Last year on the same day, in 2011, the pond was full of scum and the trees were thinner, the leaf color pale.
The next photo is from two days ago, Monday, the 22nd. The water is clear, but the trees are even thinner and duller. There's no red color at all, and the yellow is rusty from burnt leaves. The only leaves remaining on the birch branches on the close side of shore have shriveled up so much they look like tiny specks.
This was the maple across the street from the pond in 2010.
This is how it looked on Monday, two days earlier in the month.
A dastardly squirrel has taken residence over my bedroom, in the joists between my ceiling and the floor of middle daughter's empty room above. During the day he mocks and taunts me, dashing with brash insouciance up the purple smoke bush, towards the roof. Then entering through some secret orifice, beginning in the early dim hours before dawn he tortures me remorselessly as he (she?) races in and out, stockpiling food for the winter I suppose. Frantic scrabbling sounds and knockings making sleep impossible. I was talking on the phone when I noticed, there he was, staring at me, pugnaciously brazen, through the kitchen window! I grabbed my camera and caught his bluster, not that it will in any way deter his nocturnal marauding.
As if I don't have enough to worry about, what with ecosystem collapse, peak oil, and violently abrupt climate change, now I am besieged by a recalcitrant rodent interloper. Sometimes I think I should just shoot him, an easy target - but that would leave a large sloppy hole in the sheetrock above my bed. I don't want to poison him - if only because I read the toxin winds up in raptors like hawks and owls. And I really like owls. I went for a walk and saw at least four squirrels, gluttonously gorging on osage oranges, a fruit that narrowly escaped extinction.
(in a terrific article about co-evolution) as anachronistic, because it evolved for its seeds to be disbursed by such beasts as the mastodons, mammoths, gomphotheres, and other megafauna which after a tranquil 20 million years or so, were driven to extinction by - who else? - humans, in the blink of a geologic eye 15,000 years ago. Several species of carnivore dependent on the giant herbivores for food, and plants that depended on them for spreading seeds, promptly followed suit. But along with some other species in the same predicament, such as pawpaw and persimmon, the osage orange clung to life through prodigious clonal reproduction from vigorous runners.
The range of osage orange had been reduced to one obscure area of the Red River watershed that was guarded by Native Americans for its wood, prized for bows. Eventually farmers discovered it was useful when coppiced into a dense, thorny barrier for pastures, which is probably why there is about a half-mile long row of them lining the road just beyond Wit's End.
Susquehanna State Park, Harford Co., MD.
alleges that the squirrel population has run amuck from Vermont to South Carolina. The pictures that follow are from right around Wit's End on Saturday, October 20 - trees that I've planted, and some weeds.
The article blames a surge in population, without any numbers to back it up. There is nothing to indicate that really, squirrels are invading orchards and homes, and killing trees by gnawing off their bark, like never before, because they are ravenous for lack of habitual sources of food. It's wonder that their food and habitat are dwindling, both have been swindled from them by our human pollution and unchecked, voracious population. Here are some parts of the article, with emphasis added.
One of the most exciting things I have come across this week is the work of Australian George Mollison, who is known as the father of permaculture. He began developing a sustainable method of growing food in the 1970's, having recognized the destruction to the earth wreaked by industrial agriculture. Following is what
, and apparently has been equally ignored by contemporary foresters and scientists. There is much more at that link about permaculture, and an interview with him - he's an amazing man - can be found
. Following are some pictures of the poor maple trees that should be brilliant red, and the rusty brown landscapes from the top of the hill.
So insects are not the cause of the death of forests. The cause of the death of forests is multiple insult. We point to some bug and say: "That bug did it." It is much better if you can blame somebody else. You all know that. So we blame the bug. It is a conspiracy, really, to blame the bugs. But the real reason the trees are failing is that there have been profound changes in the amount of light penetrating the forest, in pollutants, and in acid rain fallout. People, not bugs, are killing the forests.
Well now, if that isn't exactly what I've been saying! Insects - and disease and fungus - are opportunistic attacks that move in after trees have been injured by ozone. In a parallel crash of vegetation that is of importance to me because I grew up upriver from the Ipswich beach, researchers have been blaming crabs, but others discovered that pollution is destroying the grass. In experiments carried out on Plum Island beginning in 2003, where we used to anchor our little boat to fish, scientists have demonstrated that pollution is responsible...once again, to their surprise!
|Japanese Fringe Tree|
|Native Silky Dogwood by the Chicken Coop|
This conclusion, which surprised the scientists, emerged from a long-term, large-scale study of salt marsh landscapes in an undeveloped coastline section of the Plum Island Estuary in Massachusetts. Over nine years, the scientists added nitrogen and phosphorus to the tidal water flushing through the marsh's creeks at levels typical of nutrient enrichment in densely developed areas, such as Cape Cod, Mass., and Long Island, N.Y. (Usually, nutrients originating from septic systems, sewerage, and soil fertilizers on land flow with rainwater down to the coastal ocean.)
|Poison Ivy - should be red!|
A few years after the experiment began, wide cracks began forming in the grassy banks of the tidal creeks, which eventually slumped down and collapsed into the muddy creek. "The long-term effect is conversion of a vegetated marsh into a mudflat, which is a much less productive ecosystem and does not provide the same benefits to humans or habitat for fish and wildlife," Deegan says.
Until this study, it seemed that salt marshes had unlimited capacity for nutrient removal, with no harmful effects on the marshes themselves. "Now we really understand that there are limits to what salt marshes can do," Deegan says. "And in many places along the Eastern seaboard -- such as Jamaica Bay in New York, where marshes have been falling apart for years -- we have exceeded those limits."
The disintegration of the nutrient-enriched marsh in this study happened in several stages, the scientists report. In the first few years, the nutrients caused the marsh grass (primarily cordgrass Spartina spp.) along the creek edges to get greener and grow taller, "just like when you add fertilizer to your garden," Deegan says. This taller grass also, however, produced fewer roots and rhizomes, which normally help stabilize the edge of the marsh creek. The added nutrients also boosted microbial decomposition of leaves, stems, and other biomass in the marsh peat, which further destabilized the creek banks. Eventually, the poorly rooted grass grew too tall and fell over, where the twice-daily tides tugged and pulled it. The weakened creek bank then cracked and fell into the creek.
By year six of the experiment, the scientists started seeing impacts at higher marsh elevations, above the lower creek banks. Three times more cracks, and bigger cracks, emerged at the top of the banks parallel to the creeks, than in a control marsh where no nutrients were added. Eventually, parts of the higher marsh also broke off and slid down toward the creek (which the scientists call the 'toupee effect,' because it leaves behind patches of bare, unvegetated mud). All told, at least 2.5 times more chunks of marsh fell into the creeks in the nutrient-enriched marsh than in the control system.
"We honestly did not anticipate the changes we measured," says Deegan. "Based on prior small-scale experiments, we predicted nutrient enrichment would cause the marsh grass to grow better and remain stable. But when we allowed different parts of the ecosystem to interact with the nitrogen enrichment over time, the small process changes we saw in the first few years resulted in the creek banks later falling apart. This could not have been extrapolated from the smaller-scale, shorter term studies."
Nutrient enrichment of coastal areas is known to cause harmful algae blooms, which create low-oxygen conditions that kill off marine life. "Now we understand that nutrient enrichment also causes a very important loss of salt marsh habitat for fish and shellfish," Deegan says. "This is one more reason why we need better treatment of household waste in our towns and cities." Individuals can help by not using fertilizers on their lawns and gardens. "If you have a green lawn because you are fertilizing it, you are contributing to loss of salt marshes and ultimately of fish," Deegan says.
