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Mysterious Deaths Of Ancient Baobabs

June 16, 2018
tags:

h/t Various!

 

From the BBC, the strange news about baobab trees:

image

A tree regarded as the icon of the African savannah is dying in mysterious circumstances.

International scientists have discovered that most of the oldest and largest African baobab trees have died over the past 12 years.

They suspect the demise may be linked to climate change, although they have no direct evidence of this.

The tree can grow to an enormous size, and may live hundreds if not thousands of years.

The researchers, from universities in South Africa, Romania and the US, say the loss of the trees is "an event of an unprecedented magnitude".

Revealing the findings in the journal Nature Plants, they say the deaths were not caused by an epidemic.

"We suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part with significant modifications of climate conditions that affect southern Africa in particular," said the team, led by Dr Adrian Patrut of Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. "However, further research is necessary to support or refute this supposition."

‘Shocking and very sad’

The researchers have been visiting ancient trees across southern Africa since 2005, using radio carbon dating to investigate their structure and age.

Unexpectedly, they found that eight of the 13 oldest and five of the six largest baobabs had either completely died or had their oldest parts collapse.

Baobab trees have many stems and trunks, often of different ages. In some cases all the stems died suddenly.

"We suspect this is associated with increased temperature and drought," Dr Patrut told BBC News. "It’s shocking and very sad to see them dying."

The trees that have died or are dying are found in Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. They are all between 1,000 and more than 2,500 years old.

Also known as "dead-rat" trees, after the shape of their fruit, baobab trees have stout, branchless trunks.

They store large quantities of water inside their trunks to endure the harsh conditions of the arid areas in which they live.

The trees also support wildlife; they are important nesting sites for birds.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44418849 

 

My first reaction was that these trees, all more than 1000 years old, must have lived through many changes of climate, particularly during warmer periods than now. Why should today’s climate be a particular problem?

Unsurprisingly these days, the authors were quick to point the finger at climate change. However, the fact that they could not actually find any evidence for this totally destroys their argument. After all, it should not have been very difficult to track down the temperature and rainfall data in the regions affected, and carry out a proper statistical analysis.

Given their failure to provide evidence, their claim should never have been put forward. That is not how science is supposed to work.

But there are some clues that their claim is insubstantial.

 

Firstly, look at the areas where they have found dying trees:

Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.

 

There are actually big differences in climate between these countries. The idea, for instance, that it is now too hot for baobabs in South Africa is a nonsense, as they have been growing in hotter climates further north.

Similarly, there are large variations in rainfall between these different areas.

Indeed, baobabs have a much greater range in Africa, beyond southern Africa, for instance extending to Somalia and the Sudan, as Wickens and Lowe’s comprehensive book on baobabs shows:

 image

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Baobabs-Pachycauls-Africa-Madagascar-Australia/dp/9048176395#reader_9048176395

A relatively minor shift in temperature, or a couple of years of drought surely cannot explain the trees’ demise, when they already manage to grow in much more extreme climates across the continent.

It is a great pity that the authors did not spend time attempting to get to the real reasons, rather than conveniently blaming climate change.

There is after all quite a lot that we do know about baobabs. The Feedipedia website tells us that:

Distribution

The origin of the baobab is still debated. They may have originated from the savannas and savanna woodlands of Sub-Saharan Africa, or they may have occured first in Madagascar (which has six endemic Adansonia species), from where they would have spread to continental Africa and Australia (Wickens et al., 2008; Watson, 2007). The baobab was introduced in many tropical and subtropical regions: central African countries, many Asian countries (e.g. India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines), the Middle East and the West Indies. The African baobab is found from sea level up to 1500 m in regions with a dry season lasting about 4-10 months split into 1 or 2 periods. Baobabs often grow close to villages (Orwa et al., 2009; ICUC, 2002; Bosch et al., 2004; Ecocrop, 2011).

Optimal growth conditions are average day temperatures ranging from 19°C to 35°C, annual rainfall between 300 and 500 mm, and fertile, slightly acidic, sandy topsoil overlaying loamy subsoil. However, the African baobab may withstand much lower and more irregular rainfall conditions (90-1500 mm) and grow on poorly drained soils with a heavy texture, though not on deep sands probably due to the lack of anchorage (Orwa et al., 2009; Bosch et al., 2004). It cannot withstand seasonal flooding, waterlogging or severe frost, which may kill even mature trees (Ecocrop, 2011; Bosch et al., 2004).

https://www.feedipedia.org/node/525

 

In other words, they can flourish in quite a wide range of climate conditions, and can survive periods of severe drought.

