical "V" formation, and they were flying northeast, not south, in a rag tag assembly - perhaps it is too much to claim that their honking was plaintive and frantic...but that's how it sounded to me.
For some reason every single tree around this house was removed over two days last week.
Front and back...
not one of five remains.
I wonder how they determined that were all dying.
I came across a cute news clip about some bears in a suburban tree.  I took some screen shots because apparently trees in Florida are dying too.
These transparent crowns are abnormally thin.
The "tufting" of needles at the tips of branches is classic ozone damage, as the older, more damaged inner needles fall.  In the photo below, it is evident that entire branches have been snapping off.
Following are a couple of pictures from a National Geographic photo contest, because I like them!  The trunk in this haunting picture looks streaked with leaking sap.
This supercell thunderstorm tornado in Montana is quite impressive.  I can't imagine how frightening it would be to witness it in person.
Next are two selections from a Guardian UK photo contest - the first is supposed to be pines above beech - it's hard to imagine these treetops any thinner without them being completely dead.
I fear this burning moor is the landscape of the not-too-distant future:
Here's what the UN has to say (all they have to say) about Peroxyacetyl nitrate:  "component of phytochemical smog, injurious to plants at a concentration of more than 0.05 parts per million."   PAN formation is enhanced from burning ethanol, according to this paper from Brazil, which is quite fascinating, since it dates from 1988 and is one of the very few studies I have been able to locate that examines the effects of ethanol emissions.

This entry goes into more depth - I'm going to intersperse passages with photos of our post-Thanksgiving  feast on the Friday after.
Alice is still in her pajamas when she checks the turkey.  A potential blogger?
"Have you ever stepped out on a sunny day in a large city? Spend enough time out of doors, especially in the urban center, and you may notice that your eyes grow irritated and begin to water uncontrollably. While the camouflage of general metropolitan bustle may hide it from notice, you might also note much of whatever foliage there may be is sickly and decayed. These two effects of modern industrialization are linked to a single molecule, forming an essential component of the ominous haze hovering above and around you. Peroxyacetyl nitrate, commonly abbreviated as PAN, is an important contributor to the phenomenon of photochemical smog. As a lacrimator and strong oxidizer, it wreaks general havoc with city residents and plant matter."

"PAN is the most abundant representative of a family of organic compounds called peroxyacyl nitrates. Scientists were entirely unaware of these compounds until the 1960s, when they were first identified among the many components of urban smog. PAN forms in the atmosphere through a series of complicated chemical reactions deriving from hydrogen peroxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides emitted from sources of urban pollution such as power plants, oil refineries, automobiles, lawnmowers, and aircraft. The total reaction begins with the introduction of hydrocarbons or aromatic compounds to hydrogen peroxide (OH) molecules. They form the compound acetaldehyde (CH3OH), which then reacts again with hydrogen peroxide to form CH3CO3and water (H2O). This compound gains a dioxide. In the final step, CH3CO3 reacts with a nitrogen dioxide to form PAN."
"This final reaction is reversible, which means that it can occur in either direction. PAN can degrade into a nitrogen dioxide and acetyl compound as easily as it formed. Which state it occupies depends upon the ambient temperature. In warmer air temperatures, the compound either reacts or breaks down into its components. In colder temperatures, PAN remains stable. As a consequence, the concentration of PAN tends to be greater during the night than during the day. When the sun is shining, convection currents carry those clouds of PAN that don't decompose high into the troposphere, where the colder temperatures allow it a modicum of stability. Due to its constant forming, deforming, and mutation, PAN is easily dispersed from its original point of catalyzation in a smog that extends beyond the city center."
"Chemists have not yet discovered any natural source for PAN; it seems to have arisen only with the introduction of widespread fossil fuel use. Because its only source is pollution and it is the second most abundant molecule, next to ozone, in photochemical smog, measurement of PAN is a good indication of overall smog levels."
"Due to its highly oxidizing nature, PAN is injurious to plants in any concentration greater than 50 parts per billion, a number easily exceeded in the world's most polluted cities. In smaller concentrations, it is still an eye irritant."

