Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Koch Kills on the Ed Show!

Wit's End banner was on the teevee!!!  Here's the screen shot, at 35 seconds in...
After a commercial and some brief clips, Ed leads into the "Crying Kochs" with "...poor little rich boys, the Koch brothers, don't like all the negative publicity...get used to it, fellas - just like your refineries, politics is a dirty business!"  The Wit's End post on the Weakly Standard interview with the Kochtopi is here.  Below is the quick clip that has the shot of the Koch Kills banner.

Here's the full segment, including an interview with Robert Greenwald about his series of web videos, soon to be launched at kochbrothersexposed.com:

Monday, March 28, 2011


This is a superlative snippet of his writing:
"...buy and sell catastrophe in the market of calamity..."

Joe Bageant only lasted four months following a diagnosis of cancer.  Here's a link to one of his essays, "Nine Billion Little Feet," from which the above quote was taken.

Following is a small excerpt (yes!  there is so much more!) from his blog post, "AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS BE SO DUM?  Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga:"

"If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.

One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don't even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out. 

As William Edwards Deming famously demonstrated, no system can understand itself, and why it does what it does, including the American social system. Not knowing shit about why your society does what it makes for a pretty nasty case of existential unease. So we create institutions whose function is to pretend to know, which makes everyone feel better. Unfortunately, it also makes the savviest among us -- those elites who run the institutions -- very rich, or safe from the vicissitudes that buffet the rest of us.
Directly or indirectly, they understand that the real function of American social institutions is to justify, rationalize and hide the true purpose of cultural behavior from the lumpenproletariat, and to shape that behavior to the benefit of the institution's members."Hey, they're a lump. Whaddya expect us to do?"
Doubting readers may consider America's health institutions, the insurance corporations, hospital chains, physicians' lobbies. Between them they have established a perfectly legal right to clip you and me for thousands of dollars at their own discretion. That we so rabidly defend their right to gouge us, given all the information available in the digital age, mystifies the world.
Two hundred years ago no one would have thought sheer volume of available facts in the digital information age would produce informed Americans. Founders of the republic, steeped in the Enlightenment as they were, and believers in an informed citizenry being vital to freedom and democracy, would be delirious with joy at the prospect. Imagine Jefferson and Franklin high on Google. 
The fatal assumption was that Americans would choose to think and learn, instead of cherry picking the blogs and TV channels to reinforce their particular branded choice cultural ignorance, consumer, scientific or political, but especially political. Tom and Ben could never have guessed we would chase prepackaged spectacle, junk science, and titillating rumor such as death panels, Obama as a socialist Muslim and Biblical proof that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs around Eden. In a nation that equates democracy with everyman's right to an opinion, no matter how ridiculous, this was probably inevitable. After all, dumb people choose dumb stuff. That's why they are called dumb. 
But throw in sixty years of television's mind puddling effects, and you end up with 24 million Americans watching Bristol Palin thrashing around on Dancing with the Stars, then watch her being interviewed with all seriousness on the networks as major news. The inescapable conclusion of half of heartland America is that her mama must certainly be presidential material, even if Bristol cannot dance. It ain't a pretty picture out there in Chattanooga and Keokuk.
The other half, the liberal half, concludes that Bristol's bad dancing is part of her spawn-of-the-Devil mama's plan to take over the country, and make millions in the process, not to mention make Tina Fey and Jon Stewart richer than they already are. That's a tall order for a squirrel brained woman who recently asked a black president to "refutiate" the NAACP (though I kinda like refutiate, myself). Cultural stupidity accounts for virtually every aspect of Sarah Palin, both as a person and a political icon. Which, come to think of it, may be a pretty good reason not to "misunderstimate" her. After all, we're still talking about her in both political camps. And the woman OWNS the Huffington Post, fer Christsake. Not to mention a franchise on cultural ignorance. 
Cultural stupidity might not be so bad, were it not self-reproducing and viral, and prone to place stupid people in charge. All of us have, at some point, looked at a boss and asked ourselves how such a numb-nuts could end up in charge of the joint. 
In my own field, the book biz, the top hucksters in sales and marketing, car salesman with degrees, are put in charge of publishing the national literature. Similarly, ex-Pentagon generals segue from killing brown babies in Iraq into university presidents and CEOs. Conversely, business leaders such as Donald Rumsfeld who fancy themselves as battlefield commanders and imagine their employees as troops to be "deployed," find themselves happily farting behind Pentagon desks. On the strength of having mistaken Sun Tzu's The Art of War as a business text, they get selected by equally delusional national leaders to make actual war on behalf of the rest of us. 
But the most widespread damage is done at more mundane operational levels of the American empire, by clones of the over promoted asshole in the corner office where you work. At least one study demonstrated that random selection for corporate promotions offset the effect significantly. Research again confirms what is common knowledge around every workplace water cooler in the country.
Save my spot in the gulag, I'm off to Wal-Mart
Cultural ignorance of one sort or another is sustained and nurtured in all societies to some degree, because the majority gains material benefit from maintaining it. Americans, for example, reap huge on-the-ground benefits from cultural ignorance -- especially the middle class Babbitry -- from cultural ignorance generated by American hyper-capitalism in the form of junk affluence. 
Purposeful ignorance allows us to enjoy cheaper commodities produced through slave labor, both foreign, and increasingly, domestic, and yet "thank god for his bounty" in the nation's churches without a trace of guilt or irony. It allows strong arm theft of weaker nations' resources and goods, to say nothing of the destructiveness of late stage capitalism -- using up exhausting every planetary resource that sustains human life. 
The American defense, on those rare occasions when one is offered, runs roughly, "Well you commie bastard, I ain't ever seen a sweatshop and I got no Asian kids chained in the basement. So I've got what the guvment calls plausible deniability. Go fuck yerself!" 
Uh, don't look now, but the banksters own your ass, your country has become a work gulag/police state and the most of the world hates you.
Such a thriving American intellectual climate enables capitalist elites to withhold and ration vital resources like health care simply by auctioning it off to the richest. Americans fail to grasp this because the most important fact (that a helluva lot of folks can't afford to bid, and therefore get to die early) never gets equal play with capitalist political propaganda, to wit, that if we give free medical attention to low income cleft palate babies, a wave of Leninism will seize the nation. That is cultural ignorance. We breathe the stuff every day of our lives.
But when Americans too poor to buy health care nevertheless vote to retain the corporate auction process, that is cultural stupidity.
(Let us now pause to clutch our hair in our fists and scream AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!)
Like the old song says, "Them that don't know don't know they don't know." I venture to say that even if they did, they would not know why. Primary truths elude us because of the junk affluence and propaganda. We get buried under a deluge of commodities that suggest we are all rich, or at least richer than most of the world. A mountain range of cheap shoes, cars, iPods, ridiculous amounts of available foodstuffs, and the entire spectacle of engorgement defines, and is enforced as, "quality of life" under materialistic commodities capitalism. The goods we have in our clutches trump the philosophical, or even the most practical considerations. "I may die early eating unidentified beef byproducts soaked in waste chemicals, but I'll die owning a 65-inch HDTV and a new five speed automatic Dodge Durango with a 5.7 L Hemi V8 under the hood!"..."

