Saturday, February 26, 2011

Domestic Violence

The main thing I worry about personally with climate change and ecosystem collapse is the fate of my three beloved daughters, because it has been demonstrated throughout human history that women are the first victims of violence and abuse when times are tough.  Hey, they are attacked even when times are good.

So, reading about the earthquake in New Zealand gave me an inkling of hope because the residents seemed to be pulling together, sharing food and shelter, and basically being decent.

Then I came across this (and it is about people that supposedly care about each other - we can expect starving, desperate, migrating climate refugees to resort to much worse):
Domestic violence rages in NZ quake aftermath

There was a spike in suicides and stress-related conditions after the first quake, and David Meates, the region's health director, said Tuesday's disaster "has certainly got most people very, very fragile, very anxious".
"In these sorts of situations there are enormous pressures and strains on families, relationships, people's livelihoods are now at stake," Meates told AFP.
"Sometimes the way that it's expressed, people are a lot (closer to) their breaking point and sometimes some of the reactions can be quite out of character. Certainly domestic violence is something that becomes more obvious."
Already a major problem in New Zealand, with tens of thousands of incidents reported each year, one local study showed the incidence of domestic abuse could triple during natural disasters.
Massey University researcher Ros Houghton has found events such as floods and snowstorms significantly increased the intensity and frequency of abuse in rocky relationships.
"People lose a sense of stability and security and there's a kind of anger that comes and you don't know where to put it, you don't know where to direct it, and it's often that it gets directed inside and against those you love," said Peter Beck, dean of Christchurch's Anglican Cathedral.
"Already we have people who've been made redundant, so there's anxiety not only about your homes and your loved ones. Some people have already been getting this double-whammy of maybe losing their job."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jasiri X takes on the Multi Billionaire Koch Brothers

Absolutely truer lyrics were never rapped!  Maybe if people can understand that our government is owned by billionaires, we can overturn it and start basing policy on science and reality, not corporate profits.  A girl can dream...

Scott Walker works for multi billionaires
John Boehner works for multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Sarah Palin works for multi billionaires
American workers vs multi billionaires
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

Can main street get a bailout
Tell the president our checks weren't mailed out
Tell the house of representatives and senate
And whatever business got the stimulus and spent it
Now they getting record profit that's tripling with no limits
But they cutting jobs and unemployment benefits have ended
How we gone live with no income coming in
And the little help we get is cut from the budget then
What's the role of government
Do workers stand a chance if multi billionaires are running it
Oh now you worried bout the deficit and cutting it
But when them banks needed billions you had enough for them.
Them car companies you had bucks for them
2 wars rebuilding 2 countries guess we stuck with them
the average citizen just ain't lucky then
cause we be getting pimped so I guess we getting fucked again

Rush Limbaugh works for multi billionaires
Bill O'Reilly works for multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Sean Hannity works for multi billionaires
Crazy Glenn Beck works for multi billionaires
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

When did the American worker become the enemy
Why is wanting a living wage such a penalty
What happened to justice and liberty
These billionaire haters wanna crush us literally
On the box is Murdoch and his foxes
And if you watch it you might as well be an ostrich
They terrorists cause they hold facts hostage
24 hours straight of we hate what Barack did
If you want to unionize your a communist
But if you buy a congressman they just call you a lobbyist
It's so obvious but here's where the problem is
they act like regular Americans but they sloppy rich
Why you think they wanna cut taxes
cause every single one of them in the higher brackets
This ain't white or black it's class warfare time for action
Just look at wide the gap is

American workers vs multi billionaires
The middle class vs multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Rupert Murdoch is multi billionaires
the Koch brothers are multi Billionaire
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

More about Climate Zombies protesting the Kochs here, here and here!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Rude Awakening

This post will begin with a generalized introduction to the usual information of primary importance to the purpose of this blog, because the good folks over at ComingCrisis have generously agreed to provide a link for new readers.  Welcome!  Also, a warning - blogger goes berserk over cut and paste formatting, so there will be odd and uncontrollable spaces and font sizes....To all you loyal readers who are already familiar with the pernicious effects of ozone on trees, (which will likely come as a shock to first-time visitors since it is a very well-kept open secret), you can scroll on down to the latest pictures, where you will find a monumental report from the esteemed UNEP!  Now here's the ugly background:
Until the summer of 2008, I was blissfully counted among the majority of people - people I now think of as the "Ignorers."  I still miss being oblivious to the existential threat implicit in the irrefutably rapid pace of destabilizing climate change, and struggle daily with the unwelcome foreknowledge of disasters on the horizon.  I had heard of global warming, and I didn't doubt the scientific conclusions - but I was lulled by the predictions of sea level rise that were generally projected to occur in 2100 - well after I would be gone!  I thought perhaps it meant things might get slightly warmer - what's a degree or two difference? - and there might be more rainy days around my little farm in New Jersey - not so bad!  And even if species went extinct, they would be exotic and rare and from obscure locations, like blue speckled tree frogs or tropical orchids in places like Madagascar, where I never expected to travel anyway.