The World Meteorological Organization devotes this section to ozone:
"Not considering water vapour, tropospheric ozone is currently the third most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and CH4 [Houghton et al., 2001] and is central to the physics, chemistry, and radiative processes in the troposphere. Tropospheric ozone profile information is available from ozone sonde measurements. Surface (ground-level) ozone significantly influences the formation of photochemical smog, and it is an irritant with effects both on the biota and human health.
Our knowledge of trends in the global distribution of surface ozone is still incomplete and observed trends have varied both temporally and spatially [Oltmans et al., 2006]. The Global GAW stations are distributed relatively evenly, but overall, most surface ozone monitoring stations are still located in northern mid-latitudes. There is a need for more remote stations measuring ozone in the middle of continents (e.g., continental Asia), in the tropics and in the southern hemisphere."
And they have this to say about nitrogen oxide:

"The sum of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has traditionally been called NOx. Likewise the sum of many oxidised nitrogen species, both organic and inorganic but excluding nitrous oxide (N2O) and ammonia (NH3), acetonitrile (CH3CN) and hydrocyanic acid (HCN) have traditionally been referred to as NOy. Their measurement in the global atmosphere is very important since NO has a large influence on both ozone and on the hydroxyl radical (OH). NO2 is now being measured globally from satellites and these measurements suggest that substantial concentrations of this gas are present over most of the continents. A large reservoir of fixed nitrogen is present in the atmosphere as NOy. The influence of the deposition of this reservoir on the biosphere is not known at present but could be substantial."
The WMO Bulletin reports:

"The latest analysis of observations from the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme shows that the globally averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2009, with CO2 at 386.8 ppm, CH4 at 1803 ppb and N2O at 322.5 ppb. These values are greater than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 38%, 158% and 19%, respec- tively. Atmospheric growth rates of CO2 and N2O in 2009 are consistent with recent years, but are lower than in 2008. After nearly a decade of no growth, atmospheric CH4 has increased during the past three years. The reasons for renewed growth of atmospheric methane are not fully understood, but emissions from natural sources (from northern latitudes and the tropics) are considered potential causes. The NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows that from 1990 to 2009, radiative forcing by all long- lived greenhouse gases increased by 27.5%, with CO2 accounting for nearly 80% of this increase. The combined radiative forcing by halocarbons is nearly double that of N2O."
Did I mention I missed the Amwell Valley Hunt Ball to go to the Carbon Pricing Conference??
From this "smog primer," I found the first reference to a "decrease in pollen lifespan," which sounds fundamentally alarming:

"Ozone damage can lead to 10-40% growth loss, premature aging, and a decrease in pollen lifespan."
Almost done...a fantastic montage and interview with Joni Mitchell, featuring "Blue"...

As a footnote, Doc was inordinately pleased with his braid, and later after the dinner we made a wager:  I bet that there will be food riots by July 2011, and he bet there won't.  
If I win, he has to give me a bottle of Chateau D'Yquem, and if he's right, I'll owe him a really nice Margaux.  Given this story at Climate Progress about crop yield reduction from extreme weather, which doesn't even include ozone damage, I'm feeling fairly confident.  That I'll win the bet, that is.  Not confident about much else.


  1. How can i ask you for more details? Great post needda know more...

  2. You can email me at witsendnj @

    Questions, suggestions welcome...

  3. very sobering yet i know this already from walking the woods at my home in north georgia. im pretty good on my food garden - not nearly self sustainable. you inspire me to work at it a little more thoughtfully. liked what you said at club orlov about jumping ship.

  4. Just a suggestion Gail. You might want to correct the following erroneous part above: ' " which should actually now read "Such damage IS CAUSING large economic losses through reduced crop yields." '

    To be accurate it should say " which should actually now read "Such damage IS NOT CAUSING large economic losses through reduced crop yields."