This study could not have been accomplished without the cooperation and fore-sightedness of officials from the towns of Ipswich, Mass., and Rowley, Mass., and the Essex County Greenbelt Association, the scientists say.
"They recognized the importance of the work," Johnson says. "They understood that our work would not affect the much larger Plum Island Estuary, since the area manipulated was small relative to the large area of the sound and the marsh is able to process a lot of the nutrients before they get anywhere near the sound. They realized that whatever we discovered would help their towns, and society in general, make better decisions about treating the excessive nutrient enrichment of our coast."
|River Birch - inner, older, more damaged leaves have fallen off while the newer, outer leaves are still green. |
This study is part of the Plum Island Ecosystem Long-Term Ecological Research (PIE-LTER) program, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The PIE-LTER conducts basic science and provides information to coastal managers to help them make more informed decisions.
Why, at the same time, other researchers are predicting that marshes will help absorb CO2 and slow global warming, I don't know! And I also don't know why they are always so surprised - surprised at how much damage is done by pollution, surprised at how far plastic has traveled in our oceans, how fast methane is "rapidly destabilizing off the East Coast" due to temperature changes in the Gulf Stream (!) and how fast Antarctica is melting such that the $30 million dollar air strip built just four years ago has turned to mush and is unusable (!). [But switching to clean energy would cost too much...] The following photos are from along the Black River in Hacklebarney State Park, from Monday, October 22. Even though the leaves up close are necrotic, the crowns are unnaturally thin, and the reds and oranges are conspicuously missing, the golden light was just gorgeous. What a poem of an afternoon.
Just for Auld Lang Syne, I'll reproduce an article I first posted as A Powerful and Obnoxious Odor of Mendacity, followed by the famous video where such biotic attacks following ozone exposure are described by another surprised scientist as "...the sharks that smell blood in the water":
From Michigan Tech:
Ozone: Bad for Trees, Good for What Eats Them
The trees of the future may be much more vulnerable to a variety of pests, say scientists studying greenhouse gases in northern Wisconsin forests. Their work is published in the Nov. 28 edition of the journal Nature.
Researchers in the Aspen FACE (Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment) Experiment, based in Rhinelander, Wis., have been measuring the effects of elevated levels two greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and ozone, on aspen forest ecosystems. While the trees, Populous tremuloides (trembling aspen), seem to do relatively well in a carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere, ozone is another story.
Trees growing in an ozone-enriched atmosphere have been hit much harder by their traditional enemies: forest tent caterpillars, aphids and the rust fungus Melampsora.
"This has been a surprise," said Professor David Karnosky of Michigan Technological University's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, a principal investigator on the Aspen FACE project. "Our experiment was never meant to look at pest occurrence. But it became obvious that the greenhouse gases were affecting the abundance of pests."
Ozone seems to be a special blessing to aphids. Not only did the tiny insects thrive in high-ozone air, populations of aphids' traditional predators--such as ladybugs and spiders--plummeted. "The aphids had free rein," noted Caroline Awmack, an Aspen FACE researcher from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Department of Entomology.
Studies have shed some light on why the aspen growing in ozone-rich air were turning into so much bug salad: their leaves seem to be undergoing fundamental changes. "Ozone alters the surface waxes," said Kevin Percy, a research scientist with Natural Resources Canada--Canadian Forest Service, who is the lead author of the Nature article, "Altered Performance of Forest Pests under Atmospheres Enriched by C02 and O3."
The number of aphids increased about five-fold in plots with elevated ozone, while the number of aphid predators was cut in half. In plots with elevated levels of both carbon dioxide and ozone, the aphid population tripled, while the number of natural enemies increased slightly, mitigating the aphids' effect on the aspen.
Melampsora infection in the control and CO2-enriched plots was about the same, but increased about 400 percent in the O3 plots and doubled in the plots with extra CO2 and O3. The number of forest tent caterpillars increased by about one-third in the O3 plots and actually decreased slightly in the CO2 plots and the plots with extra CO2 and ozone.
The Aspen FACE Experiment, which involves 11 institutions and 28 researchers, is funded jointly by the Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service Global Change Program, the U.S. Forest Service North Central Research Station, Michigan Tech, the USDA National Research Initiative Program, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Natural Resources Canada. The FACE system was designed by George Hendrey and his Brookhaven National Lab team.
Professor Kurt Pregitzer, another FACE Experiment researcher from Michigan Tech, calls Aspen FACE "a window into the future."
"We're beginning to understand how the changing atmosphere of the Earth is going to impact forests and the interactions that control the growth of trees, the cycling of energy and nutrients, and the movement of water through ecosystems," he said.
"This particular paper points out how important understanding the interactions among plants and insects are in controlling forest growth and forest health.
"We have a lot to learn."
After all that, the good stewards of the FACE facility decided to cut all the trees down to the ground about two years ago. Why? One of the scientists told me it was because the trees had grown too big for the fumigation chambers, which I might have believed (although why not just top them off?), but then he jumped the shark (heh!) and added, unnecessarily, that it wouldn't affect any test results because the new trees would be regrowing from the same roots - which I don't believe. Since their own research has shown that the most important effect of ozone is to encourage biotic attacks, and they cleared all the pre-existing, accumulated above-ground insects, disease and fungus out with the trunks and branches...is it too much to think that there is some other motivation for removing the dead body? After all, absent the Corpus delicti, there's no crime, right?
Already in 2001 it was understood that "sudden drastic switches to a contrasting state" can occur in forests. Consider the abstract to a paper, Catastrophic Shifts in Ecosystems, published in the journal Nature:
Let's add another perplexing conundrum - here’s an excerpt of a post
from October 24, in 2011 about the Forest Service, Biostitution and Marginal Leaf Burn
This is the time of year when I generally check in with the USDA Forest Service’s annual national Biomonitering Program
, which has been collecting and analyzing samples of leaves for ozone damage at plots around the country, every year since 1994. I wouldn’t want the friendly fellow at the Northern Research Station who returned my call to get in trouble, so I’m not going to reveal his name….because this is pretty much how the conversation went, after I asked him about the most recent results:
“Because of anticipated budget cuts, we didn’t collect any data this year. Nobody went out in the field.”
After a moment of silent, incredulous astonishment, I started laughing a little hysterically. “Seriously? What are you guys doing with all that time on your hands?”
He laughed too. “Well, we’re pushing a lot of paper around on our desks.”
I’m NOT kidding. That’s what he said. Now, presumably foresters are still getting paid their salaries and benefits so, how much savings did the Forest Service realize by NOT sending them out to collect the leaves??
Answer: just about nothing. So, why did they decide to stop collecting?
Answer: the results are getting too scary. Don’t even ask WHO exactly made the decision.
This is a huge, huge tulip poplar. I took a close up shot of the highest branches.
Then I cropped and zoomed in. Do we see leaves turning black while still on the tree?
About this time last year, Obama told Lisa Jackson she couldn't promulgate stricter restrictions on ozone levels. She fully expected to do so, based on the overwhelming scientific evidence that current standards are not protective of human health, let alone plantlife. Does anyone remember that she almost resigned over it? That sordid episode is explained by excerpts from the Science Advisory Board deliberations at the post
, There's Something Rotten at the EPA
. The problem is, the "Policy Relevant Background level" - the concentration that exists without inputs from the US - is approaching (and in some cases exceeding) the current standard, even in remote areas that have no way of lowering the level of ozone, since the precursors arrive from distant sources - like, say, Asia.
