Environment & Science

Could cloning sequoias slow climate change?

A giant Sequoia at Yosemite National Park.
A giant Sequoia at Yosemite National Park.

A group of arborists is cloning California's giant sequoias in hopes that planting the trees will help halt, or at least slow down, the effects of climate change.

Jacob Milarch is the director of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, an organization that has planted 300,000 clones of 170 tree species around the world. The clones are genetically identical to their "parent" trees.

"We're trying to hurry here at the eleventh hour, the fifty-ninth minute and gather the genetics of the largest and oldest living sequoias and archive those to be utilized," Milarch tells the Associated Press.

But how much can these trees really do? Some scientists, like UC Berkeley biologist Todd Dawson, doubts that planting a limited number of trees will cool a warming planet.

"The pace at which climate is changing right now is faster than any time in past earth history," he says. "So we have to be thinking about very rapid solutions and a slow growing tree may not be able to keep up with the pace the earth is changing right now."

Sequoias, which can grow nearly 300 feet tall and live up to 3,000 years, are among the largest and oldest trees on this planet.