Leaves of Autumn

“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.


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8 Responses to Leaves of Autumn

  1. Chris says:

    I’ve been watching them die along the highways since the 60 s

  2. Sundazed says:

    Such an important blog post!

  3. nosy coyote says:

    I have lived in the desert all my life, so I’m only used to seeing cacti and thorn bushes and the like. The only trees where I live are planted in peoples front and backyard for visual pleasure. Recently I went on a trip to Ruidoso New Mexico, I haven’t gone since I was a kid and I was exited to see trees in their natural habitat. I saw a lot of cleared areas, and a lot of trees cut down and the logs just left there. It was my first actual experience with this. It felt really really awful.

    I know this post was about the sick trees but I understand the anguish you felt when it first really hits you. I can watch videos all I want. But when I’m there and the only trees left are spray painted and I can touch feel and smell this destruction, that was something else.

    • igotsomethin says:

      It is a gut level feeling of pain, I hear you. Are you thinking about what you can do to stop the destruction? Start giving it some thought, would be my advice. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      • nosy coyote says:

        Thank you for responding!

        Every. single. day. Where I live there is not any group to join (I’ve searched and searched and emailed and talked to all the “famous” activists here and they could not help me either) so I pretty much have to start my own. I’m trying to join DGR so I can volunteer and hopefully that will give me some direction. At the moment I’m simply writing for a magazine aimed at promoting women to go and experience outdoors more- it’s barely starting though and they have yet to release anything so I feel like I’m doing nothing. Not that writing for the magazine will help end industrial civilization, but it’s better than what I’m doing now. So I read and try to promote anti-civ as much as I can. Although all that really does is label me as a nut.

      • igotsomethin says:

        All nuts welcome here! DGR is good. Are you so fortunate in where you live that no fracking/pipelines/clearcutting/mining/etc is going on around you? Facebook can actually help connect you to some groups, as well.

      • nosy coyote says:

        oh god no haha Civilization knows no bounds, we have western refining here and they are a crude oil refinery who sells fuel to most of the southwest. So we have a lot of problems here, it’s not that I have trouble with its finding anyone who isn’t apathetic enough. Facebook is actually pretty much the only thing I haven’t done yet, I’ve avoided social media for a long time preferring face to face interaction, so I’ve always been weary of facebook. But you (and others) are probably right in that I need to expand out into the internet media more-hell I just started this blog thing yesterday and already I’m talking to someone.
        Thank you for your suggestions! Really I appreciate it more than I can say.

Thanks for reading!

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