UK Guardian photo essay. This gallery from the National Trust purports to celebrate magnificent ancient trees, some still alive from a thousand years ago - but instead is inadvertently documenting their soon to be permanent absence from the landscape of our beloved earth.
"Unless we find a way to rein in our carbon emissions very soon, a low-oxygen ocean may become an inescapable feature of our planet. A team of Danish researchers published a particularly sobering study last year. They wondered how long oxygen levels would drop if we could somehow reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2100. They determined that over the next few thousand years oxygen levels would continue to fall, until they declined by 30 percent. The oxygen would slowly return to the oceans, but even 100,000 years from now they will not have fully recovered. If they’re right, fish will be gasping and squid will be panting for a long time to come. "
"Studley Royal has some exquisite ancient trees, one of the best is the wild cherry, which unfortunately shed much if its crown last year, but is still an amazingly monstrous cherry."
Here is part of the introduction to a paper sent by one of the authors from the University of Colorado, one of the very few scientists in the world investigating the uptake of ozone:
- Ocean acidification producing mass die-offs during past marine extinction events was almost certainly produced by the mineral acids — sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and hydrochloric acid — and not by dissolved CO2. That would be true whether the event was caused by volcanism (PT extinction, Siberian Traps, by a an extraterrestrial bolide, or both (KT extinction, Yucatan crater and the Deccan Traps).Mineral acid acidification is an entirely different kettle of fish than the re-equilibration caused by higher dissolved [CO2]. Mineral acid acidification is non-equilibrium, and isn’t removed by dissolved calcium. Mineral acids require direct neutralization, principally by erosional bicarbonate.The argument that coral reefs are threatened by higher CO2 levels ignores fossil stomatal evidence showing that atmospheric CO2 hit 380 ppmv for at least decades at a time, several times during the last 9000 years.We’re also talking about a decrease in surface ocean pH of about 0.3 units for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. That’s from pH ~8.1 to pH ~7.8. Let’s call that a slight de-alkalinization rather than an acidification. And that’s only in the top 70 m of ocean.It’s hard to believe that corals can’t readily survive that sort of difference, especially when the higher ambient dissolved [CO2] means they’ll have an easier time with uptake.Coral reefs may be under stress from human activity, but CO2 doesn’t seem a likely culprit, and is more like a distraction from the gritty and unromantic problems of agricultural run-off, untreated sewage, erosion due to cutting forests for fuel, and the soot from southeast Asian slash-and-burn.
“'It’s lethal. … It infiltrates the tree wherever it can and there is no way of stopping it. There’s no cure. There’s nothing you can spray the tree with. So finding resistant trees is the best way to go,' says Fleguel, the field manager of the butternut recovery program for the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority."
And yet the forest pathologists themselves are just as delusional! (short ad first, sorry)
They are taking clippings of bud from a tree that isn't dead yet, so it is supposedly resistant. But LOOK at this screen shot, below. There is a huge split in the center of the main trunk, and the branches above and to the left of the climber have peeling bark and are broken!
google search to see whether this is, in fact, correct and came up with some terrific images.
a birch and dwarfs the trunk.
There was a lively discussion on this flickr site about various cankers, most posters expressing astonishment because...well...there didn't used to be nearly so many! One contributed this beauty, a meter high:
"Cankers are dead sections of bark on branches or main trunks of trees. Bark may be killed by mechanical injuries or by plant pathogens, especially fungi and bacteria. Most plant pathogens are unable to penetrate bark directly but will quickly colonize wounded tissue. Canker diseases may cause extensive damage to trees when they kill all of the bark in a particular area, thus girdling a branch or main stem. Girdling results in death of all parts of the plant above the canker. If the trunk is affected, the entire plant may die."
Foamy canker is apparently quite a plague for almond trees in California.
foamy canker defies description.
new research that indicates fires in the interior of Alaska have become much more severe and released more carbon than was sequestered by the region's forests. Naturally, the potential role of ozone in predisposing trees to fire was not mentioned at all.
"Increased intensity of fires in Alaska's vast interior over the last decade has changed the region from a sink to a source of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas most responsible for heating up the planet, the study found.
On balance, in other words, boreal forests in the northern hemisphere may now soak up less of the heat-trapping gas than they give off.
The bulk of the released CO2 comes not from the burning trees, but from what is in the ground.
"Most of what fuels a boreal fire is plant litter, moss and organic matter in surface soils," said Merritt Turetsky, a professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada and lead author of the study.
The findings are worrisome, he said, because about half of the world's soil carbon is trapped in northern permafrost and peatlands.
'This is carbon that has accumulated in ecosystems a little bit at a time for thousands of years, but is being released very rapidly.'
