Monday, August 13, 2012

We Fell From a Dying Tree - ἀσφοδελὸν λειμῶνα (Asphodel Meadow)

"A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees."

~ William Blake, 1757-1827

How is it that I can look at a tree and recognize that it is in the most dire distress, while just about everyone else looks at the same tree and says - well, it's got leaves still, what's to worry about?

Once again, Siberia is burning.  In his most recent post Cliff Mass, a  despicably furtive climate denialist who blogs about the weather from the Pacific Northwest area, begins indignantly:  "Dense smoke from Asian fires has again spread over our region, profoundly degrading visibility."  He appeared to be offended that viewing of the Perseid meteor shower over the weekend would be impeded, but somewhat mollified that sunsets will be enhanced.

He included some images from The European Center for Medium Range Forecasting to illustrate the impertinent invasion of foreign pollution, such as this one depicting the transmission of aerosols from the raging fires:

Next he observed with apparent pique:  "It is extraordinary that fires over Asia can have such a profound influence on air quality over the Northwest U.S., many thousands of miles away."

Think of it.  Extraordinary...except it's NOT.  It's also merely ordinary news that regular old ozone precursors like nitrogen oxide emitted from coal plants in Asia are increasing and traveling around to the most rural corners of the globe, raising the background level of ozone above a threshold that is tolerable to the vegetation that absorbs it.  (Which of course, leads to more wildfires.)  I guess Cliff Mass never heard of research such as the paper published this year by Princeton's Lin et al, "Transport of Asian ozone pollution into surface air over the western United States in spring" - oh, and the many others like it that have emerged of late - or maybe he never heard of global cooling from volcanic eruptions...or the deposition of radioactivity as described in an American Scientist article from 2006 titled (don't read it - it's depressing):  "Fallout From Nuclear Weapons Tests and Cancer Risks":

Prior to 1950, only limited consideration was given to the health impacts of worldwide dispersion of radioactivity from nuclear testing. But in the following decade, humanity began to significantly change the global radiation environment by testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. By the early 1960s, there was no place on Earth where the signature of atmospheric nuclear testing could not be found in soil, water and even polar ice.

Everyone who thinks Cliff Mass is a disingenuous putz raise your hands right now!  And besides, it would appear that as of late Sunday the 12th, nearly half of the North American continent is covered in smoke from our own fires, in California and Oregon.  Oops.
Meanwhile, Saharan dust has crossed the Atlantic in the opposite direction, impacting Puerto Rico and Cuba.  Are we all connected yet???  Oh wait, that's subversive....America is Number One!! Our Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable!!
Okay it's picture time.
Today I'm going to finish posting the photos from Kentucky, where I went to two parks, one little, one big.  The first is a small nature preserve just outside Lexington - small compared to the 708,000 acres of the enchanting Daniel Boone National Forest, which has more than one hundred natural stone arches.  Regrettably, I only had time to see one, but it was enthralling.  I'll mix the images up with some articles about our beleaguered ecosystem, a poem I like...and save a lovely "doom soul" song to finish (for Catman's Song List).
These beautiful stone walls run all through the park, which has rather straggly growth since it is all reclaimed pasture.  The ranger told me these meticulously crafted walls are common in Kentucky, because it was once a legal requirement to fence land if owners wished to maintain their property claim, and because - get this - the rolling hills had been completely denuded of trees.  There was NO source of lumber left, so it was cheaper to build miles of massive walls of stone.  (I suppose slave labor added to the efficiency of construction costs.)
The other reason the woods are straggly is that almost all of the larger, older trees that should have formed the foundation of the new forest, after the fields were left fallow and reclaimed, have died prematurely.
They shouldn't have, because almost certainly they couldn't all be past their natural lifespan, since the land was clearcut within at most the last three centuries and it's likely been something like one century since farming ceased.  But they died anyway, in the past decade or two, and many are lying on the ground, rotting.
Some are still standing, their bark having fallen off.
Stumps decay, hidden by saplings.

