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:

Denver's Temperature Dropped a Record 64 Degrees In 24 Hours

Leonid Ikan/iStock via Getty Images
Leonid Ikan/iStock via Getty Images

One sure sign summer is over: On Wednesday, residents of Denver, Colorado were experiencing a comfortable 82-degree day. Just before midnight, the temperature dropped to 29 degrees. Between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, the Denver airport recorded a differential of 79 degrees down to 24 degrees. At one point on Wednesday, a staggering 45-degree drop was seen in the span of just three hours.

All told, a one-day span saw a 64-degree change in temperature, from a high of 83 to a low of 19, a record for the state in the month of October and just two degrees shy of matching Denver’s all-time record drop of 66 degrees on January 25, 1872. On that date, the temperature plummeted from 46 degrees to -20 degrees.

Back to 2019: Citizens tried their best to cope with the jarring transition in their environment, to mixed success. On Wednesday, the city’s Washington Park was full of joggers and shorts-wearing outdoor enthusiasts. Thursday, only the most devoted runners were out, bundled up against the frigid weather.

The cold snap also brought with it some freezing drizzle which prompted several vehicular accidents, including 200 reported during Thursday's morning commute. It’s expected to warm up some in the coming days, but residents shouldn't get too comfortable: Melting ice could lead to potholes.

[h/t KRDO]

Invasive Snakehead Fish That Can Breathe on Land Is Roaming Georgia

Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A fish recently found in Georgia has wildlife officials stirred up. In fact, they’re advising anyone who sees a northern snakehead to kill it on sight.

That death sentence might sound extreme, but there’s good reason for it. The northern snakehead, which can survive for brief periods on land and breathe air, is an invasive species in North America. With one specimen found in a privately owned pond in Gwinnett County, the state wants to take swift action to make certain the fish, which is native to East Asia, doesn’t continue to spread. Non-native species can upset local ecosystems by competing with native species for food and habitat.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is advising people who encounter the snakehead—a long, splotchy-brown fish that can reach 3 feet in length—to kill it and freeze it, then report the catch to the agency's fisheries office.

Wildlife authorities believe snakeheads wind up in non-native areas as a result of the aquarium trade or food industry. A snakehead was recently caught in southwestern Pennsylvania. The species has been spotted in 14 states.

[h/t CNN]