Bristlecone Pines Cannot Endure the World's Climate Issues
The world’s longest-lived trees couldn’t survive climate change
The trees had stood for more than 1,000 years. Their sturdy roots clung to the crumbling mountainside. Their gnarled limbs reached toward the desert sky. The rings of their trunks told the story of everything they’d witnessed — every attack they’d rebuffed, every crisis they’d endured. Weather patterns shifted; empires rose and fell; other species emerged, mated, migrated, died. But here, in one of the harshest environments on the planet, the bristlecone pines survived. It seemed they always would.
Until the day in 2018 when Constance Millar ascended the trail to Telescope Peak — the highest point in Death Valley National Park — and discovered hundreds of dead and dying bristlecones extending as far as she could see.
The trees' needles glowed a flaming orange; their bark was a ghostly gray. Millar estimated that the damage encompassed 60 to 70 percent of the bristlecones on Telescope Peak.
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