This story was initially printed by Mom Jones and is reproduced right here as a part of the Local weather Desk collaboration.
I drove to Oregon as a result of I wished to see the longer term. Our quickly altering local weather vexes me, retains me up at evening — maybe you’ve felt this, too — and not too long ago I’d grow to be significantly preoccupied with timber. In California, the place I stay, local weather change helped kill practically 62 million timber in 2016 alone, and final yr, 4.2 million acres of our state burned. I wished to know what was in retailer for our forests and, as a result of we people depend on them for a lot — for clear air, for carbon sequestration, for biodiversity, for habitat, for lumber and cash, for pleasure — what was in retailer for us.
I’d examine a gaggle of scientists who weren’t solely finding out the calamities befalling our forests but in addition working to assist the timber migrate prematurely of coming doom. So in Could, I headed to a 3-and-a-half-acre stand of roughly 1,000 Douglas firs at a US Forest Service nursery outdoors of Medford. The grove was located in a large valley within the southwestern nook of the state, nestled between the Cascades to the east and the Coast Vary to the west. Brad St. Clair, a Forest Service scientist who has studied the genetic adaptation of timber for greater than 20 years, met me by the street. He’s quick and rugged, as if constructed for adventuring and tending to the lives of timber, and he arrived in a souped-up Sprinter van loaded with an armory of outside gear. In 2009, he and his group planted this and eight different stands of firs after they’d gathered seeds from 60 tree populations throughout Washington, Oregon, and California and grown them into seedlings in a greenhouse. The seeds have been sourced from as excessive as 5,400 ft within the Sierras and as little as the coast, from Mendocino County, California, all the way in which north to Central Washington, and have been planted in intermixed clusters at every of the 9 websites to see how they’d fare in a warmer, drier local weather than those they’d come from. In different phrases, to see in the event that they’d make it sooner or later.
Douglas fir, a tall, narrow-trunked evergreen typically dragged indoors for Christmas, is a favourite of foresters and logging corporations due to its mixture of power, quick progress, and pliability. It will probably additionally face up to a change in local weather of about 4 levels Fahrenheit with out a lot hassle. However international common temperatures have already risen by virtually 3 levels for the reason that 1900s, and all fashions predict common temperatures to blow via the 4-degree threshold within the subsequent a number of many years, maybe rising above 7 levels by the top of the century.
Within the broad, flat expanse of the nursery, the firs have been rimmed by fallow land on all sides. St. Clair instructed me to placed on security glasses, after which ducked down, pushed apart the outermost branches, and slipped into the timber. I adopted him. Inside two steps, there we have been in a veritable, dense forest, as if an enchanted wardrobe had been pulled open to disclose a world reworked. On the periphery it had been scorching, however right here, as we moved via the dapple, it was cool and aromatic with pine.
An indication mounted on a PVC pipe marked the provenance of the cluster of timber we stood beneath. They got here, St. Clair defined, from the Oregon Siskiyou, a dry zone at solely barely increased elevation than the place we have been as we speak. Because of this they have been doing so nicely: Their native local weather wasn’t so totally different from Medford’s. As we moved on, the timber, whereas nonetheless lush and full, grew shorter. As a result of this subsequent batch was from up within the Cascades, he identified, at an elevation far increased than the place we stood, the timber have been considerably stunted on this new habitat and couldn’t develop as tall. We stored strolling, and after some time the timber grew taller once more, looming thrice my peak earlier than breaking into sky. These timber additionally got here from climates that have been dry like Medford, and so discovered right here a contented dwelling — no less than for now.
A Douglas Fir tree in opposition to a thick forest.
San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers by way of Getty Photos
We ducked and trudged via the decrease thickets of the wholesome timber till we all of a sudden emerged from the woods onto what I can solely describe as an arboreal apocalypse — an open tangle of lifeless branches, brown and brittle, like an upright graveyard. These ill-fated timber, St. Clair stated, had come from the Oregon coast, the place it’s far wetter. Whereas they’d carried out okay within the first three years of the research, they simply couldn’t make it in the long run. “Because the local weather warms,” St. Clair stated, trying round and pointing as much as a lifeless fir along with his strolling stick, “you’re going to see extra of this.”
