Vegetation die-off (areas of reddish-brown) in New England observed by NASA satellite, revealing the negative influence of heating oil use on normally healthy vegetation.
(Greenbelt, Maryland) A new sensor on a NASA Earth-orbiting satellite has for the first time observed a global-scale die off of vegetation, a new article in Science magazine reports this week. "We were amazed at the continental scale that this die off occupied", said Dr. John Jorgenson of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The relatively rapid change in vegetation characteristics was observed from late summer through the fall, when the multi-million dollar NASA instrument recorded a distinct change in vegetation color from green to various shades of yellow, brown, orange, and red. "While there have been anecdotal reports for many years of this die-off phenomenon, those reports have been restricted to local regions. We have, for the first time, documented the global scale of the event, which covers much of the Northern Hemisphere during the months of September and October", said Dr. Jorgenson.
While the exact mechanism for the phenomenon is unclear, the researchers believe that it is related to increasing fossil fuel use, especially home heating oil, during the fall when temperatures turn cooler. "We know that particulate pollution from the burning of fuel oil can have a negative effect on healthy vegetation, and so the correlation between heating fuel use and vegetation die-off constitutes 'smoking gun' evidence for this association", Jorgenson said.
Bolstering this theory, Jorgenson claimed, is the observed return of vegetation health in the spring as temperatures warm and heating oil use drops to near zero. The new findings will likely help fuel increasing calls for restrictions on the widespread and indiscriminant use of fossil fuels, due to their proven connection to uncontrollable climate changes, such as tsunamis and killer hurricanes.
When contacted for comment on the new results, discredited global warming skeptic Dr. John Michaels told this reporter, "I think the NASA scientists should investigate the possibility that this die-off is directly related to decreasing levels of sunlight and the resulting cold temperatures as winter approachers". When told of Dr. Michaels' theory, Jorgeson replied, "Well of course he would say that…everyone knows he is in the pocket of 'big oil'. Besides, how else would you explain the fact that the die-off does not occur in tropical locations, where heating oil use is virtually unheard of?"