Then, late in the summer that year, a terrible notion seized my attention when I noticed that all - I mean ALL - of the leaves on trees I could see around me, completely wilted, quite abruptly.  It hadn't rained in weeks, and suddenly, whether oak or maple or walnut or ash - every leaf was suddenly just hanging limply...and their edges were singed a crispy brown.  I had never seen anything like it on living plants before, and as life-long gardener and devoted tree lover, I would have noticed had it occurred in the past.  I took it to indicate something was very seriously amiss.  In the fall as leaves shriveled and fell prematurely, I began to investigate every possible explanation, and to write dozens of letters to scientists, asking them what was happening, and why.

This line of inquiry quickly led me to the theory of climate change, which is elaborated upon by many blogs on the internet, my favorite of which is - and in published scientific research and printed books.  The more I read and learned, the more alarmed I became about irreversible tipping points and irreversible amplifying feedbacks, like the albedo effect and melting permafrost - and the terminal consequences of ocean acidification.  In fact I soon came to wonder how scientists producing such research could be anything but so terrified by the knowledge they revealed that they would be screaming warnings from the top of their ivory towers.  One of the most prominent concerns that plagued me (it's no longer a concern, it's a certainty) is that it seems only logical to infer that since our ecosystem consists of a balance of interwoven relationships between millions of species, which took millions of years to slowly achieve through evolution, it is far too complex and interconnected for this intense co-dependence of biodiversity to survive a major disruption such as a significant change in climate.  And ecosystem collapse means mass extinctions.

All these legitimate fears were soon eclipsed by what I next discovered.  Throughout that winter I had remained fairly certain that gradual warming, increased evaporation, and inconsistent precipitation from climate change was slowly, incrementally, harming the trees - and would ultimately lead to their demise...eventually.  Then, early into the next growing season of 2009, it quickly became apparent that the leaves of young trees and annual plants being grown in nurseries, as well as aquatic plants like water lilies and lotus, had begun to exhibit the same symptoms of wilt and scorching.

Clearly, saplings raised in nurseries being watered couldn't be suffering from drought.  And it couldn't be allocated to temperature, since many of the plants that are sold in northern nurseries are indigenous to much hotter regions.  Although acid rain is well-known to kill trees by leaching nutrients from the soil, plants in nurseries are fertilized and grown in enriched soil.  The only aspect of habitat that all these trees and plants share in common is the composition of the atmosphere.  This represented a more urgent and universal threat.

Thus I began to reluctantly revise my opinion and started instead to read up on air pollution.  I quickly found that there is indeed research spanning decades which demonstrates conclusively that ozone formed in the troposphere from fuel emissions, though invisible, is toxic.  It is poisonous to people, causing cancer, emphysema, and asthma, and is responsible for killing people in heatwaves, particularly the elderly and ill.  Recently it has been linked to the epidemics of autism, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.  Another non-controversial finding is that vegetation is even more sensitive to ozone than humans.  Ozone causes characteristic damage to foliage, stunts growth, and renders vegetation more vulnerable to attacks by insects, disease, fungus, drought and wind.

Accordingly, the central premise of this blog is that, as background levels inexorably rise, tropospheric ozone is killing off vegetation at an accelerating rate.  There is much published research to indicate the validity of the various components of this conclusion, by academics and government agencies.  The problem remains that although many chemists, physicists, biologists, agronomists and foresters understand their own specialized portion of the issue - how ozone is created, or transported, or absorbed - the overarching paradigm is fragmented.  Almost no one is synthesizing the overall impacts, let alone following the trend to its inevitable result - massive death of vegetation, leading to food shortages for wild animals, farm animals, and people.  Incredibly, many knowledgeable parties vigorously deny that ozone is anything more than a localized nuisance.  The reason they deny the seriousness of the threat has myriad possible explanations, from fear to finances. Notable exceptions to this narrow viewpoint can be found here and here.

If anyone is wondering by now, I can safely say without elaborating that yes, realizing all this is a vicious waking nightmare.  Feel free to email or leave comments if you need commiseration.

Listed below are some fundamental facts which are not disputed (by any other than fuel industry shills who earn a living suing the EPA to delay regulations of fuel emissions) and are all supported in peer-reviewed, published research linked to on the Basic Premise page at the top of this blog.

1.  Ozone is formed from complicated, fast chemical reactions between emissions of volatile organic compounds and UV radiation...and back again
2.  Levels of background tropospheric ozone are rising
3.  Precursors can travel around the world and form ozone far from source, even in pristine rural areas
4.  Ozone is toxic to people
5.  Ozone is toxic to plants, causing visible topical lesions on foliage and also long-term internal damage
6.  Virtually every species of tree is considered to be threatened (although the universal nature of the cause is almost never understood)
7.  Ozone decreases the amount and quality of agricultural yield
8.  Even plants without visible damage to foliage can have been harmed
9.  The higher the temperature, the more ozone is formed

Here's a list of the standard and what have become rather tediously predictable excuses which are regurgitated by establishment scientists and foresters as to why individual species of trees, or areas of trees, are dying, or crops damaged - without considering that their immunity is compromised by ozone:

1.    It's a bug
2.    It's a fungus
3.    It's warmer temperatures
4.    It's too dry
5.    It's too wet
6.    The trees are too old (nonsense - most should live for centuries and a few, even thousands of years)
7.    The trees are crowded
8.    It's a disease
9.    It's road salt
10.  It's leaking natural gas pipelines
11.  What dying trees?

