Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apoptosis and Cosmeticism

A very odd thing happened on the way to this particular blogpost, which is that I thought I had found some very obscure and potentially important information about the mechanism by which tropospheric ozone damages and ultimately kills trees...but eventually, the google-questing this inspired led most improbably and circuitously, right back to where I started, over two years ago!  So it's going to be an even longer, more convoluted post than usual (if such a thing is possible).
Black-billed Cookoo
Fortunately, I also came across an extraordinarily wonderful link via Lines and Colors, to the entire  œuvre of Audubon, which has been digitized online by U Pitt.  I would advise you to go directly there when you have the time, because you can zoom in on any one of hundreds of paintings to get the most phenomenal detail.  I used to think Audubon drawings were a bit dull, but no more.  Anyway, I'm going to pepperspray, as it were (don't be afraid, remember pepper is a vegetable derivative!) all the scholarly academic excerpts coming up, with screenshots from the Audubon collection.  Did he try to record them because he knew they are doomed?  I am abjectly horrified and ashamed that I have only seen a tiny percentage of the birds that are supposedly native to the Eastern US.  It's hard to get the Audubon Society in America to be forthcoming with numbers, but in England they are reporting that farmland bird populations are down over 50% in the past 40 years.

Woodland birds aren't doing much better.

Naturally, being an Ozonist - possibly the only truly dedicated Ozonist in the world - I attribute this decline to the dieback of vegetation (due to air pollution) upon which seed and fruit eating birds depend.
Carolina Dove
Here's how this nightmare of a blogpost began (and for anyone who thinks it takes too long, maybe an entire evening to read, consider:  it took me all week to compose!).  Desdemona posted a frightening report about the mechanism by which coral reefs self-immolate, based on a "premonition" when they detect imminent decline:
"...Therefore, the cascade of events leading to bleaching come before the actual bleaching occurs. The corals have a premonition of warmer waters in their future."
White-breasted Black-capped Nuthatch

"The cascade of events eventually leads to apoptosis, or programmed cell-death (aka PCD). This process is common with living organisms which will deliberately destroy weak or infected body cells, effectively amputating the cell which has become a liability to the body."
This description of the novel concept of apoptosis made me wonder if it had any corollary in the parallel death of trees, from air pollution.  Not being a scientist, I have no idea what process is actually going on inside trees that absorb ozone through their leaves and needles...but I can SEE that their bark is blistering, splitting, cracking and oozing.  It looks corroded.  So I googled aptoptosis and sure enough, there is some research out there about apoptosis in plants...

and even apoptosis and ozone - oh yes!  It's discussed in a paper titled "Ozone-induced Cell Death...reactive oxygen species as signal molecules regulating cell death."  However I can only find it as a chapter (starting on page 81) in a google book "Trends in European Forest Tree Physiology Research", meaning I can't cut and paste, so I would have to retype everything...It's very technical anyway, so anyone who wants to delve into chemistry will have to click the clicky.

Des also had a story about climate change impacting the yield and quality of rice in Japan, and since I have already seen some reports about ozone damaging the Asian rice crop, I looked around for more and sure enough, found a new study, still in press, "Tropospheric Ozone Poses a Rising Threat to Yield Stability in Rice: Tolerance Mechanisms and Underlying Genetic Factors":
Red-headed Woodpecker

Invited Mini-Review: Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is the major staple food for most of the developing countries in Asia, whose populations are predicted to steadily increase in this century. However, global change will put increasing pressure on crop production, as it is associated with a range of abiotic stress factors that limit crop yields. One such stress factor is tropospheric ozone (O3), whose rising background concentrations are a consequence of rising emissions of precursor gases such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Surface O3 levels that exceed the critical threshold beyond which yield declines are expected are now common in many rice growing areas of South and East Asia and climate models predict further increases for the next three decades. It is therefore imperative to assess the potential to develop new breeding lines with improved tolerance to ozone exposure. This review summarizes the current state of research on the effect of ozone on rice, focusing on recent efforts in the breeding for ozone tolerance."

This approach is absolutely typical of American scientists too, which is to hunt desperately for "more tolerant" genetic strains of crops, because they see no prayer that emissions will be reduced.
American Robin
workshop at the University of New Hampshire was held by the New England Regional Assessment of Climate Change Impacts in 1999.  Here's a transcript of UNH Professor Barry Rock giving a talk, the same Dr. Rock who says for the record, that it is drought from climate change killing trees:

"Charlie, thank you.
What we might do now is go to a panel format, so I'd like to ask Lloyd and Gene and Alan to come up and we'll make individual presentations on specific topics.  I'm going to talk very briefly about atmospheric chemistry and the impact on forests.  What I'd like to do is have everyone try to limit their remarks to about a five-minute period, ten minutes at most, but I'd like to try to cover these just sort of highlighting key issues, key concerns."
American Avocet
"In terms of atmospheric chemistry, I think we all know that we live downwind from the rest of the country, as well as from Canada and as a result, air quality is a serious issue here in New England.
My own research has focused on the impact of both acid biochemistry as well as tropospheric ozone...lowlevel, ground-level ozone.  Keep in mind, there are two kinds of ozone, the good ozone--what I'll call the "nozone" because we're losing it up in the stratosphere--and then the low-zone down here in the troposphere."
Mountain Mocking bird
"This tropospheric ozone comes indirectly from, for the most part, tailpipes of automobiles.  In order to
generate this tropospheric ozone, you need nitrogen oxides, a product of the internal combustion engine; volatile organic compounds, and here in New England perhaps as much as 80 percent of volatile organic compounds come form the forests rather than from automobiles, but the little collar at the gas station when you're filling your gas tank, that collar is designed to prevent volatile organic compounds from volatilizing as you fill your tank; you also need sunlight, and it turns out that we need sunlight and heat.

In fact, this shows exceedance days over time, and there are two standards: there's the older, one-hour
standard recognized by the [US] EPA, of 120 parts per billion--sounds like a miserably small amount, but 120 parts per billion for a one-hour duration is considered to be a health standard exceedance--and also in red, the number of eight-hour exceedances, the more recent 80-parts-per-billion standard; and you also see the temperatures that are at 90 degrees or above at Bradley Airport in Connecticut.  So here is just a way of graphically representing that there is a connection between the physical climate--temperature--and ozone generation and the number of days' exceedances."
Flycatchers (various)
"This would be a typical air poor air quality day, July 1 of 1997, and you can see high concentrations of ozone here, especially along the seacoast.  Perhaps people living in New England would not expect to find poor air quality, especially along the seacoast but, in fact, because of the combination of automobile exhaust, a nice sunny day, a Bermuda high--a bluebird day--volatile organic compounds from either the trees or anthropogenic sources, the conditions are just right for generating high concentrations of ozone.  You'll also notice that there are other pockets as well."
Belted Kingfisher

"Now, one of the programs that I have developed here in New England is a K-through-12 outreach program called "Forest Watch" and there are brochures in the back.  It's for--I don't think that we have kindergartners but we certainly have first- and second-graders involved in forest Watch.  The focus of Forest Watch is white pine.  We look at while pine and we look at symptomology--foliar chlorotic mottle, tip necrosis, the number of years that needles are retained...a suite, a series of characteristics that indicate the state of health of the trees."
Barn Swallows
"What is shown here would be the first schools involved in forest Watch.  These are schools involved in the 1991-1992 academic year; and there were a total of six.  It turns out that these schools continue to be
involved in the program and have been collecting white pine samples from the same five tagged trees near their school, year after year.  And each year, they go out and look at the trees again and they look at only current-year needles; so they are looking at the newest needles.  In the academic year 1991-1992, they'd be looking at 1991 needles.  And we also have then the locations of the state and EPA monitoring sites for ozone that were available in 1991 and we've used the data from these monitoring sites.  It turns out that at present I think we have 14 monitoring sites within New England, but these are the ones that go back to 1991."
American Crossbill
"Here are the student data:  In addition to their monitoring and identifying ozone damage, they also send us samples that they have collected from their trees, and we here at the University then generate a spectral curve for all of their samples.  So we've been looking at a total of 30 trees over this time frame, we've used the same spectral characterization, and what I am showing here is a spectral indicator of chlorophyll.  I don't want to get into the BS, the botanical science, here but this is the "red-edge inflection point."  The red-edge inflection point is highly correlated to chlorophyll concentration, and think of the low number here as low chlorophyll, a high number as high chlorophyll."
Lincoln Finch
"Also plotted would be ozone concentrations, and this is a mean value of the three maximum monthly readings from June, July and August for each of the same years.  This probably isn't the best way to represent ozone, but you certainly see an interesting inverse relationship that, when we have high concentrations of ozone, the trees being studied will have a low concentration of chlorophyll in the current-year needles.  When the ozone values drop, the same trees show a remarkable response.  These are the current-year needles, and they are quite healthy.  And you see that zig-zag back and forth.
So, I think what we're seeing here is a clear indication of physical climate and variables--interannual
variability in physical climate, chemical climate--interannual variability in chemical climate, and biological impact.  And when you have low concentrations of chlorophyll, think of that as a reduced capability to produce wood."
Azure Warbler
"So, productivity can be factored in, carbon sequestration can be factored in, and the really wonderful part of all of this is, these data wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the students.  They've contributed in a significant way to my understanding of the interannual variability of the health of white pine in response to ozone.  We've done many other studies--open-top chamber studies, controlled exposure environments in which we can document the impact of a variety of other parameters--but at least here in New England, our work and the work of others indicate that
[drum roll...]

ozone is the dominant factor affecting the growth of white pine."
Virginia Rail
Somehow from that bit of ancient history, I landed at the home webpage for the mysteriously named NE-1030 Project, and this is where things start to get really interesting.  It's a joint undertaking involving various institutions, including universities, and government agencies, to investigate ozone's effects on crops and trees.  This is huge for me because as they describe themselves:  "...virtually all of the leading ozone-plant effects researchers in the US are members of the project".  What's incredible is that it turns out, I've already written to quite a few of them, and NOT ONE of them ever told me about NE-1030!    Below is a screenshot of the webpage, followed by lengthy excerpts (so you can just look at the birds if it's boring).  I'm going to post quite a bit from their links, because the results of their own research are beyond a smoking gun for ozone causing ecosystem collapse - it's more like a nuclear explosion.  Although you won't ever catch them making that conclusion.