Indeed, if we look at the Nature paper’s supplementary information, it gives a list of the trees recorded (blue being “dead/dying”):

 

image

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41477-018-0170-5#Sec13 

As we can see, they are widely distributed across southern Africa, and across varying rainfall regimes, from Limpopo with 388mm a year, to Zambia with 817mm.

 

The other significant thing which Feedipedia tells us is that baobabs are an important source of food:

 

The African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) is one of the eight species of baobab (Adansonia) and the only one native to mainland Africa. Like other baobabs, the African baobab is a massive deciduous fruit tree, up to 20-30 m high, with a lifespan of several hundred years. Its swollen and often hollow trunk looks like a huge bottle and can be as broad as 3-7 m in diameter. It bears short, stout and tortuous branches and has a thin canopy. Baobab is strongly anchored in the soil by an extensive and strong root system that grows 2 m deep, and whose diameter may be higher than the tree height. The leaves are simple or digitally compound, dark-green on top, and borne at the end of a 16 cm-long petiole. The leaflets are between 5-15 cm long and 1.5-7 cm broad. The baobab shed its leaves during the early dry season and new leaves appear after flowering. The pentamerous flowers are white, large (20 cm in diameter and 25 cm long), and hang from stalks on pedicels up to 90 cm long. The fruit is a voluminous (35 cm long and 17 cm in diameter) ovoid capsule with a hard woody envelope containing a pulp and black seeds. Once ripe, the fruit envelope becomes brittle and the pulp takes on a chalky consistency. The tree starts producing fruits 8-10 years after planting but consistent production only occurs after 30 years (Ecocrop, 2011; FAO, 2011; Orwa et al., 2009; Bosch et al., 2004; Jansen et al., 1991).

The baobab is mainly used for food. The fruits, flowers, leaves, shoots, roots of seedlings and even the tree roots are edible. The leaves can be used either fresh, as a cooked vegetable, or dried and powdered as a functional ingredient (thickener) of soups and sauces. The flowers, shoots and roots of seedlings are eaten (Bosch et al., 2004). The fruits, called monkey-bread, contain a white, mealy, acidic tasting nutritious flesh that can be eaten as a sweet, used to make refreshing drinks and ice-creams, or used to adulterate and curdle milk. The seeds yield an edible and pleasant tasting oil, and oil extraction results in an oil meal. The bark is used for fibre or as firewood. The roots, that are boiled and eaten in times of famine, contain tannins that provide a useful red dye (Orwa et al., 2009). In the Sahel, black bark and red bark baobabs are preferred for their fruits, while dark leaf types are mainly used as a leaf vegetable and grey bark types are used for fibre (Bosch et al., 2004). Burning baobab fruit pulp produces an acrid smoke used to deter insects troublesome to livestock (Orwa et al., 2009).

Baobab trees provide fodder for animals: young leaves, fruits, seeds and the oil meal are consumed by livestock (Bosch et al., 2004). During drought, donkeys and game animals chew the bark and the fibrous wood for sap. Livestock and game often destroy young trees. Elephants can badly damage baobabs when they rub themselves against the trunk (FAO, 2011; Orwa et al., 2009).

 

Surely the first consideration for the authors should have been the impact on trees from humans. Have they been overharvested? Or damaged in some way?

 

Then there is the impact of tourism. There is a website for the Sunland Baobab in Limpopo, which contained this prescient tale:

It was at one time believed that Baobabs were in danger of becoming extinct. This was before botanists realised that the small trees do not resemble the mature trees at all. Fortunately the Baobab is not threatened. But the large trees are not immune to man’s intrusion. A famous tree, the Nomsiang Baobab, named after the farm in which it stood, was close to the highway and thousands of visitors trampled the ground so hard that it became impervious to rainwater and the magnificent tree died.

http://www.bigbaobab.co.za/baobab_facts

 

It is a sad fact that the most ancient of these trees are huge tourist attractions. Thousands come to look, and many will climb them, maybe even taking home souvenirs. There is also the question of vehicles approaching too close. Just how much damage does all of this do?