Here are some predictions made here at Wit's End over the past two years, that are now coming true:

1.  More wildfires as trees and the understory die off and become a tinderbox - we've all heard about the epic fires in Russia and Australia - perhaps we'll pay attention when they rage in North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, and Alaska.

2.  Emaciated, malnourished animals dying because there isn't enough food produced in the wild

3.  Global food shortages, leading to rising prices and riots.  Some of this is due to extreme weather, but there are many, many reports of failed crops where there was no extreme weather.  In most cases farmers have no idea their crop is diminished because of ozone.

4.  Falling trees and branches lead to higher insurance costs, damage to property, and unprecedented loss of life

5.  More downed power lines from falling branches, causing outages

6.  Landslides, because root systems are rotted, especially given record-smashing heavy rains

7. The BALDing syndrom (Bark Atrophy Lichen Decline) will accelerate and no tree will be immune from leaking, splitting, cracking bark.

Over the weekend I went to visit a nearby horse farm, Briarwood, where I once spent countless days with my children when they were young Pony Club riders.  It's not very far away, but I just haven't had any reason to go there for many years, and so I was horrified when I saw what has transpired in the interval.

I'm going to post pictures, mixed up with some recents reports and articles (quoted passages will be violet) that have relevance.  Note there are so many downed trees, they have just been shoved to the side of the road in piles - and also the many pine trees with hardly any needles - and what is especially brutal to me...the condition of the bark, with extensive abscesses, lethal canker growths, and grotesque corrosion.

But first, a minor segue to our National Christmas Tree, which blew over last Saturday at the unremarkable age of 47, and was rendered into chips within hours.  I wonder if the Park Service didn't want people to see quite how rotted the trunk was, which you can see in this photograph below...(and notice how bare the pine trees in the distance on the right are, as well).
The branches are pathetically thin.  I called Bill Line, Park Service spokesman, who was quoted in one of the newspaper articles about the incident, to ask him about the rotted trunk.  He spat out this comment, enunciating and emphasizing every syllable of every word testily, in what was clearly a rehearsed speech:  "The National Park Service horticulturalists, biochemists and arborists [in other words, the experts and you are just stupid to imagine there is anything amiss] have determined there was NOTHING wrong inside of the tree!"  When pressed, he snapped..."Ma'am, I was there and saw with my own two eyes the trunk was not hollow, it was just another color." He insisted high winds were the only cause for the tree trunk to snap.  In this article is the statement:  "By 5:30 p.m., less than seven hours later, the tree was reduced to mulch by work crews."

Can that be normal procedure - especially on a Saturday?  They wouldn't just cut it up and haul it to some tree chipping, composting site?  And did the horticulturalists, biochemists and arborists decide there was nothing wrong with the tree during those hours between when it fell and before it became mulch - or behorehand?  Is it normal for the center of the trunk to be a dark color??  I thought of these questions after our conversation, then called back but he wasn't answering.  I left a message on his voicemail, since he didn't pick up after several attempts for the rest of the afternoon - if he returns the call I'll post an update.
Reports of dying animals continue to accrue, almost always with the disclaimer that there's nothing unusual going on - or as in this case described below, owner neglect is blamed.  It's impossible to say with certainty which of these tragic die-offs are related to a shrinking base of vegetation for food - but it is something to be expected.
  • Many surviving ponies so badly emaciated they have 'no hope of surviving'
  • Government says identifying 'irresponsible owners' is impossible
They have roamed the moor of the West Country for thousands of years - loved by locals and visitors alike.
But as these shocking pictures reveal, the ponies of Bodmin are today suffering appalling neglect.
In the past few weeks, the rugged Cornish landscape has been littered with the grisly bodies of decomposed animals and pitiful ponies so badly emaciated they have no hope of surviving.
However, since they are "semi-feral" and have been around for thousands of years, I suspect it is the lack of natural healthy fodder - which the "owners" expect to be available - that is causing their malnutrition.
I am still waiting for more information about the swans dying in England, but note some are described as "very thin":
HORRIFIED bird lovers demanded an urgent investigation last night after the mystery deaths of SIXTEEN swans in just six weeks.
The ‘unprecedented’ number of fatalities has wiped out around 30 per cent of the population along the River Avon in Stratford-upon-Avon....Swan rescue volunteer and former Stratford Mayor Cyril Bennis said: “This is the worst case of deaths I’ve seen in 30 years of working with swans in Stratford.
“I picked up three this week, two from Stratford and one from Luddington and it was quite distressing.
“I’ve collected all the dead birds, some young and some old, many have been very thin.
Okay, so let us turn to the trees, and recent pictures.
This time of year of course the deciduous trees are bare, but in the absence of the cover from their canopies, the transparency of conifers becomes obvious.
This grouping of trees actually has several white pines, but it's hard to see all of them, because many are completely devoid of needles (any picture will enlarged if clicked on).
Above is a closeup of the yellowing needles of the largest, center pine.
There is a totally bare pine on the left, above...and a totally dead one on the right, below.  This is a pretty typical range to be found hereabouts at this time.
A few days ago the Telegraph ran a story titled "What is killing Britain's Street Trees?"