    The FACTS are that our global crops are THRIVING in the enriched CO2, temp, precip, and the rest of our 'globally-warmed' environment!

    Here are the FACTS of how crop yields have changed over the past 5 decades from 1950-2000:
    Cereals: +178%
    Oil bearing crops: +130%
    Pulses: +40%
    Roots & tubers: +36%
    Sugar crops: +51%
    Vegetables: +89%
    Fruit crops: +42%
    Stimulants: +59%

    This data is the total global production of all food crops in the real world environment including floods, droughts, pest infestations and everything else. Source is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

    Please check it out for yourself @

    All your pictures prove nothing about climate change. Anecdotal evidence is not scientific proof of causality.

    The fact is CO2 is NOT pollution. CO2 is plant food! Plants use CO2 to grow and produce oxygen. Plants need less water when they have more CO2. CO2 is the breath of life. More CO2 is GOOD for us and our world! Plants thrived in earth's past when CO2 levels were >4000ppm (387 now).

    Your friend,
    A scientist

  5. No, I don't think I'll be correcting my post, and perhaps you should set aside your preconceived notions and actually read it before commenting.

    Yes, yields may be overall increased, because of plant genetics, and petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides. That has nothing whatsoever to do with whether OZONE reduces crop yields, which is a pretty much undisputed fact by SCIENTISTS.

    I NEVER said elevated CO2 was bad for plants (although I suspect it may be, in the long run, the same way elevated calories in the American diet have caused obesity, diabetes, and heart disease).

    I said OZONE is bad for plants. Ozone just happens to be released in the same industrial processes that release CO2.

    Furthermore, just because CO2 is necessary for plants, so is water necessary for people. Too much of anything and it will kill you. And those plants that lived millions of years ago when levels were higher? They were DIFFERENT plants!

    Please read more carefully.

    Your friend,
    a non-scientist

  6. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

  7. Hi Gail,
    Actually, I did read your post VERY carefully, using my keen powers of observation, deduction, and reasoning. ;-)

    "trees are dying and plants are disappearing"
    "Roses blooming, frail and withered"
    "clematis ... puckered and shriveled"
    "sickly pair is too weak even to jettison their foliage"
    "leaves ... wilted green going straight to brown"
    "Plant growth IS being stunted"\
    "Such damage IS CAUSING large economic losses"
    "Oh, ALL the leaves on everything looked exactly as damaged as these, last summer!"
    "exhibits the terrible decay that is just about universal"
    "geese ... their honking was plaintive and frantic"
    "I fear this burning moor is the landscape of the not-too-distant future"
    "eyes grow irritated and begin to water uncontrollably"(crying?)
    "whatever foliage there may be is sickly and decayed"

    I deduced that you had a penchant for looking at the incredible, intricate and beautiful world we live in and see only negative things, perhaps because you have been reading too many NYT Green blogs and too much Joe Romm(Climate Progress), which has put you in a serious funk and possible depression.

    I reasoned that such a beautiful, but distressed damsel might despair of life itself, since EVERYTHING is in such a terrible state.

    So I thought I might try to CHEER YOU UP by pointing out that our crops are doing quite well in the midst of all those negative things that are going on in the real world! I meant no offense. I wasn't focused on the specific issue of ozone, but on the larger issue of your seemingly negative outlook on so many things.

    You are correct that you never explicitly said CO2 was bad for plants, but you did express serious concern about the damage that "air pollution" was causing. Since you read Joe Romm & NYT green blog, which pretty universally (but incorrectly) call CO2 "carbon pollution", I deduced that you might also believe CO2 to be "pollution". Since you only "suspect it may be", I evidently was only partly correct in that deduction. However, with your concern about ozone, I suspect that you are aware of the USDA studies that found that elevated CO2 was able to mitigate the negative effects of ozone, and thus would be good for plants. To quote them exactly "The more ozone stress, the more damage prevention by CO2 and the greater the apparent stimulation of plant growth." More on ozone later.

