world's largest living organism

In the Fishlake National Forest in Utah, a giant has lived quietly for the past 80,000 years. The Trembling Giant, or Pando, is a enormous grove of quaking aspens that takes the “forest as a single organism” metaphor and literalizes it: the grove really is a single organism. Each of the approximately 47,000 or so trees in the grove is genetically identical and all the trees share a single root system. While many trees spread through flowering and sexual reproduction, quaking aspens usually reproduce asexually, by sprouting new trees from the expansive lateral root of the parent. The individual trees aren’t individuals, but stems of a massive single clone, and this clone is truly massive. Spanning 107 acres and weighing 6,615 tons, Pando was once thought to be the world’s largest organism (now usurped by thousand-acre fungal mats in Oregon), and is almost certainly the most massive. In terms of other superlatives, the more optimistic estimates of Pando’s age have it as over one million years old, which would easily make it the world’s oldest living organism.

Unfortunately, the future of the giant appears grim. According to Paul Rogers, an ecologist at Utah State University in a October 2010 article in the Deseret News, the Trembling Giant is in danger. While the mature stems of Pando routinely die from the eternal problems of pests and drought, the regenerative roots of the organism that are responsible for Pando’s resilience are under attack as well. Rogers reported a marked absence of juvenile and young stems to replace the older trunks, blaming overgrazing by deer and elk. Without new growth, to replace the old, the Trembling Giant is vulnerable to a catastrophic, sudden withering and shrinking. Rogers confessed, “It’s slipping away very quickly.”

The quaking aspen is named for its leaves, which stir easily in even a gentle breeze and produce a fluttering sound with only the slightest provocation. The effect of this in Pando, multiplied over the tens of thousands of trees and hundred acres, can be unnerving, giving a real sense of life to the ancient, dying, trembling giant.

  • Chowder: *tears up* guys, they're out of my size in the new sharks merch
  • Holster: FINE
  • Chowder: guys, I just read that people eat sharks *sobs* WHO WOULD DO THAT
  • Dex: Another one in the sin bin
  • Chowder: Omg guys did you see that Sharks game it was so great *crys tears of joy*
  • Lardo: Dex is getting real close to that washing machine
  • Chowder: *runs in sobbing* GUYS DID YOU SEE THAT GREAT BARRIER REEF IS DEAD
  • Ransom: Actually it's not totally dead yet but it will be sOON IF PEOPLE DONT SHAPE UP AND CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, I MEAN SERIOUSLY THIS REEF IS HOST TO 600 TYPES OF CORAL AND IS THE WORLDS LARGEST LIVING ORGANISM, ITS SICK THAT THE ENVIRONMENT IS GOING TO WASTE BECAU-
  • Dex: Ummm, fine?

It’s mid-January but I’m still seeing this negativity on my dash and timeline so, to clarify:

2016 was not a bad year.

2017 was not a bad year.

2018 will not be a bad year.

Yes, the orange cheeto won the election in 2016. Yes, he was inaugurated in 2017. Yes, there have been bushfires and floods, cyclones and earthquakes, terrorist attacks and murders. And yes, the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living organism in the world is dying getting better. And yes, globally, crime has increased decreased. Yes, in 2016, Giant Pandas went extinct were removed from the Endangered Species List and yes, I know that Australia, Austria, Malta, Germany, Columbia all legalised same sex marriage in 2016 and 2017; yes I know that Saudi Arabia lifted their ban on women driving, that the number of cancer victims has decreased, that China invested over 100 billion into treating and preventing water pollution.

At work, if I tell myself that I’m going to stuff up an order, or I’ll not do a very good job then I will. In 2018, if we keep the mentality that it’s going to be a bad year then, despite whatever great things may come out of it, we will leave this year thinking it was terrible, and we will ruin this year for ourselves. 2016 and 2017 had no more downfalls than 2012 or 2010 and yet we believe they did because we convinced ourselves they did.

But they didn’t. Don’t ruin your 2018 by falling into this mentality. This year will be just as good as it is bad, if not better than it is worse.