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They’re Among the World’s Oldest Living Things. The Climate Crisis Is Killing Them

The New York Times – California’s epic wildfires in 2020 took deadly aim at the state’s most beloved trees. “In a relative instant, countless ancient redwoods, hundreds of giant sequoias and more than one million Joshua trees perished. The blackened wreckage sends a clear message. These trees are in the fight of their lives. “It’ll never come back like it was,” one botanist said, standing among thousands of destroyed Joshua trees. “Not with climate change.”

They are what scientists call charismatic megaflora, and there are few trees anywhere more charismatic than the three most famous species in California. People travel from around the world simply to walk among them in wonderment. The giant sequoia. The Joshua tree. The coast redwood. They are the three plant species in California with national parks set aside in their name, for their honor and protection. Scientists already feared for their future. Then came 2020. The wildfires that burned more than four million acres in California this year were both historic and prophetic, foreshadowing a future of more heat, more fires and more destruction. Among the victims, this year and in the years to come, are many of California’s oldest and most majestic trees, already in limited supply…”

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