A Poem by Rebecca Babbett

(for my daughters)
I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.

I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby's fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death,

I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.
I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
"a great and common tenderness",
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.
~ Rebecca Baggett ~


Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Koch Victims Vindicated in the Weekly Standard!

The Weekly Standard has published their April 4 cover story which is called "The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics."  It's a ludicrous and pusillanimous apologia for the sinister billionaire Koch brothers, David and Charles - beset as they are by riff-raff who stubbornly refuse to understand that they really, truly, genuinely believe a small government will make everybody prosper...just like they have!  You can almost hear the violins weeping and sniveling as you wade through the pool of tears over how that mean mean Janet Mayer distorted and twisted their humbly sincere good intentions in her New Yorker expose.  By contrast the objective, fair and balanced slathering, obsequious Matthew Continetti who wrote this diatribe actually describes them as "victimized" - yes, he does!
In my dreams I could not devise a finer parody of fawning sycophancy than this servile attempt at exoneration.  It's all delectably amusing, considering their other brother, William, has labeled Koch Industries a "criminal enterprise!"
In the last section, titled "The New Puritans," is to be found the following immortal passage, the dimensions of which are enough to make me swoon with rapture (you have no idea how much time I spent making that banner to bring all the way to California!):

"The lefties outside the hotel unfurled a white banner with the words “Koch Kills” printed in red. Drops of blood fell from each letter. 'These people were very, very extreme,' David said, 'and I think very dangerous.'"