While the study, published in Nature Geoscience, focused on Alaska's 18.5 million hectares (45 million acres) of forests, its conclusions likely apply to huge expanses of wilderness in Siberia, Canada and northern Europe as well."
most important discovery for last. I can never thank anonymous Highschooler enough for so much assiduous, diligent research and outstanding contributions to publications for the Basic Premise page (linked at the very top of the blog) - but this is a particularly poignant lament that also has tremendous ramifications...THANK YOU, Highschooler! I hope you take justifiable pride in your courage and rigorous determination. Farmers are on the front lines of ecosystem collapse, because they can't pretend away the lost yields like professional foresters and scientists can ignore the universally dwindling biosphere. Here's the entire article - warning, you will need a hankie before you finish the first paragraph:
Texas pecan farmers say pollution is killing trees
Orchard owner Leonard Baca had been watching his pecan trees slowly die for 12 years when he went into a washroom, put a gun in his mouth and killed himself.
The frustrated 73-year-old had spent thousands of dollars on technology and improvements to try to resolve the problem at his Central Texas ranch without ever learning what was killing the trees that had supported three generations of his family. Now, 18 years after his death, Baca's son-in-law, Harvey Hayek, believes he's solved the mystery: Sulfur dioxide pollution from a nearby coal-fired power plant has slowly killed two-thirds of his family's 250-acre pecan orchard.
On Monday, Hayek and other pecan growers held a news conference in Austin to demand compensation from the Lower Colorado River Authority, which operates the plant, and the city. They also want research done on what and how much pollution is being emitted now and how much will be discharged after the plant installs equipment aimed at reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain.
"I've got several little 2-year-old grandkids and my own kids," said Hayek, who joined the family business in 1969 after marrying Baca's daughter, Carol. "If this wouldn't have happened, they could all have been enjoying the pecans. They could have had a family business and continued it on for who knows how many years. It's all been taken away from us."
The river authority said it is investing $445 million to install "scrubbers," which will cut the plant's sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 90 percent. In a letter to the Texas Pecan Alliance, the authority said it "cannot make commitments for unlimited compensation to your group."
It did, however, promise to review a report submitted by Sierra Club scientist Neil Carman, which said up to 15,000 trees have been destroyed by sulfur dioxide pollution. Evidence points to the power plant as the culprit, Carman said, because it is the only and main source of pollution in the county, 72 percent of the air pollution in the county is sulfur dioxide and the pecan leaves have characteristic marks of sulfur dioxide injury. Also, he noted, research published in 2004 by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System showed pecan trees were especially sensitive to sulfur dioxide.
"It's a mess," Carman said. "There's nothing else that would account for it."
Sulfur dioxide's danger to vegetation — and pecan trees specifically — is well-documented. The Georgia Power Company settled a series of lawsuits in the early 1970s with pecan growers who accused its plant of killing their trees. Damage can happen as far as 30 miles away, the Alabama report said.
The Hayek orchard planted in 1900 in Ellinger was one of the first in the state and produced 100,000 to 200,000 pounds of pecans annually, helping make Texas the third-largest producer of pecans in the country after Georgia and New Mexico. Three generations worked under the trees' cool shade, and the winter harvest provided work for corn farmers who were done with their crop in the late summer.
"Everything was merry. We were always able to buy new equipment and we got some of the first mechanical harvesters in the area in 1975," Hayek recalled.
The coal-fired power plant began operating in 1979. Hayek could see it from his farm. In 1980, production declined for the first time.
"And it kept going downhill," Hayek said.
Neighboring pecan farmers had similar problems. The county brought in university researchers, who told them to change their fertilization technique and irrigate. They did both to no avail.
Tree limbs began falling. With each one, Hayek saw his hearty father-in-law lose a little more will to fight.
When the first tree died, it was as though a family member had passed away, he said.
"It's come to the point where some years if we want to have some Christmas cookies or pecan pie around our house, I've actually had to go to the HEB grocery store to buy some pecans," Hayek said. "It puts a knot in my stomach. It actually makes me feel sick."
Proving the power plant's emissions are responsible will require extensive and expensive research. But Leo Lombardini, a professor of horticulture at Texas A&M University who has visited Hayek's farm, thinks it could be worthwhile.
"I could see pecan trees that were dying or dead, which is very rare. Pecan trees die only if for some reason they have no access to water," Lombardini said. "In this case, I don't think that was the issue."
At 60, Hayek knows he will live out his years digging and maintaining water wells — the career he began after the orchard could no longer support his family. Even if he replanted today, he would never get to pick fruit from his trees. It takes nearly 25 years for a pecan tree to produce a marketable harvest.