The way forward for forests is a grim one—too grim for a few of us to bear. By 2030, 75 % of redwoods will disappear from a few of their coastal California habitats. In some local weather situations, virtually none of the namesake species in Joshua Tree Nationwide Park will exist. Sea degree change is creating ghost forests all alongside the Japanese Seaboard — already, lower than a 3rd of New Jersey’s Atlantic white cedar habitat stays.
Like people, forests have at all times migrated for his or her survival, with new timber rising in additional hospitable instructions and older timber dying the place they’re now not finest suited to stay. The issue now could be that they merely can’t transfer quick sufficient. The common forest migrates at a fee of roughly 1,640 ft every year, however to outrun local weather change, it should transfer roughly 9,800 to 16,000 ft — as much as 10 instances as quick. And in most habitats, the affect of highways, suburban sprawl, and megafarms prevents forests from increasing a lot in any respect. Forests merely can’t escape local weather change by themselves.
Again in 1992, forest geneticists F. Thomas Ledig and J.H. Kitzmiller coined the time period “assisted species migration” in a seminal research within the journal Forest Ecology and Administration. Since then, a whole lot of biologists and geneticists like St. Clair have been finding out how finest to maneuver forests prematurely of their looming destruction. To take action requires a fancy set of mapping and experiments—understanding, as an example, what local weather timber are finest suited to develop in, what area will most carefully resemble that very same local weather in, say, 50 years, and what diversifications finest be sure that a tree will take root and flourish, construct symbiosis with the soil fungi, and never find yourself a mere matchstick awaiting the following megafire.
St. Clair is one thing of an assisted migration evangelist, a agency believer that we have to transfer tree populations, and quick, if we wish to preserve apace. However as a consequence of bureaucratic logjams and a fervent dedication to planting native species, there’s little or no assisted migration in the US — in contrast to in Canada, the place the observe has been adopted with extra urgency in recent times. St. Clair and different Forest Service scientists are working to rework assisted migration from a mere analysis topic to a regular administration technique in our huge, imperiled public lands.
We completed our stroll via St. Clair’s child forest, making our method again to the automobiles alongside its outer edges. “The long run is terrifying,” I advised him. He understood what I meant, he stated.
Through the talks he provides about his analysis, he likes to point out a picture from Lewis Carroll’s By the Wanting-Glass, through which the Pink Queen expenses ahead together with her crown and durable scepter, pulling frenzied Alice alongside in her wake. He had the slide printed out and handed it to me as we walked. “Now, right here, you see,” the Pink Queen says to Alice, “it takes all of the operating you are able to do, to maintain in the identical place.”
“In order that’s what we gotta do,” he advised me, pointing to the Pink Queen. “We gotta run.”
Whereas assisted migration is a comparatively new idea, the motion of forests is as previous as timber themselves. Since they first developed, timber have been shifting north and south, east and west, up and down in elevation because the local weather has modified. Forests outran the frost as an ice age set in, and because the ice started melting, they darted again the opposite method, traversing mountain ranges and unfurling themselves throughout continents — shifting, sentiently, towards weather conditions that suited their skill to develop and produce the timber of the longer term.
After all, whereas forests transfer, particular person timber can’t. “They’re caught the place they’re,” defined Jessica Wright, a senior Forest Service scientist based mostly in Davis, California, who research conservation genetics. Bushes should attempt to survive no matter setting they land in. And but, Peter Wohlleben writes in The Hidden Lifetime of Bushes, whereas each tree has to remain put, “it might reproduce, and in that temporary second when the tree embryos are nonetheless packed into seeds, they’re free.” The seed units forth, as Zach St. George chronicles in The Journeys of Bushes, carried by the wind or within the stomach of a blue jay or stuffed within the cheek of a squirrel, towards its future. Whether it is among the many luckiest, it’s going to discover a hospitable dwelling and carry the forest ahead. As a result of seeds will solely take root in areas suited to their progress, forests have a tendency to maneuver within the course of their future survival.