So, we've got the Forest Service terminating their biomonitoring program, the FACE folks cutting down the trees in their ozone fumigation experiment, and the EPA unable to reconcile the fact that PRB is approaching or surpassing regulations - oh, and the Canadians
suspending funds for the ecological study of 58 lakes that began monitoring pollution and eutrophication in 1967; and the USDA terminating support
first for the NCLAP (National Crop Loss Assessment Program) and then, curtailing funds for ozone research by the NE1030 academic group...gee, do we need any more reason to put on a tin foil hat?
OH....HOW ABOUT THIS ANNOUNCEMENT FROM NOAA????
Public Information Statement, Comment Request
National Weather Service Headquarters Washington DC
735 AM EDT Tue Oct 23, 2012
-Family of Services
-NOAA Weather Wire Service
-Emergency Managers Weather Information Network
-NWS Air Quality Focus Group
Other NWS partners and employees
From: Laura K. Furgione
National Weather Service Director (Acting)
Subject: Comments Requested by November 26, 2012, on Proposed
Termination of NWS Ozone Air Quality Predictions
NWS is proposing to terminate all operational and experimental ozone air quality predictions and developmental predictions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) produced using the Community Model for Air Quality (CMAQ) at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). This termination is proposed due to the current fiscal environment. NWS will maintain operational air quality predictions of smoke, dust, and volcanic ash, as well as dispersion model predictions for the emergency management community responding to harmful releases.
Please provide comments on the proposed termination, by November 26, 2012, to:
NWS will evaluate all comments to determine whether to proceed with this termination. It is expected that the operational ozone output will be terminated on or about March 5, 2013, and the experimental ozone output and developmental PM2.5 predictions will be terminated on or about January 22, 2013.
Specifically, this will result in the termination of all surface ozone and developmental PM2.5 predictions over the CONUS, Alaska and Hawaii that are made from the 06 UTC and 12 UTC prediction cycles.
All web-based ozone prediction displays at:
will no longer be available, including the following graphical displays and numerical tables for operational ozone predictions over the CONUS, Alaska and Hawaii:
- The 1 hour average ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface
- The 8 hour average ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface
- The 1 hour average daily maximum ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface
- The 8 hour average daily maximum ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface.
Operational ozone predictions from the NWS National Digital Guidance Database (NDGD) server at:
will no longer be available, including the following files for the CONUS, Alaska and Hawaii:
- ds.ozone01.bin: The 1 hour average ozone concentration atthe lowest model layer near the surface.
- ds.ozone08.bin: The 8 hour average ozone concentration atthe lowest model layer near the surface.
- ds.mozone01.bin: The 1 hour average daily maximum ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface.
- ds.mozone08.bin: The 8 hour average daily maximum ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface.
Operational ozone predictions will no longer be available from the NCEP server:
and from the Real-Time NOMADS server:
In addition, the experimental CMAQ system that provides developmental Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) predictions for the CONUS will be terminated. The experimental CMAQ is executed for the 06 UTC and 12 UTC cycles at NCEP. The developmental PM2.5 predictions are normally only available to the NWS Air Quality Forecaster Focus Group.
Experimental ozone prediction displays at:
will no longer be available, including the following experimental ozone displays for:
- The 1 hour average ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface
- The 8 hour average ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface
- The 1 hour average daily maximum ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface
- The 8 hour average daily maximum ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface.
Experimental ozone predictions from the NWS National Digital Guidance Database (NDGD) server at:
will no longer be available, including the following experimental ozone files for the CONUS:
- ds.ozone01.bin: The 1 hour average ozone concentration atthe lowest model layer near the surface.
- ds.ozone08.bin: The 8 hour average ozone concentration atthe lowest model layer near the surface.
- ds.pozone01.bin: The 1 hour average daily maximum ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface.
- ds.pozone08.bin: The 8 hour average daily maximum ozone concentration at the lowest model layer near the surface.
Experimental ozone predictions will no longer be available from the NCEP server:
and from the Real-Time NOMADS server:
Please note that NOAA’s ozone predictions will no longer be available for automatic generation of air quality products distributed through Websites and other means outside of NOAA, including, but not limited to:
For questions concerning these changes, please contact:
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301 713 9001 x 185
National Public Information Statements are available on line at:
I don't know why the notice ends with dollar signs, but it seems appropriate enough, since somebody
is going to continue to reap obscene profits from the ability to use the atmosphere as a sewer without penalty. Perhaps rather than relying on "big government" to ensure air quality we should all just buy our own detection equipment - an Israeli has invented a very nice version of a personal monitor, available for purchase from the website, MyAirBase.com
, which has a snappy video. Or you might want to at least encourage your municipality to invest in a "CanarIT".
According to an interview
with a marine ecologist Dr. Nancy Rabalais in the New York Times, NOAA has also slashed funding for research into the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. I guess we don't need to know any more about that either. Asked what could be done to "clean up the dead zone mess", she replied: "Some of it comes from the atmosphere, from fossil fuel burning, coal plants and automobiles. That’s a way-of-life decision
." No wonder we don't need further studies of the dead zone - because, remember, the American way of life
"All ecosystems are exposed to gradual changes in climate, nutrient loading, habitat fragmentation or biotic exploitation. Nature is usually assumed to respond to gradual change in a smooth way. However, studies on lakes, coral reefs, oceans, forests and arid lands have shown that smooth change can be interrupted by sudden drastic switches to a contrasting state. Although diverse events can trigger such shifts, recent studies show that a loss of resilience usually paves the way for a switch to an alternative state. This suggests that strategies for sustainable management of such ecosystems should focus on maintaining resilience."
Also potentially relevant is the thesis written by Michael H. Smith at Australia National University, submitted in 2006 and awarded in 2009, "Advancing and Resolving the Great Sustainability Debates and Discourses", which is a spectacular tour de force, if you like that sort of thing, only partially undermined by this delusional assertion in the abstract: "...
|Trees grow on rocks! Talk about resilience.|
it is possible to simultaneously pursue environmental sustainability, social justice and economic growth in ways that mutually re-enforce each other...". For the purposes of Wit's End, the relevant parts are these portions of Chapter Three:
Feedbacks: The Problem of Overshoot and Positive Feedbacks
The fact that nature is a complex system which often has a delayed feedback to environmental pressures is a key factor in why ancient civilisations have collapsed from environmental factors and why insufficient progress has been made on sustainable development over the last 100 years. It is often difficult to immediately see how pollution and development are reducing the resilience of natural ecosystems until it is often too late and the ecological system has been pushed past a particular irreversible threshold. Jared Diamond showed in his publication Collapse that this delayed feedback has been a factor in the collapse of many past civilisations.
Richard St Barbe Baker’s quote first outlined in Chapter 2 is even more pertinent here “The great Empires of Assyria, Babylon, Carthage and Persia were destroyed by floods and deserts let loose in the wake of forest destruction. Erosion following forest destruction and soil depletion has been one of the most powerfully destructive forces in bringing about the downfall of civilizations and wiping out human existence from large tracts of the earths surface. Erosion does not march with a blast of trumpets or the beating of drums, but its tactics are more subtle, more sinister.” ~ Richard ST. Barbe Baker- I Planted Trees - 1944
In addition, many decision makers, untrained in ecology, have mistakenly believed that humankind can pull back once humanity’s environmental pressure starts to cause serious ecological collapse. However, often by then the ecosystem may have already passed the ecological threshold and the collapse is either irreversible or the environmental pressure (pollution, system change) will need to be reduced by a factor of ten or more to allow the ecosystem to recover. This phenomenon is known as hysteresis.
