Wild weather obliterates oak tree


During the rain storm on December 10th, a very old and large oak tree right at the entrance of campus, collapsed. The rainstorm could have been a result of increased thunderstorms, a side-effect of global warming. Hail larger than a golf ball and strong winds are just some of signs that the weather is changing as the planet reacts to the pollution emitted from fossil fuels.

Climate change is becoming a difficult reality for many of us to face. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” Although climate change has been driven by natural causes in the past, these changes have typically been gradual. This natural change in climate has given the opportunity for different species of plants and animals to adapt and thrive.

Janet Peddy, Director of Facilities, said, “There was no special significance to that tree, other than it was one of our heritage [older, larger] oak trees, which are very special. Oak trees have a special life cycle, often living hundreds of years. In this case, the age of the tree, that fact it spent its life in a highly vegetated and irrigated area, and the large about of rainfall we received that day likely saturated the soil and the tree literally just fell over. We are grateful that it fell in a direction that caused no other damage. Facilities is working with our landscape company to remove the tree in January [a large job]. The harvested oak will be cut and used in the Price Dining Hall fireplace. The tree itself will be replaced by several young oak trees, most likely those in our own nursery stock. We have been germinating our own saplings for several years; research shows that trees from native acorns are more resistant to disease.

Rick Duque, Dean of Campus Life who lives around the tree that fell, said that it saddened him as the tree had provided some great shade. Mr. Duque said, “I have always wanted to plant an avocado tree but there was no room. My plan now is to ask the school if I can try to plant one. Who knows, maybe in a few years we might have avocados in the dining hall from that tree.”

Hopefully the tree falling will show us all how important it is to be conscientious of our footprint on the planet, and what each one of us is capable of when it comes to change.