I said prescient, because the Sunland baobab itself toppled over last year. With the best of intentions, the owners had decided to develop their farm in the 1990s:

The Sunland ‘Big Baobab’ is in Modjadjiskloof in Limpopo Province, South Africa and is famous internationally for being the widest of its species in the world. Africa is symbolised by these magnificent trees. The Sunland Big Baobab is carbon dated to be well over 1 700 years old and has even made the front page of the Wall Street Journal!
When baobabs become a thousand years old, they begin to hollow inside. In the Big Baobab this has resulted in wonderful caverns and caves, where the world famous Baobab Tree Bar now amazes visitors.

The Big Baobab is on the mango farm Sunland, where day visitors are welcome.  Sunland can also accommodate 20 overnight visitors in 5 chalets.  We also offer quadbiking on our own quads or you can bring your own. There are hikes, waterfalls in the surrounding area and mountain biking trails, while the tree itself hosts a variety of activities.  The Big Baobab has hosted many weddings over the years an there is now a honeymoon suite in a tree house for a wedding with a difference!

Sunland Farm is an ideal base for exploring the surrounding area – the Modjadjiskloof Cycad Forest, the Magoebaskloof hills and forest, the verdant area of Tzaneen and more.

Doug and Heather van Heerden bought the farm in 1989 and cleared half, planting mangoes and Palm trees. The Big Baobab is important both historically and ecologically and is home to many animals and birds, as well as providing food for many others. The van Heerdens fiercely protect the tree and the surroundings – woe betide anyone who doesn’t share their views!

http://www.bigbaobab.co.za/home

 

They hold weddings around the tree:

 

 

Let kids climb all over it:

And have even built a bar inside the trunk:

In 1993 the van Heerdens cleared out the hollow centre of the tree, removing masses of compost build up, to uncover the floor about a meter below ground level. In the process they found evidence of both Bushmen and Voortrekkers, attesting to the historical importance of the tree.

They squared off a natural vent in the trunk to make a door and installed a railway sleeper pub inside the trunk, complete with draft beer, seats and a music system.  One party had 60 people inside the tree bar!. A wine cellar was installed in a second hollow, with a constant temperature of 22° C, ventilated by natural vents.

http://www.bigbaobab.co.za/baobab_facts

 

Has any of this human encroachment been a factor in the tree’s collapse? I don’t know – but it surely seems a lot more likely than climate change.

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57 Comments
  1. Broadlands permalink
    June 16, 2018 2:30 pm

    “My first reaction was that these trees, all more than 1000 years old, must have lived through many changes of climate, particularly during warmer periods than now. Why should today’s climate be a particular problem? Unsurprisingly these days, the authors were quick to point the finger at climate change. However, the fact that they could not actually find any evidence for this totally destroys their argument. After all, it should not have been very difficult to track down the temperature and rainfall data in the regions affected, and carry out a proper statistical analysis.”

    Will you please stop using facts. You are annoying the global warming alarmists. Some may recommend you be incarcerated…as they have done in the US.

  2. Timo Soren permalink
    June 16, 2018 2:36 pm

    Hmmmm Grootboom.. a character in a movie was named Groot and was a funny looking tree.

  3. markl permalink
    June 16, 2018 2:42 pm

    Climate Change is the default reason for anything unknown that you want to write about and get published.

  4. John Scott permalink
    June 16, 2018 3:11 pm

    I notice they want more money for research as usual. Probably the location is a key element in problem and over the long life of these trees they must have weathered many climate cycles.

  5. June 16, 2018 3:20 pm

    Maybe all this extra CO2 is choking them to death?

  6. Curious George permalink
    June 16, 2018 3:54 pm

    California Giant Sequoias are also threatened by roads. You probably have seen a picture of a car driving through a tunnel in a tree. Environmentalists later observed that cutting a tunnel through a tree, while increasing its popularity, did not improve its health. A century later, all sequoias with a road through them are dead.

    • czechlist permalink
      June 16, 2018 8:24 pm

      perhaps the scientists doing the study are the cause?
      I recall reading a recent article about coral reef declines that sarcastically blamed scuba divers.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        June 17, 2018 10:09 am

        All that CO2 being put into the ocean by scuba divers in close proximity to coral must be harmful if increasing ocean acidity is as bad as claimed.