How is it that so many ecosystems are close to collapse or have already collapsed? This
chapter will show that there are many factors that have both led to past civilisations collapsing and have led to current unsustainable forms of development today. One factor has been the fact that humanity has based its management of natural resources on flawed assumptions. Take the paradigm of maximum sustainable yield management of natural resources. In most cases the maximum sustainable yield was very close to the thresholds for collapse of that ecosystem.
The mounting evidence of overshoot is covered in detail in numerous publications such as The State of the World reports, Limits to Growth - The Twenty and Thirty Year Update and Paul Ekin’s Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability. All over the world there is evidence that ecosystems and their services already are collapsing from Australia’s Blue Fin Tuna stocks, to the wheat fields of Western Australia being overcome by salinity, to the algae blooms suffocating lakes in the Northern Hemisphere. There are now significant global efforts to better understand where these ecological limits and tipping points are.
Also in the past some have expected change will be incremental and linear when in fact with ecosystems change is often non-linear and hence ecological collapse can occur suddenly.
Natural ecosystems are complex. Therefore it is often hard to determine what safe levels of emissions of pollutants are. It is also difficult understand the causal links between pollutants and negative environmental effects. There is usually significant uncertainty. Faced with uncertainty political and business leaders often call for more research to be done. This is often in areas where there will always be uncertainty because the systems are either so complex or it would take years and many people to collate enough data and analyse it to reduce the uncertainty significantly.
I love that last paragraph. Tying pollutants to negative environmental effects has uncertainties, so no action will be taken until the uncertainties are resolved (more research is needed), but the uncertainties can NEVER be resolved! So nothing is done. Ladies and gents, here we are! Sudden. Ecological. Collapse. Hysteresis. "Delayed feedback" that cannot be deferred any longer is visible to anyone who cares to look.
Even though I'm pretty well convinced of the above conclusion, and, that the collapse is more than adequately explained by well-established science about ozone, I got distracted for the past two weeks or so, because several people have independently suggested to me that nuclear radiation - from testing in the middle of the last century or other sources ranging from Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, or perhaps the invisible PlanetX/Nibiru (!) - underlies tree decline. So I have made some side forays into the topic of radiation (although not Planet Nibiru), which I can't rule out completely since after all it is indisputably true that our thoroughly corrupt government has covered up hazards and crimes from military and industrial activity, and discredited challengers who raised legitimate concerns (if not worse - think Paul Wellstone).
I've ordered an obscure book from interlibrary loan about radiation that was originally written by Ralph Graeub, in German, and published in Switzerland in 1985. It was updated in 1994, titled The Petkau Effect: Nuclear Radiation, People and Trees
. Naturally I have to read it because it is described this way on Amazon: "A look at the dangers of radiation exposure argues that small doses could be up to one thousand times more dangerous than previously believed and includes documentation of how nuclear reactor emissions contribute to the death of the world's greatest forests."
In addition, in the sneak preview available at Amazon, the book also discusses the extremely important issue of scientific specialization, which although often the vehicle to achieve splendid and impressive results, has subsumed holistic ecology and enabled policy makers to jettison actions that should be taken to repair and preserve ecosystems. Graeub was obviously one of the vanguard in comprehending the environmental catastrophes such compartmentalization allows to fester, and further, he expounds upon the distinction between the poison and the dose, which is endlessly disputed by the forces against government regulation of toxins. For now, the following are passages from the preface to the second edition that can be found online:
|My friend Catarina is dwarfed by this giant dying pine |
The aim of this book is to present the range of health and ecological dangers of fission products released into the air and water. Among the most important of the recent scientific discoveries that has been successfully kept form the public is the Petkau Effect, the discovery that showed low-dose, protracted radiation exposures such as those produced by radioactive fission products, to be hundreds to thousands of times as damaging as the same dose received in a short medical X-ray.
In the past three years, new and decisive information relating to the Petkau Effect has surfaced. In both the biochemical, pharmaceutical and medical fields, the term "oxidative stress" has been intrude coed at long last. This condition is caused by oxygen free radicals, a highly toxic, unstable form of oxygen that attacked living cells. These radicals already occur during the course of normal cellular life, especially in the respiratory process. They are controlled by a protective system of the body involving enzymes, vitamins and micronutrients. If the level of oxygen free radicals exceeds that which the protective system can control, the result is oxidative stress and subsequent membrane damage.
…Research into oxidative stress and its consequences has already influenced the prescription of vitamins and micronutrients for prevention and therapy - for example in the case of cancer treatment. Besides air pollution such as nitric acid, ozone, and other agents known to produce free radicals, for instance cigarette smoke, drugs and pesticides, ionizing radiation has now also been discussed as an important factor in cell damage produced free radicals.
…Biological damage is not continued to humans, but applies to all other forms of life, from fish to birds and mammals, and even to our trees.
According to the introduction by Dr. Ernst Sternglass, the book "…makes a uniquely valuable contribution by including for the first time for the English-speaking public, a detailed discussion of the newly discovered devastating role of radioactivity in the production of acid rain, ozone and the worldwide death of our trees."
Elsewhere, Dr. Sternglass, who was Professor of Radiology, specializing in radiological physics, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, wrote Secret Fallout: Low-Level Radiation from Hiroshima to Three Mile Island.
Following is a passage from the introduction in 1980 by George Wald, Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine, Professor of Biology at Harvard:
"There is no threshold: a little, however little, causes some increased risk, and more causes more risk. There is no level that fails to be potentially harmful. From that point of view the existence of an official so-called "permissible level" is misleading. A "permissible level" of radiation only has meaning in cost benefit accounting; and that would mean more if the costs and benefits involved the same parties. Unfortunately they usually do not: one group -- workers, general public -- commonly bear the costs; and another, quite different group -- ownership, management, government -- shares the benefits. Having to deal with a lot of official talk about "permissible levels" of radiation at the time of Three Mile Island, I took to saying, "Every dose is an overdose." I believe that to be true as a statement, not necessarily of overt effect, but of risk."
|A giant old pine with no needles at all|
In general, nuclear power is a terrible idea whether it contributes to ozone or not and I have feared it for as long as I can remember. I found a documentary, Into Eternity
, which makes clear how absurd it is to attempt to build deep storage for nuclear waste in Finland that will need to last 100,000 years. It can be watched in segments starting here from youtube
but it's kind of tedious, if you want a shortened (< 4 minutes) idea, watch this excerpt
Having said that, everything I can find so far online, on the topic of radiation harming forests, is unconvincing because I can't locate any studies. Of course, as we've seen, a lack of funding can explain that, so I will be most interested to see documentation in The Petkau Effect
(which according to the library has been shipped). However even more weighty than the lack of studies is the fact that low-dose but persistent background
ozone is the only potential catalyst for damaged foliage that is unquestionably increasing
. All others, while still potentially harmful - acid rain from SOx emissions, fallout from nuclear testing - have markedly decreased in the past decades. And yet the damage to foliage is suddenly accelerating at what I would hazard is a logarithmic rate, which is more indicative of a surpassed threshold of tolerance.
According to this quote
from a NASA scientist, already in 2009, "We have crossed the line..." where the background levels are so now so high that any increase over background - any spike - will cause damage to agricultural crops...which merely begs the question, what happens to trees and other plants that are exposed season after season to cumulative injury?