"Statement of Issue(s) and Justification:
Surface level (tropospheric) ozone (O3) is all-pervasive and is considered to be the most important phytotoxic air pollutant across many parts of the US and rest of the world (Krupa et al. 2001). This Ois also a "greenhouse or atmosphere warming gas", a component in the observed and/or predicted global climate change. Despite the national air quality regulations aimed at controlling surface level O3 pollution, it continues to be of major concern for crop production and forest health in the northeastern US and elsewhere (US EPA 1996). In the northeast, during 1996-2001, there were as many as 8 yearly violations of the US EPA's one-hour National Ambient Air Quality standard for O3of 120 ppb. Although that standard has been revised to an average 8-hour 80 ppb value, the one-hour standard is still in place for monitoring non-attainment areas."
Tawny Thrush
"In the application of the one-hour standard, based on the influence of meteorology in the production of O3, the second daily maximum hourly O3 value is used as an indicator of air quality attainment versus non-attainment and in examining the multi-year trends. The range of second maximum hourly concentrations in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Maryland were respectively 78-129, 78-136, 80-137, 81-139 and 107-144 ppb. California long considered to be the area in the US with the most smog (includes O3) problems, exhibited a second highest maximum of 74-144 ppb, with a minimum value lower than Maryland (74 versus 107 ppb). Thus, the northeast clearly represents a geographic region of concern regarding O3 pollution. In comparison, the ranges of second maximum hourly values in the other participating states, Oregon, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina and Minnesota were 70-136, 93-130, 84-118, 87-114 and 74-93 ppb (

Ozone sensitive crops in the northeast and in other participating states include: alfalfa (Medicago sativa), bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), corn (Zea mays), cotton (Gossypium hirsutum and G. barbadense), grape (Vitis vinifera), potato (Solanum tuberosum), soybean (Glycine max), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), wheat (Triticum aestivum) and melon (e.g., Cucumis melo and Citrullus lanata). Among the 80 major tree species in the eastern US, black cherry (Prunus serotina), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), willow (Salix spp.) and yellow or tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), are all known to be O3 sensitive (Krupa et al. 1998)."
Hemlock Warbler
"In addition to causing visible foliar injury on sensitive plant species as reported from some 38 countries across the world, chronic exposures to O3 can result in reductions in crop yield and quality and in forest growth and productivity (Krupa et al. 2001). For example, ambient O3 exposures in Long Island, New York, in North Carolina and in California can be high enough to cause respectively a 25%, 39% and >50% biomass reduction in sensitive versus tolerant clones of white clover (Trifolium repens) (McGrath 2000; Heagle et al. 1995). Similarly, on Long Island, New York, a 21% yield reduction was observed in sensitive versus tolerant cultivars of snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) (McGrath 2000). Nutritive quality of bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) and sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) was decreased by 6% and 7%, respectively, as a result of chronic exposure to O3 (Powell et al. 1999; Muntifering et al. 2000). Independent of these limited efforts, there is need for a much broader conduct of these types of studies to assess O3 impacts at the regional (e.g., NE) and national level to validate crop loss estimates. During 1996, the US EPA estimated that O3 alone causes > $1 billion in crop loss annually.

Similar estimates are not available at the present time for forests and native vegetation, although the adverse effects of O3 on our national parks and forests are evident (McLaughlin and Percy 1999). For example, in Acadia National Park in Maine, black cherry, quaking aspen, white ash (Fraxinus americana), jack pine (Pinus banksiana), big-leaf aster (Aster macrophyllus) and spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) are sensitive, exhibiting foliar injury (Kohut et al. 1997). Similarly, widespread O3-induced foliar injury was observed on the native black cherry and tall milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Chappelka et al. 1997, 1999). Foliar injury on black cherry was also widespread in Pennsylvania and many other eastern states (Skelly et al. 1997)."
Cedar Waxwing
"An intriguing aspect of O3 is its mechanism of action.  Ozone is highly reactive, unstable and does not accumulate in plant tissue. Ozone is an oxidant, thus it can serve as an excellent model in understanding the mechanisms of action of oxidative stress caused among others, by biotic pathogens, herbicides such as paraquat, drought and increased ultraviolet (UV)-B radiation (part of global climate change) (Sandermann 1996). It is important to note that oxidative stress also occurs in humans.

Based on the current state of our knowledge, there are many issues that clearly require significant attention. They include, (1) spatial and temporal distribution of O3-induced adverse effects on growth and productivity of crops and forests in the northeast and elsewhere in the US; (2) comparison of those results to other temperate regions such as Canada and the European countries; (3) mechanisms of O3 toxicity and tolerance in plants; (4) interactive effects of O3 with other growth regulating factors such as increases in carbon dioxide or changes in climatic factors (climate change) and incidence of pathogens and pests; (5) scaling the patterns of seedling responses to mature trees and forests; (6) effects of O3 in altering biological diversity and plant community structure within the context of climate change and (7) establishing biologically meaningful numerical relationships between ambient O3 and adverse plant responses."
Ruffled Grouse
"No single institution can fulfill the stated needs nor function in isolation, because many of the components from molecular to whole plant responses are inter-related. Addressing these issues has direct relevance to air quality regulatory policies and protection of the food supply and natural resources. Target audiences include, the US EPA, US National Park Service and USDA Forest Service, crop growers, members of the horticulture and forest production/management sectors, urban planners and industries contributing to the air emissions of O3 precursors. At the local level, audiences include: home and Master Gardeners, landscape and nursery managers, arborists and managers of public parks and recreational lands and individual crop producers.

However, the underlying effort requires multi-disciplinary input and collaboration. With regard to the effects of O3 on plants, the NE-176 Multi-state Project represents the single largest cooperative work among the academic institutions and their scientists in the northeast and the US. In addition to experiment stations, program scientists include those from governmental agencies in the US and in Canada. Other linkages include scientists from the Commission of the European Communities (CEC) that have similar collaborative research programs. Regarding O3, NE-176 scientists (members of academic institutions, USDA-ARS, USDA Forest Service, etc.) bring together a unique diversity of expertise and interests that vary from molecular biology to plant physiology to field studies to numerical modeling. They have a demonstrated record in O3 research and a strong sense of collaboration and scientific integration (see for example, Krupa et al. 2001). Those are the real technical strengths of the project.

Related, Current, and Previous Work:

Surface level ozone (O3) is everywhere and is the most important phytotoxic air pollutant at the global scale (Krupa et al. 2001). Plant responses to O3 exposures can be acute or chronic. Acute responses are observed in part as visible foliar injury and in part as reversible inhibition of physiological function, when the rates of O3 uptake (from a few to several hours or days) rapidly exceed the capacity for detoxification by the plant (Krupa et al. 2001). Unless acute effects occur as a recurring time series, they may or may not result in adverse effects on growth and productivity (US EPA 1996). Our current knowledge of acute responses of plants to O3 is primarily based on various types of controlled or semi-controlled environmental studies with artificial O3 exposures or field surveys, including the use of sensitive biological indicator plants (Skelly et al. 1997; Krupa et al. 1998; Chappelka et al. 1999)."
White-breasted Black-capped Nuthatch
"In contrast, chronic responses are products of high and low rates of O3 uptake by the plant throughout the growth season or life cycle, as a random time series involving combinations of stress, avoidance and compensation or repair (Krupa and Kickert 1997). Here, visible foliar injury symptoms may or may not occur. However, reductions in growth and productivity are of primary concern. In contrast to the studies on oxidant-induced classic decline of the forest ecosystem in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California (Miller and McBride 1998), most exposure experiments have focused on tree seedlings in open-top chambers. In addition to the question of the use of artificial exposure chambers where the micro-climate and constant wind flow patterns (O3 uptake), particularly the latter, clearly differ from the ambient conditions (Jetten 1992), it is difficult to extrapolate the results of the responses of seedlings to mature trees (Samuelson and Kelly 2001) and consequently one should expect differences in stress responses. Nevertheless, research efforts are currently in progress to relate the results between seedlings and mature trees (Kolb et al. 1997) and forests (Laurence et al. 2001). Such efforts need to be significantly expanded."
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
"In avoiding the use of open-top chambers, the effects of ambient O3 exposures on the growth of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) were examined under chamberless conditions, using an O3 protective chemical, ethylene diurea (EDU). Application of EDU increased all growth parameters measured, showing the negative impacts of ambient O3 (W.J. Manning, unpublished). In a separate study, tree level (TREGRO) and stand level (ZELIG) computer simulation models were used to predict species composition in fertile soils and in different climatic zones, with increasing O3 concentrations (Laurence et al. 2001). A 10% decline in red oak (Quercus rubra) abundance and as a result, an increase in sugar maple (Acer saccharum) populations was predicted for southerly climates, with a bearing on biological diversity. In this regard, the effects of O3 on the competitive relationships between native plants showed that the rate of blackberry (Rubus cuneifolus): broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus) litter decomposition was reduced with increasing O3 concentrations, with implications in altering nutrient cycling and thus, biological diversity (US EPA 1996; Kim et al. 1998)."
Ruff-necked Humming bird

