Gerry Hawkes - photo taken in 2001
Back in 1969, as I watched the red spruce trees inexplicably dying, I talked with our county forester (a mentor, friend and state employee) about the possibility that acid rain could be the underlying cause and was told "Oh no, Gerry, it is all the dry weather we have been having."
Again in 1974, as the death of red spruce continued, I approached foresters in the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, suggesting that acid precipitation and air pollution was the only logical explanation for such persistent and widespread decline and death and was told that it was due to "all the wet weather".
It is now common knowledge that indeed air pollution in the form of acid deposition was and still is the primary causal agent of widespread red spruce decline and death. Every few years I attempted to bring up my strong suspicions that air pollution and acid rain were having serious widespread damaging impacts on other tree species in Vermont and was met with unsatisfactory explanations like the ones I received for red spruce.
One of the primary reasons so much time and effort has been devoted to the www.eco-systems.org web site is to attempt to show at least some of the worrisome forest health developments, many of which are difficult to quantify for statistical reports, particularly if there is little depth of background data.
I would urge all who read this to carefully observe the trees and forests and think of how the health and vitality of those trees and forests have changed over time. I also encourage you to take seriously the reports of massive fires, insect outbreaks and severe weather damaging and destroying forests around the world.
Through this and other information I hope you are moved to take the effects of air pollution seriously and will do your part to help reduce air pollution wherever you can.
Since virtually all scientists and much of the public now agree that there is an urgent need to curb emissions of greenhouse gases and since the volume of news regarding the serious environmental consequences has become overwhelming, it now makes sense to devote as much time as possible to working on ways to slow and mitigate the damage rather than sounding the alarm. Therefore these pages will be left on the Web, but little new information will be added.
- Gerry Hawkes ~ February 2006
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