In contrast to people, most timber are long-life species, starting from the yellow birch, which lives roughly 150 years, to the bristlecone pine, the oldest recognized of which is sort of 5,000 years previous. Forests are the timber’ advanced civilization, functioning not in contrast to human cities: a group of beings that speak to at least one one other and arrange and defend themselves and create offspring and bid farewell to their lifeless. On this method and lots of others, latest analysis has revealed, timber are spellbinding, rife for anthropomorphism. They have an inclination to stay in interdependent networks, like households, the place, with the assistance of symbiotic fungi, scientists like Suzanne Simard have found, they care for his or her sick, feed each other, and, like a mutual support society, share sources with these in want. Bushes of the identical species — and typically even these throughout species — are inclined to respect each other’s private house, shifting their progress patterns so that everybody will get sufficient daylight. Bushes are additionally adept group organizers who know tips on how to band collectively to crowd out competitor timber and guard in opposition to different threats. When a pest comes, timber can subject chemical warnings to at least one one other to allow them to launch their defenses. Bushes may register ache. Scientists have discovered that their root networks, which work with the underworld organisms of fungal mycelia, appear to carry intergenerational information, like a collective mind. Learn sufficient concerning the mesmerizing science of timber and one begins to really feel sure that, if people behaved like a wholesome forest, we’d be much better off — and that we wouldn’t be in our present local weather mess within the first place.
Left to their very own gadgets, forests migrate on a near-geologic scale. However folks have been shifting timber for our personal functions for hundreds of years. We’ve carried out this in small doses, corresponding to planting timber in metropolis gardens or backyards for shade and aesthetic delight, or planting a wall of cypress alongside a tract of farmland to dam the wind. We’ve additionally moved timber on a much more substantial scale, to a spread of outcomes. Whereas apple timber originated in Central Asia, early settlers introduced seeds to the Americas and infamously scattered them all through what’s now the US, the place apple pie is now each a signature dessert and a cultural image.
Such interventions haven’t at all times panned out so nicely: In 1895, the emperor of Ethiopia ordered the planting of fast-growing eucalyptus timber imported from Australia so folks would have considerable firewood. However the thirsty eucalyptus crowded out present timber, and parched once-fertile farmlands. (Eucalyptus timber are additionally invasive transplants in California, although they’ve additionally grow to be essential nesting habitat for the threatened monarch butterfly — the net of interconnectivity is a tangled one.) And in 1904, US foresters started planting Japanese chestnuts to domesticate for wooden, which introduced chestnut blight to their North American cousins ill-equipped to combat the fungus; by 1940, most grownup chestnuts have been gone. The motion of timber, scientists warning, have to be carried out with excessive care — and based mostly on historical past, many are hesitant to do it for worry of throwing off the fragile stability of an present panorama.
Proponents of assisted migration declare that this stability has already been upended by local weather change. Additionally they stress that assisted migration is an umbrella time period for a spread of actions, some far more far-reaching than others. Probably the most drastic intervention is called assisted species migration, which transplants species of timber from locations the place they naturally happen to faraway locations the place they don’t. Then there’s assisted vary enlargement, which vegetation timber barely outdoors their naturally occurring territory. The technique involving the least human intervention is called assisted inhabitants migration, which, like St. Clair’s research of Douglas fir, vegetation timber of a single species with sure diversifications to a brand new location the place different members of that very same species already stay. Most scientists advocate the latter two methods and take into account the primary one too excessive.
So tips on how to safely transfer a inhabitants to a brand new habitat — and to know the way far to do it, and how briskly? “If I knew the reply to that,” Forest Service scientist Kas Dumroese advised me, “I’d have the Nobel Prize.” To seek out out which vegetation are finest suited to which environments, scientists have a tendency to make use of one thing known as the Frequent Backyard Research, which, like the unreal forest I visited in Oregon, vegetation flora from a variety of places — and thus tailored to a spread of situations — on a single plot to review their response and progress patterns. What scientists have present in most assisted migration backyard research is that the timber that do finest are these whose mother and father and ancestors thrived in comparable terrain.
For those who transfer a inhabitants of timber tailored to a specific local weather too slowly, it’s certain to succumb to the warmer, drier situations introduced on by local weather change. However transfer it too quick to a colder, wetter local weather, and the timber may fall sufferer to an excessive amount of frost, or to root rot in damp situations that make them weak to pests. Shifting timber that may deal with midcentury local weather projections—so new forests are tailored to the temperatures of roughly 2040 to 2070 — appears to be the Goldilocks stability that can guarantee a inhabitants’s survival.
