California's Iconic Redwoods Threatened by Wildfires
The massive redwood trees that dot the landscape of Northern California have survived through countless earthquakes and natural disasters. Some of them are over 1,800 years old, hundreds of feet tall, and more than 90 feet in circumference. Yet, the climate crisis may threaten their livelihood as the latest California wildfires have encroached upon the ancient trees, as NPR reported.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation said last week that the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire in Santa Cruz County had badly damaged Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the state's oldest park, according to TIME Magazine.
As of Sunday night, Cal Fire officials said, the CZU fire had burned 74,000 acres and was 8 percent contained. It threatened more than 24,000 structures and had destroyed 163 buildings, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.
Biologists are keeping a close eye on the state's old-growth trees and are feeling some relief that many trees have been spared and the fires have moved around their clusters. They also note that the redwoods' hardiness will help them endure the fires. The trees are protected by remarkably thick bark that can withstand fires and preserve enough strength and vitality to allow the trees to sprout again after suffering from fire damage, according to NPR.
In fact, some of the oldest trees have bark that is an entire foot thick. Furthermore, the trees rarely have branches near the forest floor, which helps to lessen the spread of wildfires.
Kristen Shive, a scientist for Save the Redwoods League, told The New York Times that she is cautiously optimistic about the fate of the beloved conifers, though she stressed that she was merely speculating since she is not allowed to check the status of the trees.
"Because of their resilience, I feel a lot more hopeful than super worried about the trees," said Shive, as NPR reported. "The trees really are so incredibly tough when it comes to fire. Most of them will persist and survive."
"If a fire is hot enough to consume the entire crown of a tree, in a pine tree, that tree is most likely dead," Shive added. "But in redwoods, they have these buds that lie dormant under their bark and they can sprout after the fire."
Yet, while the trees are able to bounce back from fire, the compounding hits that the climate crisis delivers threatens the long-term prospects of the ecosystem that has allowed the trees to thrive. The increased frequency and duration of both heat stress and drought could undermine the trees' efforts to bounce back.
Dr. Shive also told The New York Times that while trees may remain intact and have the capability to rejuvenate, their tops will be badly damaged and will take years to return to normal.
Shive told NPR that the threat from the climate crisis means that efforts to save the redwoods need to be ramped up and controlled burns need to be in place for the forests to survive the mounting dangers.
"We still need to be setting these forests up to be as fire-resilient as possible, since, as we've seen in this last week, this warmer and drier future is already upon us and it's going to get worse," she said to NPR.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park spans 18,000 acres north of Santa Cruz. It is the largest continuous stand of old-growth trees south of San Francisco. Designated a state park in 1902 in response to rapacious development, it's also the state's oldest, as The New York Times reported.
- Conservation Group to Buy World's Largest Privately Held Sequoia ... ›
- California Governor Declares Statewide Emergency as 180,000 ... ›
- Tribute to the 'Mighty Redwoods' Wins EcoWatch Earth Day Photo ... ›
- How Google Is Fighting Fire With Real-Time Mapping Data ›
- California Wildfires Destroy Condor Sanctuary, at Least 4 Birds Still Missing - EcoWatch ›
- Thom Yorke of Radiohead Releases Song With Greenpeace to Help ... ›
- Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, Flea and More Featured on Just Released ... ›
- Musicians and Activists Unite at 'Pathway to Paris' - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A national park in Thailand has come up with an innovative way to make sure guests clean up their own trash: mail it back to them.
- Supermarkets in Thailand and Vietnam Swap Plastic Packaging for ... ›
- Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It ... ›
- Thailand Begins the New Year With Plastic Bag Ban - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Worsens Thailand's Plastic Waste Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Marium, Thailand's Beloved Baby Dugong, Is the Latest Victim of ... ›
By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
- 7 Republicans Joined Senate Democrats in Vote to Fight Climate ... ›
- Climate Change Acknowledged by Increasing Number of ... ›
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Fauci Warns Pre-Pandemic Normalcy Not Likely Until Late 2021 ... ›
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.