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Climate change: Chicken Littles on social media are dozen or so millenniums too late to the party
death valley
Near the mouth of a remote canyon in the northern Death Valley carved by climate change via the force of water.

Human conceit is incredible.

“Unusual” heat, storm, and cold events are popping up.

They are used to fan the narrative the earth’s demise is just around the corner.

And even more to the point,  they are presented as proof positive not by scientists but by climate change zealots that man is the driving force behind it all.

There is no denying climate change.

And because of that, there is no denying climate change has displaced civilizations and caused — or contributed to — millions of deaths during the 200,000 years humans have been on the planet.

Just like climate change, this is not a manufactured fact.

If one bothered to get up to speed on science-based history, one might conclude “location, location, location” is the primary force behind human climate change deaths and not climate change per se.

And the location changes with the climate.

It is an in important distinction.

That’s because climate change has been constant during the 4.53 billion years earth has existed.

It’s cyclical. And until recently the climate didn’t create an environment that was conducive to animal life let alone that of humans.

The 200,000 years of man’s existence is just a sliver — or 0.005 percent — of earth’s overall existence.

It takes a lot of conceit to believe it is all about us.

And by extension that we somehow have a real role in preventing climate change from occurring as opposed to adjusting to it.

That doesn’t mean we act like hedonists and pollute away, ravage ecological systems, or deplete the resources we need to survive.

What it does mean is we stop letting flash mob mentality drive the debate and the course we chart for the continued survival of civilization.

California as we known it today was shaped by climate change — Yosemite Valley, the beaches of Southern California and the Great Central Valley we live in to name only a few climate varied features.

It is ultimately the power of water — or the lack thereof — in its various forms that does the grunt work when it comes to climate change.

And perhaps nowhere in California is that as obvious as within the  3,000 square miles of Death Valley.

Much ado was made about the “record” 2.5 inches of rainfall on Aug. 20 that caused widespread damage — most of it to nature’s handwork and not that of man — in the national park.

It topped the previous one-day “record’ of 2.2 inches of rain set in August 2020.

From this, many — granted in a fashion more consistent with heat-of-the-moment drive-by shooting than any real contemplation — conclude it is proof positive climate change is about to destroy the earth.

If that has any validity, then the Chicken Littles on social media are a dozen or so millenniums too late to the party.

Climate change, by their definition, has already destroyed Death Valley.

You can see it in every isolated canyon one can wander in the Panamint, Armargosa, Funeral, and Grapevine mountain ranges that ring Death Valley proper.

And it is in plain sight.

Water undercuts in the canyon wall on bends.

Rocks — massive and small — broken off mountainsides and pushed farther downhill as the centuries unfold.

Glass-like surfaces on many dry falls sanded down by water.

Natural arches drilled by water.

In 30 years of trekking Death Valley’s floor, canyons and mountains the handiwork of climate change is not something that you can see go from point G to point H.

That is different, however when it comes to the alluvial fans spreading out from canyon entrances the various mountain ranges.

It is there where flash floods from repeated bursts of rainfall that in the past clearly have been much greater than  what fell on Aug, 20 and much less as well.

Depending upon the primary soil type of the mountain range, there are thousands upon thousands of  crisscrossing stream paths in the larger alluvial fans that have been carved over the years filled with seemingly endless rocks.

This is the result of not average rainfall of 2.2 inches a year.

And it certainly hasn’t happened all in the past three decades or so.

Up until 10,000 to 30,000 years ago, much of Death Valley was covered with a body of water known as Lake Manly that at its largest was 629 square miles with depths ranging from 154 to 295 feet.

The power of water — and climate change — when coupled with other non-stop geological forces that are grinding away ever-so-slowly on the earth’s crust is most visible because of the relative starkness of Death Valley’s landscape.

It is located in one of the most extreme rain shadows on the planet thanks to a series of mountain ranges between it and the segment of the Sierra that soars above 14,000 feet. As such, its vegetation is relatively scarce.

As an aside — and to underscore that things aren’t always what we often assume they are such as climate change — Death Valley is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and 440 species of animals

Climate change is — and always has been — a serious issue.

It has always existed.

The key is how we adapt to it.

The solution is to find a way to safeguard populations in “red zones” of climate change catastrophes whether they are wildfires, major floods, or rising sea levels.

Minimally, that means stopping all new development within such areas that adds to the problem until a solution that is viable is put in place.

 It may also require abandoning some developed areas just like happened in past civilizations.

Such an approach to climate change — along with tapering down to a large degree the small sliver of the overall problem that originates from man’s behavior — is where we should be directing our resources.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email