Climate change and the increasing movement of horticultural plants around the country has increased the risk of disease. Chestnuts are suffering from bleeding canker and a leaf miner moth and many have had to be killed on Britain's streets. Oaks, that are more often found in parks, are being killed by acute oak decline. And Japanese larch, that is a popular ornamental tree, is dying from sudden oak death.
This is an enlargement from the very first picture on this post,.  You can see somebody tried to plant pine trees in front of the existing row to replace the dying trees - they aren't flourishing at all, can hardly see them they are so thin.
And then yet another blamed road salt!

...two years of spreading huge amounts of salt on the road is starting to show in wilted and dead trees this spring.
...Emma Hill, Policy Director at Trees for Cities, said the true scale of how many trees have been killed off will only become apparent in spring, but there is concern it could be thousands.
The British love their natural landscapes and keep close track of plants and wildlife.  This year they are reporting that spring flowers have been "delayed" by the harsh winter.  In other words, they aren't there. Will they show up later or are they actually diminished in number?

According to sightings reported to Nature's Calendar, a scheme which is run by the Woodland Trust, far fewer snowdrops, lesser celandine, hazel flowers and nesting rooks had been spotted by the end of the first week of February compared to last year.
There had been fewer than 300 sightings of snowdrops by 9 February, the Woodland Trust said, compared to 1,265 by that date last year.
In far off Australia, as early as 2007, it was noted that eucalyptus are dying for no apparent reason, something I saw myself last month in California:

Dominating the tree flora of Australia, ‘Eucalyptus’ finds a special place in the country with more than 700 ‘native’ species. Being economically important in terms of its uses, the tree’s existence was seen very early by European explorers and collectors.
However, alarmingly, millions of hectares of Eucalyptus trees are decaying and dying at incredible rate across Australia.
Environmental Researchers, in a serious bid, are keenly investigating the critical reason behind this unfortunate happening.
Meanwhile in the Midwest, ash trees are dying off, according to this story in the Chicago Tribune, titled, "Indiana city faces big bill over insect-damaged trees.:

Indiana's second-largest city is poised to spend nearly $1 million to deal with a surge in ash trees dying from infestations of the emerald ash borer -- rotting trees that now pose a growing public hazard. 

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said he'll ask the city council to approve spending $900,000 to remove and replace the dead and dying trees. The city parks board approved the borer spending plan Thursday, but it still must go before the council.

Henry said the dead and dying trees pose a hazard as they drop rotten limbs or topple onto property. 

...The Journal Gazette reports that Fort Wayne's ash borer infestation is killing ash trees at a much faster rate than expected. In 2008, the city expected to lose a peak of 1,500 ash trees a year, but now expects to lose 3,000 ash trees this year. That rate is expected to continue through 2013. 

Officials said an ice storm in 2008 and the 2010 drought accelerated the tree deaths.
Trees are dying in Hawaii.

The defoliated rose apple trees that you've seen are infested with a rust disease (Puccinia psidii), first detected in Hawaii on an ohia plant at a Windward Oahu nursery in April 2005.

The primary Hawaii host for the fungus is the rose apple tree, although an unusually high number of host trees - about 20 - have been found here, according to Rob Hauff, Forest Health Coordinator for DLNR's Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

"The disease just goes crazy on" the rose apple, causing new leaves to die and fall off, he said.
However, the concern is more over the disease's potential impact on native plant species, such as the ohia, rather than on an introduced, invasive species like the rose apple, he said.

The rose apple can be found all over the state, especially in the wetter valleys.
"It's definitely widespread," Hauff said, noting that he's seen aerial images, especially of Maui, where "the die-back is extensive."

Papers out west had numerous stories recently about dying trees because of a conference there last week.  A Denver Post article said:

Global warming is reshaping forests throughout Colorado and across the West, scientists and public-land managers agreed at a symposium Friday, leaving foresters at pains to deal with a landscape that could look very different in the future.

While some still debate whether the changing climate is due to human-caused pollution, they said climate scientists agree the Earth is heating up, and dying aspen, spruce, piñon and other trees are fingerprints of a warmup.

"The climate is changing," said Forest Service ecologist Linda Joyce, speaking at "Forests at Risk: Climate Change & the Future of the American West."

