Meet the Man Cloning Ancient Redwood Trees

Justin Sullivan // Getty Images
Justin Sullivan // Getty Images

David Milarch had a near-death experience in the early 1990s. It led him to rethink his life and his work as an arborist. He looked to the oldest trees he could find in the U.S.—the few remaining coastal redwoods in California—and decided to try bringing the biggest ones back to life. How? Cloning.

One stumbling block is that most of the biggest trees, the famous 30-foot-diameter ones, have already been cut down or burned. How can you get a living cutting from a dead tree? Milarch found that many such trees had secondary trunks called basal sprouts growing out of the same root system. These were genetically identical, and provided viable genetic material.

Many plants can be propagated by cloning. In its simplest form, you literally snip off a green bit and put it in water. While this process is substantially more complex for many plants, at its root (pun intended), Milarch is doing the same thing—but adding hormones to divide and multiply a single cutting. Along with his son, Milarch is taking branches from ancient giants and making new trees. He's planting a brand new forest in the coastal town of Port Orford, Oregon.

Coastal redwoods and giant sequoias grow fast. They can shoot up 10 feet in a year. Although it will take many generations for a new forest to rival the giants these clones came from, these new trees will reach mature status quickly. And while they're doing that, they suck carbon dioxide out of the air.

Milarch has spread his efforts around the world, even cloning several dozen of the largest oak trees in Ireland. His Archangel Ancient Tree Archive now operates in nine countries, working to preserve trees and reforest areas with what they call "new old growth."

In this beautiful short film directed by Michael Ramsey, we meet Milarch and see his work grow. Enjoy:

These Hoodies Are Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles and Used Coffee Grounds


Sustainable fashion is getting creative. Different manufacturers have made “leather” out of everything from mushrooms to pineapples, as well as an environmentally-friendly fabric derived from banana peels. Now, drawstring hoodies made from used coffee grounds and recycled plastic bottles are hitting the market.

The Evolution Hoodie is the latest product from Coalatree, a Salt Lake City-based company that specializes in goods made from sustainably sourced materials. To create this hoodie, employees typically collect used coffee grounds from local shops on their way into work. Next, they dry the coffee, remove the oils, grind the grounds into smaller particles, then mix it with the melted plastic bottles to create a type of yarn.

More specifically, each hoodie is made from three cups of coffee and 10 plastic bottles. And in case you were wondering: it doesn’t smell like coffee (which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your personal tastes).

The hoodie is ideal for those who want to incorporate more eco-friendly products into their lives, and Coalatree's clothes are designed with active, outdoorsy types in mind. (Outside magazine, for instance, called Coalatree’s Trailheads the “best hiking pants.”) Its lightweight, quick-dry fabric and UV ray protection make it suitable for a number of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, or kayaking.

With a pickpocket-proof zippered pouch to store your things, as well as a loop to clip your keys onto, it’s also travel-approved. If you get hot, you can take the hoodie off and fold it up into its own pocket, transforming it into a makeshift travel pillow. The hoodie is currently available in a few colors, including oatmeal, black, maroon, and green.

Buy it on Kickstarter for $62.

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The Northern Lights May be Visible in New York, Michigan, and Illinois on Saturday

The Northern Lights, a meteorological event most common to areas north of the Arctic Circle, may be visible over parts of America this weekend, Newsweek reports. Due to a solar storm, the light show may appear Saturday night over states in the northern part of the contiguous U.S., including New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington state.

Aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, occur when solar particles react to gases in Earth's atmosphere. Magnetic energy exaggerates this effect, which is why auroras most often appear at the geomagnetic poles where Earth's magnetic field is strongest. Rare circumstances can produce this phenomenon at lower latitudes, which may be the case this weekend.

On Wednesday, March 20, a solar flare sent a blast of solar particles toward Earth. The resulting geomagnetic storm could make for a vibrant and colorful aurora reaching as far south as New York and Wisconsin.

To catch the spectacle, look up at the night sky on Saturday, March 23. People in areas with minimal light pollution have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, though cloudy weather may make them hard to see.

[h/t Newsweek]