I plan to pursue The Petkau Effect
but then, I may just put off further research and wait for the world to catch up. I know what's going to happen in the the next few days - we're going to get a hurricane and everyone will blame the wind when the trees come crashing down and the power goes out - even though on the 29th of October last year, when we had an early snowstorm, everyone blamed the weight on the leaves for broken branches. This despite clear evidence of interior rot and the fact that many of the fallen trees were evergreens that withstand snow normally during winter! And where are the leaves now? They are almost all already fallen off, weeks ahead of usual.
I feel like I've said pretty much everything that needs to be said about ozone, to essentially no avail. It's
an emotional challenge
weird and freaky and sometimes terrifying to be flanked on one one side by eschatological true believers who see the damage but cannot admit that it is anthropogenic in origin - or if it is, only a tiny portion of humanity is responsible; and on the other by scientists and activists who are equally delusional and refuse to even admit the ecosystem is collapsing at all, even though the forests are plainly dying as quickly as the coral reefs. This encourages me to have a harrowing suspicion that as more people do wake up and see what is so obviously before them, they will simply go insane. And then maybe they'll take their horrible fear and hate and vengeance out on people like me or Guy McPherson
or Ugo Bardi
and burn us at the stake. So why invite that?
Perhaps humans are necrophiliacs after all. The examples of mania are increasing exponentially. Just announced on ESPN is the collaboration between Al Gore and Miller Entertainment for the new campaign
"I Am Pro Snow".
"As Flow State -- a feature-length look at world-class skiing and snowboarding in Chile, the Arctic, Norway, Switzerland and North America -- kicks off a nationwide 90-city tour, the accompanying campaign aims 'to foster a dialogue about climate change,' says Rigler. '[I Am Pro Snow] intend[s] to mobilize winter sports enthusiasts everywhere, and to promote our shared love of winter recreation. The point of the collaboration is & getting people to talk about climate change. [The] campaign is for everyone who works and plays in the snow'".
Excuse me, but isn't it just a little bit incompatible to promote winter sports while warning of climate change, when a major contribution to climate change is people, especially the affluent, flying in jets to access those mountain resorts?
For a little compendium of examples specific to trees, there is an article
in Smithsonian Magazine, "The Trouble With Trees" which proclaims "...scientists will tell you that, like the oceans,
the world’s trees are going through some serious changes, and not in a good way." DUH!
The article goes on to formulate a list of forest threats, and never ONCE mentions ozone! O dear god it enrages me!!!
Of course included is that stupid, fucking stupid study
from Yale School of Forestry about the "seemingly healthy" trees, only 80 to 100 years old, that are rotting inside from a fungus and producing methane - but never ever raises the question, WHY OH WHY are they dying?? Oh whoops I'm sorry...did I start swearing?
“These are flammable concentrations,” said Kristofer Covey, the study’s lead author and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale. “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.”
The estimated emission rate from an upland site at the Yale forest is roughly equivalent to burning 40 gallons of gasoline per hectare of forest per year. It also has a global warming potential equivalent to 18 percent of the carbon being sequestered by these forests, reducing their climate benefit of carbon sequestration by nearly one-fifth.
“If we extrapolate these findings to forests globally, the methane produced in trees represents 10 percent of global emissions,” said Xuhui Lee, a co-author of the study and the Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor of Meteorology at Yale. “We didn’t know this pathway existed.”
The trees producing methane are older — between 80 and 100 years old — and diseased. Although outwardly healthy, they are being hollowed out by a common fungal infection that slowly eats through the trunk, creating conditions favorable to methane-producing microorganisms called methanogens.
“No one until now has linked the idea that fungal rot of timber trees, a production problem in commercial forestry, might also present a problem for greenhouse gas and climate change mitigation,” said Mark Bradford, a co-author and assistant professor of terrestrial ecosystem ecology at F&ES.
Red maple, an abundant species in North America, had the highest methane concentrations, but other common species, including oak, birch, and pine were also producers of the gas. The rate of methane emissions was 3.1 times higher in the summer, suggesting that higher temperatures may lead to increasing levels of forest methane that, in turn, lead to ever-higher temperatures.
I posted a link to that study when it was first published, but was so disgusted by how one of the snotty co-authors answered my inquiry in August, that I left it buried in my email until now. His smug return message:
"The common fungal infection described in the paper could be compared with tooth decay (bacterial), or athletes foot (fungal) infection in humans. It is essentially ubiquitous in the world's forests. Would you describe an otherwise normal adult with a tooth cavity as being in terminal decline? I would not. Also, I would mention that, while concerning at the extremes, many of the other signs of 'terminal decline' you describe above can be the result of normal ecological processes active in all forests."
Well, since when did tooth decay or athlete's foot compare to being "...hollowed out by a common fungal infection that slowly eats through the trunk
?" Wouldn't a more appropriate analogy be gangrene, or leprosy...or maybe necrotizing fasciitis? Since when do tooth decay or athlete's foot fungus ever reach "flammable concentrations
For good measure, clueless George Monbiot just wrote a long sobby boo-hoo post
about the ash trees being wiped out
in Europe, called "Heart Rot" - with nary a mention of ozone, either (even though I've written him about it more than once but hey - why would he pay attention?). He observes: "One of the effects of ash die-back is what foresters call heart rot: the fungus penetrates into the core of the wood." I guess that would be the equivalent of tooth decay or athlete's foot?
But wait, there's more!
linked to on the Smithsonian list is about wildfires, blaming "blowdowns" or "jackpots" on wind, even though countless trees are falling over without the slightest breeze:
Climate change is having an effect on forest conditions and how firefighters will fight these blazes in the future. More and more they are tending to burn more intensely and are harder to control, as well as posing a greater safety risk to firefighters...
Rangers have noted that with climate change, storms have become more frequent and more violent.
One aspect of this is the number of “blowdowns”, where swaths of trees have simply been blown down, or a microburst where a large number of trees in a localized area have been pushed over by the strong winds.
Unlike a fire which tends to spread through the canopy, these blowdowns, or jackpots, act like giant campfires with dead trees piled on top of each other. If a fire reaches them, they burn with much greater intensity, and can cause a fire to spread which would normally die out on its own. They also pose a greater risk to firefighters.
|A complete loss of pigment|
published last month seeks to detect the role of climate change in species extinctions:
"Surprisingly, none show a straightforward relationship between local extinction and limited tolerances to high temperature. Instead, many studies implicate species interactions as an important proximate cause, especially decreases in food availability. We find very similar patterns in studies showing decreases in abundance associated with climate change, and in those studies showing impacts of climatic oscillations. Collectively, these results highlight our disturbingly limited knowledge of this crucial issue but also support the idea that changing species interactions are an important cause of documented population declines and extinctions related to climate change."
So, none show a relationship between temperature, but rather, decreases in food availability. Maybe they should ask the squirrels?
Naturally the first mention of a threat to trees in the Smithsonian article is drought from climate change, which is no doubt an existential threat in the future - but it ignores the fact that vegetation is dying everywhere already
- not just in the Southwest or Texas, but in places where there has not been extended drought, or has even received more precipitation, as can be seen in a NASA simulation of groundwater from 2002 to 2012, here
. Or check out these two maps from the USDA. The first is a snap of the drought monitor, the animated version of which is here
Next is the Drought Designation map
, which is a financial tool enabling farmers to get federal aid. It's pretty big - so big, in fact, that you can bet that if there was any conceivable way farmers in those districts, particularly on the Eastern Seaboard, could have made a case for relief due to drought, they sure would have.
Exhibit A is these lily pads, from a photographer in Halifax, Nova Scotia - obviously, something other than drought is affecting them, they live in water.