"Temperatures are warming and will likely continue to warm," she said.
That will change the look of forests forever, but exactly what they will look like remains to be seen, she said.

Aspen, the iconic trees of the West, will probably vanish from mountainsides where they once thrived, Joyce said. Pine trees will retreat to cooler climes, and animals that depend on them will follow.
That leaves land managers trying to grapple with "the eventual loss of the plants and animals we know," she said.

While former vice president and climate activist Al Gore was the most famous name at the symposium, his was a rare voice of activism in a conference heavy on science.

"If you love the forest and you care about what's happening to them, the No. 1 connection that's happening to them is warmer temperatures," Gore said.

"Ninety-eight percent of climatologists agree with this consensus, and a lot of them are practically screaming from the rooftops now, trying to get the attention of the rest of us that this is unprecedented, and we have to act," said Gore, who presented a slide show about Western forests reminiscent of his film, "An Inconvenient Truth."

The seminar was organized by For the Forest, an Aspen organization formed in response to infestations of bark beetles killing lodgepole pine on the hills surrounding the ski town.
Aspen sits in the heart of the White River National Forest, which is seeing a barrage of threats. Entire stands of aspen are dying due to a phenomenon called sudden aspen decline. Beetles are killing off vast swaths of pine and, more recently, spruce. Massive wildfires have scorched thousands of acres. All events have different causes, scientists agreed, but climate change is a common denominator, creating weaker trees and more-robust insects and disease.

The tough question is what to do about it, said University of Montana biologist Diana Six. "A lot of things we've done in the past I don't think are going to work."

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., called for Congress to put "a price on carbon," either through cap and trade, a carbon tax, or a similar mechanism. "While we dither and while we debate, the Chinese are acting, the Germans are acting, the Spaniards are acting, many other countries are acting," Udall said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's undersecretary for natural resources and environment, Harris Sherman, who oversees the Forest Service, said President Barack Obama's 2012 budget prioritizes forest restoration and made climate-change planning part of the rules that govern forest management.

"It's a challenge that I've never seen," said Rick Cables, Rocky Mountain regional forester for the Forest Service. ". . . This context, the context of our times, with climate change and what we're seeing on the landscape, is a game-changer."

Government agencies are used to working slowly and juggling a variety of interests, from environmentalists to industry.

Those groups may have to learn to work together, Cables said, if land managers are to respond quickly. Tools such as fire and logging may be necessary, he said, even if they're unpopular.

In the long term, forests may not be just victims of climate change but accomplices, scientists said. Live trees remove carbon. Dead trees decompose and produce it.

"In other words, the warming will feed the warming," said Werner Kurz, senior research scientist for the Canadian Forest Service.

An article in the Aspen Daily Times described the meeting as follows:

Other speakers featured at the symposium were Jim Worall and Linda Joyce of the U.S. Forest Service, and Werner Kurz of the Canadian Forest Service. 

Experts took turns giving 15-minute presentations on the state of Western forests. The speakers then had a brief question and answer session with Renee Montagne from National Public Radio as moderator. 

Although topics presented ranged from the sudden decline of 1.1 million Aspen trees in national forests to their role in carbon sequestration, an overiding theme of doom and gloom permeated throughout the day. Presenters talked about the declining health of forests as a result of disease, climate change and human influence.

“There wasn’t much good news in anything that any of you have said,” said Montagne addressing the first group of speakers. “What can be done?”

“That is really one of the toughest questions because I don’t think anyone knows,” said Worall.

Now that is a lie - "because I don’t think anyone knows".  They just don't want to tell anyone what can be done, because it's politically unpopular, not to mention, impossible connection...We have to stop burning fuel!

Although warming is blamed for the beetles, the foresters have no bugs to explain the parallel die-off of the aspens.  But they won't let that stop them!
The question of what's killing the Aspen trees brought together dozens of experts in Logan this week. They're sorting through significant Aspen die-offs. It may be part of a much larger and very worrisome trend.
The immediate concern is something they're calling "Sudden Aspen Decline". But trees of many species are dying in record numbers, and the trend is getting worse. It's an issue of increasing concern, not just in remote mountain areas, but in places where we live and appreciate the shade.
Photos show something that's alarming people near Cedar City. Reports of similar problems have been coming in from around the Four Corners.
Dr. Paul Rogers, director of the Western Aspen Alliance, said, "Dying off of mature aspen trees in the area, and in some instances no regeneration coming up underneath that."
The concern is serious enough that dozens of experts from the U.S. and Canada met at Utah State to assess how widespread the die-offs are for a tree species beloved by many.
"I don't think they should worry about losing it across the range. What we're worried about right now is in specific areas," Rogers said.
If there is a crisis for aspens, this species is not alone. Similar threats seem to be killing trees throughout the west. In mountain areas drought is weakening trees, allowing beetles to move in for the kill. As the globe warms up, beetles are moving further north and to higher elevations, attacking trees on a scale that hasn't happened in thousands of years.
Jesse Logan, a beetle researcher, said, "Massive outbreaks occurring, continent-scale. Unprecedented within the European history for sure, and probably much longer than that."
Drought is taking a toll in Salt Lake City too. Since 1990, tree removals have risen from 500 a year to 800. It's partly because trees are aging but also because we're supposed to "Slow the Flow" and save water.
Bill Rutherford, a Salt Lake City urban forester, said, "It's an important message, and people are taking it to heart because we live in a dry state. But one of the unintended consequences is trees are not getting the amount of water that they need."
Global warming studies provide a mixed forecast. Dr. Robert Gillies, the director of the Utah Climate Center, said, "That the southern part of the state is becoming dryer, and that the northern part of the state will become wetter." But hotter temperatures will likely evaporate away the extra moisture in the north. "And that ends up being a net deficit," Gillies said.
All of this suggests we'll be worrying about trees for a long time. One of the ironies of the situation is that trees can be part of the solution to global warming. They provide cooling shade and recycle carbon dioxide, but they aren't going to help us much if they don't get enough water.