      • bob permalink
        June 17, 2018 12:04 pm

        Interesting that they blah about ocean acidity when the oceans are alkaline. PH around 8.1. They will never become acid. However where there is less alkalinity, such as the humbolt current ph 7.8 there is a far greater amount of plankton and fish. All evidence shows that if oceans become more ‘acid’ (less alkaline is true term) then there would be MORE sealife! Tell dotty old Attenborough.

  7. keith permalink
    June 16, 2018 3:58 pm

    Fake news station at it again. BBC will print or broadcast any c*** which mentions climate change. They are so desperate to keep the climate scam going. Their pensions also rely on it.

    • June 16, 2018 7:07 pm

      There is very little output from the BBC that can be trusted. Everything the BBC puts out needs thoroughly checking before it can be accepted as correct.

      “Is that true or did you hear it on the BBC?”

      • rapscallion permalink
        June 17, 2018 11:14 am

        Correct. I do not believe ANYTHING the Balkanise Britain Caliphate publishes.

  8. Dodgy Geezer permalink
    June 16, 2018 4:13 pm

    They squared off a natural vent in the trunk to make a door and installed a railway sleeper pub inside the trunk, complete with draft beer….

    Alcohol poisoning?

  9. juliabarrett permalink
    June 16, 2018 4:31 pm

    Reblogged this on I Don't Think It Means… and commented:
    Interesting.

  10. dave permalink
    June 16, 2018 5:46 pm

    “They” are completely desperate.

    • dave permalink
      June 16, 2018 5:56 pm

      BTW, the population of sub-Saharan Africa has grown from 650 million to 1,050 million in just 18 years. If any part of Nature is “in trouble,” look first to this factor for the explanation.

      • Tom O permalink
        June 18, 2018 5:29 pm

        The population growth of and by itself is meaningless. There is no reason to assume that somehow 650 million is the “right” population that can be supported. Get real. It may be a factor, but it isn’t “the reason.”

  11. Chris Lynch permalink
    June 16, 2018 7:29 pm

    Climate change suspected – despite zero hard evidence. Another “the cat had kittens – it must have been caused by climate change” story.

  12. June 16, 2018 7:34 pm

    No species of tree lives forever. Boabab trees are notoriously difficult to date; dendrochronology doesn’t apply. The tree forms no annual growth ring. I was in Zambia and then S Africa this spring. I saw lots a huge, healthy Boabob trees. I slept under a real big one that David Livingstone also slept under north of Lusaka.

    We ask a simple question: Is not death most frequently observed in the oldest cohort of any species? If you were to monitor the 100 oldest people in say N America, wouldn’t you observe an extraordinary mortality rate?

    • June 17, 2018 10:56 am

      Well, you saved me the trouble of pointing out that they seemed to be the oldest trees and would anyone be surprised by an article saying that the oldest people were dying.

      Logic, once again eludes these “scientists” and “journalists.” Perhaps they should become endangered.

  13. HotScot permalink
    June 16, 2018 7:49 pm

    My grass is developing mysterious circular dead patched all over it.

    I wonder if I should report this to the BBC as the effect of climate change despite my lack of evidence.

    BTW folks, we just rescued the cutest female Boxer puppy from Battersea. She’s so cute, and she drinks gallons of water.

    • rapscallion permalink
      June 17, 2018 11:17 am

      Deffo caused by climate change. Cute boxer puppy drinks loads of water because of climate change. That’s gotta be it, Oh hang . .

      • nigel permalink
        June 17, 2018 12:07 pm

        “…puppy drinks loads of water because of climate change [which makes the animal hot and bothered] ”

        And pisses on the grass, which dies back…

    • nigel permalink
      June 17, 2018 12:25 pm

      “…drinks…”

      Any chance she has diabetes?

      • HotScot permalink
        June 17, 2018 5:07 pm

        nigel

        I guess my scathing wit isn’t as scathing as I believed.

        I don’t have a boxer puppy.

  14. June 16, 2018 7:56 pm

    So Paul Offices of PR people are busy looking for news stories to hang their POLITICAL agendas on and ruthlessly exploit them
    : Jo Cox = “We all need REMAIN”, Grenfell = “Tories are Evil”
    and Baobab Tress fell down = GW

  15. sean2829 permalink
    June 16, 2018 8:02 pm

    Oh what a kill joy you are. The narrative must be saved!! Next thing you going to tell is that Indonesian primates such as Orangutans are going extinct as their forest habitat is being cleared to make biodiesel.

