Report Beech Leaf Disease


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ODNR Urges Ohioans to Report Beech Leaf Disease

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) urges Ohioans to identify and report signs of beech leaf disease to minimize risk of disease spread.

Beech leaf disease (BLD) is a newly observed disease affecting American and possibly non-native beech trees. BLD was first discovered in Lake County in 2012 and has quickly spread across northeastern Ohio. Infestations have been found in nine Ohio counties and parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada. Government and university scientists are currently working to learn more about BLD, but no causal agent has yet been identified for this disease. The ODNR Division of Forestry has received funding from the U.S. Forest Service to work with various partners within Ohio, other states and Canada to monitor the spread and document the impact of BLD to help inform research efforts and create management tools.

Symptoms of BLD include dark striping or banding on otherwise healthy-looking leaves; shriveled, discolored or deformed leaves; and reduced leaf and bud production. Disease progression varies with tree size, but BLD appears to kill small trees within several years. No infected tree has ever been known to recover. BLD is not to be confused with beech blight aphids or eriophyid mites.

Reports of BLD will be documented to inform future research and to monitor changes in forest composition and structure. Landowners in northeast Ohio are encouraged to report any signs of BLD and report healthy beech trees. Additionally, landowners are urged to avoid moving beech trees or tree parts to prevent BLD from potentially spreading to new areas.

To report BLD, contact ODNR Forest Health Program Administrator Tom Macy at thomas.macy@dnr.state.oh.us or use the BLD section of the NE Ohio Parks app available at parkapps.kent.edu.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

LePage calls lawmaker “the most repugnant human,” storms off

Monday, August 20

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage has called a fellow Republican “the most repugnant human” and stormed away from lawmakers who are investigating whether his administration retaliated against mill owners.

The governor on Monday defended his administration before the Legislature’s government oversight committee. A report by the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability released Monday found no evidence that the governor or a tariff dispute played any role in a decision to divert shipments of spruce and fir that previously went to the mill owners’ mills.

The committee’s chair ruled LePage out of order after he called Republican committee member Sen. Thomas Saviello “the most repugnant human.” Saviello and LePage have long been at odds.

The committee’s co-chair Republican Sen. Roger Katz said the governor owes lawmakers and Saviello an apology.

The Conversation

4 reasons why anti-Trump Latino voters won’t swing the midterms

August 20, 2018

Steffen W. Schmidt

Lucken Endowed Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

Disclosure statement

Steffen W. Schmidt is affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens. He was born and raised in Cali, Colombia.

The Democratic Party shouldn’t count on Latinos swinging many midterm races their way this year.

Approximately 27.3 million U.S. Latinos are eligible to vote in November’s midterm elections – 12 percent of all eligible voters, according to the Pew Research Center.

Democrats hope that this big bloc of voters will punish Republicans for President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. They are courting Latinos in red states like Arizona and Florida.

But the so-called “Latino vote” has always been more promise than reality for Democrats. My political science research indicates that a Latino blue wave is not likely to tip the upcoming election in Democrats’ favor.

1. Eligibility and turnout

To start with, immigration status limits the political impact of this group.

According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, only 44 percent of U.S. Latinos are eligible to vote, a lower proportion than Asian, African-American and white voters.

Latino voter turnout has also been historically low. In the 2016 U.S. election, Pew finds, only 48 percent of eligible Latino voters cast a ballot, compared to 65.3 perent of whites and 59.6 percent of blacks.

Gerrymandering of congressional districts and onerous voter registration barriers also significantly diminish Latinos’ voting power.

Some U.S. Latinos are highly likely to vote, including older voters with a college degree and Cuban-Americans.

But just one in three voting-aged Latinos under 29 voted in the last presidential election. Turnout was even lower among Latinos with less than a high school diploma.

Fully 20 percent of U.S. Latino voters fall into this low-turnout category.

2. The location of swing districts

The impact of the Latino vote on Senate and House races in 2018 is likewise limited by geographic factors.

More than half – 52 percent – of all Latinos eligible to vote live in California, Texas and New York. Congressional candidates in these states already understand the power of Latino voters, who have been decisive players in at least two dozen districts since the 1980s. Candidates successfully target Latino constituents in their media campaigns and outreach work.

In four big swing states, on the other hand – Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio – Latinos make up 5 percent or less of eligible voters.

As a result, Latino voters may be decisive for Democrats in just a handful of races: those occurring in states with competitive districts and significant Latino populations, including Virginia, Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.

In my view, the Latino vote could help push Democrats to victory in just seven races in five states. These include Virginia’s 10th district, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.; Texas’s southwestern 23rd and suburban seventh districts; Florida’s 26th district, which includes Miami; and Arizona’s Tucson-based 2nd district.