Video Courtesy of

No, the US Forest Service will continue to waste taxpayer money and assuage the timber industry by publishing glossy pamphlets that point to bark beetle and spruce bud worm as the sole source of the scourge.
And now...taa daa!!! - The following information comes from an article about the United Nations Environment Programme, which also received attention in Scientific American (thank to Highschooler for the link!).  The main issue in the report is that reducing ozone and soot would slow climate change, but this is the section that is relevant to understanding the effects of ozone on trees:

Tropospheric ozone including near-surface ozone is a major greenhouse gas, harms human health and is linked to significant damage to crops and ecosystems.

A regional assessment report by the UNEP Project Atmospheric Brown Cloud cited annual losses from the wheat, rice, corn and soya bean crop in China, Japan and the Republic of Korea alone-linked with ground level ozone-may be $5 billion a year.
Another study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates that five per cent of cereal production in the United States is lost to ground level ozone and that by 2100 crop yields globally could be cut by 40 per cent.

Up to a fifth of all summer-time hospital visits in the north-eastern United States related to respiratory problems are linked to low level ozone, sometimes referred to as smog.
Researchers at the University of Illinois are suggesting that tree growth in the United States is some seven per cent less and that this will climb to up to 17 per cent less by 2100 as a result of low level ozone pollution.

Tropospheric ozone, which occurs from the ground up to 15 kilometres in altitude, is generated by substances such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides mixing with emissions of petroleum products like volatile organic compounds and solvents in the presence of sunlight.

Researchers estimate that the contribution of tropospheric ozone to the greenhouse effect could range from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, of the CO2 warming.

Meanwhile nitrogen compounds, emitted from sources including animal wastes, sewage, inefficient use of fertilizers, sewage and vehicle emissions are being linked to a wide range of impacts and not just climate change.
The rising number of dead zones-deoxygenated areas of seas and oceans-is raising concern over already vulnerable and depleted fish stocks. Meanwhile nitrogen compound emissions are also contributing to changes in vegetation and ecosystems as a result of their artificial fertilizing effect.
In the European Union more than 21,000 premature deaths annually are associated with ground level ozone according to the European Environment Agency.
It is estimated that in 2000 in the European Union, well over Euro 6 billion-worth of crops were lost due to ozone.
The UNEP published this book in 2010 - "Air Pollution, promoting regional cooperation." It is far, far beyond the scope of this blog to include the vast number of issues addressed there, which include all sorts of standards and protocols for measuring and regulating and negotiating political agreements, and other impacts on health and even buildings.  For the purposes of witsend some pertinent excerpts about trees and crops must suffice.  The first module details the history of national recognition that air pollution is transboundary, getting back to the first inklings voiced by a Norwegian scientist that the acid levels killing lakefish derived from remote sources, and  then moves on to some forthrightly unambiguous statements:
Besides health concerns, the effects of air pollution on crops are closely linked to the fundamental conditions of man in society. An adequate supply of food and water is instrumental for the survival, functioning and development of mankind. Thus, safeguarding agricultural production against the impact of air pollution must be a strong driving force for policy interventions, not least in developing countries. Studies in Europe, Africa and Asia suggest that agricultural output may be dramatically reduced by air pollution, above all ozone (formed by chemical reactions with nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight).
The Sida funded programme on Regional Air Pollution in Developing Countries (RAPIDC) includes studies in e.g. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as in southern Africa, which indicate that the crop yield of wheat may be reduced by some 30% due to air pollution (based on European dose response functions). Investigations in these countries and in Sri Lanka suggest a potential yield loss of 50-80% for mung beans, spinach and potatoes. It has been indicated that rice yield in Japan has been reduced due to the influence of long- range transport of air pollution.
The impact of air pollution on agricultural crops and quality of produce and ensuing food security has hitherto been largely ignored by policy makers. The ubiquitously rising ambient ozone levels are a matter of serious concern in a world with growing food shortages and increasing food prices. Some 75% of the world’s cereal is grown in areas which are exposed to damaging ozone concentrations.
In the ongoing debate on the effects of climate change matters such as floods and soil erosion, drought and desertification are seen as detrimental to sustainable livelihoods, including falling agricultural production. It should be kept in mind though, that air pollution, and above all ground level ozone, may also lead to the impairment of such production where the conditions for agriculture and food production are otherwise excellent.
Another issue that is neglected for the most part is the disruption of the nitrogen cycle, which is of interest because certain lichens that like high levels of nitrogen are proliferating on trees at an aberrantly rapid rate of growth, swarming over entire branches and trunks - and this comprehensive report addresses that:

A serious problem in soils is that nitrogen saturation may lead to nutrient leakage to freshwaters which will cause eutrophication.
Eutrophication of freshwaters and coastal sea areas, i.e. surplus of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, is caused only in part by air pollution but also, and probably foremost, by water-carried pollutants from agriculture, industrial and municipal sewage, waste treatment and households.
Apart from eutrophication of waters, excess nitrogen deposition over land areas, even at fairly low deposition rates, may lead to a change of plant community composition and biodiversity loss. This change in the ecosystem can have a potentially huge impact on world biodiversity and may be the third greatest driver of biodiversity loss on the global scale (after land use and climate change). Policy makers seem not to be aware of this, focusing on other urgent topics.
Nitrogen is, of course, a prerequisite for food production but in excess on unmanaged land, it is a threat to nature and wildlife.
Both acid rain and excessive nitrogen deposition may have negative effects on the composition of whole ecosystems. Virgin land and unmanaged forests and other natural biotopes are shrinking worldwide.
I didn't want to veer too far from trees but another source of frustration for me, is a parallel to the widespread tendency to blame proximate causes for plants damaged by ozone, is another routine euphemistic attribution of deaths of people in heat waves to heat - when actually, more people die in heat waves because higher temperatures create higher levels of ozone.  So here's part of that report which makes that clear:
One obvious health-related issue is the combined effect of heat waves and high ozone levels. Recent studies in France and elsewhere suggest that the overall contribution of ozone to mortality in cities may range from 2.5% to 85.3% in periods of high temperature. Each increase in ozone concentrations results in increased risk of death (an increase of 10 ug/m3 is reported to increase the excess risk of death by 0.3-0.5%). It must also be noted that ozone is a powerful greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming. It has several deleterious effects on health, environment and climate. Thus the abatement of greenhouse gases and air pollution must take these obvious inter-linkages into consideration.
It's going to be fascinating to see how all of this plays with the entrenched interests in the developed world, because without mincing words this is a clear challenge to the major polluters of the world by the huge number of victims living low-consumption lifestyles in the undeveloped nations.
Further along it includes this revolutionary concept that I have personally never encountered in US media:
PPP [Polluter Pays Principle] is an environmental policy principle recognised as fundamental to international environmental law, which requires that the costs of pollution be borne by those who cause it.  While originally aimed at internalizing the cost of waste disposal into the cost of the product, i.e. targeting the manufacturers, PPP is now applied in multilateral contexts where transboundary issues are at stake.
Also known as Extended Polluter Responsibility (EPR), it is a concept relevant to all mitigation programmes which aim at internalizing the environmental externalities of economic activities so that the prices of goods and services fully reflect the costs of production. PPP promotes economic efficiency and legal justice but also the harmonization of international environmental policies. Moreover, it defines how to allocate costs within a country.
It is also a powerful tool to be recognized as a basic principle in multilateral negotiations for mitigation of air pollution. Since all countries in a region pollute each other, more or less, PPP must be implemented in transparent and reciprocal arrangements leading to equitable burden-sharing among countries as regards costs, whether or not a command and control or a market based approach is employed. The chosen approach will be reflected in the technical measures taken to mitigate air pollution.
OH boy, that's enough to make whatever hair the Koch brothers have remaining on their heads stand on end!  And that's just from Module I!
Some years ago air pollution was treated as a local problem, particularly in urban areas. While urban problems tend to be continuously exacerbated in most big cities of the world, air pollution is today recognized as a global issue with transboundary consequences.
I hope the fossilized Jim Bouldin at Real Climate takes note.  YEARS AGO it was treated as a local problem - no MORE.  And also, ozone IS an important contributor to climate change, ho ho:
The UNEP issued their Integrated Assessment to implement policies to reduce ozone and black carbon emissions, saying doing so will result in halving the warming predicted for climate change by 2050:
Full implementation of these measures would reduce future global warming by 0.5 degrees C (within a likely range of 0.2-0.7 degrees C). If the measures are implemented by 2030, this could halve the potential increase in global temperature which is projected for 2050. The rate of regional temperature increase would also be reduced.
The UNEP are convening right now in Nairobi, Kenya for the presentation of this summary for decision makers, so it will be interesting to see in the days ahead what international reactions will be to the recommendations.

