National Geographic : 2013 Apr
LETTERS tour” of california to see the tallest (redwood), largest (sequoia), and oldest (bristle- cone pine) trees. I can only hope (and beg) that you will complete your series with the bristlecone pine and help me finish my trip preparation. elizABeth Buchen Albuquerque, new Mexico David Quammen ends this wonderful article by mentioning that giant sequoias are too bulky to sway in the wind. Allow me to correct that notion. On an afternoon excursion to redwood Mountain, a powerful rotor windstorm came up rather suddenly. I happened to observe these kingly giants surrounding the parking lot swaying most visibly. The windy din with the sight of these monumental trees swaying was exhilarating and rather frightening—and clearly memorable. So yes, they do sway—rarely, but magnificently. chris Glenn Badger, california FLASHBACK: Sequoia My grandfather, robert Foss, on vacation from Pasadena, conceived the idea of building a ramp that allowed him to get his auto and camping gear on top of the fallen sequoia for a photo. He is pictured sitting in front of the tent. My grandmother, Mae Foss, is at the table, and their daughter, Evelyn—my mother— is the young lady on the log. The photo was used in advertising for the Southern Pacific railway. Thanks for bringing happy memories of loved ones. doris McAndrew Fargo, north dakota Methane Marianne lavelle’s comprehen- sive, balanced, and excellent article neglected to mention the typical hours for hydrofracking industry workers—12 hours a day, seven days a week, for two weeks straight. Until the federal and state governments limit hours, overly tired workers will make errors, causing needless harm to the environment, to neighbors, and to themselves. JonAthAn stronG endicott, new york Having worked in the energy industry for 25-plus years, I would like to point out that not only does natural gas emit just about half the cO2 of coal, but in new gas-fired power plants (combustion turbine combined cycles), the gas is also burned at more than 50 percent efficiency, compared with about 35 per- cent efficiency in coal plants. stAnley veJtAsA roseburg, oregon Gas fracking’s methane pollution threatens our climate, but oil fracking poses a huge additional danger by prying open deposits of previously inaccessible high-carbon fuel. In california, fracking the Monterey Shale—a formation that holds about 14 billion barrels of frackable oil—will light the fuse on a carbon bomb that will shatter our state’s efforts to fight global warming. We must halt this fracking boom to safeguard our climate—and our children’s future. kAssie sieGel director, climate law institute Joshua tree, california Giant Sequoias The excellent article about the giant sequoia left me with a question: What about its root system? I wish the team had extended their research below- ground and continued the illustration on page 36 down- ward. How deep do the roots go? How far outward do they stretch? What portion of the total mass are they? ron kAiser del Mar, california Sequoia scientist Steve Sillett responds that the problem is how to do root measurements without hurting the tree. So far there are no reliable solutions—so no data. Your article on the sequoias reminds me that these trees were already 1,000 years old at the time of christ. And they have contin- ued to thrive for 2,000 years more—a remark- able example of adapting to a natural environment. John Johnson Albuquerque, new Mexico I was delighted to get the December issue with the cover story on sequoias. I saved the October 2009 cover story on redwoods and will add this to my collection. The next vacation I am planning will be a “tree we must halt this fracking boom to safeguard our climate.