3. Latinos aren’t single-issue voters

The assumption that Latinos outraged by Trump’s immigration policies will come out en masse to vote against his party reveals another errant assumption about this voter segment – namely, that all Latinos care about the same things.

The Latino demographic is as diverse as any other population in America. It is a mistake to think that any 27.3 million eligible voters would rally around the same issues – even Trump’s immigration policies. The facts show that Latinos vote based on the same array of factors – gender identity, profession, religious affiliation, economic class, education – as other groups.

According to Gallup, Latino voters are concerned about health care, jobs, the economy and inequality. Just 12 percent cite immigration as their primary concern.

Some Latinos, like other Americans Trump targeted during his campaign, are themselves weary of undocumented immigration. Gallup polls over the past six years find that an average of 67 percent of Hispanics have said they worry “a great deal or fair amount” about illegal immigration. That is 10 points higher than non-Hispanic white respondents and 12 points higher than black respondents.

4. Inaccurate polling

The truth is, we just don’t know enough about the preferences of Latino voters. No more than half a dozen polls out of hundreds target the Latino voter segment exclusively. What polling is done on Latinos is often not well-designed.

Many Latino political leaders I’ve interviewed say that exit polls cannot accurately define who is a Latino and that surveys do not draw from representative samples of Latino districts.

As a result, their projections about Latino voter behavior are often inaccurate.

Here’s an example: Nearly all the analysts and anchors I interviewed from Telemundo, Univision and CNN en Español before the 2016 election agreed that Trump would win very few Latino voters.

In fact, it appears that 28 percent of Latinos voted for Trump. That’s just shy of the average 30 percent of U.S. Latinos who usually vote for GOP candidates and a reflection of the conservative social values many Latinos hold about abortion, LGBTQ issues and big government bureaucracies.

Republicans could lose Latino support

All that said, I do believe 2018 will be a sharp and significant test of Latino voter behavior in the United States – more so than the 2016 presidential election.

Back then, Trump was just a candidate and his anti-immigrant tirades could be passed off as campaign rhetoric.

Now, many U.S. Latinos and their families are feeling the direct impact of the president’s policies, including a crackdown on undocumented immigrants, the inhumane treatment of Central American asylum-seekers and the legal limbo inflicted on the young immigrants known as Dreamers.

If Latinos do abandon Republicans in significant numbers this November, Trump will have endangered his own party’s political future by finally alienating the largest and fastest-growing community in the United States.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of helium’s discovery – why we need it more than ever

August 17, 2018

Christopher Rithner

CIF Director, Colorado State University

Disclosure statement

Christopher Rithner receives funding from Colorado State University, a land grant college, the national institute of health, or NIH, and other sponsors. We have an interest in maintaining affordable, global reserves of helium gas, to support research, development and commerce activities of myself, ourselves and other forward looking humans in general.

Partners

Colorado State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

Watching helium gas lift balloons into the air is a lot of fun – or perhaps a tragedy if that balloon belonged to a small child who let it go. And, who hasn’t sipped the helium gas from a balloon and then quacked like Donald Duck? Although, that’s not the smartest thing to do since helium can displace the air in our lungs, or cause other problems with respiration.

Aside from balloons and making our voice squeaky, what use is helium? Should we care whether or not we run out of the gaseous stuff? Helium is a gas. It probably is not very surprising to hear that helium and human beings have almost nothing in common, but we still need each other. Our 21st-century economies depend on helium, and helium needs us to figure out better conservation strategies lest we run out of the stuff.

A noble gas, helium was first discovered 150 years ago, on August 18, 1868, by the French astronomer, Jules Janssen, during a total solar eclipse. He named helium after the source of the discovery, the sun, or helios, since, at the time, no helium had been detected on Earth. There have been innumerable scientific advances made around helium since then; modern analytical tools used in disciplines from medicine to astrophysics, not to mention the cell phones we carry around with us, would not be possible without helium that is used in the manufacturing process.

I am a research scientist working at Colorado State University – at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and home to the Rams – who depends on plentiful supplies of affordable helium for the research I do. Thanks to helium, my colleagues and I, and our counterparts worldwide, are making scientific discoveries that enrich our global community – all dependent on the unique physical properties provided by helium.

Helium supply on Earth is finite

The Crude Helium Enrichment Unit in the Cliffside Gas Field, Federal Helium Program, outside Amarillo, Texas. US Bureau of Land Management via Wikimedia Commons

You may recall a few years ago when reports of a helium shortage surfaced, as well as periodic reports, including some this year, of constraints in the global supply. So is this a crisis worthy of national attention?

Helium has been hanging around since the very beginning and formed shortly after the Big Bang many billions of years ago. It is the second lightest and also the second most common element in the universe, after hydrogen gas.