The path leads to a rocky promontory overlooking a river, far beneath.
As with most views, the spectacular vista is framed by sickly branches.
This view is typical of the barren canopy.
And unfortunately, the water is disturbingly green and turgid.
Zooming in on the opposite hillsides, standing dead crowns are easy to spot.
The study from Yale I posted last week, about rancid trees releasing methane, also made The New York Times.  Their version of the story is titled The Secrets of Hissing Trees:
Three years ago, a researcher collecting tree core samples in Connecticut was startled to see one of the trees begin to hiss and spit. Even more surprising, he found that the leaking gas could be set on fire.
It’s been known since around the 1970’s that a relatively rare bacterial infection in trees responsible for the damaging rot known as wet wood can cause trees to emit methane, a greenhouse gas with 20 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. Trees in wetland soils can also act as straws, sipping methane from soggy, oxygen-poor soil.
But scientists from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies believe that trees in upland forests infected with an almost ubiquitous fungus may also be a significant source of the potent greenhouse gas. Their findings appeared this week in Geophysical Review Letters.
The researchers found average concentrations of 15,000 parts per million inside trees in the Yale Myers forest in northeastern Connecticut, which is managed by the university’s forestry school. Ambient air concentrations of methane are usually less than two parts per million.
All that methane comes from microorganisms known as methanogens — no strangers to the guts of cows — which thrive in the oxygen-depleted environment created by fungal decay in the trees and release methane as a byproduct of their metabolism.
This methane translates to a warming potential equivalent to about 18 percent of the carbon being sequestered by these forests.

Kristofer Covey, a doctoral candidate at Yale and the lead author on the paper, emphasized that the research does not suggest in any way that such forests are an environmental negative.”Think of it as paying a methane tax on the carbon we are sequestering in forests,” Mr. Covey said, adding, “Forests are still by far a net sink for carbon, never mind all of the other ecosystem services they provide.”
Mark Bradford, a co-author and assistant professor of terrestrial ecosystem ecology, said that the only forests that can be viewed as net emitters of greenhouse gases are the old-growth variety. “Because of their age, these forests have a slow rate of carbon sequestration, but they also have a huge bank balance of carbon built up over the years,” he said. “So even if they were a net source of methane and a net source of warming over all, what do you do about that? If you took these old-growth forest down, you would be releasing tremendous amounts of carbon.”
“It is also possible that really old trees could be so damaged by this fungus that they are actually completely hollowed out and no longer actually a source of methane at all, because the anaerobic conditions required for methanogens would no longer exist,” he added.
Far more research remains to be done to understand how this phenomenon differs in varying tree species and forest types. Mr. Covey also intends to study whether most of the methane is being diffused through the bark of the trees, or only released when the tree is damaged, and how the methane-consuming microorganisms known as methanotrophs affect the big picture.
I had already written to the lead author to ask him the following questions (if I ever receive an answer, I'll update):
Dear Dr. Covey,

I'm writing in reference to your fascinating paper about trees releasing methane.  You were quoted as follows:

“Because the conditions thought to be driving this process are common throughout the world’s forests, we believe we have found a globally significant new source of this potent greenhouse gas.”
My first question is, can you tell me exactly what you believe "the conditions thought to be driving this process" are?

My second question is, have you considered that trees only 80 to 100 years old (a fraction of their natural lifespan) that appear to be healthy but in fact are rotting inside could be decaying because they are being constantly exposed to a background level of tropospheric ozone that equals or exceeds the 40 ppb determined to be the maximum tolerable threshold for vegetation as determined by Peter Cox at MIT?
Lastly, are you quite certain that the trees you measured don't actually exhibit outward signs of ill health?  I live on the East Coast and I've traveled up and down from Maine to Florida, and virtually every tree of the thousands I have examined has at least one or more symptom of terminal decline that is readily apparent:  corroded, cracked, peeling, oozing bark; lethal cankers; holes; broken branches; tiny leaves that are damaged with holes, speckles, lack of chlorophyll, or marginal burn; thin crowns; excessive growth of lichen or fungus; opportunistic insect attacks; thin crowns or lost, yellowed needles; premature senescence; lack of bright fall colors; epicormic growth, etc.  I'm sure I left off a few.  Did you not find this in the forest where you conducted the study?

Thanks so much, I appreciate any response.
We are all hearing about the drought, and I certainly wouldn't minimize its effects on trees and crops, because it's going to lead to famine.   But not everything everywhere can be blamed on the drought despite the contortions of foresters as quoted in the Huffington Post, in a credulous report about hungry, marauding bears - cited as authoritative even at Climate Progress.  Let's look at the drought monitor, below.  Upstate New York is considered either abnormally dry, or in moderate drought (as compared to the categories of Severe, Extreme or Exceptional).

