Ron Reagan on VOC's??

Thomas Bjorkman Thomas_Bjorkman at
Thu Feb 24 17:40:07 EST 1994

In article <2kehvt$97j at> Tim Williams,
twill at writes:
>Hello!  I'm looking for a *famous* quote by Ronald Reagan about
trees and
>air pollution (something about trees as a source of air pollution,
and how
>getting rid of them would improve air quality??).  I am writing a
>paper on "Biogenic VOC's and Ground-Level Ozone".  I thought the
>would be 'a real hoot' to include in the paper ;-) .  Does anyone
>there remember it (I was but a wee boy then, and can't recall
>  Thanks for your help!

Reagan was referring to work by Frits Went on isoprene emissions
when he (Went) was at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, which
would have been in the '60's.  Went was a pretty amazing plant
physiologist, making many predictions that few believed but that
turned out to be right.  The isoprene business was one of these. 
You can read about him in an autobiographical chapter in Annual
Review of Plant Physiology 15:25:1-26 (1974).  In that chapter he
calculated that VOC emissions by plants amount to about 1.4 billion
tons annually.  I think that is the line that was simplified to the
point where Reagan understood it and he adapted it in his inimitable

The isoprene story has been pursued sporadically since Went worked
on it, and it is really amazing.  Carbon from CO2 appears as
volatile isoprene in seconds after it is taken up, and can constitue
a large part of the fixed carbon--over half if I remember
right--under certain stress conditions. 

After writing all this I still have not remembered Reagan's words on
VOCs.  It wa closely couple to the immortal "A tree is a tree, how
many do you need to look at?

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