There isn’t much helium on planet Earth, however: just a few parts-per-million. The problem is that the helium nucleus is so light that our Earth’s gravity cannot hold it. Once helium enters our atmosphere, it escapes into the vacuum of space, lost from Earth, swept along with the solar wind.

Tubes with inert gases emit a different color and intensity light when excited with high voltage. From left to right: helium, neon, argon, krypton and xenon. By Kim Christensen / shutterstock.com

Despite this continuous loss of helium from Earth, reserves of helium have been fairly plentiful until recently. Most of the helium reserves we have on Earth were formed in a different way to its origins in the Big Bang. Radioactive elements, such as uranium and thorium decay into smaller pieces or particles including very small alpha particles. These particles are helium atoms stripped of their electrons, bare naked, energetic and highly charged. We call this decay of radioactive elements fission, since the element splits into new daughter components and energy is released.

Decay of these radioactive elements replenish helium that is lost to the atmosphere. It is trapped in various minerals and collects in large naturally formed gas reservoirs from which it is mined, such as the National Helium Reserve in Texas. However, this natural process takes thousands of years to generate quantities of helium that are worth extracting commercially.

Why we need helium

With a nuclear mass of just four – two protons and two neutrons – helium is a very stable element. Some of helium’s most vital properties for our purposes is that it is chemically inert and nonreactive, it is nonflammable, nonpoisonous and, most importantly, it boils at 4.2 Kelvin, or minus 268 degrees Celsius, which is near absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible in the universe. No other element can remain a liquid at these temperatures. There is simply no other material with helium’s unique properties available to us at this time.

For many industrial applications there is no substitute for relatively inexpensive helium. It is vital in aerospace and defense technologies, high-tech manufacturing, rocket engine testing, welding, commercial diving, magnets in particle accelerators, the production of fiber optic cables and semi-conductor chips found in your cell phone.

However, it turns out that the single biggest use of helium is to support our medical imaging industry, specifically magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, and high-end material analytics that take advantage of very high magnetic fields to make the nuclear magnetic resonance, or NMR, spectroscopy measurements. Those fields would not be possible to generate without liquid helium’s ultra-low boiling point.

MRI scanners are vital imaging tools for medicine. These machines generate an enormous magnetic field that is only possible with liquid helium keeping the superconductor inside the machine cool. By ALPA PROD / shutterstock.com

The key to the MRI and NMR devices, which are used to image the human body, is the use of superconducting materials that are stable at 4.2 K. Most materials resist the flow of electrons, or current, through them and this turns out to be a problem for magnet construction. Every single electronic device we use, every single wire feeding current to wall outlets, and all the infrastructure used to transport electrical energy through the grid waste energy through resistive forces. This resistance makes it difficult to generate a large magnetic field with high electrical currents required. A superconductor is magical, almost, and has no resistance to the flow of electrons and has the capacity to generate an enormous magnetic field, enabling high-resolution medical imaging. But for a superconductor to function correctly it must be kept at ultra-low temperatures – which is where liquid helium is essential.

Helium and superconductors

When a coil of wire is wound around a special superconducting material, then cooled to 4.2 K or less in liquid helium, the critical temperature condition is met and very high currents can be pumped into the coil. The largest stable magnetic field generated to date is by a hybrid, the 45 Tesla, or 450,000 Gauss, so-called Bitter superconducting magnet located in the U.S. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at the University of Florida. This magnet produces a magnetic field that’s 1.5 million times larger than the Earth’s magnetic field.

Dr. Karolien Denef and her son, Griffin, assist Dr. Christopher Rithner who is transferring liquid Helium from a cryogenic dewar to a superconducting magnet dewar for NMR. About one-third of helium consumed supports high magnetic field magnets in medical MRI, research NMR, and particle beams. Christopher Rithner, CC BY-ND

In our research we use NMR to fingerprint the physical properties of new material discoveries made in our laboratories. Some of these become drugs such as new antibiotics that address global health challenges, while others turn into “green” structural materials that can be readily recycled. Advances are being made in the energy sector, developing small, portable, high energy batteries that may eventually reduce our reliance on carbon fuels. NMR, in turn, requires copious quantities of helium to function. This is unlikely to change any time soon.

Fortunately, we are becoming better stewards of our remaining reserves, we are finding new reserves all the time, we are learning how to recycle helium gas before it is lost in space and we are beginning to understand how to make new materials that superconduct at higher, more accessible temperatures. All of these developments take time and lots of money. And unfortunately, recycling operations require a lot of energy and burn coal.

In the meantime, we will need to continue to find more sources of this precious resource and develop better strategies for recycling. We could take individual small steps in this direction by buying fewer party balloons. On the other hand, this is really a very small fraction of all the helium we consume and the sheer joy they provide is a small price to pay, I think. Just something to consider the next time you watch a party balloon sail its payload of helium into the great Cosmos.

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Staff & Wire Reports