Here's what HuffPo said about a town in that particular region:  In the Adirondack Mountain village of Old Forge in northern New York state, a black bear clawed through the wall of a candy store on Main Street last week; another one locked itself in a minivan and shredded the interior in a frantic struggle to escape, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"We've been here 17 years and never had a problem with bears," said Roslyn Starer, who runs the Candy Cottage in Old Forge with her son, Larry. "But it's been so dry the normal foods in the woods just aren't growing. So they're coming into town."

Starer came to the shop one morning to find a bear had ripped a big hole in the wall. "If it had gone much further it would have gotten into the shop, and the damage would have been devastating," she said.

This map locates Old Forge. 
Now look at what they say about the Catskills, immediately north of NYC (orange area on the map below):

"This has been an interesting year for bears, especially in the Catskills," said Jeremy Hurst, a big game biologist with the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, referring to the mountain range north of New York City. "In multiple communities, bears have gotten into people's homes, in some cases even when people were at home. Half a dozen to a dozen bears have been euthanized. More have been trapped and relocated."

While property has been damaged by foraging bears, no human injuries have been reported in New York this year.

In the Catskills last month, there were three times as many serious bear issues such as home and vehicle break-ins as there were in the same period last year, Hurst said.

"Typically, complaints of bear damage peak in late spring, but this year, the frequency of bear complaints picked up strongly with the drought in July," he said.

The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University reported Tuesday that so far, 2012 has been the hottest year on record for the 12-state region. While conditions in the Northeast weren't as dry as some parts of the country, there has been moderate drought in parts of upstate New York.

Then again, they anticipate a potential shortage of mast (nuts, seeds and so forth) this fall and blame it on a spring cold snap:

Bears typically turn to hard foods such as acorns and beechnuts in the fall to bulk up for winter. Paul Curtis, a wildlife specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension and associate professor at Cornell University, said a cold snap in April that damaged a lot of fruit tree buds also may have affected acorns and other wild nuts. That could mean trouble for corn farmers, with bears fattening up in their fields, Curtis said.

Meanwhile, in Vermont, which isn't in drought at all according to the monitor, they too are having  complaints about bear and blame it on drought anyway, hell, why not?  It's dry in Texas, isn't it?

In Vermont, Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Forrest Hammond said food scarcity due to the dry summer was contributing to bear complaints. The department has recommended that farmers bring in their corn crops as soon as possible.

"The farmers are going to have a tougher time with bears," Hammond said.

It's long been expected here at Wit's End that ozone can't help but reduce the quantity and nutritive quality of food available to wild animals, just as it is known to do in agricultural crops - but don't expect any government agencies or academics to admit it.  This idiocy reminds me of the nurseryman who blames dying ash on the invasive long-horn beetle, even though it has yet to arrive in this region, and the same penchant for foresters to say wooly adelgid is killing hemlocks, even where there aren't any to be seen.

