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I would guess very few people on this earth are aware that the background level (not the urban peaks) of tropospheric ozone is inexorably rising, everywhere around the globe.  And why would they be?  It's invisible, and corporations have waged an even more effective campaign to hide this dangerous acceleration in pollution than their effort to deny the scientific consensus on climate change from CO2...for the very simple reason that ozone is a genuinely existential threat to all forms of life on Earth.

Recent research has demonstrated this conclusively.  The increase in concentrations could be due to the escape of nitrogen fertilizers; the precursors originating from the astonishing growth in Asia; biofuel emissions; and/or the rising levels of methane from fracking and permafrost melt.  In any event, although localized extreme peaks have been reduced, the constant, persistent background which has been rising since preindustrial times has now reached the most remote locations and is definitely increasing at a quickening pace.  The "policy-relevant background" is so high it is approaching the air quality standards already set by the EPA.  That is the reason the Obama administration would not allow Lisa Jackson to tighten the standard last year.  Too many rural areas places would be out of compliance due to imported pollution with very little recourse to alleviate peak concentrations.

Even people who may be aware that ozone causes cancer and other epidemic diseases, often don't know that it is actually far more toxic to plants than humans, in a host of ways.  Trees that are absorb ozone through their leaves and needles are exposed to cumulative damage year after year.  It is rotting their roots and interiors.  Most farmers don't realize that their crop yield and quality are significantly reduced because of pollution - anywhere from 10 to 60% now, and getting worse every year.  Included in that problem is that many weeds are more resistent to ozone than the desirable crops, which they outcompete.  The absolutely worst effect is that vegetation injured by ozone is then prey to insects, disease and fungus with which they once co-existed in harmony.  Now, those attacks are finishing off perennial shrubs and trees at a rapidly accelerating rate.

The disastrous consequences of this for wildlife, ruminates, humans, and climate should be apparent.  We have to collectively as one family decide to reduce our numbers AND our consumption levels drastically or famine is the obvious result.  Unfortunately although this is well-documented from decades of studies, it represents a far more inconvenient truth than climate change which is why it has been and continues to be even more ruthlessly suppressed by industries that produce and profit from toxic emissions.  It would be better if people understand that the current amount of pollution we produce is unsustainable, that we must come together as one family to preserve a habitable climate, prevent ecosystem collapse, and reduce our numbers dramatically by having much smaller families.

An essay on this topic which includes the latest published research is linked to on my blog Wit's End: please visit!

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am puzzled (0+ / 0-)

    as to why literally no one at all seems to have read or commented on this diary.

    I've seen traces of the science before in scientific publications, but absolutely nothing in the lay press.  Mostly, ozone seems to be used as a confabulation to distract people from focusing on the carbon problem . . . ozone, and cow farts.  Always, always, they drag out the cow farts, and the evangelical vegetarians jump on the bandwagon because raising cows is Evil.

    Me, I'm a tree person.  I'm a little confused because the science I've read seemed to indicate that trees actually PRODUCE ozone, and their production mixes with auto exhaust on hot, muggy days to exacerbate asthma, etc.  I know that ozone irritates my own breathing, but not dangerously -- I've got fantastic lungs.   But it's obvious from this rant and your website that human overpopulation isn't just killing tigers and polar bears; it's killing trees.  And for me, them's fighting words.

    Obviously it can only go on so long before the entire population bomb explodes and the species gets pitched back to the Dark Ages.  But have you got any positive ideas on how we could quickly eliminate about 3/4 of the current human population?  An engineered Terminator virus would do the trick, I would think.  Not fatal, if possible; just something that would be wildly infective and leave anyone who got it sterile.  At least, it would solve the problem in sixty years or so.  Maybe the rest of the ecosystem can survive that long.

    •  Well, thanks tree person for leaving a comment! (0+ / 0-)

      Ozone is simple and complicated at the same time.  In a normal world, there would be good, naturally occurring ozone in the stratosphere, high up where it blocks excess UV-B radiation, but down here at ground level, not so much.

      Most of the ozone we have at the troposphere is from the chemical reaction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) which are made from trees and plants; nitrogen oxides which derive from human activities like burning fuel; methane released from fracking and agriculture along with reactive nitrogen (artificial fertilizers); VOC's from industrial processes - all in the presence of sunlight.

      So Reagan was being just a little disingenuous (gasp!) when he said trees cause air pollution, because without the anthropogenic contribution, they wouldn't!

      I think famine will take care of our overshoot, along with diseases, extremely violent weather events from climate change, all leading to the breakdown of society, and wars, both regional and international.  Something to look forward I put it at the end of that essay, there is a race between converging catastrophes and aren't we lucky to have ringside seats at the finish line?

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