- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
A respected news source recently interviewed Dr. Reese Halter who they said was an expert on climate change. Halter has an undergraduate degree in geography and completed postgraduate work, including a Ph.D. in eco-stress tree physiology from the University of Melbourne, Australia. His love for trees goes back to his childhood according to his personal website. I did not see any mention of climatological studies other than he picked a few spots on the globe to count tree rings and write a book about it. I guess all one has to do is write a book to become an expert.
Dr. Halter discussed the idea that another clear warning about global warming is evidenced by the late onslaught of leaf color formation as well as the lack of color being manifested this year. On cue, the interviewer switched to an aerial view of Central Park in New York City and stated the lack of color and the denseness of the green foliage. Also, the shot was taken at an angle, which maximized the view through the leaves so that they would appear denser. There was no mention of when the photo was taken nor was there any comparison photos from previous years.
Many people want to believe that science is infallible. I am not sure why that is with all the history we have recorded. For example, Nicolaus Copernicus was ostracized because he postulated that the Earth revolved around the Sun rather than the other way round. Christopher Columbus was called a fool as he set sail to find a new trade route to India because many thought he would sail off the edge of the Earth. There are so many examples.
I am pretty sure I am older than most that are reading this commentary. When I was taught science in elementary school, I recall that teachers were positive that the change in leaf color was triggered by air temperature falling to below freezing. The idea was that the small capillaries that carried the tree’s fluid to the leaves tended to shrink in colder weather and the leaf stressed. Although I accepted the concept as fact because teachers were the final authority, I wondered at why the leaves always changed about the same time each year, even without the frost. Wiser people than me proved that it was the fewer hours of sunlight that really caused the leaves to stress and change color. I do not recall if I read that while in college or after.
I cannot really talk about conditions in New York or Europe. I do know that just 10 days ago in this area, the leaves were nearly all quite green and healthy looking. Normally, the leaves change here by the middle of October and the children are shuffling along in drifts of leaves as they meander from one house to another with their traditional rendition of, “Trick or Treat” in search of the largest collection of candy and goodies. In early November, the town I live in will come around with their huge vacuum trucks to suck up the leaves that will be raked next to the curb. Today is the 10th of October and the leaves are a brilliant yellow and red with what I would estimate is 30 to 40 percent change. In other words, we are right on schedule here in Southeast Michigan. I predict the trucks will have plenty of leaves to suck up, right on time. How are things looking in your neighborhood?