What you need to know before running for cover
Trees are "Friends of the Earth," right? The more trees the better, right? Don't go too far out on a limb on this one. There has been some interesting research recently on the effect certain trees have on the environment.
Two Texas A&M researchers have blown the cover on your favorite oak tree. What is more beautiful, strong, faithful, everlasting, and just plain shady than the Mighty Oak? The water oak, with its dripping gray moss, is one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.
Oh, but there is a dark side, a secret life of the oak, that has been revealed recently by science. It turns out that the oak is a relentless polluter of our environment.
"Air pollution is probably one of the most serious problems facing humankind in the 21st century," said Renyi Zhang, a professor at Texas A&M. "And certainly, much of that pollution results from human activities. But most people are not aware of the role played by chemical reactions, which change substances produced by biogenic species into harmful airborne pollutants."
That's scientific jargon for "The killer trees are coming!"
"But he was always such a good sapling":
How good trees go bad
"Isoprene-C5H8-is released by the respiration of oak trees and is the second-most-abundant naturally produced hydrocarbon (after methane) in our atmosphere," Dr. Zhang continued. "After a complicated series of chemical reactions, isoprene facilitates ozone production, so increased isoprene means more ozone in the air."
The American Lung Association (ALA), which is a highly taxpayer-subsidized front for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is the self-appointed court, judge, prosecutor, and jury on the ozone issue. The ALA has proclaimed that more than half of the nation's counties and cities get an F rating on ozone levels. They are wringing their hands bawling with grief about the terrible effect this will have on asthmatics.
Supposedly, ozone is a good thing when it's way up high where it blocks the sun's "harmful" UV rays. But down closer to the ground, ozone traps heat radiating from the Earth's surface, thus contributing to increased pollution and global warming. The oak contributes to the increased ozone level and, in turn, plays a role in making this planet of ours into one big greenhouse.
And so there it is, in the police lineup, our beloved oak tree, charged with illegally warming the globe. (I guess it's true what they say: It really IS always the quiet, unassuming ones who turn out to be the most heinous criminals.)
Of course, you might remember from past issues of Dr. Douglass' Real Health Breakthroughs how I feel about those so-called "harmful" UV rays ozone is supposed to protect us from. For instance, in the August 2001 issue, I wrote about how ultraviolet deficiency, not UV excess, is responsible not only for instances of melanoma skin cancer but also for increased rates of breast cancer. So, given my thoughts on that, I'm sure you can guess how I feel about the all-consuming issue of global warming.
Dr. Zhang and his colleagues are undoubtedly competent, and I am not ridiculing their work. Although they didn't intend it as such, their report shows what non-events ozone and global warming really are in our daily lives.
Are anti-pollution programs making the "problem" worse?
Even President Bush is crashing through the open door on the global warming bugaboo. It's pathetic how many tens of millions of dollars are being squandered on this non-existent problem. The president has decided that farmers need to be rewarded for their part in fighting this imaginary war. As part of his administration's strategy for "curtailing carbon dioxide emissions," President Bush has proposed tax incentives for farmers who plant trees.
Carbon dioxide emissions are ozone's partner in crime in the Great Global Warming Caper.
I doubt anybody in the government is paying any attention (and even if they were, the program would go forward anyway), but another recent study revealed that scientists have overestimated the potential of trees and shrubs to soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
In the study, published in the August 8, 2002 issue of the journal Nature, Duke University scientists concluded that "trees and shrubs growing in areas of abundant rainfall are less effective storehouses for carbon than native grasslands they have steadily replaced across much of the western United States."
"The reassessment casts doubt on whether planting trees is always a positive step in the fight against global warming, as President Bush and others have suggested," a recent Associated Press article stated.
OK, so what the Pres needs to do now is send another urgent memo to the farmers saying:
"Hold the trees-put back the grass. Working together for a better future: Science and your Government."
The greenies get their 2 cents in
"The study helps dispel the notion that humans can plant their way out of global warming," said Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club global warming and energy program. "We are going to need to tackle the industrial sources of emissions head-on rather than just plant a bunch of trees," Becker said. Well, the Sierra Club is, as usual, charging off in the wrong direction. But Becker had to get in a whack at the Big Bad Industrialists.
If the globe is warming and if that is a threat to mankind (and I have serious doubts about both of those claims), we're not going to be able to stop it by planting-or cutting down-a zillion trees. And shutting down factories because of "gaseous emissions" will only put thousands of people out of work.
The only senseless gaseous emissions we should be worried about are the ones seeping out of the Sierra Club and its misinformed cohorts. They should move to Saturn. There they can fight all the noxious gases they want and they'll never run out of things to clean up and complain about.
Action to take:
You have a choice when it comes to how you react to news of global warming:
(1) If you have ozonophobia, go ahead and cut down all the trees in your yard, especially the oaks. Organize a pressure group-call it "Down with the Oaks" or "Tree Busters 'R Us" -and demand that all the trees on city and county land be cut down or burned alive.
(2) Or you can forget the whole thing. Enjoy your trees and your grass-and don't contribute to the Sierra Club, The Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and all the other regulation-loving moronic organizations wanting to run (and ruin) our planet, which has been around for billions of years and can take care of itself. Ozone or no ozone, I, for one, am keeping my trees, including the killer oaks. RH
"Researchers Pursue Process by Which Oak Trees Contribute to Air Pollution," Texas A&M University (press release), 6/25/02
"Study: Benefit of Trees Misjudged," The Associated Press, 8/7/02
"Carbon cycle: Uncertain sinks in the shrubs," Nature 2002; 418: 593-594