Giant Sequoias

A trip to the Natural History Museum in London is always a thrill. I love seeing all the dead things they’ve killed and displayed there. It’s a shame so many of them are extinct or heading that way. Here’s one item which kept my attention.

Giant Sequoia - The Hall of Einar

The Museum interpretation board was just my kind of thing, too:

Giant sequoias are among the largest living species on Earth. This colossal slice was taken from the 100-metre-tall Mark Twain tree.

100 metres is a substantial size. It’s awe-inspiring. It was also 1,300 years old when it was cut down, and must have been a sapling when Beowulf was composed.

When this tree was felled in 1891, nearly 70 per cent of the world’s land area was natural habitat, including trees and forest. Due to human activity such as logging, land clearing and urban development, this had dropped to below 40 per cent by the twenty-first century.

At the recent United Nations’ biodiversity conference in Montreal, more than 190 countries agreed to protect nature. 30×30 is their commitment to protect at least 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030. Only 17% of land and 10% of oceans are currently considered by the UN to be protected. We’re living through a nature crisis and it’s our consumption which is causing it.

Legal protection, effective conservation and replanting programmes have had a positive impact on maintaining forests. But with the world’s human population predicted to be 11 billion by 2100, continuing deforestation and increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will accelerate climate change and loss of species if further action is not taken.

The truth is that we’re only just getting started on our killing-spree, as we can now computerise, mechanise and industrialise our destruction and extraction. Let’s hope we can change our economy so people can still thrive without consuming as much unnecessary ‘stuff’. Life on Earth depends upon us changing what we value. Nothing which has a monetary value is worth more than the natural world we are destroying.

Mark Twain Sequoia - The Hall of Einar
50 men standing on the corpse of the Mark Twain Sequoia.

I hope that in 1,300 years time there are many more Giant Sequoias which people thank our wisdom for protecting. I wonder what epic stories will survive from our age, to be told and retold by our descendants, when today’s sapling Giant Sequoias are mature trees?

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