Drought also can't obviate the fact that many of the trees now dying or already gone began to fail long before.  Even more tellingly, drought can't possibly be the reason that these lotus leaves in a pond outside the nature preserve are brown and withered.
They are in water all the time.  It's not heat either - they like heat, they're tropical.  In fact it was the lotus in my own pond that was a major factor in my gradual (and reluctant) comprehension that drought and warming from climate change are not sufficient to explain why plants and trees are dying - as I initially speculated in Sinister Signals from the Lotus in 2009.
So when I got home, I went out to the pond at Wit's End and took some pictures of the lotus there.  Above and below are zooms from Kentucky.
Sure enough, as has happened for the last several years, the leaves at Wit's End have developed the characteristic loss of solid green color, and the veins are prominent:
The worst are singed like they have been burnt.
Most of them are still in the yellowing phase, which is about the condition they've been in every year since 2008, at this point in the summer.
By July 2010 I was comparing pictures that look identical to today's with leaves from October 2009, when the damage had progressed to the next photo.  That inexplicable deterioration, and the same symptoms on other heat-loving annuals being regularly watered in pots, led me to the conclusion that a toxic composition of the atmosphere, and not a lack of precipitation from climate change, was the only explanation that fits the empirical facts.
Oh well, while I was out with my camera I found that my fig tree, which I let overwinter outside, uncovered, has for the first time ever produced baby figs - now, THAT I attribute to climate change!  I hope they ripen up and I get to harvest some before they are eaten by birds.
 And the Rose of Sharon is blooming like crazy. 
But back to Kentucky.  I found this delectable rusting relic trying to locate Daniel Boone National Forest.  My obsolete GPS system was stymied out in the boondocks, and I've forgotten how to read a map.
It's a long way from anywhere.
It rained intermittently, but it was warm so I didn't mind.
I stopped on a back road to admire this old barn.
Behind it and to the right are the brown locust trees.
This is what some greener leaves look like close up.
In the same spot, young tulip poplar seedlings had damaged leaves, not from insects but from an inability to photosynthesize.
Maple leaves were turning color prematurely.  The rest of the photos are from within the park - two hikes along the peaks, where the mist rising from deep valleys after rainfall made for delightful dramatic, constantly shifting effects against the stone cliffs and distant treelines.
Another sad accounting in the Times reinforces the impression I have reported at Wit's End many times - the sounds of Nature are horrendously depleted.  You can go to that article and listen to recordings of the difference in places have been only selectively logged.  Prepare to be shocked.  Here is the beginning of the saga:
The Sound of a Damaged Habitat:  Years ago, when selective logging was first introduced, a community near an old-growth forest in the Sierra Nevada was assured that the removal of a few trees here and there would have no impact on the area’s wildlife. Based on the logging company’s guarantees, the local residents agreed to the operation. I was skeptical, however, and requested permission to record the sounds of the habitat before and after the logging.
On June 21, 1988, I recorded a rich dawn chorus in California’s pristine Lincoln Meadow. It was a biome replete with the voices of Lincoln’s sparrows, MacGillivray’s warblers, Williamson’s sapsuckers, pileated woodpeckers, golden-crowned kinglets, robins and grosbeaks, as well as squirrels, spring peepers and numerous insects. I captured them all.
When I returned a year later, nothing appeared to have changed at first glance. No stumps or debris — just conifers and lush understory. But to the ear — and to the recorder — the difference was shocking. I’ve returned 15 times since then, and even years later, the density and diversity of voices are still lost. There is a muted hush, broken only by the sound of an occasional sparrow, raptor, raven or sapsucker. The numinous richness of the original biophony is gone.
Lesson: While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a soundscape is worth a thousand pictures.
There's even more to be outraged about!  Always.  I had just finished reading Tim Murray's post "Sustainable Tourism, an Oxymoronic Delusion" - and was thinking about the irony of skiers and snowmobilers lamenting the lack of snow from climate change, "leaf-peepers" who cruise around back roads in New England unable to find brilliant fall foliage anymore, and jet-setting scuba-divers who swim in watery graveyards instead of resplendent coral reefs - when I received this email...from the Sierra Club, that impeccably credentialed guardian of the environment:
Dear Gail,

Looking for the road less traveled? Skip the tourist traps and join us behind the scenes on one of the Sierra Club’s newest itineraries across the globe and right here in the States.
While you’re at it, be sure to enter our sweepstakes to win an all-expenses-paid kayaking trip for two to Florida’s fabulous Everglades. All you have to do is upload a photo of your favorite piece of America and you could be on your way. Better yet, forward this sweepstakes to a spouse, friend, or family member and if they win, you could be their lucky guest! The deadline is August 31st so don’t delay.
Select from our featured trip types and outings below, or head straight to the source at, where you can browse the full lineup of over 200 trips by activity, destination, date, or price.

Happy travels,

Sierra Club Outings
The park is so big that the fallen trees don't always get cleared.
Before anyone tells me that pile is from the strong storm a month ago, please look at the fungus growing on the bark, which has been festering for far longer than a matter of weeks.
Following is background and various excerpts from the long poem, Asphodel, That Greeny Flower.  Perhaps this love ballad has nothing to do whatsoever with trees dying from pollution, or ecosystem collapse...but I am fond of the notion that it does.  William Carlos Williams wrote this beseeching homage to his wife when he was quite elderly and ill, typing it out with one finger over two years.

