but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.
~ Marilyn Vos Savant
Rob Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Duke University, gets extremely high readings as researchers investigate natural gas leaks around the city as part of an ongoing study.
wrote to the various newpaper editors and town officials.
He was quoted as saying "Statewide, there could be somewhere between $15 billion - $30 billion in damages." Hmmm...according to the terms of the Trust, it (it being Ackley and Schlichtmann, remember) retains 40% of anything they help the towns to recover from National Grid. So, if they held National Grid fully accountable that means a potential of billions in legal fees for the "Trust". Billions!!
Oddly, the forest there looks quite like the woods around Wit's End in the picture above, which I took last week, when the moon was rising.
I finally got around to writing the scientist who produced this map, taken from NASA satellite data, which documents the decline in vegetation in the Eastern US from 2000 to 2010. Unsurprisingly, they corrolate this decline with drought from climate change, even though according to numerous studies, the northeast has become wetter, not drier.
What follows are photos from the "25 most polluted places on Earth" (frankly I think they should have included a human body, each one of which is the repository of countless noxious chemicals) and the contents of the letter to the lead author of that NASA research:
Dear Dr. Potter,
I am writing because I came across your paper, Declining Vegetation Growth Rates in the Eastern United States from 2000 to 2010.
I have been observing premature mortality in trees for several years, which appears to be accelerating at an exponential rate. I have seen this around my home in New Jersey, and in my travels along the East and West coasts. From news reports and other scientific research, it appears to be a gobal trend.
Because trees are dying in every location - even young trees in nurseries that are being watered - the explanation that drought from climate change is the primary reason is insufficient to explain the trees that are dying just as fast in places that have become wetter from climate change, such as the UK.
I wonder if you considered tropospheric ozone as the underlying factor?
I apologize if you are already familiar with this information: The persistent background levels are inexorably increasing, and it is a well-known phytotoxin. Furthermore, it is also well-documented that plants that absorb ozone become more vulnerable to pathogens, including insects, disease and fungus, which are running rampant. In repairing damage to foliage, less energy is allocated to roots, exacerbating the effects of drought. (See attached photo of potatoes from fumigation experiment - left grown in filtered, clean air; center is ambient polluted air; and right with additional added ozone
cumulative damage over seasons is even worse for trees). Classic symptoms of ozone injury are found on leaves and needles everywhere, including on tropical plants being grown in watered pots in the summertime, and trees that are growing along rivers and lakes.
I also attached your map for comparison to one of US counties designated as ozone non-attainment (which is from 2007).
A long-term Forest Service study showed that:
"...in a number of cities where emerald ash borer has killed all the ash trees, heart attack rates and lung disease deaths are higher than before the ash died. With 10-25% of their urban canopy gone, air pollution is more prevalent.
"In an analysis of 18 years of data from 1,296 counties in 15 states, researchers found that Americans living in areas infested by the emerald ash borer, a beetle that kills ash trees, suffered from an additional 15,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 6,000 more deaths from lower respiratory disease when compared to uninfected areas. When emerald ash borer comes into a community, city streets lined with ash trees become treeless."
As I pointed out in a post on my blog Wit's End, the research doesn't bring up the question of what happens to all the trees that are so obligingly soaking up pollution and saving humans from lethal illnesses.
One book, An Appalachian Tragedy, was published in 1998 and delineates the ways in which air pollution is causing forest decline from Georgia to Maine. From what I have seen, the process has been greatly exacerbated and is now a world-wide threat, probably due to the phenomenal increase in precursors from Asia. I recently wrote an update incorporating newer research which was published at Greg Laden's Science Blog.
I would greatly appreciate hearing any thoughts you have on this topic. Because pollution is killing trees and other plants, climate change will be greatly intensified, and as far as I can tell, not one single model is factoring in this very significant impact. The fact is, that if we stopped emitting precursors, or at least greatly reduced them, the air would clear quickly, and not only could we continue to have trees but annual crop quality and quantity would be improved.
Does your group do any work with ozone? Are you going to do an update to your map incorporating data from 2011 on?
Thank you so much for your attention.
Gailthis link to an article in the Atlantic that has the unspeakably cynical scene above, as well as interactive photos showing before and after images. Some of them fade in and out, from times of reasonably good visibility...