    It's a beautiful, complex, interacting world out there which makes science interesting as we explore it. Science can help us understand it so that we do not pollute it, but preserve it for future generations. But we also need to marvel in its beauty, enjoy its serenity. Life is GOOD! PEACE!

    Your friend,
    Sherlock ;-)
    a scientist

  8. "(but incorrectly) call CO2 'carbon pollution'"

    It actually IS pollution in the sense that humans are emitting it, and the CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels has a different chemical isotope "fingerprint" than naturally occurring yeah, pollution is pretty accurate.

    "...the USDA studies that found that elevated CO2 was able to mitigate the negative effects of ozone, and thus would be good for plants. To quote them exactly "The more ozone stress, the more damage prevention by CO2 and the greater the apparent stimulation of plant growth.'"

    Link please?

    Bwa ha ha! In the depths of my depression this gave me a good laugh, so thanks!

    On the face of it, it's ludicrous - how could they simultaneously say that ozone causes billions in crop reduction and claim it is offset by increased growth by CO2? If it was offset by increased growth from CO2, there wouldn't be billions of dollars of losses.

    But looking around for more information on that specific question I found this, so thanks for that too!

    "Current best estimates for the response of the staple crops wheat, soybean and rice from FACE experiments are that grain yield will increase by 13% at 550 ppm CO2. For the C4 species, sorghum and maize, grain yield is not expected to increase at elevated [CO2] if water supply is adequate. Grain quality is adversely affected by elevated [CO2]. On average, protein content decreases by 10–14% in non-leguminous grain crops and concentrations of minerals, such as iron and zinc decrease by 15–30%. While these represent our best estimate of changes in crop yield quantity and quality, most studies have been done in temperate regions, and do not account for possible interactions of rising [CO2] with other aspects of climate change, including increased temperature, drought stress and tropospheric ozone concentration."

    So for a 13% gain in yield (NOT COUNTING losses from ozone) we get a 10-14% decrease in protein and a 15-30% decrease in essential minerals - at 550 ppm, which is enough to fry all the fields that aren't washed out by floods or rising seas, BTW.

    I could go on, but why bother.

    And, I so do not need to by psychoanalyzed by anonymous commenters. I happen to think that life, nature, and much of human culture is beautiful, marvelous, and joyous.

    That's why it really pisses me off that we are destroying it all just as fast as we possibly can.

  9. Gail,
    Now, about ozone, I totally agree that elevated concentrations of ground-level ozone is detrimental to plants. I would add, however, that the USDA has found that "natural vegetation, however, is a source of VOC emissions and has significant influences on regional atmospheric chemistry". In your 'basic premise' page you correctly point out that VOCs are precursors to g-l ozone.

    We can tell that the natural sourced VOC/ozone is significant because of the annual changes in g-l ozone concentrations. One USDA study measured central Illinois background level of g-l ozone at 60ppb in 2002, and 50 ppb in 2003. The fossil-fuel combustion sourced VOC/ozone probably marched along at their slow steady increase. It was the natural variability of nature's VOC/ozone that caused it to drop by about 20%.

    Another interesting finding in this study was that a 20% increase in ozone caused a 25% yield loss at the 50ppb background level, but only caused a 15% yield loss at the 60ppb background level. This would seem to indicate that plant responses to elevated ozone levels has a logarithmic effect (less effect at higher concentrations), which is counter-intuitive. Because of the known negative effects of ozone, I suspect that there were other variables that caused this.

    I would add that these are SIGNIFICANT changes in yield. So in that sense you are correct that ozone levels ARE having an influence on crop yields. But let's think about the ozone-related facts a little more deeply and see if we can draw any conclusions.
    1)The above study shows that the natural year-to-year change(on the order of 20%) is SIGNIFICANTLY greater than the 'human-caused' year-to-year change (powerplants, transportation, industry plods along with slowly increasing energy).
    2)The above study shows that a 20% change in ozone can cause a 25% change in yield.
    3)farmers don't make +/-25% annual changes to fertilizer & pesticide application and genetic improvements are not on the order of 25% year-to-year.
    4)U.N. FAO global yield data shows slow steady annual increase in yield. It does NOT show big swings.