            ...I was cheered

                               when first I came to know
that there were flowers also
               in hell.
According to a scholarly examination, from the Classics Department at Duke:  Homer's Asphodel Meadow, ...(ἀσφοδελὸν λειμῶνα), “where the spirits of the dead dwell” (Od. 24.14), has throughout Western literary history been envisioned as a pleasant and even desirable place. This was the impression among many of the ancient Greek poets and Homeric commentators, who understood ἀσφοδελός to mean “flowery,” “fragrant,” “fertile,” and “lush,” and who even referred to the asphodel meadow as a “paradise” (παράδεισος)."

Whereas the Asphodel Meadow has been sometimes depicted as ...a dark, gloomy, and mirthless place...Hades—dark, dank, and sunless —where disembodied and senseless spirits of the dead weep and wail pathetically and flit about purposelessly like shadows or dreams...
For the purposes of reading the intent of this poem, I rely on the version of ...the Elysian Plain, where life is easy, and there ever blows a refreshing West wind...the Isles of the Blessed, where the grain-giving soil bears its sweet fruit for the most distinguished, and carefree, heroes.

Begun in 1952 and published in 1955, the words express a yearning for nature and peace that, to my mind, resonates with an urge to come to terms with the spectre of ecological annihilation, an existential threat that is expanding in our collective consciousness today.

An essay from UPenn confirmed that impression and notes that asphodel is:

"...the flower of the Elysian fields, the flower that grows also "in hell." The flower has a central meaning: "Of love, abiding love / it will be telling."

The threats of both physical death and the death of love are right at the center of "Asphodel"--and not just at the personal level, but also at the level of global destruction. The poem has a strong dimension of public, as well as private, utterance. Throughout, it confronts what Williams calls "the bomb," both the nuclear threat itself and all forms of "avarice / breeding hatred / through fear," all forms of cruelty, oppression, and repression. But against thanatos, the death instinct, again and again the poet sets eros; whether it take the form of art, medicine, discovery, or desire, eros is the force that drives the imagination, the force that counters death:"

If a man die
          it is because death

               has first

possessed his imagination.

        But if he refuse death--
                 no greater evil
can befall him
        unless it be the death of love
                meet him
in full career.
         Then indeed
                   for him
the light has gone out.
But love and the imagination
        are of a piece,
                 swift as the light
to avoid destruction.
         So we come to watch time's flight
                  as we might watch
summer lightning
        or fireflies, secure,
               by grace of the imagination,
safe in its care.

Here is my favorite section:

                                           An odor
springs from it!
                     A sweetest odor!
                                           Honeysuckle!  And now
there comes the buzzing of a bee!
                       and a whole flood
                                           of sister memories!
Only give me time,
                       time to recall them
                                           before I shall speak out.
Give me time,
When I was a boy
                       I kept a book
                                           to which, from time
to time,
                       I added pressed flowers
                                           until, after a time,
I had a good collection.
                       The asphodel,
among them.
                       I bring you,
a memory of those flowers.
                       They were sweet
                                           when I pressed them
and retained
                       something of their sweetness
                                            a long time.
It is a curious odor,
                       a moral odor,
                                            that brings me
near to you.
                       The color
                                            was the first to go.
There had come to me
                       a challenge,
                                            your dear self,
mortal as I was,
                       the lily's throat
                                             to the hummingbird!
Endless wealth,
                       I thought,
                                             held out its arms to me.
A thousand tropics
                       in an apple blossom.
                                             The generous earth itself
gave us lief.
                       The whole world
                                              became my garden!
But the sea
                        which no one tends
                                              is also a garden
when the sun strikes it
                        and the waves
                                              are wakened.
I have seen it
                        and so have you
                                              when it puts all flowers
to shame.
                        Too, there are the starfish
                                              stiffened by the sun
and other sea wrack
                         and weeds.  We knew that
                                              along with the rest of it
for we were born by the sea,
                         knew its rose hedges
                                              to the very water's brink.
There the pink mallow grows
                         and in their season
and there, later,
                         we went to gather
                                              the wild plum.
I cannot say
                         that I have gone to hell
                                              for your love
but often
                         found myself there
                                             in your pursuit.
I do not like it
                        and wanted to be
                                             in heaven.  Hear me out.
Do not turn away.
I have learned much in my life
                         from books
                                             and out of them
about love.
                                             is not the end of it.