  16. June 16, 2018 8:14 pm

    On June 11th Christian Allié an expert in Tropical Deforestation replied to this alarmism
    \\ Visibly, the drought and the temperature too high
    -“the region in which the baobabs millennia are dead is one of those where warming is the fastest in Africa”!!! //
    with
    \\ This data represents only a small sample of the aged #Baobabs.
    In #Madagascar, the only baobabs that have have been dated are a few near driveable trails.
    The main problem is deforestation → burning , crop irrigation //

  17. June 16, 2018 8:21 pm

    Friday’s Times carried a debunk from Diana Mayne, a baobab specialist
    : he baobab, Africa’s tree of life, comes back from the dead
    \\ The survival of Baines’ Baobabs, one of the most photographed cluster of trees — which has also been painted by the Prince of Wales — is proof that Africa’s largest inhabitants should not be underestimated, researchers have said. Their reaction is in response to a report speculating that climate change is killing “the tree of life”. //

    “observed some remarkable comebacks.”
    “Many collapse and come back even stronger, just in a different shape.””
    \\ she said. “One of the worst cyclones ever recorded hit Madagascar in 2004 and completely uprooted a number of baobabs but still they continue to flourish and produce fruit.” //

    \\ “We have records of baobabs dying, sometimes in large numbers, since the 1920s before climate change was an issue,” she said.
    “Mortality is very complex in all trees.” //

    • HotScot permalink
      June 16, 2018 10:39 pm

      Top comment Stew.

      • dave permalink
        June 17, 2018 9:13 am

        Yes, that was an interesting comment.

        “Mortality is very complex in all trees.”

        Especially in view of the fact that, technically, 99% of any mature tree is already dead.

        One has to look very carefully at both stocks and flows in an ecology. A stagnant stream has a large stock of vegetation but almost no growth. While it is exactly the opposite in a flowing stream.

  18. chrism56 permalink
    June 16, 2018 8:39 pm

    The explanation may be simpler. They just had very bad frosts to which the trees are susceptible, especially if the local micro-climate has been changed. The did have a very heavy frost in South Africa at end of 2016
    https://www.enca.com/south-africa/cape-vineyards-hit-by-devastating’-black-frost
    So it could have been climate change, just not global warming

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 17, 2018 10:43 am

      I work with a South African and only last week he was telling me that when he was growing up any snow on the mountains at the Cape was exciting and they would rush to look at a mere dusting of snow. And it was not a very common event. In the last couple of years there has been snow more often and it is not just a dusting either. While the trees have no doubt seen it all before in terms of cold spells, is this the tipping factor when allied to other localised changes, probably of human origin? Population growth and increased consumption is high on the list.

  19. lapogus permalink
    June 16, 2018 9:43 pm

    I was also thinking that a recent hard frost or frosts is the most likely explanation:

    “It cannot withstand seasonal flooding, waterlogging or severe frost, which may kill even mature trees (Ecocrop, 2011; Bosch et al., 2004).”

    An increase in the frequency of exceptional frosts could be due to climate change. But a single hard frost is probably just weather.

  20. It doesn't add up... permalink
    June 16, 2018 10:03 pm

    Another Just So story….

  21. Maggy Wassilieff permalink
    June 16, 2018 10:14 pm

    Bark harvesting of Baobab trees is common.
    https://opendocs.ids.ac.uk/opendocs/handle/123456789/4831

    As is leaf harvesting
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112710005414

  22. June 16, 2018 10:36 pm

    One thought: if >1000 years old, where are all the descendant trees? If none, were conditions so perilous that only one managed to be in the sweet spot to live? And now at the ends of their lives? Are these trees a bizarre testament to the tenacity of life in extremitis, not a canary in a CO2 mine?

