Friday, April 6, 2012

Gaia is "Le Tired"

Not Again!!


When did all these constant wildfire warnings start?  I took the advice and did visit my "state forestry" website and this is what I found:

What happens after we vaunt beyond "very high" and surpass "extreme" - the worst category?  Will they invent a new one?  Fried? 

According to this article, people died in Colorado last week, because they weren't properly warned about the danger of the wildfires.  Maybe the conflagrations are now bigger and faster than the dispatchers and firefighters expect, because there's so much more tinder in the forest.

In other news, the old report on Limits to Growth has (once again) been validated, and then some, in a study comparing the model predictions from 1972 to measured trajectories since then.

However, even this concluded with the delusional and completely unjustified hope that "unlimited economic growth" is still possible - if world governments enact policies and invest in green technologies that help limit the expansion of our ecological footprint.  Talk about magical thinking!  Especially because both the pollution model and "observed" trend are grotesquely underestimated, since they're not accounting for the fact that air pollution is killing the forests.

The Augusta National Golf Club is hosting the Master's Tournament, so following are pictures from this year's event, followed by some from previous years.  See if you notice a difference.  First, from this year, 2012.

The water is scummy.  They had a huge amount of debris on the course from rain but given how meticulously groomed and pruned these premises are maintained, I would say either there was an excess of detritus on the ground piled up already, or there was a huge amount clinging to trees just ready to come down - or both. 

People were disappointed that the azaleas bloomed early, but my guess is it was a poor showing anyway, especially if these yellowing laurel leaves are any indication.
Here is the infamous lichen on the trunks of trees, and it's very obvious that the bark is shearing off.  No, that is not normal.
Compare the overall transparency of tree crowns today, to the pictures below taken April 8, 2002.  We were supposed to have had an early spring because it was so warm, and in fact the flowers bloomed early, but the leaves are struggling to emerge.  Trees have been relying on stored energy for several seasons, and they are running out.

 Below, in 2005, the crowns look robust.

Above, March 27, 2007, already some thinning of the pines compared to below, in 1999. 

An article written by Thomas Lovejoy for the New York Times - "The Greatest Challenge of Our Species" - reviews the recently concluded Planet Under Pressure conference.  While sounding appropriate alarm, it too, neglects some critical issues.  The article follows - I added emphasis and made comments in red.

The Planet Under Pressure conference is intended to feed directly into the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this coming June, 20 years after the Earth Summit in Rio convened the largest number ever of heads of state and produced, among other things, two international conventions, one for climate change and the other for biological diversity.
While it is not as if nothing has been achieved in the interim or that scientific understanding has stood still, it is obvious that new science is not needed to conclude that humanity has failed to act at the scale and with the urgency needed.
In the United States, in particular (but not exclusively), far too much attention has been given to the non-issue of whether climate change is real or not. In the meantime the heating of the atmosphere proceeds inexorably, the Arctic ice has thinned and retreated at its summer low to a point that it might be tied to the exceptionally warm spring in Europe and North America. Spring bloom has erupted early in North America and Europe. Most people just say how nice the weather is with no sense of the march of climate change.
Since the industrial revolution, developed nations have contributed significantly to the atmospheric burden of greenhouse gases. That led to a two-tier arrangement in the Kyoto Protocol, originally adopted in 1997, basically giving time to developing countries to improve their economies before taking major action.
The response of the United States at the time was to abdicate its traditional leadership position with a Senate vote based on the myopic notion that there was no point in doing anything if China and India were to keep on building coal-fired power plants. In the meantime, China is making measurable progress in decarbonizing its economy and has become the largest producer of solar panels in the world.
But the issue before humanity is, in fact, bigger than fossil fuel combustion, and far bigger than climate change. The Stockholm Environment Institute summed it up nicely in an analysis that identified a planet departing from planetary boundaries in three ways: climate change, nitrogen use and loss of biodiversity.
The use and frequent overuse of nitrogen fertilizer primarily by industrialized agriculture has polluted streams and lakes, and, in turn, coastal waters around the world. The resulting dead zones in coastal waters and estuaries are devoid of oxygen and largely devoid of life. They have doubled in number every decade for four decades — an increase by a factor of 16. The amount of biologically active nitrogen in the world is twice the natural level.
Why doesn't he mention that ozone comes from NOx?  Ozone in the atmosphere is smothering trees in toxic gases just as surely as eutrophication is suffocating fish.
The greatest violation by far of planetary boundaries is in biological diversity. This is because, by definition, all environmental problems affect living systems; biological diversity integrates them all. Running down our biological capital is pure folly.
The planet works as a biophysical system that moderates climate (global, continental and regional) and creates soil and its fertility. Ecosystems provide a variety of services, not the least of which is provision of clean and reliable water. Biological diversity is the essential living library for sustainability. Each species represents a unique set of solutions to a set of biological problems, any one of which can be of critical importance to the advance of medicine, to productive agriculture, to the biology that provides current support for humanity, and, most importantly, will provide solutions to the environmental challenge.
"Loss of biodiversity" - I hate that stupid euphemistic phrase!  It really means animals and plants are dying off in such numbers that they are going extinct.
Looking ahead, we not only have to deal with these planetary scale problems but also find ways to feed and produce a decent quality of life for at least two more billion than the seven billion people already here. We need to do this without destroying more ecosystems and losing more biological diversity.
Human ingenuity should be up to the challenge. But it has to recognize the problem and address it with immediacy and at scale.
An important step, a “Future Earth” organization, was announced at the conference. It will bring all the relevant scientific disciplines together to work on this, the greatest challenge in the history of our species. This is essential because many physical scientists seem blind to the importance of biology in how the living planet works, and how it can provide critical solutions. Economics and social sciences are critical as well.
History will measure the impact of the Planet Under Pressure conference and the extent that Rio+20 rises to the challenge. The moment has come to realize that this planet which brought us into existence must be managed as the biophysical system that it is. It is time to get our hands on the steering wheel, not to save the planet but to keep it habitable.
Exactly.  The climate scientists - the atmospheric physicists and geologists and all the rest - are oblivious to the collapsing ecosystem AND to the contribution that will make to climate change by depriving the globe of the major CO2 sink - trees!   They're also oblivious to the fact that people would care a lot more about emissions - whether they're CO2 or ozone precursors - if they understand how swiftly they are destroying our forests - and annual crops as well, our source of food!
I can't express my opinion of the prospects for that meeting any better than this commenter did at DotEarth:


Could you please give us a summary of the significance of all this in your own words?

Because I'm having a hard time seeing what's new here. It feels like reading about one of those groundbreaking, million dollar, multi-year studies that confirms common knowledge — "you can get hurt if you fall off a ladder."

2,500 people gathered in London to confirm that the planet is in peril. Or, scientists now officially agree that the planet is in peril.
—Well, yeah.

A lot of the planet's problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, overpopulation and resource depletion are interconnected.
—No.? Really?

Humans are more interconnected than ever, and that can be bad because we might steal each other's resources.
—Yes, we call that globalization here in the U.S.

But interconnectedness can be a good thing because it gives us an opportunity for synergetic brainstorming that might solve problems.
—OK, but did all those people have to fly to London to figure that out? What about the internet?

We'll probably kick the environmental can down the road because our generation can't get its act together.

This is a defining moment in history because if we don't get our act together, Mother Nature might give us the boot.

I'm not trying to be contrary, but "C'mon." Anybody who has been paying attention has known all this stuff for decades. Other than making it "official," what did the conference accomplish?"
Philip S. Wenz

Here is Gaia - she is "Le Tired".

Remember this? Seems so quaint now.

pics on Sodahead
golf photos found here.


  1. Nuclear winter is an answer to global warming and over population.

    But it's not the one I'd hoped for.

    I'm glad you noticed the foliage and the 'state of the trees' changes at Augusta. We've pretty much lost all our vines, thickets, and briers around here.


  2. hi gail,
    for all you know (a lot!), do you think it is possible that the level of oxygen suddenly falls drastically in the atmosphere at a certain point?
    Is it changing now (the level of O2)? I have a friend who just came back from Paris (5 weeks trip) and told me that everyday, the pollution is so bad that the air is almost unbreatheable and all her pictures are veiled with particles in the air + she got a bad sinus case (from pollution) which turned bronchitis and then pneumonia!
    Can there be all those new gazes in the atmosphere and still as much oxygen?
    I know that the biggest explosion of life on the planet ever (precambrian) happened because the level of O2 increased in the atmosphere. What can make the level of O2 suddenly change?

  3. Use of fertilizers leading to ground level ozone...I should have known that already. I understand the chemistry, but for some reasons hadn't come to this conclusion. Thank you! Industrial agriculture needs to stop.

    The planet is in an emergency situation. This past year I've gone from hoping someone will fix this mess to realizing that there really is no hope left and that I ,and others who care, are going to have to help somehow. Things are getting scary. If we don't do something soon the planet may not be a good habitat for humans as well as most other living beings. I just read an article about us living in the time of the 6th great extinction (human caused) and I see that things are worse than I ever realized.

    As always, thanks for your enlightening blog.

  4. An interesting question, that! I am no expert but a while ago I asked a friend (chemist) and he said not having enough oxygen to breathe is not an issue for the foreseeable future. Keep in mind that even though ozone and other pollutants are very toxic, they are toxic in minute amounts - they are TRACE gases meaning very small parts of the atmosphere with I think is mainly oxygen, CO2 and nitrogen.

    Of course when you put together the enormity of change that is occurring with methane release and so forth, who knows? This is all unprecedented.

    I was wondering myself about volatile organic compounds. That is what NOx interacts with to form ozone. VOC's are aromatics (the smells) - from vegetation mostly, even more than those added by human activity (that's how Reagan could claim trees cause pollution). So I was wondering if all the NOx is gobbling up the VOC's. That would mess up some pollinators, for sure.

  5. There are a total of 1,995,484 cell tower and antenna facilities in the US ... with 739 towers and 1074 antennas added in the last week. This is obviously a crash program.

    These facilities broadcast radio waves, microwaves, and scalar waves.

    Now what happens when thousands of chemtrail airplanes dump mega tons of ionizable metal salts and nanoparticles high in the atmosphere? The global air gets more conductive, right? And warmer!

  6. Forgot to point out that the scum on the ponds at Augusta is actually pollen and the male plant parts of oak trees. It will clear with the next rainfall.



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