    1)The yield changes are local and regional, not global in any single year. ie., while ozone levels are higher in one area, lowering yields, they are lower in other areas, raising yields. (If global averaged ozone changed +/-20% we would see corresponding swings in global yields.)(This conclusion is borne out in real-life, as a farmer may plant the exact same genetic variety, use the same amount of fertilizer and pesticides, have the same amount of rainfall, but still have some "good" years and some "bad" years)
    2)All these local & regional yield variations "average out" to a slow steady increase in yield.

    Bottom line: yes ozone reduces crop yields, as scientists have shown. But ozone is a natural phenomenon that varies year-to-year which has been present since the dawn of agriculture and has been reducing yields to a greater or lesser extent locally and regionally since the dawn of agriculture.

    The real question is how much has man contributed to the natural occurring levels of ozone. The catalytic converters that have been put on cars now for decades eliminate 75% of the ozone in the exhaust. I don't know if the industrial 'smokestack' scrubbers reduce ozone or not. I have not seen any long-term charts of background ground-level ozone. If you are aware of any, I would be interested.

    Ozone in a 20% change from ambient is detrimental. CO2 on the other hand is not. Greenhouses typically increase levels 3-fold to 1000ppm. They stop there for economic reasons. CO2 at 100-fold levels does not harm plants. Did you know that the CO2 concentration in each breath you exhale is >40,000ppm(over 100 times ambient level)? This is probably the basis of people saying that their houseplants grow better if they talk to them. It's not what you say to them, it's CO2 enrichment!

    Your friend,
    Sherlock :-)
    a scientist

  10. All that, Sherlock, and you haven't an explanation for why the the trees are dying in NE Georgia or why the understory of the woods is already dead.

    Have you a better explanation than: ozone is weakening the trees while opportunistic infections are killing them?

    Your 'science' sounds like a sales letter from the status quo, the extractive technologies and industries that have got us to where we are, to a planetary ecosystem on the verge of collapse, while the trees continue to expire.

  11. Sherlock, you are obviously a dick . . . with ears. Unfortunately, they seem to lack the benefit of being connected through a central nervous system. The absence of gray matter is the only possible explanation for statements like "CO2 is plant food". A scientist? What kind? On whose payroll? Another Koch head? Watson will have to drag you to another twelve step program, it seems.

  12. You’re welcome for the laugh. I really believe that a good laugh is physically good for us. Releases endorphins & relieves stress. We can discuss serious things but still use some humor, which was what I tried to do in my response. Your joy was very apparent in your smile and Thanksgiving celebration pictures. I hope you realize by now that I was not trying to psychoanalyze you. My very limited understanding of psychoanalysis is getting into the subconscious mind to understand motivations for how and why one thinks and acts. That’s out of my paygrade!

    The link for the USDA article is:

    Re:“ludicrous” - I don’t think the article’s words “more damage prevention” say that the negative effects of ozone are “offset”. The dictionary defines offset as: “something that counterbalances, counteracts, or compensates for something else; compensating equivalent”. That implies fully reversing the effect. Prevention is defined as:“hindrance, obstacle, or impediment”. This can be partial. That is why I paraphrased it “mitigated” which is defined: “to lessen in force or intensity”. Don’t mean to nit-pick words here, but science is precise, so words must be chosen carefully in order to prevent miscommunication. As I said in my previous post, no question, ozone hurts plants, but when there is more CO2 present it is not as detrimental because the stomata are more “closed” because of the extra available CO2, thus not being as open to take in the damaging ozone. Just my simple explanation.