  23. June 17, 2018 1:27 am

    Here is my opinion, based on other known events as to why these trees are dying.
    Example #1 – Mt. Kilimanjaro.
    Global warming had been blamed as the cause for glaciers getting smaller on Mt. Kilimanjaro. “Global warming is melting the ice.” Except that it never gets above freezing at the top. The shrinkage was due to sublimation, same reason your ice cubes get smaller the longer they stay in your freezer.
    Turned out that less snow was falling.
    The cause was that man had cut down much of the forest around the mountain. This caused a reduction in the humidity in the air. When winds moves this drier air up the mountain fewer clouds formed and less snow fell.
    *Loss of vegetation.
    Example #2 – California.
    Just a couple of weeks ago a study was released saying that urbanization along the California coast has reduced cloud formation. Less humidity in the air. This has resulted in it being harder to fight wildfires in the area.
    *Loss of vegetation.
    Now on to Africa and the Baobab tree.
    With no source of dependable or affordable fossil fuel energy, many in Africa depend on open fires for cooking, light and heat. Their fuel source is wood and animal dung. There has been serious loss of vegetation as trees and brush are stripped from the landscape to use for firewood.

    As examples 1 and 2 above show, loss of vegetation removes humidity from the air and reduces cloud formation and precipitation.
    My opinion is that this localized climate change, due to man’s land use changes is at the very least a contributing factor, if not a leading factor that explains the death of these trees.

  24. John F. Hultquist permalink
    June 17, 2018 1:52 am

    The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. Richard Feynman

    He also said that scientists have the responsibility to consider and dismiss, if possible, other explanations of their hypotheses.

    I guess these tree scholars missed the Feynman papers in their studies.

  25. Geoff Sherrington permalink
    June 17, 2018 3:53 am

    When drought threatens our collection of trees, we water them. Geoff.

  26. martinbrumby permalink
    June 17, 2018 6:34 am

    There must be very many occupations, far less pleasant, than swanning round Southern Africa admiring giant Boabab trees and making up fairy tales about their impending demise.
    You even get lionised by the Beeb.
    No doubt big wads of Grant money (i.e. taxpayers’ money stolen by incompetent, virtue signalling politicians) is already en route to their current, pleasant watering hole.
    Personally, I hope they all get ‘lionised’ in a rather more physical way.

  27. Athelstan permalink
    June 17, 2018 7:20 am

    Why don’t the tree huggerers/ greens file a suit at the UN and to sue mother Gaia her violators in the ‘evil west’ for not looking after the Boabab trees, it ain’t right, any lunatic can see it.

  28. paul weldon permalink
    June 17, 2018 7:51 am

    The original article is behind a paywall, so I cannot get to see the actual paper, but the abstract states that the cause of mortality is unclear (no mention of climate change). The reference to climate change in the BBC article appears to be from a comment from one of the authors, so it may be that the original article states something different. I guess the BBC just kept questioning away at the different authors until one mentioned climate change, thus giving them an excuse to highlight climate change as the cause.

    • dave permalink
      June 17, 2018 9:22 am

      “…the BBC just kept questioning away…”

      That is certainly a possibility. Another is that it is the usual trick, whereby “worried scientists” start their scare in a “musing manner” and then rely on “the echo-chamber” to
      do the rest.

  29. John Ledger permalink
    June 17, 2018 8:03 am

    There is an interesting report on baobabs at the following link:
    http://www.saeon.ac.za/enewsletter/archives/2016/december2016/doc01
    Baobabs in the Kruger National Park in South Africa are affected mainly by fire and elephants. The latter strip the park from baobabs, and elephant numbers in the KNP have increased since population management was stopped by the animal rights movement. The same happened in Zimbabwe where elephant number are burgeoning. Botswana has never managed it elephant populations. When one species is allowed to increase to the detriment of all other components of an ecosystem, something has to give. Some readers have raised the issue of the increasing human population in Africa, and indeed the burning of biomass and land clearance for agriculture will quite likely affect local environmental conditions. Blaming ‘climate change’ in this case is a pathetic indication of the inability of the authors to recognise the complexities of the real world. .

  30. John Ledger permalink
    June 17, 2018 8:06 am

    Correction – “strip the park” should read “strip the bark”.

  31. Green Sand permalink
    June 17, 2018 8:28 am

    Make yourselves ready! Our stupid energy policy is reeping it’s just rewards. High prices and low security. We are governed by scientific illiterate virtue signalling idiots!

    ‘British reliance on French energy increases by more than quarter ‘

    “The UK’s reliance on importing French power to keep the lights on has increased by almost a quarter this year in further evidence of Britain’s energy cost crunch.

    Energy prices in Britain are now around a fifth higher than they were this time last year on the wholesale market.

    Meanwhile, across the Channel, nuclear power plants have flooded France with cheap electricity which is being sold at a tidy profit to struggling British suppliers.

