books, Environment, forests, green living, gulf coast, ice rinks, stadiums, methane from livestock industry, Nature, recycling, Spanish Moss, Uncategorized

The Treetalker


Focus on: Spanish Moss—This familiar plant, seen draping off Live oak and Bald cypress trees all along the Gulf Coast, is not a moss at all. Rather, it is an epiphyte, which attaches itself to tree trunks and branches, rather than rooting in the soil.
However, it is not parasitic, and does not compete with its host for food. It takes in nutrients and moisture directly from air and rain, through the scales on the long gray “stems.”—thus the common name, “air plant;” but because it is so exposed, it is unable to tolerate airborne pollution or excessively cold temperatures.
It is the only member of the bromeliad family—which includes orchids and pineapples—that is indigenous to the North American continent.
Although today Spanish moss is mostly used in flower arrangements and as packing material, it was once utilized as stuffing for furniture, mattresses, automobile seats and the walls of homes as insulation. In 1939, over 10,000 tons of moss were processed for these purposes.

Environmental Happenings:— This week, some articles from the NY Times special newsletter, “Climate Fwd:” You can access the report at this link. 
The articles were written by
By John Schwartz, Brad Plumer and Livia Albeck-Ripka for the article, published on May 30, 2018.

* 1) Creating an ice rink in the deserts of Nevada? Boy, there’s an energy guzzler!


** 2) Most of us environmentally-minded folk have heard that the methane produced by livestock accounts for 26% of all methane emissions in the U.S. (Do they consider what people might be adding to that figure?) Some scientists—of course—are trying to develop a drug to counter the problem; however, one Canadian farmer discovered, by accident, that his cows were healthier and produced less gas when they ate seaweed that had washed up on the shore. Turns out some types of seaweed contains a substance that neutralizes the methane-producing stomach enzyme.

Ah, nature always finds a way. . .

So the scientists are testing new diets, with some promising results.


*** 3) final article in this report: “Aspirational recycling.”

You may also have heard recently that China, who has been one of the world’s main importers of recyclable waste (geez – who would WANT that job?), has recently said it will reject shipments that are more than 0.5 % impure – like, when people don’t wash things out, or put other kinds of garbage in the recycling bins – apparently messy cardboard pizza boxes are a big offender, along with all those things we think are #1’s and #2’s, but are actually #5’s or something else (like the lids of just about everything!)

So, “rinse stuff out and read the numbers in the little triangles on the bottom of the item” is the main takeaway, but do read the article.


My new book, Secret Voices from the Forest—Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, Volume Three: The East has just come from the printer. Buy at Amazon—I’m the only one selling it!  $32.95 + shipping.

Vol. 3 - The East copy

And finally, my latest blog post, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” in which I (sort of) express my views on current events.

For all these articles, visit my personal website.

global warming, gulf coast, ocean, Greenland ice melt, climate change, Industrial Revolution, EDF, methane, shale oil, satellite, greenhouse emissions, Louisiana, Mississippi River Delta, coastal wetlands, bird habitat, Big Oil, Uncategorized

The Treetalker – a bit of the latest news about global warming and the oceans

This week, at my website, 4 articles from the Washington Post’s Climate and Environment newsletter, a new “Focus on” the Sweetgum tree, and a blog post about patience (since I have so little  😉.) If you want to read any of the entire articles, visit my website and you’ll find my summaries and links to the original articles.

The news articles are:

(Levke Caesar:Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)

(Levke Caesar/Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)

The oceans’ circulation hasn’t been this sluggish in 1,000 years. That’s bad news.

The Atlantic Ocean circulation that carries warmth into the Northern Hemisphere’s high latitudes is slowing down because of climate change, a team of scientists asserted Wednesday, suggesting one of the most feared consequences is already coming to pass.

A rendering by the Environmental Defense Fund

A rendering by the Environmental Defense Fund


This environmental group is launching its own satellite to learn more about greenhouse gas leaks

The satellite will enable The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to more accurately measure methane emissions, which account for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Michael Taylor and Adam Voiland

NASA Earth Observatory image by Michael Taylor and Adam Voiland.jpg


Seas are rising too fast to save much of the Mississippi River Delta, scientists say

The state of Louisiana is proceeding with ambitious plans to redirect the Mississippi River and rebuild some of its rapidly vanishing wetlands — but even this massive intervention may not be enough to save the most threatened lands from fast rising seas, scientists concluded in a study published Wednesday in Science Advances.

Shell foresaw climate dangers in 1988 and understood Big Oil’s big role

Chris Ratcliffe:Bloomberg

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Jelmer Mommers, a reporter with De Correspondent, a Dutch newspaper, has uncovered Royal Dutch Shell documents as old as 1988 that showed the oil company understood the gravity of climate change, the company’s large contribution to it and how hard it would be to stop it.

alice springs, Australia, christmas tree recycling, fairhope alabama, global warming, gulf coast, milkweed, monarch butterfly, sacred gum tree, smithsonian national museum of natural history, solar radiation, swainson's warbler, volcanic eruptions

New stories this week

Small volcanic eruptions could be slowing global warming—new ground-, air- and satellite measurements show that small volcanic eruptions that occurred between 2000 and 2013 have deflected almost double the amount of solar radiation previously estimated. By knocking incoming solar energy back out into space, sulfuric acid particles from these recent eruptions could be responsible for decreasing global temperatures.


Sacred Gum Tree Leaves Threaten Future of Australian Pro Tour Tennis in Alice Springs—A 2014 Tennis Australia report expressed concern about the number of leaves that fell on the court during the 2014 event, but organizers cannot trim or cut down the trees without approval from native title holders and the council, according to the tennis club’s tournament director Matt Roberts.


Parks Canada Using Old Christmas Trees to Protect Sand Dunes—piles of old Christmas trees are stacked up along Brackley Beach of Prince Edward Island to fill in what are known as blow out areas where sand has drifted away.

How the Gulf Coast Can Save the Monarchs—a dramatic decline in monarchs has been linked to the loss of milkweeds, one of the most important monarch food sources in Eastern North America.
Longleaf pines of Gulf Coast may well determine whether the monarch and its great annual migration survives. More than 90 percent of all milkweed and climbing milkweed species found in eastern North America occur within the larger longleaf pine ecosystem and 15 or so of those species are found nowhere else but in longleaf forests.


A New Home for a Secretive Songbird—researchers from Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History report that Swainson’s warbler has found a new safe haven: private pine plantations.