    Thanks for the ‘springerlink’. I’ve saved the abstract. I have seen studies where protein content was reduced with CO2 enrichment, but in those the yield far outweighed the protein loss, resulting in a net protein increase. In this study evidently the protein showed no net gain and Fe & Zn had a net loss. Not a good tradeoff.

    The abstract stated:“most studies … do not account for possible interactions of rising [CO2] with other aspects of climate change, including increased temperature, drought stress and tropospheric ozone concentration.” As you seem very inquisitive, you may be interested in a study I came across that evaluates the various combinations of elevated CO2, temperature, precipitation, and soil N-deposition, which were the study’s expected environmental changes in a future climate. The study was done outdoors with baseline all combinations. Would have been even more interesting had they included ozone.

    Also, since you like to collect cool photos, here is a link about photosynthesis that has an awesome SEM image of a pea leaf stoma at 3500X magnification.

    We may think of photosynthesis as a simple process, but after looking at a brief summary such as this website, I am astounded at the complexity of life. I think we have barely scratched the surface.

    Many thanks for your blog and responses. I have a much improved appreciation of ozone's detrimental effect on plants.

    Your friend,

  13. @ UnReal2r,
    Don't believe that "CO2 is plant food"???
    Elementary my dear UnReal2r ... they teach this in elementary school science ... and in high school biology ... and in college biology & chemistry. It's called PHOTOSYNTHESIS. Even though it's quite a complex process, I'll try to use simple explanations so perhaps you can understand it.

    The USDA(United States Department of Agriculture) says: "Extra CO2 by itself will stimulate some growth because PLANTS HAVE MORE "FOOD" for photosynthesis."

    University of West Virginia: "Photosynthesis is the process where the green pigment in the plant's leaf (chlorophyll) absorbs energy from sunlight and, using this energy, water, and carbon dioxide, produces oxygen and simple sugars. The plant then uses these sugars to make more complex sugars and starches for storage as energy reserves, to make cellulose and hemicellulose for cell walls or with nitrogen, to make proteins."

    Did you catch that? The only thing the plant needs is sunlight, water, and CO2. The leaves, stems and roots consists of carbon and water. The water comes through the roots and the carbon comes from CO2.

    A plant can grow just fine with ONLY WATER AND AIR. Have you ever heard of hydroponics? That is growing plants without soil. The roots are in water and the stem and leaves are in the air and it will grow and grow and grow. But it needs that CO2 in the air for “FOOD”. If you tried to grow a plant hydroponically in 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen (normal atmosphere) but left out the 0.04% CO2, the plant would DIE, because it has no “FOOD”(carbon from CO2) to convert in to sugars, starches, and cellulose.

    You, on the other hand cannot grow or even survive for long if you just breathe air and take in water. You will waste away and DIE because you have no FOOD intake. Your lungs can’t convert the CO2 in the air to sugars, starches, and cells. You need to ingest sugars and starches which are your FOOD.

    The plant only needs the CO2 for its “FOOD” as it converts that CO2 into its sugars, starches, and cellulose. That's also why in most all cases if you give a plant more CO2 is will increase its growth. You have given it more FOOD. ELEMENTARY! Of course I'm open to correction if I got any of that wrong.


  14. Sherlock, sorry to burst your bubble, but I actually did well in biology, chemistry, and physics in college. My sense is that you may be suffering from the same kind of condition that afflicts many MBAs - knowing how to do the numbers without understanding what they mean. Plants like water, too. Try planting an evergreen in a swimming pool and let us know how well it does.

  15. Gail wrote:“It actually IS pollution in the sense that humans are emitting it, and the CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels has a different chemical isotope "fingerprint" than naturally occurring yeah, pollution is pretty accurate.”

    First, just because humans are emitting it, that does not make it ‘pollution’. Humans emit more H2O than CO2. Are you ready to say that PURE unadulterated water(H2O) is pollution too?