However there are different vital issues, together with the symbiotic relationship between soil fungi and timber. Simard, the creator of the latest bestselling ebook Discovering the Mom Tree, explains that, whereas timber will possible discover some symbiotic mycelium so long as they’re moved inside their species’ present vary, that mycelium may not be one of the best tailored for his or her wants. Bushes can’t be seen as rising in isolation, however must be thought-about by way of the general well being and relationships of a bigger ecosystem. “There’s lots we don’t know,” she advised me. Assisted migration “is dangerous, however, you realize, we additionally don’t have any alternative. Now we have to start out experimenting with this. Now we have to start out shifting issues round and watching and seeing how they do.”
The Forest Service scientists who research assisted migration couldn’t agree extra, and so they hope that the company’s forest managers will begin utilizing this technique in precise forests. Regardless of many years of analysis, the Forest Service has not often put assisted migration into observe, partly as a consequence of some foresters’ and scientists’ resistance to shifting timber outdoors their agreed-upon vary. Within the Nineteen Thirties, the Forest Service created the concept of seed zones—mapping the panorama into areas “inside which plant supplies might be transferred with little threat of being poorly tailored to their new location,” because the company states on its web site. Ever since, forest managers have stayed loyal to those zones when choosing seeds for planting.
Whereas assisted migration isn’t strictly prohibited by the Forest Service Guide and its accompanying handbooks — the official coverage paperwork that, as Forest Service land supervisor Andy Bower explains, information “each facet” of how the company operates — it isn’t inspired, both. Final fall, Bower, St. Clair, and 5 different forest geneticists within the Forest Service proposed modifications to the guide that embrace assisted inhabitants migration and, in some instances, slight vary enlargement, as forestry methods. If their suggestions are accepted, it may drastically speed up the usage of assisted migration nationwide.
The Forest Service doesn’t must look far for an instance of a rustic taking a extra aggressive tack: Canada is considerably forward of the US in analysis and implementation of assisted migration. That is, partly, a results of urgency. Within the early aughts, aided by worsening local weather change, lodgepole pine forests have been devastated by invasive bark beetles and large wildfires. This was additionally true in the US, however when it occurred in Canada, the nation acted way more aggressively. “It was large,” Greg O’Neil, a scientist working for the Canadian Forest Service, advised me, “like they bought hit by a sledgehammer. It actually wakened the forestry group.” The Forest Service of British Columbia launched the Assisted Migration Adaptation Trial, or AMAT, in 2009, planting roughly 153,000 timber to see how every would fare in numerous climates. With greater than a decade of outcomes, they’ve begun to make use of this knowledge to reforest areas which were logged or burned.
This isn’t to say that the strategy ought to grow to be the land administration technique in all and even most situations. Transferring species throughout a panorama in response to local weather change, Dumroese says, needs to be undertaken in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath. “We’re speaking about making some choices which have some implications that we might not perceive and even be acknowledged for 100 years,” he stated, “and even longer.”
One of many troubles with assisted migration is that it’s tough to know what future local weather to plan for. Human decisions are arduous to foretell. The adoption of a Inexperienced New Deal, as an example, would considerably have an effect on local weather modeling, as would the reelection of Donald Trump in 2024 or the continued reign of Amazon-destroying Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.
However even in essentially the most optimistic of local weather situations, the forests must get shifting, from south to north, from lowlands to highlands, in order that our landscapes stay populated with timber.
“It’s virtually like we’ve got this temporal-centric view of nature,” O’Neil stated. “Lots of people view local weather change as one thing that’s going to occur, not one thing that has already occurred.” And although all timber can usually survive a change of 4 levels Fahrenheit in both course, O’Neil jogs my memory that 2.7 levels — the quantity that the local weather has already warmed up to now century — is a cataclysmic change of circumstances from a tree’s perspective. Seen this manner, he stated, “these timber are already a great distance from dwelling.” If all we do is assist them get again to the sorts of habitats they’d lived in earlier than the local weather started to alter so quickly, he added, “I believe we’ll be doing an important service.”
In Could, a couple of weeks earlier than driving to Oregon, I accompanied Forest Service scientist Jessica Wright from her analysis station within the Sierra Nevada foothills up Route 50 and into the mountains of the Eldorado Nationwide Forest, probably the most ecologically various tracts of land in California, spanning practically 1 million acres. The street wound us upward into the rolling expanse of the Sierras, the place towering inexperienced pines unfold in all instructions. Such sights at all times jogged my memory of the state’s largesse, and I used to search out them transcendental: the sanctity of open house, the vastness of the panorama a mirror for the vastness of the human spirit. However now, this sense is accompanied by a twin coil of worry. Fireplace. These timber are beautiful gas, and all of it feels doomed to burn.