Daniel J. Towsey has assembled
a huge number of pictures and videos that reveal exactly the same sort of sick trees and foliage that I've been collecting since 2008. He also notes, as I have, that plants being watered are in no better condition than vegetation in the wild.
He labels most of his photos with the date and location, which is useful, and adds warnings about chemtrails and Fukushima radiation, which is not. I tried to show him many examples of identical damage that occurred years before the Fukushima meltdown in March 2011, but as far as I can tell, he was not impressed with any external evidence - because he himself did not observe it prior to then. All of the rest of the pictures were taken by Daniel and used with his kind permission.
If it's true that this damage is unprecedented, perhaps Halifax is getting socked with ozone from all the methane emissions from the natural gas drilling frenzy in places like Nebraska and Wyoming. Following is one of my messages to him:
I share your horror at what is happening to trees and other vegetation. You have amassed a really impressive amount of images. Since you are a "truth soldier" I hope you will look at the facts, which do not support Fukushima or chemtrails being the source of forest decline.
1. Global forest decline started well before Fukushima, by some accounts in the 1980's. Personally, I saw a huge acceleration in visible foliage damage starting is 2008. Shortly thereafter people thought maybe they were seeing damage from the Gulf Oil spill in 2010 - but again, the damage started before that.
2. The damage is happening at the EXACT SAME RATE in places all over the world that do not have significant amounts of air traffic, if any at all. It's NOT CHEMTRAILS.
You can ascertain these facts yourself and then the question becomes WHAT IS THE CAUSE? There is only one answer that BOTH fits the facts and actually is quite well known and understood scientifically, which is that the invisibile component of Smog - tropospheric ozone - is killing plantlife. As your own picture of the lily pads shows, it's not drought from climate change which is the reason blamed by most scientists and foresters.
Ozone is even more toxic to plants than it is to people. It is so caustic it damages rubber tires and granite buildings. For plants, it weakens root systems and immunities to insects, disease and fungus that then finish them off. This occurs even before there is visible injury on leaves so, as you have seen for yourself, since practically every leaf shows symptoms now - stippling, chlorotic and necrotic lesions, marginal leaf burn - that means that they are all rotted on the inside already.
The persistent background level is inexorably and rapidly rising as more and more people burn more and more fuel. This is counter to what most people believe, since the high, localized peaks have been reduced. Satellite studies have confirmed however that precursors (reactive nitrogen) travel across oceans and continents going in and out of chemical reactions, and the result is that even the most remote places have background ozone at least twice as high, if not much more, than pre-industrialization.
So, you will probably dismiss this like every other person who would rather blame one industry (nuclear) or a tiny conspiracy of people for the collapse of the ecosystem. The sad truth is, we are all responsible every time we travel or turn on the electricity, and it is only by recognizing that, that we could begin to respond to this existential threat.
I would love to hear from you if you have any comments or questions. There is a huge collection of links to decades of research on ozone - both controlled fumigation experiments and field observations - and photographs over the past 4 years at my blog http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/ and I wrote a book which is available as a free download at http://www.deadtrees-dyingforests.com/pillage-plunder-pollute-llc/.
PS It's happening in the Southern Hemisphere too: http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3488105.htm
Two radio interviews (one is a video too) here:
All this nuclear stuff made me want to go and check to see whatever new has arisen on the ozone front, so following are a number of abstracts, which I found via a google search
that turned up references from the Electronic Journal Center...a handy library consortium maintained by various educational institutions and the State of Ohio. For those who don't want to slog through the turgid science, I bolded the best parts so you can just skim all the way down to a short but pertinent video about bees.
In this study, we tested the impact of moderately elevated ozone (O3) – 1.5 × ambient, equivalent to predicted near-future ozone concentrations – on the feeding behaviour of the common leaf weevil Phyllobius pyri L. (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), on two hybrid aspen [ Populus tremula × Populus tremuloides (Salicaceae)]; clones (clones 55 and 110) differing in ozone sensitivity using the open-air ozone exposure site in Kuopio, Finland. Three host-selection tests (test between treatments, test between clones, and test between treatments* clones) with common leaf weevil females were carried out in the laboratory in the 2nd year of ozone exposure. The beetles were offered two (four for the tests between treatments and clones) freshly cut leaf discs from first flush leaves. After 24 h, the beetles were removed and the leaf disc area consumed was measured. In the field, the unfolding of the buds was followed and samples were taken for anatomical and chemical (salicylates, condensed tannins, nitrogen, and water content) leaf analyses. Phyllobius pyri significantly preferred leaves from clone 55 to those from clone 110 in the ambient air treatment, whereas this preference was less evident under elevated ozone. Leaves from ozone-exposed trees were significantly preferred to leaves grown in ambient air. Our results suggest that the preference of clone 55 and of ozone-exposed leaves can be explained by phenotypic properties of the plant and prevailing ozone concentration through shifts in leaf development process, phenolic composition, and leaf thickness.
This work assesses the effects caused by tropospheric ozone on citric crops in “La Plana de Castellon”, a western Mediterranean area rich in orange orchards. Passive ozone samplers were used as an alternative tool to monitor the ozone levels, to assess the effects of ozone levels on citrus crops, and to estimate the percentage of losses in harvest crops. Measurements were taken during the 3-month periods of higher ozone levels in the summers of 2001, 2002 and 2003. Measurement campaigns were divided into sampling periods of 1 week. Twenty samples were collected during each sampling period to cover an area of 8000km2. Summer weekly ozone levels ranged between 40–44μg/m3 in 2001, 54–70μg/m3 in 2002 and 34–44μg/m3 in 2003. To assess the effects on orange and lemon trees, a linear equation which described the relationship between ozoneconcentrations and citrus trees yields was employed. There was an estimated 8% reduction in orange and 11.5% reduction in lemon yields in the year 2003 due to the average ozone levels in the year 2001, a 10% reduction in orange and 14.2% reduction in lemon yield in the year 2004, due to the average ozone levels in the year 2002 and an estimated 7% reduction in orange and 9.8% reduction in lemon yield in the year 2005 due to the average ozone levels in the year 2003. These yield losses may negatively affect the local economy of the area. Passive samplers also proved to be a useful tool for assessing the response of citrus trees to environmental photochemical stress due to tropospheric ozone.
Substantial uncertainty surrounds how forest ecosystems will respond to the simultaneous impacts of multiple global change drivers. Long-term forest dynamics are sensitive to changes in tree mortality rates; however, we lack an understanding of the relative importance of the factors that affect tree mortality across different spatial and temporal scales. We used the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis database to evaluate the drivers of tree mortality for eastern temperate forest at the individual-level across spatial scales from tree to landscape to region. We investigated 13 covariates in four categories: climate, air pollutants, topography, and stand characteristics. Overall, we found that tree mortality was most sensitive to stand characteristics and air pollutants. Different functional groups also varied considerably in their sensitivity to environmental drivers. This research highlights the importance of considering the interactions among multiple global change agents in shaping forest ecosystems.