    Second, your statement about the 'fingerprint' is only partially correct. The ‘fingerprint’ refers to the ratio of ¹³C and ¹²C isotopes of CO2 expressed as δ¹³C. The IPCC uses the fact that this isotope ratio has decreased over time as evidence for an anthropogenic source(fossil fuel burning) for the recent change in atmospheric CO2 levels(AR4 WG1 Chap.2 p.139)

    However, it is not quite that simple. δ¹³C for CO2 from oceans, carbonate rock wearing, volcanic outgassing sources is between 0 and +4‰. δ¹³C for CO2 from fossil fuel burning is -24‰. BUT δ¹³C for CO2 from vegetation decay and soils is ALSO -24‰. Thus fossil fuel burning DOES NOT have a unique ‘fingerprint’. It's different than CO2 from the ocean, but it's the same as CO2 from the land. The IPCC hints at this, but doesn’t explicitly state it:“Note that changes in the 13C/12C ratio of atmospheric CO2 are also caused by other sources and sinks”(ref. above).

    Because the isotope ratio can differ due to changes in either ¹²C or ¹³C and each has multiple sources, it remains an open question as to the real source of increasing atmospheric CO2. Scientists come down on both sides.
    Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer, who manages the satellite temperature data, argues that oceans are the source:
    Another scientist, Ferdinand Engelbeen, argues that fossil fuel burning is the source:

    The bottom line is that while the isotope ratios are useful in determining sources & sinks, they are of no practical importance to plants. This is because 99% of CO2 exists as ¹²C, which is the isotope that plants prefer. It’s probably easier to grasp this if we put it in terms of ppm that we are familiar with. The current average CO2 level at Mauna Loa is 387ppm. When CO2 outgasses from the oceans or volcanos, there are 382.64 parts ¹²C and 4.36 parts ¹³C. When CO2 is produced from fossil fuel burning or vegetation decay, there are 382.76 parts ¹²C and 4.24 parts ¹³C. Insignificant difference!

    CO2 is no more pollution, nor harmful to humans, than water is pollution or harmful to humans.

    BTW, here is a link to multiple peer-reviewed paper summaries on ozone & CO2 effect on plants:


  16. UnReal2r, Congratulations on your academic achievements!
    But so far you have offered only ad hominem responses. You have failed to address any of my points re:'CO2 is plant food'. Having done so well in those science classes, it should be elementary to point out any errors in what I wrote. Facts and data please.

    "Plants like water, too." CORRECT ... just like I said. You're half way there. Now address the food part.
    And you get an 'I' in Conduct for Improving.

    BTW, an evergreen would do just fine hydroponically.
    "Trees, however, are being grown hydroponically, such as many types of bonsai, banana trees and other tropicals, fruit trees and avocados, ficus, cacao and even dogwood. There is no reason why any plant can't be grown hydroponically as long as the roots are wet and it gets plenty of nutrition and light."


  17. Sherlock, my mother won't let me play with trolls. How much do the Koch brothers pay you per post?

  18. Sherlock, it doesn't take a detective to tell where you are coming from. All those papers come from one source, which also has this to say:

    "Where do you get your funding?" This is a common inquiry we frequently receive. Our typical response is that we never discuss our funding...

    That we tell a far different story from the one espoused by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is true; and that may be why ExxonMobil made some donations to us a few times in the past; they probably liked what we typically had to say about the issue....

    Just as beauty resides in the eye of the beholder, however, so too does the misrepresentation of climate change science live there; and with people on both sides of the debate often saying the same negative things about those on the other side..."

    NO. There aren't two sides because there isn't any debate. There is the truth and the scientists who tell the truth - and then there are lies and the pusillanimous liars who spread them for profit.

    'nuff said. You need not leave comments here anymore - I will not waste my time posting them ever again.

  19. I know a sales letter when I read one.;-)

    Notice too, that you posted a lengthy response to his post and he responded to you in, like, 10 minutes with a thousand words. NOT POSSIBLE.

    You get A+ for troll handling! And thanks for moderating any further trash from him into the bit bucket.


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