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Mossback’s Northwest

When Palm Trees Thrived in the Pacific Northwest

What fossils can teach us about the past — and future — climates of the our region.

August 20, 2018

A 12,000-year-old pine cone, a fossilized ginkgo leaf — Knute Berger dives into the Burke Museum’s paleobotany collection to find out what Washington use to look like and to contemplate which of the state's former, and considerably warmer, climates would be the most suitable dwelling for a modern-day Mossback. These specimens might help scientists understand, and prepare for, human-caused climate change.



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Knute Berger

Knute Berger is Crosscut’s Mossback. Born and raised in Seattle, he writes with his own Pacific Northwest perspective. He also writes the monthly “Gray Matters” column for Seattle magazine where he is editor-at-large, and is an occasional commentator on KUOW-FM’s “Week in Review.” He is the author of two books: Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice and Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the official 50th anniversary history of the tower. He was writer-in-residence at the Space Needle and has had a cocktail named after him at Ivar’s. You can email him at knute.berger@crosscut.com or follow him on twitter @KnuteBerger.

More stories by Knute Berger

Eric Keto

From the Oregon Coast to the North Slope of Alaska, Eric enjoys telling stories from the western edge of the country. His nonfiction video work has been featured on The Atlantic, PBS NewsHour and Alaska Public Media.

More stories by Eric Keto