Two different indices have been proposed for estimation of the risk caused to forest trees across Europe by ground-level ozone, (i) the concentration based AOT40 index (Accumulated Over a Threshold of 40ppb) and (ii) the recently developed flux based AFstYindex (Accumulated stomatal Flux above a flux threshold Y). This paper compares the AOT40 and AFstY indices for three forest trees species at different locations in Europe. The AFstY index is estimated using the DO3SE (Deposition of Ozone and Stomatal Exchange) model parameterized for Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), beech (Fagus sylvatica) and holm oak (Quercus ilex). The results show a large difference in the perceived O3 risk when using AOT40 and AFstY indices both between species and regions. The AOT40 index shows a strong north-south gradient across Europe, whereas there is little difference between regions in the modelled values of AFstY. There are significant differences in modelled AFstY between species, which are predominantly determined by differences in the timing and length of the growing season, the periods during which soil moisture deficit limits stomatal conductance, and adaptation to soil moisture stress. This emphasizes the importance of defining species-specific flux response variables to obtain a more accurate quantification of O3 risk.
Within the framework of the UN-ECE Convention on Long-Range Trans-boundary Air Pollution, critical ozone levels for forest trees and crops have been determined. This paper shows the mapping results of short and long-term threshold exceedances in an area of Central Italy. Eighty-thousand hourly mean ozone concentrations were recorded and computed to evaluate the potential distribution of the pollutant in the area. The results suggest that the threshold is frequently exceeded in the summer, and this may be very critical for the plants' health.
Results support the hypothesis that ozone contributes to crown defoliation.
It is now widely accepted that stomatal ozone uptake provides a more reliable indicator for the assessment of risk of ozone damage to forest trees than ozone exposure. Thus, environmental factors influencing stomatal opening strongly affect the sensitivity of forest trees towards high ozone concentrations. In this study the hydrological model WAWAHAMO is used to simulate stomatal opening dependent on air temperature, solar radiation, vapor pressure deficit and soil water potential. Then, a statistical analysis was carried out to investigate relations between crown defoliation and ozone concentrations dependent on stomatal opening. The results support the hypothesis that troposphericozone contributes to the observed crown defoliation. However, environmental factors strongly affect tree response to high ozone concentrations.
Stands of spring wheat grown in open-top chambers (OTCs) were used to assess the individual and interactive effects of season-long exposure to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and ozone (O3) on the photosynthetic and gas exchange properties of leaves of differing age and position within the canopy. The observed effects were related to estimated ozone fluxes to individual leaves. Foliar chlorophyll content was unaffected by elevated CO2, but photosynthesis under saturating irradiances was increased by up to 100% at 680 μmol mol-1 CO2 relative to the ambient CO2 control; instantaneous water use efficiency was improved by a combination of increased photosynthesis and reduced transpiration. Exposure to a seasonal mean O3 concentration (7 h d-1) of 84 nmol mol-1under ambient CO2 accelerated leaf senescence following full expansion, at which time chlorophyll content was unaffected. Stomatal regulation of pollutant uptake was limited since estimated O3 fluxes to individual leaves were not reduced by elevated atmospheric CO2. A common feature of O3-treated leaves under ambient CO2 was an initial stimulation of photosynthesis and stomatal conductance for up to 4 d and 10 d, respectively, after full leaf expansion, but thereafter both variables declined rapidly. The O3-induced decline in chlorophyll content was less rapid under elevated CO2 and photosynthesis was increased relative to the ambient CO2 treatment. A/Ci analyses suggested that an increase in the amount of in vivo active RuBisCO may be involved in mitigating O3-induced damage to leaves. The results obtained suggest that elevated atmospheric CO2 has an important role in restricting the damage effects of O3 on photosynthetic activity during the vegetative growth of spring wheat, and that additional direct effects on reproductive development were responsible for the substantial reductions in grain yield obtained at final harvest, against which elevated CO2 provided little or no protection.
Keywords: Elevated CO2 and O3, gas exchange, O3 flux, stomata, chlorophyll, Triticum aestivum.
Robinson, MF1; Heath, J; Mansfield, TA
Journal of Experimental Botany, Volume 49, issue Special Issue (March 1998), p. 461-469.
Oxford University Press
Many atmospheric pollutants, even when present at relatively low concentrations, may interfere with the control of stomatal aperture, and they thus have the potential to upset the water balance of the leaf or the whole plant. Although at high concentrations pollutants such as SO2 and O3 usually cause stomatal closure, at low concentrations stomatal conductance is often increased. As well as creating a risk of loss of control of water relations, this is likely to increase the dose of the pollutant entering the mesophyll. It is, however, difficult to generalize about the nature of the physiological disturbances caused by pollutants because of variation in the responses between plants. In some cases the effects may be peculiar to one, or just a few, species. Two mechanisms underlying the interference with stomatal control have recently been identified, one involving O3 and the other CO2. In Aster tripolium (sea aster) stomata in detached epidermal strips close as the external Na+ concentration is increased, and it has been proposed that this phenomenon is involved in the regulation of salt loading of shoot tissues. Ozone has been shown to have the capacity to interfere with Na+-induced stomatal closure, and the possibility that it therefore disrupts an aspect of salinity tolerance in this species is worthy of further research. Elevated CO2, on the other hand, has been found to interfere with the control of water relations of beech (Fagus sylvatica): for a given degree of drought, stomatal conductance and rates of soil water depletion were significantly higher in elevated CO2than in ambient air. It is normally assumed that atmospheric CO2-enrichment will lead to increased plant productivity and improved water economy, while also providing some protection against other atmospheric pollutants through partial stomatal closure. However, the response of beech indicates that in some species there may also be detrimental effects of CO2-enrichment on plant-water relations.
Chronic long-term exposure to near-ambient concentrations of ozone could contribute to forest decline in several regions of the world, in combination with other biotic and abiotic factors. It is generally admitted that, under ozone stress, biochemical events occur before any development of visible symptoms of damage. Photosynthesis is impaired whereas respiration is increased. The activity and quantity of Rubisco and Rubisco activase are diminished as well as the transcription of the proteins. Concomitantly, there is a general increase in the functioning of the catabolic pathways (glycolysis, pentose phosphate pathway). The mitochondrial respiration is also activated with an increased transcription of the alternative oxidase. The most impressive event is the huge increase in activity of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase linked to a stimulation of the enzyme biosynthesis. Therefore, the high ratio between the two carboxylases, which reaches about 25 in ozone-free air, falls to about 2 under ozone fumigation. There is also an increase in the detoxifying processes (chloroplastic superoxidase isoform). All these changes in cellular metabolism are directed towards repair and maintenance of the cell structure. In this respect, a general increase in the phenylpropanoid metabolism is also observed with the production of more phenolic compounds and a stimulation of the lignin biosynthetic pathway through the activation of several enzymes (phenylalanine ammonia lyase, cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase, etc.). The mechanism of ozone action however still remains to be elucidated. Ozone causes an oxidative stress producing reactive oxygen species, which are the probable source for signal chains with messenger molecules such as jasmonic acid, salicylic acid and ethylene. The problem remains of the existence of a specific series of events starting from ozone penetrating through the stomata to the repression/stimulation of gene transcription in foliar cells.