    “French nuclear plants have been far more reliable this year to date than last year,” said Jamie Stewart, the ICIS Energy analyst, “which has kept a firm lid on French power prices.””

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/06/16/british-reliance-french-energy-increases-quarter/

    • dave permalink
      June 17, 2018 9:32 am

      The inter-connectors from France and The Netherlands do seem to be sending power to us flat-out all the time.

      http://gridwatch.co.uk/

      I imagine the governments of those countries will simply forbid power exports to us, in the event of domestic problems resulting from persistent cold ,dark, still, conditions a.k.a. a bad winter across all of Europe.

      • dave permalink
        June 17, 2018 10:34 am

        OT

        The swathe of the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes develop is unusually cool:

        This is disappointing news for people who like pictures of palm trees in Florida whipping about.

      • nigel permalink
        June 17, 2018 10:45 am

        “…forbid power exports to us…”

        Just like the Banks – who will always lend money to you, except when you actually need it.

  32. June 17, 2018 11:17 am

    The baobab is a member of the Malvaceae–cotton family. Okra and cotton are cousins. When I first encountered the baobab in taxonomy class in undergraduate school, we referred to it as the “upside down carrot.”

    Others posting have covered the fact that it seems to be the oldest ones. Likely they are more susceptible to events such as frost as they have relatively little living tissue compared to their size. And, as with all species, ourselves included, the old die.

    I do not recall seeing any mention of the younger trees. A major question should be, “how is the reproduction going?” Are there good numbers of various-aged trees? Are there seedlings, saplings, young and mature specimens in good numbers?

    During the assumed life-span of these dying old trees, earth has experienced the Medieval Warming and Little Ice Age. Sorry, Michael Mann, but I reinstated those two events. They were not local either but were pretty much worldwide. To say that the current view of climate change is at fault is a non-starter. These jokers do a miss-service to not only science but public knowledge when they go straight to “climate change,” while ignoring other possible causes. The scientific method has just become too pesky for those whose mind is already made up and they just need to publish the excuse and go on to the next grant.

  33. John Ledger permalink
    June 17, 2018 4:14 pm

    Thanks to Joan for this contribution. Most observers would look for young baobabs as little versions of the “upside down carrot.” In fact they do not resemble adult trees at all. Here is a quote from an article by Professor Eugene Moll, currently in press in African Wildlife & Environment magazine, of which I am the editor:

    “Perhaps one final point of note is that many people ask why there seem to be no young baobabs? The truth is, baobabs regenerate well and are plentiful enough to replace all the mature ones over time. One reason why saplings are missed is that they do not resemble adult trees. Rather their leaves are simple (adult leaves are palmately compound), and their stems are not swollen, so they escape detection by many people walking through the bush. These saplings can be heavily browsed and in good rain years, when there is ample other fodder for mammalian herbivores, these saplings can grow quickly to a height where they can escape browsing and thereafter grow into adult trees. These good years may be decades apart but be assured there are saplings biding their time and simply waiting for the opportunity to escape.”

  34. June 17, 2018 4:30 pm

    Thanks Joan for your pertinent comments. Most people probably assume that young baobabs resemble little “upside down carrots.” In fact they are completely different, as noted by Professor Eugene Moll in an article currently in press in African Wildlife and Environment magazine, of which I am the editor:

    “Perhaps one final point of note is that many people ask why there seem to be no young baobabs? The truth is, baobabs regenerate well and are plentiful enough to replace all the mature ones over time. One reason why saplings are missed is that they do not resemble adult trees. Rather their leaves are simple (adult leaves are palmately compound), and their stems are not swollen, so they escape detection by many people walking through the bush. These saplings can be heavily browsed and in good rain years, when there is ample other fodder for mammalian herbivores, these saplings can grow quickly to a height where they can escape browsing and thereafter grow into adult trees. These good years may be decades apart but be assured there are saplings biding their time and simply waiting for the opportunity to escape”.

  35. June 17, 2018 5:34 pm

    “The Sunland Big Baobab is carbon dated to be well over 1 700 years old ”

    Just when we thought the science was settled…..

    https://www.siliconrepublic.com/innovation/carbon-dating-accuracy-major-flaw

  36. June 18, 2018 3:48 pm

    Nobody doing the research seemed to notice the age of these trees…death must come at such an old age, really!

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