This was my first glimpse through an opening in the trees across to the next mountain ridge, when I suddenly realized the great elevation of the path.
So many trunks are defoliated, and pines have lost needles.
It must have once been a dense wall of vegetation, but now it is transparent.
The approach to the Sky Bridge, an arch with a span of 75 feet, is fenced along the cliff.
I guess there's no way to convey in a picture how perilously vertical the drop into the ravine looks.
Through the shifting mist I could see trees like bones in the canopy of the forest far below.
It was incredibly gorgeous anyway.

The clouds and fog were constantly and rapidly playing against the light, making the whole scene feel vibrantly alive.
It's remarkable that the trees are growing in very little soil, on top of solid rock.
Looking straight down, it's amazing that trees grow out of the tiniest crevice of sheer rock.
I got caught in a brief downpour, which left the injured leaves shiny.
I was glad it was overcast, because the crowns of trees don't shade the forest floor anymore.
Like in the nature preserve, most of the trees are young and spindly.
There are many remnants of mature trees that have been removed.
In fact when I arrived at the parking area, the the first thing I saw was an old stump and beyond, a pile of freshly cut logs.
Even the huge branches were hollow.
The trunk was barely a shell when it came down, leaving a circle at least four feet across.  It must have been stupendous not long ago.
Of course there is lots of lichen.
Particularly dejected are the leaves of dogwood, once a key species of the Eastern woodland understory.
When I got to the bridge, it gave me such vertigo I couldn't cross it.
I wanted to keep walking, but I just felt sick when I looked to the other side.
It was exciting and terrifying to be standing at the same level as the tops of tall trees.
Finally defeated, I went back to the parking lot and decided to follow the trail backwards from the exit of the loop, which led steeply down the mountain, and then wound around the cliffs and ridges.
I know, I'm a chicken!

I imagined what it must have been like, long ago, to be a lone Indian hunter, taking shelter in one of these caves.

At last I came upon the bridge, from far below where I had earlier turned around.
What can I say?  The world is full of wondrous sights.
It's enormous.  I should have waited for someone to pose under it for scale.
It's humbling to contemplate the eons it took for water and wind to create this sandstone sculpture.
To those who feel secure in the faith that our ancient Earth will eventually and ultimately recover from our demented and wanton destruction, once we ultimately destroy ourselves, I suggest coming back later to this link about planetary tipping points, to learn about the Venus effect.
To arrive under the bridge meant climbing down dozens of stairs, and was a far longer hike than the short walk to the top.  It would have taken forever to get back that way, and by then it was getting late.
So I continued up to the far side of the bridge, determined to cross it after all.
It didn't take long to get to the top, where the foliage looked especially bad.
The path approaching the bridge turned from soil to stone.
I figured I could make it across by staring straight down at my shoes and sliding one then the other forward, methodically, which is how I negotiate escalators if I'm feeling vertiginous - I don't look ahead, or to either side.
That's how I saw this interesting formation smack in the center - maybe an Indian mortar for nuts?
A quick peek over the edge as I scooted towards solid ground....
Phew!  I made it to the other side.
Of course, it's extremely unlikely anyone would fall, the fear is perfectly irrational...but, the thing is, if you did slip over the edge the consequences would be quite unpleasant.  Figures, these kids thought nothing of running across.  But then, they don't realize the trees around them are dying, either.  Ignorance is a bliss I no longer have.
I would really, really love to go back and see the other arches.  The following video is by Cold Specks, singing "Winter Solstice" from her album, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion.  I can't remember on whose blog I first saw it, but thank you anyway!  Lyrics below.

We fell from a dying tree
We wait for it to leave
I wanna be, I wanna be 
Leave ashes for borrowed instruments and borrowed hearts
We will pass them on to every saint and dead lover
I have my God so give me my ghosts 

Sons and daughters, 
may you kill what my blind heart could not
Sons and daughters, 
may you kill what my blind heart could not
Sons and daughters, 
may you kill 

I saw your grandfather's death on the news
Remembered when you took me to your room
You put your hand over your chest
Swore that the fire would rage

Whoa I... 
I put my hand over my chest, sons and daughters
I put my hand over my chest, sons and daughters
I put my hand over my chest, sons and daughters
Swore that the fire would rage

Yeah, you know better ways to fall
Yeah, you know better ways to fall
You know better ways to fall
You knock me down, knock me down
Put my cold hand over my cold heart
Turn the fire and die whoa
Turn the fire and die whoa
Turn the fire to die


  1. The wild animals are hungry here in the midwest too, with the drought making for few berries and such. People I know are feeding them, and they've remarked the animals seem hungry.