Carbon Metabolism Enzyme Activities and Carbon Partitioning in Pinus halepensis Mill, exposed to Mild Drought and Ozone. Gerant, D.; Podor, M.; Grieu, P.; Afif, D.; Cornu, S.; Morabito, D.; Banvoy, J.; Robin, C.; Dizengremel, P. Journal of Plant Physiology vol. 148 issue 1-2 1996. p. 142-147
Since several years, accelerated decline of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) forests has been observed in mediterranean areas. In fact, the combination of various environmental factors (photochemical oxidants, drought, high light, ...) was suspected to cause this decline. In this study, three year-old Aleppo pines were exposed during 3 months to ozone fumigation (100 ppb) combined or not with mild drought to study the effects of these combined factors on some sequences linked to carbon partitioning and primary carbon metabolism within the tree. After a cumulative ozone exposure of 132ppm.h, ozone induced a significant decrease in specific activity of the whole-plant (-38%) combined with a disequilibrium of the carbon transfer between root and shoot in favour of the shoots (non significant). Moreover, while the same cumulative dose of ozone had no effect on total Rubisco activity in one year-old needles, mitochondfial NAD malic enzyme activity increased significantly (+32%). By combining ozone with mild drought, the ozone-induced responses of all the parameters were significantly amplified and Rubisco activity was significantly decreased (by 44%). These results allowed us to conclude that at 132ppm.h, ozone alone led to an increase in dark respiration. Moreover, by the combination of ozone and mild drought, a decrease carbon fixation capacity was associated to a decrease of the carbon transfered to the toots, leading to a reduced root growth. Thus, there are indications that high levels of ozone during the summer months may impair the ability of Pinus halepensis to withstand severe water stress in its natural environment.
Effects of ozone exposure on polyamines in Pinus sylvestris L. were studied in a long-term experiment. Ten- to 15-year-old Scots pines were exposed to target ozone levels which began at ambient+40ppb in May, decreasing to ambient air only by September for 3 growing seasons. The amount of ozone applied followed the natural pattern of variation in ozone concentrations in Northern Finland. The free, soluble conjugated and insoluble conjugated polyamines were analyzed during the experiment and shortly after termination of exposure as well as at the beginning of the following growing season. A carry-over effect was observed as ozone-induced reduction of free spermidine in the oldest needle year class, which developed during the first exposure season of the experiment. This reduction was observed both after the second and the third ozone exposure season. Conversely, after termination of the experiment, levels of free polyamines increased in the following growing season, and soluble conjugated polyamines decreased in the developing needles. The post-treatment changes in polyamine concentrations are hypothesized to be caused by stress-induced injuries or delayed recovery of metabolic processes rather than protective responses. It is noteworthy that some responses in polyamines were found in the developing needles nine months after terminating the ozone exposure. This suggests that stress-induced injuries to older needles affected metabolism of new developing needles.
The effects of ozone upon 3-year-old trees of Clementina mandarin (Citrus clementina Hort. ex Tan.) cv. Marisol exposed for 12 months to ambient (10 nl l–1) and high (30 and 65 nl l–1) concentrations in open top chambers (OTCs) were investigated. The data showed that in leaves, ozone reduced total chlorophylls, carotenoid and carbohydrate concentration, and increased 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) content and ethylene production. In treated plants, the ascorbate leaf pool was decreased, while lipid peroxidation and solute leakage were significantly higher than in ozone-free controls. The data indicated that ozone triggered protective mechanisms against oxidative stress in citrus.
Visible symptoms in tree foliage can be used for stress diagnosis once validated with microscopical analyses. This paper reviews and illustrates macroscopical and microscopical markers of stress with a biotic (bacteria, fungi, insects) or abiotic (frost, drought, mineral deficiency, heavy metal pollution in the soil, acidic deposition and ozone) origin helpful for the validation of symptoms in broadleaved and conifer trees. Differentiation of changes in the leaf or needle physiology, through ageing, senescence, accelerated cell senescence, programmed cell death and oxidative stress, provides additional clues raising diagnosis efficiency, especially in combination with information about the target of the stress agent at the tree, leaf/needle, tissue, cell and ultrastructural level. Given the increasing stress in a changing environment, this review discusses how integrated diagnostic approaches lead to better causal analysis to be applied for specific monitoring of stress factors affecting forest ecosystems.
Soil-growing randomized mixtures of ten European silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) clones, showing different ozone sensitivity, were exposed to ambient air (control) or 1.4–1.7x ambient (elevated) ozone over five growing seasons using free-air fumigation (FACE) approach. During the last season, the juvenile trees were measured for growth, net assimilation rate and starch content. In elevated-ozone plants, significant effects were observed as 21–28% reduced new leaf development, 44.8% lower dry mass of leaves and 33.8% lower dry mass of roots, as well as 7.6% lower RGR of leaves and 27.8% lower RGR of roots, leading to 16% lower root/shoot ratio. In addition, net assimilation rate and starch content were slightly (8.9% and 14.3%) reduced in ozone-stressed plants. The results indicated cumulative ozone-induced growth reductions over five years. Ozone-stressed trees with declined root growth may become susceptible to other environmental stresses such as water and nutrient deficiency, and lose belowground competitiveness, which may affect tree survival.
Site-specific estimates for various environmental stress factors were related with measured crown condition data at a systematic 16 ×: 16 km^2 grid over Europe, according to previously stated hypotheses, using a multiple regression approach, including interactions, and lagged effects of stress factors. Methodological differences among countries accounted for >30% of the variation in defoliation. Nevertheless, crown condition was found to vary naturally with tree age, altitude, drought stress and, most likely, also pathogenic fungi and insects. Significant impacts of air pollution (specifically ozone but also NO_x, SO_x and acid deposition) were found at regional levels in parts of central Europe, particularly for deciduous species. Impacts seemed less significant for conifers, especially for spruce, but this might be affected by confounding effects or strong correlations between (a harsh) climate and (low) atmospheric deposition in the area where spruce predominates. National studies indicate that ozone and acid deposition can have a significant effect on the defoliation of spruce as well. We conclude that while forest condition varies naturally, continued emissions will contribute further to forest decline in the long term.
Biospheric ozone has become a widely distributed air pollutant, and a growing body of research indicates that ozone impacts forest health and productivity. Ozone effects are mediated by the ozone concentration present in the external environment and the movement of ozone into the leaf via the stoma. The cumulative dose received by the plant is, in the simplest terms, a function of ambient ozone concentration and stomatal conductance to water vapor. This relationship is important in understanding ozone flux into the leaf and subsequent ozone response in plants. Here, current progress in understanding ozone uptake in juvenile and mature trees is examined. Through an analysis of two long-term case studies, the significant uncertainty in assessing ozone effects on forests is pinpointed to be the scaling of ozone sensitivity from controlled seedling studies to large forest trees. A rigorous statistical and monitoring approach, which includes ozone uptake as a cause variable, may provide the missing information on processes that are known to be important to risk assessment of ozone impacts on forest trees.
Impacts of ozone on trees and crops. Felzer, Benjamin S.; Cronin, Timothy; Reilly, John M.; Melillo, Jerry M.; Wang, Xiaodong. Comptes rendus - Geoscience vol. 339 issue 11-12 October, 2007. p. 784-798
In this review, we explore how ozone affects, at the surface, trees and crops, with particular emphasis on the consequences for productivity and carbon sequestration. The vegetation exposure to ozone reduces photosynthesis, growth and other functions of the plant. Ozone formation in the atmosphere is due to nitrogen oxides NOx, which are also a source of nitrogen deposition. Carbon sequestration resulting from ozone reduced in temperate forests is likely offset by increased carbon sequestration resulting from nitrogen fertilization. However, as the fertilized soils are generally not limited in terms of their nitrogen content, recoveries of ozone polluting substances can significantly reduce losses in crop yields in the United States, Europe and China.
That last conclusion is so typical of inverted, double negatives used in science to soften the import. What it should say is not "recoveries of ozone can reduce losses" but "ozone polluting substances cause significant crop yield losses". But that would be too straightforward.
This short video demonstrates that long-term, chronic exposure to low doses of pesticides could be playing a dominent role in bee colony collapse. Now, wasn't somebody saying something about how long-term, chronic exposure to low but constant doses of dangerous substances...like radiation...or ozone... is really, really bad....?