Oohhh!  Ooooooh!  Being called "dangerous" makes this middle-aged housefrau feel soooo....HAWT!  Like, I don't know...Mata Hari!  Thank you David!!

Don't waste your time reading the article, it's nauseating.  It's Sunday afternoon, some levity is in order, so instead, watch this video about that other famous victim! (...and thank you Tenney for that link)

Update:  A reader has sent in this image:
2012 Update!  The Koch Kills banner makes it Occupy Wall Street debut!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

London Riots, while Spiders Web Trees on the Other Side of the World...plus more Choking on the Koch Brothers

This haunting photograph depicts trees swathed in webs following the epic floods in Pakistan.  Is it really because there is no home for the spiders in the water that remains standing on the land as inferred - or has their population exploded for some other reason?  The article says that countless trees are dying.

Of course this blog is mainly about trees dying from pollution and collapsing ecosystems in the framework of climate change...but I am keenly interested in the two other aspects of the Trifucta - peak oil and resources, and the meltdown of the economic ponzi scheme.  There are the most amazing pictures coming from London, where half a million marched against cuts to service, and hundreds rioted into the night.

The New York Times has lost its last reason to be read - Bob Herbert writes his final column of finely tuned outrage here.
The rabble is starting to realize how thoroughly and systematically fleeced we have been by the ultra-rich, one aspect of which is documented in this startling recounting of the "criminal enterprise" that constitutes Koch Industries (so designated by their disaffected brother!).  Only read the following excerpts if you have no concern about your blood pressure:
"Koch has had a history of run-ins with the Justice Dept. and other federal agencies. In 1989, a special congressional committee looked into charges that Koch had routinely removed more oil from storage tanks on Indian tribal lands ... Dole tried to influence the Senate committee to soft-pedal the probe. Nevertheless, after a yearlong investigation, the committee said in its final report, "Koch Oil, the largest purchaser of Indian oil in the country, is the most dramatic example of an oil company stealing by deliberate mismeasurement and fraudulent reporting." The report triggered a grand jury probe. The inquiry was dropped in March, 1992, which provoked outrage by congressional investigators."

"Then in April, 1995, the Justice Dept. filed a $55 million civil suit against Koch for causing more than 300 oil spills over a five-year period. Dole and other Senators, however, sponsored a bill ... that critics charge would help Koch defend itself ... legal sources say the government's ultimate goal is to use evidence in the two actions to establish that Koch has engaged in a broad pattern of criminal behavior."
 "... From Apr. 19, 1991, through Nov. 2, 1992, David Koch and the Koch Industries political action committee together contributed $7,000 to Nickles' campaign war chest. Around the same time, [Oklahoma Republican Senator Don] Nickles sponsored Timothy D. Leonard, an old friend of Nickles, for the post of U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma City."
"... initially, questions were raised in the U.S. attorney's office about whether Leonard should recuse himself because Koch Industries purchased oil from wells in which Leonard and his family had royalty interests ... Then-Deputy Attorney General William P. Barr granted him a waiver to participate in the case ... In March, 1992, after an 18-month investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office terminated the grand jury probe and informed Koch it anticipated no indictments. ... As the grand jury investigation was winding down, Nickles sponsored Leonard for a federal judgeship. He was nominated by President Bush in November, 1991, and confirmed by the Senate the following August."
"In March, 2001 the incoming Bush administration repealed the "responsible contractor rule" that barred companies that chronically defraud the government and/or violate federal pollution, wage and other rules from receiving federal contracts."

"Then, in 2002 the Bush II administration awarded Koch the contract to supply oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (There were accusations that the government bought oil when prices were high, and sold it when prices were low.) The contract was renewed in 2004. Koch received tens of millions in other government contracts during the Bush years."
"The story and timeline of the Koch operation (and its front-groups) go on and onorganizing and funding climate-denial front groups, front-groups run and funded by the Koch Brothers organizing and funding the Tea Party."