"Decreased yield and quality of O3-exposed bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) (Muntifering et al. 2000) and sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) (Powell et al. 1999) were of sufficient magnitude to have nutritional implications in their utilization by mammalian herbivores, and potentially altering nutrient cycling, biological diversity and productivity of plant communities. Additionally, exposure to elevated ozone for two years in open-top chambers appeared to reduce species diversity and richness in an early successional plant community (Barbo et al. 1998). One aspect of assessing biological diversity is species fitness or reproductive capacity. Experimental O3 exposures reduced growth and flowering of the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) (Findley et al. 1997). Similarly, exposures to O3 reduced flowers and fruits in Spreading dogbane."
Black-poll Warbler
"A very important finding here was that foliar injury was not necessarily required to elicit negative effects on sexual reproduction, thus changes in biological diversity (Bergweiler and Manning 1999). Overall, these considerations are a fundamental part of global climate change and its impacts on vegetation.
Environmental, biological and cultural (e.g., irrigation) factors that promote stomatal opening increase the risk of O3 injury to plants. Ozone causes negative effects on a number of plant processes including photosynthesis, water use efficiency, rate of senescence, dry matter production, flowering, pollen tube extension and yield. However, the specific cellular sites that undergo damage are not completely known. For example, photosynthetic activity can be reduced, by decreasing stomatal opening and restricting CO2 uptake, by diminishing energy production in the photosystems or by decreasing CO2assimilation (Krupa et al. 2001)."
Fish Crow
"Although O3 is known to cause stomatal closure, that effect appears to be secondary, since electro-physiological and gas exchange studies show that O3 affects stomatal opening only indirectly in response to K+ fluxes and reduced CO2 assimilation (Fiscus et al. 1997; Torsethaugen et al. 1999). The amount of active carboxylating enzyme, RUBISCO (Ribulose biphosphate carboxylase), can be reduced by O3. Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements have shown that O3 can damage various components of the light-harvesting complex in the chloroplasts. Foliar injury in sensitive plants, reduces the number of functional complexes, diminishing the plant's capability to utilize sunlight for photosynthesis. At lower concentrations, or in tolerant plants, O3 can interfere with the production of electrons, limiting the energy available to "fix" CO2 (Guidi et al. 2000)."
Evening and Spotted Grosbeak

"Although O3 can affect these various functions in the photosynthetic pathway, the sensitivities of the different components, the sequence of events occurring and the specific sites of injury are yet to be identified. In addition to its effect on shoots, O3 is known to adversely affect carbon flow to the root and consequently its biology and biomass (Sane et al. 1996). This has significant consequences for water transport to support gas exchange (Grantz et al. 1999). In this context, use of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes would be very useful in furthering our understanding (Anderson 2001). Analysis of carbon efflux from primary photosynthetic leaves (Grantz and Farrar, 2000) indicates that phloem loading and the rate of translocation is substantially inhibited by acute exposure to O3. In contrast carbon assimilation was inhibited less substantially. The molecular components of the phloem loading process are possible sites of O3 injury, and potential loci for improved plant tolerance of O3.

It is generally accepted that O3 does not persist in the intercellular spaces of the leaf (US EPA 1996). Rather, organic radicals and various reactive forms of oxygen are generated through O3decomposition and interactions with cell components (Pell et al. 1997). These oxidizing compounds damage proteins and membranes leading to impaired physiological function and cell death. Acute O3injury in sensitive genotypes, usually seen as development of foliar lesions, resembles the hypersensitive response (HR) of plants to pathogen attack. An oxidative burst occurs as the initial reaction to both O3 exposure and pathogen assault and similar signal molecules have been implicated in induction of the HR and O3 injury (Sandermann 1998)."
Pine Creeping Warbler
"In O3-tolerant genotypes, either the oxidative burst is suppressed (Schraudner et al. 1998) or oxidative damage is highly localized (Koch et al. 2000), thereby restricting the extent of foliar lesions. Since the signal pathways that mediate the response of plants to O3 and pathogens appear to have some common features, our understanding of mechanisms that limit O3 injury could benefit from studies on the molecular aspects of plant-pathogen interactions (Sandermann et al. 1998)."
Crested Grebe
"The plant antioxidant system (Burkey 1999; Mittler and Zilinskas, 2002), which scavenges naturally occurring reactive oxygen compounds, could function as a primary mechanism to alleviate the oxidative burden resulting from O3 exposure. The ascorbate (vitamin C)-glutathione cycle has been the most intensively studied and generally there is a positive correlation of O3 tolerance with levels of antioxidants and antioxidant enzyme activities (Conklin and Last 1995). For example, mutants that are deficient in vitamin C are very sensitive to O3 (Conklin et al. 1996), as are plants that have been genetically manipulated to produce less ascorbate peroxidase, an enzyme that uses vitamin C to detoxify hydrogen peroxide (Orvar and Ellis 1997).

Transgenic plants that have been engineered to overproduce ascorbate-glutathione antioxidant enzymes have provided mixed results regarding O3 tolerance (Mullineaux and Creissen 1999). Ozone induced a rapid increase in adenyl sulfate reductase activity suggesting that redox regulation of specific enzymes may provide a mechanism for rapid response to oxidative stress (Bick et al. 2001). In addition to signaling processes and biochemical protective mechanisms, plants may express differential tolerance depending upon the rate of influx of O3 into the leaf interior."
Baltimore Oriole
"During the late 1970s and mid 1980s, two major O3-crop loss assessment programs were established: The US EPA's National Crop Loss Assessment Network (NCLAN) (Heck et al. 1988) and the European Open-Top Chambers Programme (EOTCP) (Jdger et al. 1993; Fuhrer et al. 1997). Statistical models were developed to define cause-effect relationships. In the United States, one of the main definitions of O3 exposures considered for a 24 hour, 3-month, growing season was a summation function (SUM 06 or sum of all concentrations >60 ppb, US EPA 1996)."
Field Sparrow
"It was concluded that a 3-month, growing season SUM 06 value of 26.4 ppm7h would protect 50% of the crops in the US NCLAN study from yield losses >10%. In a different comparison, it was predicted that a SUM 06 value of 39.7 ppm7h would protect 75% of the crops in the US NCLAN study from 10% yield loss. Similarly, a 3-month, growing season SUM 06 value of 31.3 ppm7h was associated with <10% biomass reduction in 50% of the deciduous tree seedlings studied. In comparison, a SUM 06 of 42.6 ppm7h was derived for conifer species (US EPA 1996)."
American Woodcock
"In Europe, the definition of O3 exposure has been through the use of AOT 40 (Accumulated exposure Over a Threshold of 40 ppb). While SUM 06 represents a sum of all concentrations equal to or above 60 ppb (e.g. 60 + 61 + 62 .....n), AOT 40 is computed as a sum of the difference between 40 ppb and concentrations >40 ppb (e.g. 1 + 2 ...n). Both SUM 06 and AOT 40 are different types of summation techniques of dynamic hourly O3 concentrations that cannot account for the micrometeorological conditions conducive for O3 deposition and uptake and the feedback among plant stress, repair and compensation (Gr|nhage and Haenel 1997; Krupa and Kickert 1997).

In the future, emphasis should be placed on the quantification of the 'absorbed dose' which will result in the plant response (Gr|nhage et al. 1997). Furthermore, Bvhm et al. (1995) concluded by using Bray-Curtis ordination analysis that univariate statistics such as SUM 06 were unable to capture up to 39% of the variance in the ambient daily O3 data matrix from 17 sites in the western United States. According to Jordan et al. (1988), the lack of correlation between vegetation exposure statistics, which have been used in modeling ambient air measurements in the United States, has posed a major problem for those trying to assess the effects of ambient O3 exposures. After substantial technical review, the US EPA concluded that the use of a SUM 06 value as a regulatory air quality standard was not advisable. Thus, the current primary (protect human health) and secondary (protect human welfare) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for O3 in the United States are the same (the annual fourth highest daily maximum 8 h average should be <0.08 ppm) (Federal Register, US, July 18, 1997). This decision has fueled a further need to define and capture the spatial and temporal dynamics of O3 in establishing its mechanistically meaningful relationship to adverse plant responses."
Golden-winged Woodpecker
"Another aspect that deserves much attention, relates to the gaps in our knowledge of the effects of O3and other associated photochemical oxidants on ecosystems. The US EPA's San Bernardino forest ecosystem study (US EPA 1996) represents one of the best attempts to address the issue and the information gathered there continues to serve as a major source of our understanding. The San Bernardino project was prematurely terminated and full benefits were never realized. However, a number of publications are available on selected aspects of the study (Miller and McBride 1998). These and other ecological studies show that early changes in energy and hydrologic flows due to stress can serve as indicators of ecosystem modification. Here, a small change in one ecosystem component may have amplified effects on other components and the entire ecosystem.

An issue unrelated to crop and tree biomass responses, is the identification and use of the typical foliar injury responses of native plant species to ambient O3 exposures as biological indicators to define the spatial and temporal extent of the adverse effects of O3 in national parks and Class I Wilderness Areas (Chappelka et al. 1997; Kohut et al. 1997). This approach is important in natural resource management in the context of environmental impacts. Such studies also have implications in our understanding of the plant community structure and biological diversity (Findley et al. 1997; Bergweiler and Manning 1999). Equally important, biological indicators can be used effectively in developing countries to map the geographic distributions of the occurrence of phytotoxic levels of O3and other air pollutants, without significant economic and labor costs associated with the use of complex pollutant monitoring equipment."
"A critical gap in any statistical modeling of the cause and effect relates to the inability of effects scientists to derive an O3 exposure statistic(s) that has an underlying mechanistic meaning (variability in exposure and uptake). In addition to the micrometeorological considerations, different stages of physiological phenology of a given plant species will respond differently to similar or dissimilar O3concentrations (Krupa and Kickert 1997). A consideration of these aspects has been somewhat controversial, relative to the O3 regulatory aspects and research. Since regulators require simplistic, administratively acceptable explanations of complex processes, until now scientists have been forced to compromise their efforts to improve our process related understanding of the subject matter.

In contrast, process models explain the stochastic relationships between the cause and effect purely on a mechanistic basis. In the context of vegetation, results of such studies are spatially limited and scaling the results from the plot level to a region have large associated uncertainties (Kickert and Krupa 1991). Another aspect of process models relates to the use of such models to assess plant responses to air pollution, although initially many of these were developed for some other purposes. Frequently, required validation of the model for its new or different use is a serious limitation."
Bandtailed Pigeon
"Our current knowledge of the interactive effects of O3 with other plant growth regulating factors is fraught with major uncertainties such as: (a) at best, most experiments are bivariate in nature, a few trivariate, and limited by experimental designs that cannot define the plant response surface fully to satisfactorily explain the nature of the interactions; (b) use inadequate measurements and definitions of the exposure dosimetry; (c) lack adequate measurements of all growth regulating variables; and (d) use inadequate cause-effects models which cannot fully capture the overall mechanistic interactions (Groth and Krupa 2000)."
Carolina Parrot


  1. Describe the spatial - temporal variability of the adverse effects of O3 on crops and forests.
  2. Assess the effects of O3 on structure, function and diversity of plant communities.
  3. Examine the joint effects of O3 with other growth regulating factors on crop and tree growth and productivity.
  4. Examine the molecular and physiological basis of O3 toxicity and tolerance in plants.
  5. Develop numerical models to establish relationships between ambient O3 exposures and plant responses."

