“John Muir said it: Most people live on the world and not in it.”
– Doc Hollywood
When was the last time you really looked at the trees wherever you live?
I like being in nature, I like trees and have planted many here on my spot in development hell, but only recently have I really seen what is happening to the trees.
One of those obsessed bloggers I mentioned in last week’s rant has been diligently documenting the rapid die-off of trees. We’ve connected because of our mutual belief that Near Term Extinction is in progress, and I’ve added her blog, Wit’s End, to my blogroll because she is worth reading and provides far more information that I’m willing to reproduce here. If what you read here interests you, indulge yourself at Wit’s End.
I’ve shared pictures of Kentucky with lots of people and many have remarked on the number of dead and dying trees in the pictures. It’s true; there is lots of deadfall and sick looking trees on the lot. I’m used to it (having put it down to logging). So when we came home to Michigan this last trip, it was dawning on me that the trees look the same from Kentucky through Indiana to Michigan.
Okay, we’ve established that I’m a bit slow and what I don’t know about the natural world could fill oceans, so why it took a few months of “knowing” intellectually that trees are dying and that knowledge hitting my gut may be attributable to stupidity, but I’m really seeing it now.
I always thought lichen was, if not beneficial, at least not harmful to trees. It’s growing all over here and not just on trees….our deck and the stones in the “birdroom” have it. The experts say that lichen can’t grow in pollution, that having lichen is a sign of clean air. I don’t know why they are allowed to say that as it is clear that there are pollution loving lichen. And as pollution weakens the trees, causing leaf loss and branch loss, it opens the canopy, allowing more light for the lichen to grow into.
Most people are attributing sickly looking trees to climate change (drought and storms are the favorites) but Gail (and others) think that the real killer is pollution.
Pollution is sort of a catch all phrase, because what creates pollution is actually a lot of things, like nasty emissions from all kinds of manufacturing processes and what cars, trucks and airplanes spew, as well as the biggie: coal burning. Pollution is sort of the AIDS virus for trees. It makes them sick and weak well before their time, so when opportunistic storms or invasive species or disease comes along, they deliver the knockout punch and get blamed.
And, as with climate change, there is very little one person or even a group of people can do to stop this process.
I’m moaning in pain as I write this, as I look at all of the sick trees, and not just because trees are living, breathing, wonderful things all by themselves, but because our lives also depend upon them.
Trees and other vegetation provide half of our oxygen.
The other half comes from phytoplankton in the oceans. Those are dying too.
It’s going to be us soon.