Squabbling over the Scraps at Tamino's Closed "Open Mind"

Contributing on a regular basis to this blog about dying trees has become progressively more excruciating.  It is like pulling out a splinter.  Has anyone ever said that about writing?  If they have, I'm sorry to be repetitive.  But it suddenly occurred to me, that the process of composing a post is quite similar to having a vexatious thorn pierced beneath a fingernail, procrastinating while it festers and swells and becomes more tender - and the only way to stop the pain is to yank it out, which hurts!  But it must be done.  Over and over...I know, it's kind of a repulsive analogy.  Sorry.
This pastoral scene provides a perfect example of how I begin.  Anyone can do it!  Start with a peaceful place like this church, which is a few miles north of Wit's End, a hoary graveyard adjacent...and in front, an august, centuries' old maple that perhaps, who knows? - dates from the establishment of the congregation, in 1727.
An elderly parishioner who had stopped by to clear the grounds agreed to pose by its trunk to give a sense of scale...It's hard to convey how massive an ancient tree is without some comparison.
"That's probably our oldest tree," he observed.  "Every winter we lose some branches."
But what he doesn't see (and only a handful of people do) is the harrowing truth that this tree harbors if only you LOOK - and know how to recognize the symptoms that indicate it is dying, along with all the others, incrementally - and lately faster and faster - from caustic air pollution.
Like most people, he isn't noticing the bark splitting and peeling from trunks and branches, and doesn't realize that cankers like this are just as lethal to a tree as malignant tumors are to humans and animals.
Most people don't understand that these gaping holes from fallen branches are proof positive of a rotting interior - and harbingers of death.  Oh, this would be the human equivalent of...gosh...hard to say.  Arms falling off?  Maybe just fingers.
The bark, meant to be an invulnerable, protective skin, is spiraling off in twisted torques, a slow motion destruction.
From this dismal survey I headed in the direction of home, but stopped for a brief respite from the unrelenting late snow at a small nursery, where the proprietress specializes in orchids.
I have been buying ornamental plants from her for three decades now, and she is still hard at work, even though she is stooped with age.
The tall pines along the drive are disturbingly thin, but worse still is the troubled holly beneath.
It's a long established tree, which is hard to discern because hollies grow very slowly, but you can compare it to the wooden barrel on the lower right corner of the photograph.
The older the leaves are, the more seasons they have been exposed to ozone, and the more extreme is the visible damage to the stomates.
Thus the stippling from top to bottom on this specimen is vicious.  The ground beneath is littered with leaves that have fallen off.  NO - that is not normal.
In a few days the buds on this viburnum will fully open and the air will be filled with their heavenly perfume.
It was with great relief and gratitude that I toted my camera inside the greenhouse, where it was steamy warm and orchids were in bloom, all the while keeping up a conversation with my Dutch friend about the dismal condition of the world in general, the enviable cohesion of the Japanese people in the face of multiple incomprehensible disasters compared to the looting that followed the 9/11 blackout - and pollution.
My expert gardener was surprised to hear that:  1.  pollution damages plants; 2.  our rural, western section of New Jersey is polluted and 3.  the US of A is still burning coal.
She thought that because our remote area is so far from industry that our air must be clean!  When I explained about coal plants in the Midwest building immense smokestacks to disburse the pollution up and east she was astonished that we were still doing something as filthy and archaic as burning coal.  I don't know where she thinks we get electricity!
Meanwhile, mixed in with the divine orchids, you might see something more squalid - leaves that appear to have quite obvious signs of exposure to ozone - loss of chlorophyll, or stippling from burned stomates, or singed edges...like these!
Or these...
But try to ignore that.  Open Mind, and Real Climate do.  So can you.  Nothing to see here - move along!
I didn't realize when I left a comment on the blog ironically called "Open Mind," that it is written and visited by Real Climate loyalists.  I don't even have any idea who the author, called Tamino, is.  If he/she is identified anywhere on the blog, I missed it.
Anyway, following a link from Climate Progress, I found that he/she had published an analysis, titled "Food for Thought," on the topic of climate change affecting agriculture.  As is so often the case, the conjecture about what is triggering precipitous commodity price increases completely neglects to include the significant yield reductions and impairment of crop quality that are directly due to exposure to ozone.  So I left a couple of what I considered rather innocuous and informative comments, to whit:
Higher temperatures = more ozone. That’s the equation fossil fuel companies really don’t want the public to understand.
Inexorably rising levels of background tropospheric ozone result from the VOC emissions created when burning fuel, reacting to UV radiation. Ozone is highly toxic to people, causing cancer, emphysema, asthma, allergies, and is recently linked to diabetes and autism – all of these ailments have reached epidemic proportions.
Worse still, ozone is even more poisonous to vegetation. NASA and the Dept. of Ag. estimate crop yield losses annually in the US alone in the billions of dollars. In addition to stunting growth and causing a decrease in quality and in nutritive value, exposure to ozone increases the vulnerability of plants to insects, disease, fungus, drought and wind.
The real kicker is that long-lived species like trees and shrubs that are exposed to ozone season after season are dying off at a rapidly accelerating rate. This is happening around the globe as ozone precursors travel across oceans and continents. Imagine the implications of a world with trees. The entire ecosystem of species that depend upon trees for food and habitat, shade and soil retention, will expire with them. That includes, ultimately, humans. We also happen to rely on forests for oxygen to breathe, along with life in the sea, which is also doomed from ocean acidification.
We should convert to clean energy on an emergency basis before we starve and suffocate, if it isn’t too late already. Or rather, even if it is already too late – we should do it anyway.
I’m not making this up, by the way. The effects of ozone are well documented in scientific research – links here:http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/p/basic-premise.html