    The US cattle population has been reduced to 1952 numbers (with with twice as many people in 2012.) Keep that in mind while you then read anthropologist Marvin Harris' Cannibals and Kings (1977); yikes!

  2. Thank you for your post.

    Keep blogging!

    Here in southern New England, I am seeing what you are seeing. In the hot weather, I really miss the shade that the deep woods used to provide--Now it is at least partial sunlight, everywhere.

    A few trees still seem good, but now I wonder: For how long?

    Eventually economic collapse should bring a curtailment of ozone production, but right now, this is a race we are clearly losing--collapse is far, far too slow, and is besides is still overbalanced by the shift to dirtier energy sources as well as by forest fires.

    Right now, is any mitigation possible? I suppose we might water (a few selected) trees when it is dry to help them get through a drought, but what else?


  3. Anon, that book looks very interesting. I suppose agriculture is "sustainable" only so long as our numbers are too low to completely transform our environment, something we've done many times in the past in isolated instances, but now of course it is global.


    I am not an expert, because for one thing, I haven't got the means to save trees anyway. But like most other stressors, there are methods to at least deflect and delay damage, if not eliminate it. I figure that professional nurseries routinely feed nutrients to stock which is why it arrives to a landscape looking good and then fails quickly. They also use pesticides and fungicides. Each case is different because plants get attacked by different biotic sources.

    If you have particular trees you want to preserve, you should do a little research and see what regimen would be of benefit. Also, I've read that ocean minerals work like magic, here's a source for that point of view:

    I'm really afraid you may be right, that the collapse isn't happening fast enough for ozone to dissipate before it has done irreparable and irreversible harm. Although I do think there's still time, I don't think we will wise up. I have the bad feeling that people will keep burning things for energy until there isn't a lump of coal, drop of oil or twig left.

  4. hi Gail,

    I told you before that I was waiting for nuclear power plants to get into trouble: Heat Shuts Down a Coastal Reactor
    and one of the comments to this article gives is interesting:
    this blogger talks about the impossibility to find accurate info on the subject

    we are boiling frogs

    I also read about the releasing in the oceans of the nuclear carbage left in all the attolls and islands where many countries experienced thousands of nuclear explosions 40-50 years ago.

    and it is only tuesday!

  5. Gail you now think there is still time? I thought there were irreversible catastrophic feedback mechanisms already well under way. As far as people wising up, as long as they can still look at a mountainside and see what appears (from afar at least) to be a lush wall of green, they are not going to panic in any way shape or form.

  6. To clarify, Anon, I think there is time to save trees before they go extinct FROM OZONE. Longer term, no, there is no hope, the feedback mechanisms are irreversible (although who knows, maybe a nuclear winter??).

    Michele - I will always remember this: "...and it is only Tuesday!" Thank you for making me laugh!!

    Now I just got a call that my dad is having heart problems so I am packing up (just finished unpacking) to go to Wellfleet and shuttle him to hospital so I don't know when I'll have time to blog. Keep an eye on the ice for me please.

  7. Been reading for some time. Earlier this year three blocks from where I live -- Honolulu -- the great Earpod on the grounds of the state department of agriculture building dropped a tremendous branch. fortunately it did not fall out into the middle of Keeaumoku Street. Undoubtedly if it had, despite being one of our city's exceptional trees, they would have taken out the whole tree. As it is they took out two of our exceptional Mahogany trees for a condo development at the top of Kalakaua. I do a bit of hiking behind the city on the Honolulu mauka trail system. I do find more fallen trees there then in the past. As well whenever they plant young saplings a long streets they never do well.

  8. One of the big weather sites here in Canada allows people to post photos on the site. Someone from my area (vancouver) posted a picture of some trees with yellow leaves with the caption : "Trees are starting to look like the fall of the year because they are so dried out from the drought.... "

    Funny. I don't think we are having drought here. In fact we have been maybe a bit below average rainfall the last month and a half but nothign major.

  9. King Coal is kaput. RAMPS wins another.

    Lets go active with vaccines. Save trees and babies.

  10. Hissing trees ! What a great phrase... now I will listen carefully.

    Great post.


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