We turned onto a dust street and knocked our method via the forest. After a couple of minutes, the timber thinned; the bottom branches of ponderosa pines and Douglas firs have been charred, and the blackened sticks of former timber pointed skyward like bayonets. The street took us to an open clearing, naked and treeless like a wound. This was the location of the King Fireplace, which destroyed roughly 250 sq. miles of the central Sierra foothills in 2014, and it was solely now, seven years later, trying inexperienced once more.
A number of years again, Wright began speaking to a Forest Service program supervisor named Dana Walsh concerning the prospect of an assisted migration analysis trial on a tract of land that Walsh oversaw — and so they determined to plant alongside this 12-acre patch that had burned. Within the winter of 2019, they sowed their 1,200 timber sourced from 24 origin populations. Their hope is to persuade different forest managers that assisted migration can be utilized to replant burned forests sooner or later — as a substitute of reforesting strictly with native seeds. And a number of other Forest Service scientists, together with Wright and St. Clair, are constructing new seed choice databases that map local weather predictions with seed supply diversifications, ought to assisted migration lastly be put into observe within the States.
Wright, who has hip-length hair and appears equally at dwelling sporting a tough hat and presenting at a convention, is especially optimistic concerning the prospects of planting in burn zones. If a forest might be replanted anyway, why plant what was already there and burned, after we can reforest these burn websites — which have grown all of the extra widespread, and a lot greater — with timber that might be higher suited to that future in 30 to 50 years? A burdened forest brings illnesses and pests, which kill timber, providing extra kindling to burn. The more healthy a forest, the much less possible it’s to catch fireplace.
Alongside 12 acres of the King Fireplace website, Wright and her group had planted two sorts of pine: ponderosa — which develop as much as 200 ft tall with thick, striated bark — and a sort of sugar pine immune to white pine blister rust, a fungus decimating western sugar pines. To imitate nature, the timber had been planted considerably willy-nilly alongside the hillside, as they’d develop within the wild. We walked alongside the planting website, the place I attempted to identify the timber; at solely two years previous, the saplings weren’t a lot increased than my ankle. Some hadn’t made it in any respect, and a few have been nonetheless slight wisps of life, whereas others have been rising robust and burly.
I requested Wright what she product of the variations in progress. She laughed.
“It’s too early to say,” Wright advised me.
However weren’t they impatient, I wished to know? I used to be. Why was this tree, on the decrease slope, doing so fantastically, its tiny trunk a lot thicker than the remainder, its needles skewering outward like porcupine quills, its yellow-green buds promising new progress?
Wright countered that it’s not till about 10 years right into a research that the information begins to be significant. “That’s after I begin to imagine it,” she stated. So many issues may occur between from time to time, and early progress may not find yourself that means a lot. In spite of everything, these lifeless Douglas firs that had so rattled me in Oregon had carried out nice the primary few years of the research.
We discovered some shade beneath the timber that had survived the 2014 fireplace, and sat down for lunch. To think about the way forward for forests is to slide right into a timeline so summary that it’s arduous to conceive, however scientists like Wright are in it for the lengthy haul, imagining a lifespan far past their very own.
“I received’t see this massive tall forest we’re planting now,” she stated. Her child may see it, or maybe her grandkid. Tending to any form of future is a gesture of optimism, she concedes, significantly such a distant one. “However I’m good with that.”
As a member of the residing, it may be obscure how unlikely it’s, statistically talking, to grow to be alive. A wholesome beech tree, explains Wohlleben in The Hidden Lifetime of Bushes, will produce roughly 1.8 million beechnuts in its lifetime. “From these, precisely one will develop right into a full-grown tree,” he writes, “and in forest phrases, that may be a excessive fee of success, just like profitable the lottery.”