“Human-Generated Ozone Will Damage Crops, Reduce Production… MIT, 2007 …A novel MIT study concludes that increasing levels of ozone due to the growing use of fossil fuels will damage global vegetation, resulting in serious costs to the world’s economy. The analysis, reported in the November issue of Energy Policy, focused on how three environmental changes (increases in temperature, carbon dioxide and ozone) associated with human activity will affect crops, pastures and forests. The research shows that increases in temperature and in carbon dioxide may actually benefit vegetation, especially in northern temperate regions. However, those benefits may be more than offset by the detrimental effects of increases in ozone, notably on crops. Ozone is a form of oxygen that is an atmospheric pollutant at ground level.”

I was genuinely astonished that the link above inspired this spiteful vituperation from the blog host/hostess:
[Response: You've had plenty of opportunity to push your ozone agenda. Enough.]
Why is it that climate change activists and scientists are so obsessed with the physics of CO2 and so willfully ignorant of the damage wrought to the environment from other greenhouse gases?  So entrenched is their bias that when it's pointed out to them they either evade it or start sniveling and then censor further dialogue, to the point where they are more tolerant of outright climate change deniers repeating their canards than allowing any examination of ozone!  So I left this:

Are you kidding me? I have an “ozone agenda”? Oh, like, I LOVE ozone? Or what?
I have a “survival” agenda. Like, I would like my beloved daughters to live to a nice ripe old age, and they aren’t going to be able to do that, because guess what??
The air is so polluted that all the plants and trees are dying! YEAH. That is what is happening, in the real world, and if you GUYS want to ignore pollution and fuss over atmospheric physics ad nauseum, go right ahead.
Meanwhile, we will just all die, together.
[Response: The problem is that after having stated your thesis, repeatedly, you continue to do so without letting up. That's fine for your own blog, but not for this one (or RC, where you did the same thing). And you don't seem to have the peer-reviewed science to back up your claims.
You've had your say. If you want to keep talking about the ozone issue, you've got your own blog. My agenda is global warming, which is what this blog is about.]
He/she refused to publish my answer:

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

“you don’t seem to have the peer-reviewed science to back up your claims….”
That’s ironic, given that the comment that inspired you to complain about my “agenda” was nothing other than a direct quote from a journal about peer-reviewed scientific research – from MIT!
“My agenda is global warming, which is what this blog is about”.”
Scientists say ozone is the 3rd most important greenhouse gas. Not to mention, if and when trees are gone from exposure, a rather major CO2 sink is going to disappear.
Fiddle on!
It's profoundly dispiriting that the very people you would expect to be concerned about toxic greenhouse gases - educated and aware of the consequences of climate change - are enmeshed in as deep a denial of ecosystem collapse as the average American teevee addicted couch potato!  Why is it that both Tamino and Jim Bouldin feel compelled to whine "Our blog is about climate science!"  Are they suffering from some kind of identity crisis?  In saying that, they actually deny ozone is a major contributor to climate change, regardless of whether they want to admit it's killing people and trees directly...which is patently absurd.  It is as though even the most enlightened are SQUABBLING OVER THE SCRAPS rather than confront reality.
Perhaps because it is a very bitter truth that challenges the stability and security of our most fundamental expectations that even most climate scientists and activists are ideologically opposed to considering the effects of dirty pollution in their study of pure atmospheric physics.  CO2 and the precursors to ozone are produced from the same industrial processes of burning fuel for energy.  Solving climate change by switching to clean sources of energy combined with drastic conservation would simultaneously solve the health and ecosystem damages from ozone...and vice versa.
Or maybe, scientists frightened by positive amplifying feedbacks leading to a runaway Venus syndrome prefer to be oblivious to ozone, because the last-ditch hope they secretly cling to is that catastrophic warming might be slowed with geo-engineering technology...and geo-egineering won't do a damn thing to stop trees from going extinct, taking most other life-forms with them.  Now, that's a seriously disheartening notion. (see:  Playing God with the Environment)
Besides, the CO2 climate change position has got us citizens of the earth exactly nowhere in terms of policy, so I think it's high time we started a discussion about ozone.  Ozone kills people.  Even the revered late Dr. Stephen Schneider contracted a rare form of cancer which was treated by a particularly vile chemical cocktail known by the acronym of R-CHOP, and later died of a heart attack in a plane.  R-CHOP damages the heart.  So there is certainly a better than zero chance that air pollution killed one of the giants of climate change science.
Imagine, not one scientist has ever replied to my many letters and comments about the "hide the decline" scandal.  The reason researchers had to discard the anomalous data in tree rings of the last few decades when constructing temperature records, is because the accelerated growth from warming was diminished  from rising levels of background tropospheric ozone, even in remote areas.  Briffa himself conjectured in one of his early publications that "anthropogenic" causes could explain the decline, without specifying what those causes might be.  Considering how damaging that episode was to efforts to cap carbon emissions - and still is, the deniers continue to repeat it - it's amazing that neither Briffa nor Mann is willing to consider the evidence that ozone is the cause of the decline they had to "hide."
On the way home I took pictures of random trees, all of which are in the late stages of death.  It's incredible that so many are still standing when the base is just a shell.
Following the above exchange on "Open Mind," Tenney Naumer posted this:

Some may believe that Gail has an ozone agenda, but what her agenda is is that people should be paying more attention to ground level ozone. There is plenty of research coming out of the University of Illinois that under increasing temperatures ground level ozone rises and reduces crop yields. Well, it is not only bad for maize.
Ground-level nitrous oxide apparently also increases. Also very bad for crops and trees.
Far too little attention is being given to these gases at the ground level.
Next Richard Pauli added these helpful comments and links:
Your posting today is about food.
We should remember the National Crop Loss Assessment Agency was established to determine why significant losses to agriculture. Their studies that showed significant crop loss due to tropospheric ozone emissions.
Crop losses typically from 10 to 18%
Ozone relates strongly to energy policy, crop loss, health and more. And should be factored in any systems approach to AGW. For one reason – with more heat, and more UV radiation, the atmospheric chemical reactions will generate far more dangerous chemicals – Ozone is a particularly nasty one.
The Crop Loss Assessment Agency was shut down by the Bush Jr Administration. Their reports and conclusions still apply.
From the Journal of Economic Surveys:
Notice how the outer striated bark is missing on the lower trunk.
"Agricultural crop production is highly dependent upon environmental conditions among which air quality plays a central role. Various air pollutants have been identified as a potential influence on commercial crops including SO2, NOx, O3 and CO2. In particular, ozone in the lower atmosphere has been identified as a serious cause of crop loss in the United States and seems likely to be creating similar losses in Europe."
"In this paper the methods which can be applied to assess the economic damages from air pollution are critically reviewed. This requires measuring pollutant concentrations, relating these to physical crop damages, and estimating the reactions of the agricultural sector and consumers to give welfare changes in terms of consumers’ surplus and producers’ quasi-rents. The approach of the European open-top chamber programme (EOTCP) is shown to have neglected lessons learnt by the National Crop Loss Assessment Network (NCLAN) in the US”
Thank you Tenney and Richard!  But then since their contributions of course, the issue was once again universally dismissed.  Tamino has his/her hands over ears, shrieking "I don't hear anything" and obviously, any of the other readers who might refer to the topic risk receiving the same caustic vitriol that I got.
Never mind!  It turns out that at last some brave scientists have actually called for rationing of fuel, and high time too.  Following are excerpts from an article in the Guardian, which was written last fall, making the same points that I have been making:
1.  Switching to clean energy isn't, can't and won't be sufficient to save us from utter catasprophe. We have to drastically curtail our use of fuel - and rationing is the only fair way to distribute it.  (Deniers know this instinctively - that is why they deny.)
2.  It doesn't have to be that onerous.  People lived for thousands of years, many of them quite happily, without squandering resources the way we have in the developed world, the past hundred years or so.
Early spring is the time to prune in the orchard.