Here are two recent articles from the UNEP Newsletter, Regional Resource Center for Asia and the Pacific, which I include to demonstrate just how global the problem is...since I've been accused of basing my concern solely on plants in my own yard in New Jersey!
Training Workshop on Air Pollution Impact on Crops

1st Training Workshop on the Impact of Ozone on Crops
Under the Malé Declaration framework, the first training workshop on "Impact of air pollution on crops" was held in Dhaka and Mymensingh, Bangladesh, 15-16 August. This pioneer training course was conducted by UNEP RRC to share expert experiences and to finalize a protocol for conducting crop impact assessment under the declaration.
Twenty-seven participants from seven countries attended the workshop, drawn from Ministries and Agencies dealing with agriculture, environment, and meteorology. Participants were addressed by Dr. C.S Karim, Honourable Advisor of the Ministry of Environment & Forests; AHM Rezaul Kabir, the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment & Forests; Dr. Khandaker Rashedul Haque, Director General of the Department of Environment; Mr. Mylvakanam Iyngararasan of UNEP and Dr. Lisa Emberson of Stockholm Environment Institute, York. The participants also had the chance to visit the Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, where a bio-monitoring experiment on the impact of troposphere ozone on crops is hosted.
Training Workshop on the Impacts of Air Pollution on Crops, 15-17 November 2010, New Delhi, India

Mr. Mahesh Pradhan giving his remarks at the workshop
The Malé Declaration Workshop on Crop Impacts, aimed at continued capacity building in crop impact assessment, as well as to develop an implementation plan for the next phase, was held in New Delhi, India on 15-17 November 2010. It was organised by AIT-UNEP RRC.AP and the Stockholm Environment Institute York (SEI-Y). The workshop was attended by participants from the Malé Declaration participating countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri-Lanka. Regional experts and participants from Japan, the United Kingdom, and India also joined the workshop. Mr. Mahesh Pradhan, Mr. Maheswar Ruphaketi, Ms. Naw Wahwah Htoo, Ms. Bernadeth Lim, and Ms. Woralac Rodsumang from AIT-UNEP RRC.AP participated in the workshop.
So, given all of the evidence above, why doesn't this article , "50 Million Climate Refugees to Flood the Global North by 2020" - even mention ozone when they state that people will be...
...fleeing flood shortages sparked by climate change, experts warned at a major science conference that ended here Monday.
"In 2020, the UN has projected that we will have 50 million environmental refugees," Cristina Tirado, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"When people are not living in sustainable conditions, they migrate," she said, outlining with the other speakers how climate change is already impacting the amount of food we have - food security - and food safety, or the healthfulness of that food.

And neither does this article include reduced yield and quality from ozone, in its long miserable catalogue of spices becoming scarce and expensive - like cardamon, cinnamon, paprika and pepper.

I confess, I do not know whether to be resentful that so many pleasures, like flavored food, will be soon obsolete...or grateful, that I was one who knew them, once upon a time...I question whether I should be happy and proud, that I raised my daughters to experience so many fantastic adventures...or be consumed with guilt, because I know they are doomed to foul futures and quite likely, horrific ends. 
This is a sprawling, elegant antique stone house across from the river, along the road that leads to the farm.
It had numerous outbuildings, some of which were later joined together.
Next to the entry is this large old tree, a terrific example of a torqued trunk and corroded bark.
It has holes, and cankers, which are typically caused by a fungus that will eventually girdle the branch, cut off the flow of nutrients, and kill it.
This branch is so cracked it is hard to believe it hasn't fallen yet.
The base is a mass of writhing ripples.
The giant crown of this tree I passed after leaving the farm might appear healthy because it's so vast.
It actually has many damaged branches and the same bizarre streaking, which is stained from oozing fluid.
As I was heading home, I noticed many more dying trees.
It is the same wherever I are two close-ups of this pair.
If you understand the symptoms of "decline" - an America forestry euphemism for death - the realization that all the trees are in "decline" becomes inescapable.
Some are surviving...but not for long.
Trees must photosynthesize - just like people must breathe.
Ozone interferes with photosynthesis, and so the trees cannot live.
The lichen is taking over, temporarily.
I passed this little farmhouse, which is losing it's sheltered privacy from its old specimens trees.
The owner came running up to see why I was taking pictures.
I handed him my card and explained that all the trees are dying, and I write a blog to warn people we have to take steps to clear the air before it's too late.  He told me he had just cut this pine down, and would soon have to remove the others...but, he claimed, they are dying from road salt.  Now, where did I just hear that theory?  Oh right, Britain.  I pointed out to him that trees deep into the woods, far from road salt, are in no better shape, but he shook his head and muttered again that it was road salt.
Last picture is for Catman, who speculated that we could fill the gaping holes in the barren understory with bamboo.  I planted 25 huge clumps about 5 years ago (at great expense I might add) to s, and they were spreading nicely and now, in just the last couple of weeks, the leaves turned brown.  It gives me no pleasure to share this.

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