For Joshua timber, the percentages of profitable replica are even longer. For a Joshua tree to be born — a tree that lives in far starker situations than the beech — its mom has to flower and seed when it reaches sexual maturity. The seed, which resembles a flat puck of black putty smaller than a dime, has to discover a dwelling conducive to its germination and bloom. That’s arduous sufficient within the dry expanse of the desert, and more durable nonetheless because the panorama warms. Its best-case situation is to search out its solution to a spot beneath a nurse shrub or blackbrush, the place it might germinate protected against the chomp of roving jackrabbits. It could significantly profit from discovering a spot atop a symbiotic soil fungus that lurks beneath the sandy loam and will help the infant Joshua tree develop. If the tree makes it previous the perils of formative years, it wants one other 30 to 60 years earlier than it’s prepared to breed. Then it will depend on the yucca moth to pollinate it; in any other case, it received’t bear fruit. Then and solely then, after this confounding and unlikely gauntlet has been run, will a Joshua tree have the ability to set seed, the entire tenuous cycle repeating itself.
A Joshua tree burns through the Bobcat Fireplace on September 18, 2020 in Juniper Hills, California.
Mario Tama / Employees
Scientists have mapped Joshua tree survival in opposition to essentially the most dire weather conditions — i.e., if people proceed at our present fee of consumption and emission—and located that by the yr 2100, basically zero Joshua tree habitat will stay in California’s Joshua Tree Nationwide Park, even for timber which might be already among the many most drought-tolerant.
Lynn Candy, a plant ecologist who research Joshua timber on the College of California, Riverside, advised me that her group calculated that, beneath extra mitigated situations through which carbon emissions have been diminished, “we may protect as much as 20 % or so of habitat within the park and the environment,” assuming the moth and mycelium make it on this situation, too.
On the subject of conservation efforts, people most frequently consider the forests most expensive to them — the locations they grew up visiting, the locations the place they bought married or take their beloved weekend hikes, the nationwide parks recognized for his or her iconic timber. These locations — Sequoia Nationwide Park, Olympic, Muir Woods, the Everglades — loom massive in our collective consciousness. “I typically joke with reporters,” Candy advised me, “that nobody is popping out to do a local weather change article on the blackbrush bush,” an equally imperiled species within the desert.
Joshua Tree Nationwide Park is central on my private map of sacred locations. It was the primary place I went backpacking as a child, the primary place I slept beneath the celebs, and a spot I’ve returned to time and again to reattune with the world. The Joshua tree’s silhouette is imprinted on many vital reminiscences all through my life — these are timber I actually, actually, actually wish to survive.
After getting vaccinated final spring, I headed down for a couple of days looking for desert mild and people fabled timber. I drove from the south finish of Joshua Tree to the north, shifting via a low, flat valley the place Joshua timber and cholla clustered in mighty, baffling stands. The Joshua timber right here within the valley appeared wholesome sufficient, however botanists know higher: Look carefully, they advised me, and also you’ll see there are not any younger sprouting among the many noble elders. This was a forest of childless mother and father, residing their ultimate days because the final of their type to name that spot their dwelling.
Candy had directed me to go to Black Rock Canyon, the place the healthiest of Joshua timber have been now discovering house to develop. Right here we have been at increased elevation than the park’s sweeping flatlands, that means it was cooler and barely wetter. “They’re basically operating uphill,” she advised me, on an intergenerational march towards increased floor. I took an extended solo hike via these highlands the place a whole lot of Joshuas stood. The timber have been pretty to behold from all angles, like benevolent apparitions from some absurdist underworld. However one of the best view was from above: beholding all these Joshua timber throughout the valley flooring that have been thriving, surrounded by their younger, with room nonetheless to maneuver upward. The issue with up is there’s solely thus far to go earlier than it’s simply sky.
The residing will do no matter they should survive. Within the apocalyptic grove close to Medford, I had seen one dessicated former tree whose branches have been lined in a whole lot of cones nonetheless affixed to it like Christmas ornaments. St. Clair defined that this conduct was regular sufficient for a tree in misery. Sensing it’s going to die, the tree bursts forth into cones in a frantic ultimate act of hope: not a lot for itself, however for its species.
I left the desert, like I’d left Oregon, having seen what I’d come to see: the longer term. There wasn’t a single model of it, however many. One other quote St. Clair likes to share is by the late forester and politician Gifford Pinchot: “The huge prospects of our nice future will grow to be realities provided that we make ourselves chargeable for that future.” If we glance into the crystal ball, we see ourselves peering again at us looking for solutions to the identical questions.