In a series of papers published by the Royal Society, physicists and chemists from some of world’s most respected scientific institutions, including Oxford University and the Met Office, agreed that current plans to tackle global warming are not enough.
Unless emissions are reduced dramatically in the next ten years the world is set to see temperatures rise by more than 4C (7.2F) by as early as the 2060s, causing floods, droughts and mass migration.

It's pure fantasy to think a tree tormented by bark like this can survive very long, let alone produce fruit.

In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.
This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less ‘carbon intensive’ goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars.

These seeping blisters are magnets for insect attacks.

Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods.
He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.

Many branches are swathed in this grotesque fungus.

This could mean a limit on electricity so people are forced to turn the heating down, turn off the lights and replace old electrical goods like huge fridges with more efficient models. Food that has travelled from abroad may be limited and goods that require a lot of energy to manufacture.
“The Second World War and the concept of rationing is something we need to seriously consider if we are to address the scale of the problem we face,” he said.

Prof Anderson insisted that halting growth in the rich world does not necessarily mean a recession or a worse lifestyle, it just means making adjustments in everyday life such as using public transport and wearing a sweater rather than turning on the heating.
“I am not saying we have to go back to living in caves,” he said. “Our emissions were a lot less ten years ago and we got by ok then.”

The base of this fruit tree is so raw it is repugnant to see.  Ugh.
The willow on the left, in front of the farmhouse, has been severely "trimmed" although I now think of these hail mary attempts to resuscitate growth as "amputations."
Even from a distance, this appalling tree is in dire straits.
So I was overjoyed to see the very first daffodils I have come across so far this spring, dozens blooming joyously on a bank.
But back to trees, I wasn't home yet.  This big oak has a brass plaque named for a local farmer, and some emerging cankers.
In a parallel collapse to that of the terrestrial forests, the "rainforests of the sea" are about to expire within TWENTY YEARS - according to a scientific coalition lead by Sir David Attenborough.
The world's coral reefs are in danger of dying out in the next 20 years unless carbon emissions are cut drastically, warns a coalition of scientists led by Sir David Attenborough.
This fallen giant was a neighbor to the oak still standing.
The delicate ecosystems, known as the “rainforests of the sea'', support huge amounts of marine life. But as oceans absorb CO2 they become more acidic, making it impossible for structures such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to survive.
When I got back to Wit's End, I noticed how the branches that have broken are smothered in lichen.
Reefs are also at greater danger of bleaching as sea temperatures warm. Scientists gathered at the Royal Society in London to call for tougher target cuts in emissions. Sir David, who co-chaired the meeting, said the collapse of coral reefs meant the death of marine ecosystems. “We must do all that is necessary to protect the key components of the life of our planet as the consequences of decisions made now will likely be forever as far as humanity is concerned,'' he said. Open water absorbs around a third of the CO2 in the air. At present, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 387 parts per million (ppm).
This is a new one!
Alex Rogers, the scientific director of the International Programme on the State of the Oceans, says the figure will reach 450ppm in the next 20 years if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the present rate, and once that figure was reached the ocean would become too acidic for coral to survive. “The kitchen is on fire and it's spreading round the house. If we act quickly and decisively we may be able to put it out before the damage becomes irreversible,'' he said.
The California contrail folks have been perplexed by "white tube socks" proliferating on trees.  Now we've got it too.
Coral reefs are living organisms that rely on calcium minerals, called aragonite, in the water to build and maintain their external skeletons. But when the oceans absorb CO2, it mixes with the seawater to make carbonic acid, reducing the aragonite levels. Mr Rogers said that once CO2 levels in the atmosphere reached the 600ppm mark, other organisms - such as plankton and sea snails - would start to die and whole marine ecosystems could collapse.
The bark pops off when poked.  Is is from aerosols spraying in the sky?  I think it's fungus.
“Five hundred million people depend on coral reefs for livelihoods, food and culture,'' he said. “The economic implications of the loss of coral reefs are absolutely huge.'' Alongside other scientists from the Royal Society and Zoological Society of London, Mr Rogers wants world leaders to agree to much tougher targets to cut emissions as part of any climate change deal decided in Copenhagen at the end of this year.
This tree, next to the whitened walnut, fell a couple of years ago.
I would like to say that I have received some exquisitely thoughtful and touching emails from readers that would move me to tears if I wasn't on the verge of sobbing in general anyway!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your perceptions on ecosystem collapse and how it touches you.

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