Chestnut Coloured Finch, Black-headed Siskin


Objective #1 will be addressed through the use of data from continuous O3 monitors and passive samplers and a combination of the use of: (a) foliar injury surveys (e.g., Skelly et al. 1997), (b) biological indicator plants (e.g., Chappelka et al. 1999), (c) open-top chambers (Heagle et al. 1973), (d) protective chemicals such as EDU (Manning 2000); and (e) O3 sensitive and tolerant clones (white clover, black cherry) (Heagle et al. 1994; Lee et al. 1999) or cultivars (bean) (see Manning and Krupa 1992).

Scientists from PA and AL have collaborated in field surveys of eastern forests and the use of indicator plants (black cherry, common milkweed and other native plant species) (Chappelka et al. 1999). A similar effort includes AL and NC in the Great Smoky Mountains. Similarly members from NC, VA, MA, OR and NY have collaborated in the use of clover clones (Heagle et al. 1995). Virginia, MA and MN have collaborated in a modeling study on clover (Chevone et al. 1998). For the past year discussions and plant material propagation have been in progress to initiate a multi-membership study (e.g., NC, MA, NY, VA, MD and CA) to utilize O3 sensitive and tolerant bean cultivars (selection of bean cultivars by R.J. Reinert, formerly of USDA) under field conditions to assess the effects of ambient exposures on crop growth and yield. This study will utilize common experimental protocols and crop management practices. Minnesota will perform the cause-effect (multi-point growth series and yield) modeling (see objective #5). In contrast to crops, tree growth responses to O3 will be assessed through both visual foliar injury (PA, AL, NC, CA) and tree ring analyses at sites along the so-called O3 gradients in each study region (scientists at AL, NC, CA, NY-BTI) (also see objective #5)."
Red Breasted Sandpiper
"Objective #2 will be addressed at three levels: (a) artificial exposure studies in the greenhouse (Bergweiler and Manning 1999) and in open-top (Barbo et al. 1998) exposure chambers to characterize the O3 response of indicator plant species singly or in mixed cultures (MA, AL); (b) field studies using bio-indicator gardens and the VEGPOP model, for example, in the Great Smoky Mountains (AL, NC); and (c) along a previously identified so-called O3 gradient (NY-BTI, CA).

Objective #3 will be addressed using two different approaches for crops: (a) open-top chambers (MD, NC, e.g., Rudorff et al. 1996; Fiscus et al. 1997); and (b) open field ambient exposures (MN, e.g., Krupa and Nosal 1989). The former method is generally used to conduct bi-variate or tri-variate studies, keeping all other independent variables relatively constant. In contrast, in the second approach, locations with differing pollution and plant growth meteorology regimes but with a common plant subject are used, with co-located measurements of many independent variables (see objective #5). Experiments are also underway to determine the effects of O3 and elevated CO2 on decomposition of post-harvest residues of soybean and peanut (NC).
For trees, a singletree physiology model (TREGRO) and a stand model (ZELIG) (Laurence et al. 2001) will be used to assess O3 effects and predict forest growth and species composition as a function of available resources (light, moisture, nutrients) (NY-BTI). USDA Forest Service participants from CA have their own in-house model to address these issues."
Wood Duck
"Objective #4 will be addressed at two levels: (a) physiology, and (b) molecular biology. Examples of (a) include: (i) symptom expression, gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence in black cherry and green ash (VA), Pima cotton, muskmelon and snap bean (CA), and soybean (NC); (ii) diurnal stomatal conductance curves for key southwestern forest species (CA) and soybean (NC); (iii) analysis of carbohydrate translocation, root development and root respiration on cotton, melon and bean (CA); (iv) tolerant versus sensitive cultivar red-ox states of ascorbic acid in soybean (MD), and apoplastic ascorbate in soybean (MD, NC) and snap bean (NC) (Burkey 1999); and (v) stomatal characteristics of O3 sensitive and tolerant snap bean lines that may contribute to avoidance mechanisms (NC).

Molecular mechanisms (#4, b) of O3 sensitivity or tolerance will be addressed through the studies anti-oxidant systems (Mittler and Zilinskas 2002). They include characterization, identification of genetic regulation and construct of transgenic plants to test for the molecular basis of tolerance versus sensitivity to O3 (Bick et al. 2001) (NJ, VA). Here a number of plant species will be used, they include Arabidopsis, bean, tobacco, tomato and spinach.

Objective #5 for crops will use a growth model combined with a multi-variant, non-parametric model of yield, initially for alfalfa (modified from Krupa and Nosal 1989). In an ambient field plot study at multiple sites, data on O3, SO2, NOx, meteorological variables and alfalfa growth and yield have already been gathered for 48 harvests and another 20 harvests are planned. This model will be modified for use in the multiple-participant bean study (objective #1) (MN).

For trees, the TREGRO singletree model incorporates experimentally determined effects on leaf photosynthesis to simulate effects on leaf area, tree height and root growth. Ozone responses of 2-5 species will be evaluated in TREGRO for each forest stand (total 35) modeled in ZELIG using monitored hourly O3 and meteorological data (BTI-NY). In addition, in CA, Forest Service scientists will use their in-house statistical model."
Barred Owl

"Measurement of Progress and Results:

  • Over the course of the project, spatial and temporal patterns of crop and tree responses (foliar injury and/or changes in growth and productivity) to O3 will be described and mapped across the northeast region and other areas to assess the extent of regional scale adverse impacts.
  • Over the course of the project select indicator native plant species fitness (indicative of biodiversity) and changes in community structure due to O3 exposures will be described. Impact of O3 on biodiversity will be quantified and information transferred to natural resource managers.
  • Identified crop and tree responses to the interactive effects of O3 with other growth regulating factors will be used to predict production changes over time, including changes relevant to climate change, with the goal of transferring such information to both public and private urban and industry planners.
  • Information on the mechanisms of O3 toxicity and tolerance in plants and alterations in their functional physiology to O3 exposures will lead to the identification of genes that can mitigate the effects of O3 and other forms of oxidative stress, assisting in developing and/or in identifying tolerant cultivars and varieties for the production sector.
  • Over the course of the project new statistical methodologies and derived information will establish relationships between O3 exposures and plant responses that explain the randomness (spatial and temporal variability) of such relationships. Ultimately such information will be transferred to regulatory policy makers.
  • Output 6. Data derived from the project will be used to establish limits of O3 that have an immediate bearing on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for O3."
Tyrant Flycatcher
"Outcomes or projected Impacts:
  • Scientific basis for developing National Ambient Air Quality Standards for O3 to protect cultivated (crops) or managed (forests) and native vegetation (bio-diversity).
  • Environmental and quality of life benefits through post-regulatory (air quality standards) impact assessment.
  • Improved understanding of regional scale issues in resource management.
  • Improved understanding of plant response to oxidative stress (drought, herbicides, pathogens, etc.), assistance in developing tolerant plants through breeding and other approaches.
  • Early detection of ecosystems under O3 stress."
Tyrant Flycatcher

(2003): Development of common experimental protocols and initial exploratory field trial, (e.g., collaborative field project on O3 sensitive and tolerant cultivars of bean). Field surveys of O3-induced foliar injury and establishment of biodiversity plots where appropriate. Continuation of ongoing greenhouse, open-top chamber and ambient exposure studies. Continued collection and characterization of air quality data. Continuation of physiological-molecular biology studies.
(2004): Initiation of multi-participant field experiments (e.g., bean study). Collection of bio-diversity data. Continuation of work from 2003.
(2005): Continuation of work from 2004. Testing of ambient O3 exposure-alfalfa response model.
(2006): Continuation of field and laboratory studies from 2004 and 2005. Testing of ambient O3exposure - bean response model.
(2007): Continuation of work from 2006, completion of O3 - bean response model. Assessment of data from: (a) controlled exposure studies, (b) foliar injury surveys, (c) O3 exposures and tree/forest response analyses and (d) bio-diversity studies. Develop a database on spatial and temporal distributions of adverse effects of O3 on vegetation and numerical definitions of cause-effect relationships. Based on physiological-molecular biology studies, develop tools that can explain mechanisms of plant tolerance to O3."

Snowy Bunting

"Outreach Plan:

Traditional aspects of communication include publications of the results in peer reviewed international journals on a regular basis, presentations at national and international scientific meetings, conferences, symposia and workshops. Results will also be used in graduate level teaching.

Non-traditional education will be continued through linkages with Master Gardeners training, interactive presentations to arborist groups and county extension educators and participation in Continuing Education Programs for the public and in field days."
Henslow's Bunting
"Expansion of the Internet Web page ( for the program is planned, with linkages to Statewide Agricultural Extension and Outreach systems across the country. This page will also contain information on diagnosis and identification of air pollution (including O3) injury on agronomic, horticultural and tree species. Individual scientists in the program have Web pages for public access and these pages will be periodically updated to reflect the most recent findings. For example, see: (topical keyword: ozone) or"
Henslow's Bunting detail
"In addition, several members have established physical sites at which groups of farmers, farm advisors, school children, policy makers and regulators and members of the public may view demonstration projects involving plants exposed to a range of ozone concentrations. These sites function in various ways with ongoing programs, meetings, and educational functions.

Organization and Governance:

Plans to Expand Project Membership:
Current members represent both AES and non-AES scientists. With the exception of one international scientist that recently joined an AES (is being invited to join the project), virtually all of the leading ozone-plant effects researchers in the US are members of the project. Efforts are underway to identify AES-Outreach/Extension and USDA Forest Service personnel involved in ozone-vegetation impacts assessment for inclusion in the project. In addition, to establish a close link with scientists in the European Union, several researchers have been identified and will be invited to participate in the project."
Blue Grosbeak
You'd think these scientists might be alarmed but, NO.  They are trying to breed ozone resistant crops.   Helluva lot of good that will do for wild, indigenous trees and other plants...not to mention, all the critters that feed on them.

The USDA is responding to this by funding molecular biologists who are trying to breed ozone-resistant cultivars, a long surreal account of which you can see on one of their webpages titled "Breeding plants for a high-ozone world"!

