Plants with personalities and ecocide

Plants may have quite complex personalities, according to Rick Carban, an entomologist from the University of California who plans to publish a paper on his theory of plant personalities. He claims that some are braver while the others are timider – and that characteristics impact their relations with other plants. Plants can send chemical signals to, for example, communicate distress when they are in danger. Carban says that if a plant sending such a signal is “known” by the neighboring plants as a coward, they may not react – but they will undoubtedly do if such a signal comes from a plant considered brave.

Climate change is making leaves fall earlier in autumn and shortens the growing season, claims a new report prepared by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Scientists looked into data on six tree species in almost 4000 locations in Europe between 1948 and 2015. They found that leaves become more productive early on – in summer and spring – but also die earlier. If this proves to be true also for Asia and North America, it will be gruesome news. It will mean leaves store much less carbon dioxide than previously thought: even one gigatonne less – or about 10% of annual human-caused emissions.

France is on its way to make “ecocide” punishable by even 10 years in prison in an attempt to “put an end to environmental banditry,” as phrased by the country’s Minister of Justice. The new law will name a range of different offenses. For example, it will allow punishing felons even before the act happens or fine those who benefit from destroying the environment up to 10 times the profit they would obtain.