Tourists beneath giant sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, Calif., on June 25, 2022. 

What’s captured people’s attention about the Washburn fire raging in Yosemite isn’t just its size or scope, but the fact that it threatens a giant Sequoia with a name, Grizzly Giant, and an extreme age: It’s almost 3,000 years old.

The oldest trees have scientific as well as sentimental value. There’s something alarming about the thought that anything hardy enough to live through multiple millennia could now be in trouble. As it turns out, climate change is not even the worst hazard the oldest trees face.

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Faye Flam is a Bloomberg columnist covering science. She is host of the “Follow the Science” podcast.

(2) comments


Any omnipotent, eternal being who has been watching our planet since it's inception 4,500,000,000 years ago could only describe the past 1,000 years as an infestation of one species over the whole planet. Will this "infestation" kill its host or will the host find a way to survive? My money's on the host. It's done pretty well supporting life for the past couple billion years and I think we need it more than it needs us.

Whenever species disappear from the earth it is distressing to us because our lives are so short we usually don't realize that this is just the way evolution works. Yes, we have contributed to some species disappearing, but evolution would occur whether we were here or not.

Transitory Inflation

Anthropocene. Few alive can envision earth in 50 years. Not me.

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