"Fitz Booker, an Agricultural Research Service plant physiologist at the Plant Science Research Unit at Raleigh, North Carolina, says, “Ozone has long been known to affect a wide range of plants, including grasses, field crops, horticultural crops, and forests. Our research and that of other scientists has shown that many crops and forages are damaged by high ozone levels, including soybeans, wheat, cotton, oats, potatoes, rice, peanuts, tomatoes, grapes, alfalfa, clover, and barley.”

"In fact, during the 1950s, Howard Heggestad (deceased) discovered that what were thought to be symptoms of a plant disease on tobacco leaves in the smoggy Connecticut River Valley was actually damage from ozone. In the Washington, D.C., area, he found similar damage to plants from ozone in smog. At the time, Heggestad was an ARS plant pathologist."

"Globally, yield losses from ozone have been estimated at $14 to $26 billion for rice, soybean, corn, and wheat combined."
Great Tern
Whether there's any connection to another devastating fungal epidemic destroying cassava, an essential staple for many people, no one is asking.

Why don't they speak up and say we have to stop burning fuels instead?  Why is somebody from Exxon Mobil a member?  Could it be because, according to the 2010 minutes of their annual meeting, their new fancy new Air Quality/Learning Center at Penn State was funded by...RRI Energy????

"John Skelly opened the meeting with a presentation on the history of the Air Quality Learning/Demonstration Center.  He emphasized that success of the center was due in part to cooperation between Penn State University and private industry, notably RRI Energy.  John said it was great to see how far the center had progressed from his initial efforts in getting it started."

"Vince Brisini, from RRI Energy Corporation, talked about their participation in establishing the Air Quality Demonstration Center and reviewed the current status of emission control activities at power generation facilities.  He stated that emission controls were quite effective now and that attaining further reductions will be difficult.  Economic incentives must be available for businesses to comply with stricter regulations."

Now why would scientists concerned about air pollution take money from a company that was sued by environmental groups in May 2010 for just one of their PA coal plants, charged with 12,000 violations of federal pollution laws in the last five the same time as the groups accused the state DEP of lax enforcement??
Eastern Meadowlark
The rest of the funding that comes from USDA makes it very clear what the perimeters are for research:

"Ray Knighton, our USDA representative, described the four institutes in the newly formed NIFA office, formerly known as CSREES.  The institute of Energy, Environment and Climate Change is where he is now assigned.  The focus of the funding program has been narrowed compared to previous years but the scale of the projects is much larger.  Resources allocated to each project were increased to promote multidisciplinary teams whose research will have impact, in this case, on climate change mitigation and agricultural production problems associated with climate change.  Emphasis will be on projects that can develop approaches that will be viable for use in the field in short order."

So I would say, that qualifies as USDA (which is the umbrella organization over the Forest Service) policy - to fund research that focuses on climate change and NOT ozone...which could explain why all the scientists are blaming climate change for tree decline, couldn't it?

At their annual meeting this year, in September, he presented an even worse case:

"After the presentations a general discussion occurred regarding the station reports. Reduced funding for ozone research and challenges experienced obtaining funding were also discussed. Concern was voiced and discussed about the future of the study of plant response to ozone as a whole generation of scientists is being lost now due to lack of funding with no new scientists being trained, while this air pollutant continues to be an increasing problem.

Ray Knighton gave a presentation via conference call. General budgetary constraints and funding challenges at the federal level were described.  Lack of funding for travel was the reason Ray was only able to attend the meeting remotely, as was also the case for most committee members who did not attend in person."
Prairie Titlark
Following is some of the correspondence with these exact scientists from the email archives.  I can't say if they are deliberately deceptive, or delusional for emotional reasons...or if it's just one of those cases where you can't get a man to understand a problem when his income and reputation depend on his not understanding it.

Here's the very first letter I sent, to the NYT and the scientists, August 2, 2009:
Ferruginous Thrush
Sunday, August 2, 2009 5:17 PM

Message body

Dear Editor,

Below please find an open letter to the following scientists who are researching the effects of ozone on plants:

Dr. Victoria Wittig, University of Illinois
Dr. Elizabeth Ainsworth, USDA
Dr. Shawna Naidu, University of Illinois
Dr. David Karnosky, Michigan Technological University
Dr. Kevin Percy, Natural Resources Canada
Dr. William Manning, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Dr. Thomas Sharkey, Michigan State University
Dr. John Reilly, MIT
Dr. Peter Cox, Exeter University

Dear Scientists,

Recently I have begun documenting on a blog ( the deteriorating plight of trees in New Jersey.  In my state as well as others I have visited along the Eastern Seaboard, the vegetation is in such rapid and universal decline that only a very significant agent, such as one related to climate change, can be broad enough to explain it.

Until recently I could only speculate as to which exact mechanism could cause all species of trees and shrubs, of all ages, to show the extreme symptoms of drought and irreversible decline.  I thought it most likely related to the fact that the average temperature has increased from pre-industrial levels, leading to unpredictable weather and faster evaporation of less regular precipitation.

In just the past few days however, the following excerpt of a study by Dr. Cox, and subsequent reading other of your comments and published works, have convinced me that the main (though certainly not the only) driver in the vegetative damage that is now rampant must be due to exposure to ozone:
Mangrove Hummingbird

"The chemical known as ozone may be making a much more significant contribution to global warming than scientists had previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.
'Ozone could be twice as important as we previously thought as a driver of climate change,' said study co-author Peter Cox.

Ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere, but is produced in the lower atmosphere when sunlight strikes industrial pollutants such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides.

Scientists have long known that ozone is a greenhouse gas, trapping radiation within the atmosphere and leading to rising global temperatures. But the new study suggests that ozone may have a much more significant climate impact by adversely affecting plants' ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

According to the researchers, high concentrations of ozone and carbon dioxide damage plants' ability to engage in photosynthesis. This weakens the plants, causing their stomata (pores in the leaves) to close. In turn, this reduces that amount of carbon dioxide or ozone that the plants are able to absorb."

(found at

Great Carolina Wren
I am writing to you all because you have published research on this topic and it appears to me that to a certain degree, you are laboring in obscurity - at least as far as the media and the general public that it supposedly informs are concerned.  Even for someone as alarmed as I am, it has taken me almost a year of writing dozens of letters to foresters and conservationists and environmentalists and climate scientists to finally discover the wealth of research in which you are engaged, about the effects of ozone.  Most of the people I wrote to were kind enough to reply, including Dr. Jim Hansen - yet not one of them defined ozone as the likely culprit.

I hope you will take this report of massive and widespread plant injuries with utmost seriousness, because I believe that once people understand that the trees in their own backyards and parks - and the food products on their grocery store shelves - are at risk of extinction, they will wake up and support government action to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

It is, alas, mainly you scientists who possess the truth, and who have the authority to speak out and save humanity from its own stupidity. 

Below is a link to an early post that summarizes my motivation in starting this blog. If you go to other entries, you can find pictures and more recent observations.

Frankly, the decline unfolding from week to week is worse than my worst imaginings when I first noticed a year ago that something terrible is threatening our forests.  And now, the picture is even more dire, as ozone clearly is dangerous for all plant life, including crops.

We really are in an emergency and should behave accordingly.

Here's the link to the post I mentioned:

Thanks for reading.  I am very interested in sharing information and appreciate any responses.

Gail Zawacki
Oldwick, NJ

Blue-Grey Fly Catcher

 Wit's End []
Sent: Sunday, November 22, 2009 9:48 PM
To: Booker, Fitz
Subject: ozone

Dear Dr. Booker,

I was referred to you by Dr. Lew Ziska because I have questions about ozone.

I live in New Jersey and for over a year I have been recording the irreversible decline of trees.  Both coniferous and deciduous trees show the characteristic symptoms of exposure to toxins in the atmosphere, and this past summer, the foliage of potted and aquatic plants, as well as annual crops, had identical leaf damage.

This year for instance, the autumn leaves fell off the trees at least a month earlier than normal.  I have uploaded photographs demonstrating this which can be seen here, and on many other blog posts as well.
Louisiana Tanager
As I am not a scientist I am ill-equipped to determine exactly what is casing this rapidly accelerating loss of vegetation.  I am however convinced it is something in the composition of the atmosphere.  Since ozone has been present for so long, I wonder if it is the mandated addition of ethanol to gasoline that is the primary cause for this relatively sudden and severe impact.  I also would like to find about about nitrous oxide, because I read that it causes certain lichens to thrive, and presently there are a couple that are spreading so fast you can watch them blanketing trunks and branches from day to day.

I would be very interested to learn of any information you can supply on this topic.

Here is a link to my profile at the WWF project, Climate Witness, if you want some background.

Thank you very much for reading,

Gail Zawacki
Oldwick, NJ

Fox-colored Sparrow
--- On Fri, 12/4/09, Booker, Fitz <> wrote:

From: Booker, Fitz <>
Subject: Inquiry about possible air pollution effects on trees in NJ
To: "Wit's End" <>
Cc: "Art Chappelka" <>, "Howie Neufeld" <>, "Ziska, Lewis" <>
Date: Friday, December 4, 2009, 11:41 AM
Dear Ms. Zawacki,

Thank you for inquiry about possible air pollution effects on trees in your area.  I work extensively with ozone effects on crops, but I am less familiar with responses of forested ecosystems.  I suggest you’re seeing delayed effects of drought, increased N deposition, and possibly disease.  I contacted two colleagues of mine who have many years of experience with air pollution effects on forests and native vegetation.  Here are their responses:

Fitz, not knowing the situation it could be a thousand things.  Could ozone be involved, sure, but so could many other factors. I'm not sure of the weather conditions in NJ this summer, but your hypothesis could be correct. Howie was up there some this year and may have a better answer. They may want to contact the extension folks at Rutgers. Those guys are pretty good and might be able to help them.

Art Chappelka
Forest Biology
School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University
Auburn, AL 36849-5418
PH # 334-844-1047
FAX # 334-844-1084

Fitz - I agree with Art.  The early leaf fall was because it was early everywhere this year due to cooler than normal temperatures.  But ozone was not high this year in NJ so I doubt it's ozone.  Could be bugs, disease, etc. and not just air pollution.  As for the lichens, based on our work at Rhinelander, we see that they respond strongly to light, so if the leaves come off the trees for whatever reason, and allow more light to get to the trunk and branches, you'll get more lichens.  They don't hurt the tree though.

Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, Professor
Department of Biology
572 Rivers Street
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Tel: 828-262-2683
Fax: 828-262-2127

Dr. Chappelka’s suggestion that you contact the extension people at the Department of Plant Pathology at Rutgers University sounds like a good approach.  I hope your trees recover next year.



Fitzgerald Booker, Ph.D.
USDA-ARS Plant Science Research Unit

3127 Ligon Street
Raleigh, NC   27607


From: Wit's End []
Sent: Saturday, December 05, 2009 11:07 AM
To: Booker, Fitz
Cc: Art Chappelka; Howie Neufeld; Ziska, Lewis
Subject: Re: Inquiry about possible air pollution effects on trees in NJ

Dear Dr. Booker, Dr. Neufeld, Dr. Chappelka, and Dr. Ziska,

I do appreciate your responses however, I confess I am still unsatisfied.  The explanations proffered simply seem inadequate to fully encompass the empirical evidence when it is considered in its entirety.

For example, cool weather and excessive rainfall do not explain why the leaves fell early this year, because the leaves were already showing unmistakable and dramatic signs of damaged stomata in the summer of 2008, when it wasn't particularly rainy or cool in fact, it was hot and dry.  Conifers began ridiculously high levels of cone production and a concurrent loss of needles in the fall of 2008.

Further, I cannot believe disease is the underlying cause because it seems highly unlikely that every single species of tree, in every growing condition, as well as every annual plant, would succumb to disease within the time frame of a year or two - because they just don't all react to the same pathogens the same way.  And it cannot be the result of short or long-term drought, because aquatic plants suffered the identical foliar damage even though they are in water all the time.
Atlantic Puffin
That isn't to say that there aren't diseases, and pests, and fungus, and drying from climate warming, and cumulative ozone.  But none of those, separately or even in combination, represents a causative agent broad enough to account for the quite universal damage.  Only an agent in the atmosphere is sufficient to explain such wide-spread impacts, and it isn't only in New Jersey - I have personally seen the same conditions from Rhode Island to Virginia, and it wouldn't surprise me if the many reports from other states, such as California and Colorado, about sudden oak death and sudden aspen decline aren't results of the same toxic emissions, since the researchers out west have yet to determine the underlying causes there.

Given that it is well documented that atmospheric pollution is harmful to vegetation, it certainly seems reasonable to conclude that given every species that photosynthesizes to produce chlorophyl is showing identical symptoms, it is crucial to look into the possibility that a significant change in the atmosphere has occurred, and not dismiss the factual evidence as disease or weather related. 
And as stated by Dr. Neufeld, since ozone has decreased with the economic slowdown, to determine the primary source for this sudden and almost certainly irreversible decline, we must think outside the box.
Woodthrush detail
At this point, due to the rampant spread of lichens, I think the most likely culprit is nitrous oxide or something related to it, as mentioned by Dr. Booker, perhaps from the vast recent expansion of growing corn for ethanol...and/or the emissions from burning ethanol.

At the bottom of this recent post are links to lichenologist websites, one in Canada and one in Ireland.  It's quite clear from their research that certain lichens do thrive in polluted conditions.  Whether they are harmful to a tree, in and of themselves, or simply opportunistic biometers, is an unanswered question in my mind, because lately the trees with the most lichens are losing their bark from branches and trunks - it's just, lichen-encrusted, falling off and exposing the smooth wood underneath.

Be that as it may, the really useful thing these websites describe is that lichens do not shed the pollutants they absorb.  They describe procedures for collection and laboratory tests to determine what type of pollutants and how high the concentration they have retained.

I would really like to have the USDA assign someone to investigate this process and test the lichens, which are certainly not only fast spreading in New Jersey, I have seen them in other states myself and received reports from correspondents from PA to MA and NH.  It is critical to determine the source of foliar poisoning before we lose all the trees and don't even have any viable seeds left, and I as a non-scientist am obviously unqualified to conduct such research.

I will contact the Rutgers extension as suggested.  However I think this problem is vast enough and serious enough - how many counties have declared agricultural states of emergency this season? - that the energies of federal government agencies should also be engaged.

Thank you once again for your attention.


Gail Zawacki

Rathbone Warbler

Message body

Dear Editor and Professors,

I last wrote you in August of 2009 to inquire about the impacts of ozone on vegetation.  Only Dr. Sharkey was kind enough to reply.

Since then, I wonder if any of you realize that we are in the midst of a mass extinction of perennial vegetation, as well as devastating reductions in annual crops, from ozone - and simply decline to inform the general public?

Or, have you actually not noticed the rapidly accelerating death of trees, perennial shrubs and plants (including ocean phytoplankton), and extremely diminished production of agricultural products from rice to wheat, due to exposure to ozone?

Don't you, as experts and persons of influence, feel some responsibility to inform the citizenry and policy makers that if we don't cease burning massive amounts of fuel on an emergency conserve and ration, and switch as rapidly as possible to clean sources of energy...we will most certainly starve - because the inexorably rising levels of tropospheric ozone are interfering with the essential ability of vegetation (the base of the food chain) to photosynthesize?

I would very much appreciate any response.  For your information, I have been collecting links to research and documenting the decline here.

Please understand that if you choose to not even acknowledge this specific correspondence, I will do my utmost to the extent possible to make sure that it is widely recognized that you have the knowledge and have chosen to refudiate (oh no oops, that's Sarah Palin!) repudiate any responsibility for disseminating information which is essential for the survival of the human race, among countless other species.

I welcome any comments or suggestions.


Gail Zawacki
Oldwick, NJ
Louisiana Heron

Saturday, August 27, 2011 9:47 AM

Message body

"Ms. Zawacki....still here and kicking...becoming involved with a bioindicator project to demonstrate the effects of ozone air pollution onn sensitive plants for the public and mainly school children...quite low key at this juncture...but moving along.   
So send your questions along...I am quite conservative in my estimates of air pollution effects to our forests...productivity is up, planting new trees is excellent, the forests within our state and national parks (except for natural disease and insect outbreaks...many from introduced organisms) are wonderfully healthy but we do indeed have some effects of pollution as well...but certainly not doom and gloom from my perspectives.
When I see the depth of denial it is so depressing, I don't bother to reply to such nonsense.  "Wonderfully healthy"?  Why does any of this surprise me?  I already knew that universities and government agencies are complicit with the 1%.  But I don't know, I feel personally jilted.  I guess maybe because I grew up in an academic family, I married an academic, I thought they would be above all that.  Well - at least, uncovering this website and old emails, I have been able to spend days slogging through research by this cast of characters, which reveals really fascinating things like, ozone is reducing the amount of carbon sequestered by forests!  Fancy that!  Let's look at some: This paper is found on the USDA website: "Quantifying the impact of current and future tropospheric ozone on tree biomass, growth, physiology and biochemistry: A quantitative meta-analysis
Submitted to: Global Change Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 29, 2008
Publication Date: February 1, 2009
Citation: Wittig, V.E., Ainsworth, E.A., Naidu, S.L., Karnosky, D.F., Long, S.L. 2009. Quantifying the impact of current and future tropospheric ozone on tree biomass, growth, physiology and biochemistry: A quantitative meta-analysis. Global Change Biology. 15(2):396-424.

Interpretive Summary: The forests in the Northern Hemisphere are an important carbon sink. Rising ground-level ozone is reducing the potential for these forests to act as carbon sinks. In this study, we summarized all of the previous work to date on tree growth responses to elevated ozone concentration. Current background ground-level ozone (40 parts per billion) significant reduced the total biomass of trees by 7% compared to trees grown in charcoal-filtered control treatments. Elevation of ozone to 64 parts per billion, which is approximately the level anticipated for 2050 further reduced total biomass by 11%. The analysis also revealed that angiosperms (broad-leaf trees) are significantly more sensitive to ozone than gymnosperms (evergreens). This has important implications for the make-up of future forests. This study demonstrated that the carbon-sink strength of the Northern Hemisphere forests is already reduced by background ozone and will be even more reduced in the future if ozone continues to rise. Therefore, an important carbon sink that is offsetting global fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions might be diminished or lost in the future. This paper provides critical information for policy-makers and managers of forest resources."
Eastern Screech Owl
"Technical Abstract: The northern hemisphere temperate and boreal forests currently provide an important carbon sink; however, current tropospheric ozone concentrations ([O3]) and [O3] projected for later this century are toxic to trees and have the potential to reduce the carbon sink strength of these forests. This meta-analysis estimated the magnitude of the impacts of current [O3] and future [O3] on the biomass, growth, physiology and biochemistry of tress representative of northern hemisphere forests. Current ambient [O3] (40 ppb on average) significantly reduced the total biomass of trees by 7% compared to trees grown in charcoal-filtered (CF) controls, which approximate pre-industrial [O3]. Above- and below-ground productivity were equally affected by ambient [O3] in these studies. Elevated [O3] of 64 ppb, which is similar to levels anticipated for ~2050, reduced total biomass by 11% compared to trees grown at ambient [O3] while elevated [O3] of 97 ppb, similar to levels anticipated for ~2100, reduced total biomass of trees by 17% compared to CF controls. The root to shoot ratio was significantly reduced by elevated [O3] indicating greater sensitivity of root biomass to [O3]. At elevated [O3], trees had significant reductions in leaf area, Rubisco content and chlorophyll content which may underlie significant reductions in photosynthetic capacity. Trees also had lower transpiration rates, and were shorter in height and had reduced diameter when grown at elevated [O3]. Further, at elevated [O3], gymnosperms were significantly less sensitive than angiosperms. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the carbon-sink strength of northern hemisphere forests is likely reduced by current [O3] and will be further reduced in the future if O3 rises to elevated levels as projected. This implies that a key carbon sink currently offsetting a significant portion of global fossil fuel CO2 emissions could be diminished or lost in the future."
Here's a paper from the Forest Service, which focuses on China:

"Impacts of tropospheric ozone and climate change on net primary productivity and net carbon exchange of China’s forest ecosystems."

