Monday, July 11, 2011

A New Toy!

I am going to Boston tonight for a seminar about the Harvard Forest tomorrow, and have had no time to share thoughts about ecosystem collapse recently.  But I wanted to share these intriguing links from a commenter at Decline of the Empire, and so here they are, with some photos of a lovely summer weekend with hardly a thought about the doom-y prognosis for our future (ha!) - sailing on the Hudsen with the newlyweds on Saturday, and middle daughter's first mountain bike race.  Here's the game:

There are lots of ways to play.  For quick fun, click on "popular maps" or "institutions" and then select a company, or a think, Goldman Sachs, or the Cato Institute...for each little director, you can click their chair, and it will spin to reveal what other boards they sit on....oh, the endless, irresistible amusement...

It's like George Carlin said..."It's a big club and you ain't in it!"

That link was followed by a youtube of beautiful music by Philip Glass for "The Truman Show", which reminded me, I must watch that movie again.

It's been unbearably hot and soon to worsen, but out on the water a wonderful breeze prevailed.
From the berth in Jersey City alongside Ellis Island, we sailed aimlessly around the harbor.
Down at the mouth of the river, giant tankers full of oil wait for an opportune time to unload.
The sheer huge scale of industrial infrastructure never fails to impress me.
That white upside-down "T" along the water below is a power plant.
Click on it, and you can see the shimmer of emissions distort the lines of the surrounding buildings.
The race began Sunday morning and was mostly through miles of shaded woods.
Sophie got a nasty slash on her leg from the gears when she took a tumble.
But she climbed back up and won by an impressive margin!  Congratulations!!!!
Naturally over the past week I have collected oodles of photos to sort through of trees, dead and dying from pollution.

For now though, here's an unremarkably average scene I happened upon Friday.
This suburban yard is full of hazardous trees.  I hate to think what they had to pay this crew from Ken's Tree Service to remove them.  I caught the top just as it was falling.
The crown doesn't look like much when it is so skinny and bare, but consider its size compared to the house.  It made for quite a crashing sound when it hit the ground.


  1. Would be interesting if you could find out from one of these tree companies just how much business has picked up lately and whether they find anything odd or alarming about that. Other than the fact the are raking in the dough of course, I'm sure they do not find that part alarming.

  2. Interesting link here.....we are not alone, but our voices are muffled and drowned out. This guy wrote about this very same thing in 1995....and here we are....tree death at an even greater accelerated rate.

    The Trees Are Dying

  3. Trees
    DuPont herbicide may have caused mysterious tree plague

    Maybe we need a two year moratorium on herbicides and pesticides? It might do more good than harm.


  4. He's included in the Basic Premise page - I'm assuming it's Charles Little without looking - I tried several times to get in touch with him. Like a few others (try the "honest forester" link - I believe he gave up. There is so much resistance.

    One of the interesting things about his observations is he predicted one of the first losses would be the dogwood, and he was correct - there are none left that don't have twisted, singed leaves, and they used to be everywhere in the understory. I remember hunting for morels in a cloud of luminous white. They're gone now for the most part too.

  5. Anon, it has been on the "to do" list to track down some tree companies - anecdotally, whenever I stop and ask workers they tell me they are swamped.

    But usually, there is such denial it's hard to get a straight answer. I've talked to nurserymen, who are oblivious, and foresters, they are the worst, and I tried for months to get information from the power company because they of course have huge concerns with rogue hazardous trees falling on the power lines but they stonewalled until I gave up.

  6. Oh wait, Morocco Bama, this is the version I had - I love it when the trees hug!!!

  7. Catman, that is a fascinating question. Highschooler sent me the story this morning and I wonder if it isn't a case where trees are dying and because no one has any clue that it is going on all over, they look for the most likely proximate cause. I'm no fan of chemical defoliants obviously, or duPont - but they may be relieved to know that it is quite likely that what is killing trees not just around spraying but all over has little to do with their noxious poisons.

    Here's the comment I left on a couple of versions of that article earlier today - it will be interesting to see what the ultimate conclusion is:

    Actually, all trees are dying everywhere, including those no where near the use of herbicides. People generally blame road salt, car exhaust, natural gas line leaks, insects, diseases and fungus without recognizing there is a GLOBAL pattern of decline from huge forests to suburban back yards.

    The only thing that is ubiquitous and mixed enough in the environment to explain everything from hemlocks attacked by woolly adelgids in Georgia to back beetles attacking conifers in the west (along with Sudden Aspen Decline which no one can explain) and Sudden Oak Death in California and conker fungus in England (the list is as long as there are species of trees) is the composition of the atmosphere.

    This is substantiated by a number of empirical facts:

    1. The toxic properties of invisible ozone, which forms when volatile organic compounds (nitrogen oxides and methane) produced in fuel emissions react chemically to UV radiation, have been well known, thoroughly researched and documented for decades; and.

    2. the classic symptoms of damage - leaves that cannot photosynthesize and produce chlorophyll are thus exhibit mottling, stippling from damaged stomata, browning, singing, early senescence and falling off - can be found on all sorts of annual plants being watered in pots, and aquatic plants growing in water - (it's not drought!); and.

    3. there have been NO toxicological studies to determine what worse damage is resulting from the widespread introduction of biofuels introducing persistent peroxyacetyl nitrates in large quantities to the mix.

    This is a huge problem, as much an existential threat as ocean acidification. There are many species dependent upon trees for food, shelter, and oxygen, including us humans. The fuel and timber industries have used the same tactics to obscure this pollution that they have used to confuse the science of climate change, only even more effectively, because to fix this looming cause for famine, war and ecosystem collapse requires a dramatic restructuring of cultural priorities into a cooperative society with no place for their obscene profits.

    Links to scientific research and photographs of symptoms of ozone exposure at http://witsendnj.blogspot.​com/p/basic-premise.html.

  8. A nice report here from Max Keiser.

    He mentions a new term, a very appropriate and pertinent term to this topic.

    The Economics of Extinction.

  9. The Truman Show was a great movie. I also think Mad World from Donnie Darko by Michael Andrews is highly appropriate.