"China’s forests acted as a carbon sink during 1961–2005.  However, as a result of the combined effects of O3, climate, CO2, nitrogen deposition, simulated results indicated that elevated O3 caused a 7.7% decrease in national carbon storage, with O3-induced reductions in NCE (Pg C year-1) ranging from
0.4–43.1% among different forest types. Sensitivity experiments showed that climate change was the dominant factor in controlling changes in temporo-spatial patterns of annual NPP. The combined negative effects of O3 pollution and climate change on NPP and NCE could be largely offset by the positive fertilization effects of nitrogen deposition and CO2."
Yellow-crowned Heron
"In recent decades, there has been increased concern that elevated tropospheric ozone (O3) and climate change have influenced the ability of China’s ecosystems to provide people with essential goods and services (Fu et al., 2007). Between 1980 and 1995, fertilizer use in China was 36% greater than the average in developed countries, where fertilizer use has been decreasing, and 65% greater than the average in other developing countries. Both fossil fuel consumption and nitrogen fertilizer application
can contribute to total emissions of NOx, a main O3 precursor, and consequently result in increased atmospheric O3 concentrations (Chameides et al., 1992).

It has been estimated that China’s emissions of NOx might increase four times by the year 2020 without pollution controls, compared with 1990 emissions (van Aardenne et al., 1999). This would lead to a much larger increase in tropospheric O3 with concentrations of 150 parts per billion (p.p.b.; ml l-1) of  O3 in some locations (Elliott et al., 1997), particularly in southern China where NOx emissions are increasing due to high nitrogen input derived from deposition and fertilizer application (Lu & Tian, 2007)."

[150 parts per billion = we're all going to die.]
Virginia Partridge
"Although process-based modelling studies have focused on the forest carbon cycle in response to climate change (Xiao et al., 1998; Tao et al., 2007), little is known about how tropospheric O3 concentrations have influenced the growth and productivity of China’s forest ecosystems. Quantifying the impact of current and future effects of O3 on forests is an urgent task (e.g. Wittig et al., 2009). The spatially explicit ecosystem model is a useful tool for assessing the regional impacts of climate change and other environmental stresses, but only a few existing models that estimate the carbon sequestration potential of forest ecosystems consider O3 pollution (e.g. Ollinger et al., 1997, 2002; Felzer
et al., 2004, 2005; Sitch et al., 2007), and little research has been conducted addressing the impacts of O3 in combination with climate change on NPP and net carbon exchange (NCE) across China’s forest ecosystems."
Bay-breasted Warbler
I was sorry to discover I had missed The Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, which last year presented a talk by Dr. Decoteau, called "Air Pollution Symptoms".   I would have liked to have heard that, because from what I've seen the symptoms are quite literally everywhere.  This year it will be held January 31 to Feb 2 at the (gag) Hershey Lodge, and the keynote address will be given by one David M. Kohl, who is introduced in the following manner...which will give you an idea just how utterly clueless the agricultural community is about the emissions damaging their own product:

"Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career!"

"Kohl has addressed the American Bankers Agricultural Conference for over 30 consecutive years, and has appeared before numerous state bankers' schools and conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the world. He has also been one of the top rated instructors at the LSU and Colorado Graduate Schools of Banking, and is Chancellor of Farm Credit University, which has trained over 700 lenders using an online and face-to-face educational approach."

"If you would like to keep up with Kohl's information and perspectives, you can find his weekly columns on the following websites:
Ag Globe Trotter:
Road Warrior of"

I kid you not - Ag Globe Trotter, Road Warrior...I couldn't make this stuff up!
Ruby-crowned Wren
More ozone fun facts from the Project:

"...we characterized alterations in cell-wall constituents and secondary metabolites in ozone-exposed herbaceous vegetation that have implications to the nutritional ecology of economically important ruminant animals. Information needs in these areas have been identified as critical for the assessment of ozone pollution effects in natural ecosystems.

Ecosystem function can be altered by several processes, one of which is differential reproductive success. We found that reproductive effort of selected native plant species was affected by ozone. These effects can be translated into alterations in flowering patterns and abortion of seeds/fruits, and have implications regarding establishment, survival, genetic stability and vigor of these species. Ozone reduces photosynthesis in native plants, especially in their older leaves, which translates into reduced starch reserves in these leaves and the underground rhizomes.

Research under this objective has shown that, as a result of accumulation of secondary phenolic compounds, increased deposition and lignification of cell-wall constituents and decreased in vitro digestibility in a number of ozone-sensitive plant species, predicted loss of forage nutritive quality for ruminant animals due to ozone injury can readily approach the same order of magnitude as that observed for biomass yield depression (ca. 5-15%). These are extremely important findings because total loss of consumable food value (fractional reduction in yield × fractional reduction in nutritive quality for ruminants) can be much more significant than biomass yield reductions alone in the assessment of the true economic impact of ozone on forages under current and future global-climate scenarios."
American Magpie

"In Pima cotton, exposure of the shoots to ozone led to genetic damage in root tips as visualized by an alkaline, single-cell electrophoretic assay of damaged DNA in isolated root tip cells. DNA damage increased with increasing ozone exposure. The results clearly indicate that the effects of ozone on vegetation are systemic, and suggest that translocated products of ozonation, or other signal transduction processes, are involved in reducing root proliferation following shoot exposure to ozone. Root growth is often inhibited by ozone and has been primarily attributed to reduced availability of carbon resources needed for growth. The finding that ozone induces genetic damage in root tips adds a new dimension to our understanding of the mechanisms of ozone toxicity."

Here are some nifty graphs from a slide presentation:, which is actually a very scary description of the mechanics of the disrupted carbon/nitrogen cycle, but ends with some discussion about the added complication of ozone:

In the next chart, notice the reduced sucrose.  Do you suppose that could be why maple trees aren't producing the same quality sap they used to?

Of course, climate change is being blamed for the maple trees, and the same is now true for walnuts:

"Warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome -- possibly fatal -- for walnut trees, according to research at Purdue University.

Over five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a former doctoral student under Jacobs who is now a research scientist in the Ministry of Natural Resources in Quebec, studied the physiology of walnut trees, which are economically significant in Indiana for their lumber and veneer, and in other areas for their nuts. They found that the trees are especially sensitive to particular climates.
"Walnut is really restricted to sites not too wet or dry. It has an extremely narrow range," said Jacobs, whose findings were published in the December issue ofAnnals of Forest Science. "We suspect and predict that climate change is going to have a real impact on walnuts. We may see some type of decline of the species."
Specifically, walnuts would have difficulty tolerating droughts that could be associated with a changing climate.
"Changes in moisture could restrict its ability to survive without irrigation," Jacobs said. "Almost all climate change models predict that climates will become drier."
Walnuts are also sensitive to cold, so much so that they have developed a defense mechanism against late frosts. Jacobs said walnut trees don't begin sprouting leaves until almost a month after other trees in the spring.
That defense mechanism could be compromised by extreme weather events associated with climate change scenarios. Late spring frosts after walnuts have developed leaves could kill trees.
"That, on top of the increase in temperatures, would be a problem for walnut," Gauthier said. "The trees would basically shut down."
In California, more than 500,000 tons of walnuts were sold for more than $1 billion in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In Indiana, black walnuts are prized for their wood. Charles Michler, project leader of Purdue's Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, said walnuts accounted for as much as 15 percent of the logs sold in Indiana at a value of about $11 million.
"Walnut is probably the most important species in the hardwood products industry today," Michler said.
The center has a walnut breeding program that is attempting to identify trees that can be used in different climates, he said.
One goal is to find walnuts that may be able to stand up to the heat or cold stresses that trees could be subject to in a changing climate. The center is looking at seeds that come from mature trees to see if the seeds have attained defense mechanisms against changes already seen in climate.
"That could be the strategy that trees have," Michler said. "The trees that are mature now may be affected by climate change, but the seeds they produce may be adapting through genetic changes."
Downy Woodpecker
But that's all just the usual constant flow of evidence that ozone is killing trees and reducing crop yields, all of which, especially on top of extreme weather from climate change, is going to lead to astronomical food price hikes, then shortages, and then famine.  In a more general sense though, you have to be blind to miss the general steep collapse of civilization on many fronts.  On some blog or other, I saw a comment to the effect that William Catton was right.  His name was unfamiliar so, curious, I found him on Wikipedia.  Of course it turns out, I had already read bits and pieces of his book, "Overshoot", but had not heard the term he articulated there, Cosmeticism.  And so the rest of this post is going to consist of thoughts about overshoot and Cosmeticism.  Wiki says:

"The core message in Overshoot is that, '... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. A cultural heritage can outlast the conditions that produced it. That carrying capacity surplus is gone now, eroded both by population increase and immense technological enlargement of per capita resource appetites and environmental impacts. Human life is now being lived in an era of deepening carrying capacity deficit.

All of the familiar aspects of human societal life are under compelling pressure to change in this new era when the load increasingly exceeds the carrying capacities of many local regions—and of a finite planet. Social disorganization, friction, demoralization, and conflict will escalate.'[4] Catton here also coined the term Cosmeticism for 'faith that relatively superficial adjustments in our activities will keep the New World new and will perpetuate the Age of Exuberance.'"
Summer Tanager
When Nixon blithely enacted EPA, the legislation was "above-partisan" (as depicted in this interview of Administrator Lisa Jackson by Rachel Maddow) because industry hadn't quite figured out how expensive it was going to be for them to take financial responsibility for their pollution.  That didn't last long, and the fight began, and has never stopped.

Here's Part I of a paper published in 1972 (the year I graduated from high school!) in the International Journal of Environmental Studies, by a professor at Carnegie Institute, titled "Mobile Source Air Pollution - Who Won the War?"

"In Part I of this paper, we examine the history of mobile source air pollution control—particularly, control of undesirable emissions from automotive vehicles. It is concluded that the choice of the level of control required of the automotive vehicle in the mid 1970's was arbitrary and not in the best interest of the public. The costs will outweigh the benefits, especially when one considers the health effects of various pollutants and relative contribution of the more noxious air pollution constituents from other sources."

Here's the conclusion at the end of part II, on p. 136: "The total cost will be outrageous."

Have you got that?  OUTRAGEOUS.  And now, we are stuck with the OUTRAGEOUS costs of NOT controlling pollution.  Stuck with Nature's Pitchfork, and it's going to really, really hurt.
Great Blue Heron
Speaking of outrage, I'm going to vear off into Occupy Wall Street matter, probably by now everyone has seen Naomi Wolf's accusations about federal involvement in the evictions, but maybe not the Wonkette's snark version, so here it is:

"For a decade now, the Department of Homeland Security has coordinated the law enforcement efforts of America’s major cities, both through the U.S. Conference of Mayors and through a direct network of the nation’s big city police chiefs. And yet, there was widespread “mainstream media” suspicion when reports surfaced of coordinated national assaults against the economic-justice protests. Why would a public so used to illegal federal wiretapping and constant physical surveillance of U.S. Muslim communities and infiltration of anti-war groups in America be surprised by the fact that federal law enforcement agencies were working to stop nationwide protests against the political/economic regime? Isn’t that their job, to stop their corrupt regime from being toppled?
Naomi Wolf looks into this, for The Guardian, because of course American papers aren’t going to touch this:
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.
But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profits is less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.
So, the fascist insect Peter King is launching DHS against #OWS because King and the rest of his crooked scum buddies in Congress will ultimately pay for their crimes, if the protests aren’t crushed now. Is that the theory? Sounds sane to us, although we don’t remember the part where Martha Stewart was guillotined. [The Guardian]."

Whether the evictions are coordinated at the federal level, or not, what's next for Occupy Wall Street?  An intriguing analysis by Jeremy Kessler:

"Occupy Wall Street’s unorthodox approach to direct action was on full display Thursday morning as multiple columns of marchers encircled Wall Street. The flood of protesters stopped to chant or quickly moved on, depending on the density of police personnel arrayed to corral and disperse the crowd. Others sat down in front of barricades when the police refused further access to the public. This seemingly chaotic rhythm of the protest was, in fact, intentional.
Audubon Warbler; Hermit Warbler
"For many days prior to the November 17 day of action, Occupiers met to map out the multiple stages of the action, noting the various intersections where police would try to bottleneck marchers, and devising routes of retreat that would allow them to re-group when faced with overwhelming police force.  In order to spread out the police presence, the march was staggered; different strands would leave minutes apart and aim for different access points to Wall Street. Although these general contours of the action were planned en masse, over a dozen affinity groups—self-organizing sets of volunteers—met on their own to plan actions-within-the action: some would break off from the main march to proceed directly to Wall Street through a Duane Reade on Pine; others planned acts of civil disobedience at strategic locations.

This organized randomness frustrated police tactics, which are best suited to corralling a single-minded mass. As a result, the police did as much as the marchers to block access to Wall Street, manhandling pedestrians and “freezing” intersections in order to stanch the unpredictable flow of protest. Perhaps the chief breakdown of police control occurred at the intersection of Broad and Beaver at around 10 a.m., where several strands of the march met after earlier sit-ins on Pine Street. Unprepared for this secondary flow, the police initially allowed the marchers to take to the street, dancing and singing—free from police violence, if only for a few minutes."
Roseate Spoonbill
"By noon, as sirens screamed down Broadway and over 150 protesters sat handcuffed in police vans, the march had sparked several articles on the front page of the New York Times website and hours of coverage on local and cable news. While the morning action had clearly succeeded in drawing more attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement, a certain skepticism haunted some of the news coverage: Was all that morning chaos really nonviolent? Did it work?

The unpredictable movements and the “diversity of tactics” employed by the Occupiers—from traditional civil disobedience to absurd dance routines—frequently cause police, spoiled by total compliance, to become panicked or enraged. The result is violent overreaction, as was witnessed on Thursday morning. On Pine and Nassau, night-sticks and bawled fists were deployed against a troop of green-clad and leaf-covered pixies; later, on Broad and Beaver, after their initial retreat in the face of an unexpected dance party, some creative officers transformed a metal barricade into a plow, using it to sweep up or knock down protesters."

Doc came down from the Cape with Nana for Thanksgiving, and mentioned that the government has long used provocateurs to discredit peaceful demonstrators, and in particular referenced a book, "An American Requiem:  God, My Father, and the War", by William Carroll.  A chronicle of the personal cost of activism, his stance as a priest and anti-war activist led to ostracism from his family.  In one scene, he describes seeing his brother at a demonstration, disguised as a dirty hippy:

"At an outdoor rally in Harrisburg on night, I gave a speech and read my poems.  It might have seemed to others that I was successfully reinventing myself on the model of Daniel Berrigan, a priest-poet at last.  But the truth is, inwardly I was terribly frightened all the time.   That night, after my appearance while I stood on the edge of the crowd listening to another speaker, a derelict approached me.  Repelled by his stink, I sidled away, but he followed.  His shabby beard and matted hair and soiled clothing made him seem half mad.  I moved again, but he stayed with me, drawing close enough to whisper, "If you don't tell your friends about me, I won't tell mine about you."  He flashed a shit-eating grin.  Brian.  Before I could answer, my FBI-agent brother melted back into the crowd." 

And then Doc pulled out a yellowed manila file folder, stuffed with old newspaper articles and letters, from his days protesting the war, insisting such behavior has a genetic component!
So, we continued and had a marvelous dinner, proceeding to exceed the carrying capacity, as William Catton described, celebrating the Age of Exuberance.
Recently it emerged that American kids are drinking arsenic with their apple and grape juice, but what I learned while reading about it is that an enormous amount of our food comes from China.  Safety issues aside, I'm afraid that means we are much closer to a food crisis than I thought:

"Most people don’t realize that two-thirds of the apple juice that Americans consume – more than 400 million gallons annually – come from juice concentrate shipped from China. A recent report by Food & Water Watch revealed that many other foods and drinks that children consume on a daily basis, including canned and frozen fruit, candy and vitamins, are coming from China with little or no food safety oversight."
"China is sending a lot of food to American dinner tables: The country’s food exports to the US have tripled over the past decade to nearly 4 billion pounds of food in 2010. Unfortunately, China has a terrible track record on food safety."

These are pears and black mission figs poached in Zinfandel and honey, with a split vanilla bean, which is served with a custardy sauce flavored with black current liquor.

I hadn't made this recipe for years, so I had to thumb through Chez Panisse Desserts to find it, and buried in the pages was a spattered old "to-do" list (I'm a compulsive list-maker) for a long-ago dinner party.  It didn't have the menu, so I'm not sure exactly what sort of version of duck, rutabagas and green beans I made...but talk about an Age of Exuberance - I had reminded myself to chill the champagne and the Château d'Yquem, to shuck the oysters and plate the shrimp, and to whip the cream for the custard sauce.

I think it must have been for a New Year's Eve.
I certainly miss the days when the most pressing concern I had was to devise a beguiling menu.

Now the terrifying evidence of insane, dangerous climate change and ecosystem is pervasive...Like Scandinavia having no snow, and these pathetic flowers still trying to bloom in my garden.

I'll end with two videos, the first, about a shortage of Christmas trees...blamed on fungus!

And last, this utterly enchanting story of bridges woven from tree I would love to walk through that lovely forest!


  1. Yikes! Amazing research, amazing insights, positively amazing.

  2. Wow Gail, outstanding! And Awesome bird plates! Thank you so much.
    Since I have last visited this blog I've had to move, at my new abode I'm trying to get to know the plants and animals here. There is a tree here that I walk my dog under everday that I know to be at least 45 yrs old and bark is split and sap is leaking... :( Because I read your blog I know that is not good. I will take a pic and send to you. In our area, much of the pine tree have been sacrificed, b/c of the pine beetle. There are thankfully many Eucalyptus here (non-native) and some others I'm trying to ID. I'm blessed to have lots of Canadian geese going to back and forth and love their joyous cries. Also maybe some grebes ( I found a deceased one after a lightning storm) crows, hawks, condors or turkey vultures, starlings, bluejays, and a bird I can't ID yet that divebomb the cemetery workers as they mow the lawns!
    At my new house (had to downsize) I don't have a yard but have room for many planters. I just set out a avocado I started from seed! I am looking for a living Christmas tree, and would love a Noble fir. Have gotten a Norfolk Island Pine which is a good indoor plant. I planted a lemon tree that is doing really well and a Jasmine that is doing well also.
    Thank you so much for all your work and your blog posts and I wear my Climatehawk badge proudly on my vest as I walk my dog.

  3. Hello, You've probably already seen this one:

  4. Wow, I'm impressed anybody made it all the way through that! Thanks ladies, and I'm glad you have a new home surrounded by Nature, CWCG. Eucalyptus smell wonderful, I think.

    Oale, I hadn't seen that, so thanks - I'll be checking back for their NOx measurements. I do know that SOx has been greatly reduced in the US, because of the scrubbers. That still leaves an awful lot wafting around from Asia - and does nothing for ozone, unfortunately, which comes from NOx and methane, which is rising at a terrific clip.

  5. Gail, only on second reading did I notice the spelling mistake in the title!-apoptosis-

    It is a puzzle that scientists in the field are not responsive to your observations,but I am reminded of the theory of continental drift, the story of which took a similar arc. On that basis it will take a lifetime to make them notice, whilst the great unwashed will be blissfully unaware.

    Take a leaf from Dave's book an follow the muse of Carlin RIP.


  6. Thank you Gordon, GAWD, how I HATE making spelling and grammar mistakes!

    I remember well the controversy over plate tectonics, which was the way I was taught in college. At the time I thought, what is wrong with people? It's so obvious, from the puzzle on Pangea to the volcanic chain islands, not to mention the genetic distribution of species...Auugh.

  7. Gail,
    Didn't get to take a pic of the tree, hopefully tomorrow, you are collecting these pics right?
    I think it is a Cypress because is has that little nut-like seed. I will take a pic of the seed the foliage and the tree trunk and email them to you. Amazingly the foliage seems good. I took a close look today, but the tree trunk bark is cracked with sap leaking :( I know the tree to be at least 45 b/c I went to school in the now-closed building adjacent to it.
    Thanks Gail for fighting for our Earth!

  8. I would be very grateful for pictures, anytime! Please send them.

  9. Gail, dandy presentation.

    Another interesting source of ozone is crushed rock.

  10. I shared the Whip-poor-will image on my poem blog's not for commercial this okay? Lovely blog here btw...glad to see a space committed to such important discussions. Thank you. :)

  11. Sure Hannah any of the pictures on my blog are free - It's my understanding the Audubon's are out of copyright timeframe. Thanks for reading! to check out your poems....


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