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Yosemite puts the whole world in perspective
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The smoky haze on Saturday obscured what would have been 80-mile views on a clear day from atop a granite perch overbooking Ten Lakes and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.

In the distance over three mountain ridges to the northeast wisps of smoke curled skyward from a lightning induced fire.

Over a wall of granite to the west Yosemite fire crews were working a controlled burn near Lukens Lake to reduce fuel to avoid a future Big Rim-style inferno.

Sitting there taking in the vastness it is easy to dismiss the Chicken Little crowd that spends their lives clicking away on Internet blogs crying the sky is falling due to global warming.

They should really relax and enjoy the journey.

Whether we as man hasten the end of the world is debatable at best and myopic at worse. The forces of nature set the time table, not us. We might be able to tweak it to hasten or slow it down but ultimately we are not in control.

We arrogantly believe because we brought the world Facebook, Twitter, and drones that we can master everything. 

Going back a mere 200 years and you can read accounts of early European explorers in California musing about how the Great Central Valley was filled with smoke for weeks from fires that burned through dry grassland unabated. Tree rings on giant sequoias tell tales of super-sized infernos that swept the Sierra through the centuries.

The real estate we call California was burning long before careless people clearing debris let fires get away from them, errant sparks from machinery torched forests, or twisted individuals purposely charred the land.

Fire induced by lightning is nature’s way of keeping forests healthy and to spur rebirth among the pines. Mother Nature given the thousands upon thousands of dry lightning strikes the Sierra gets every year doesn’t need any help.

We don’t do ourselves any favors by building homes — primary residences and vacation retreats — beneath towering Roman candles laden with pine needles that can literally explode into fireballs.

Much of the manpower dispersed today to wild land fires is not to fight the blaze per se but to protect countless structures of which many don’t have defensible fire space around them. Instead, many opt to build homes under tinder dry oaks or pines studded with brittle needles.

In that sense California’s modern history of wildfires such as the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm that killed 24, injured 150 and destroyed 2,580 homes for more than $1.5 billion in damages is a manmade disaster. That said, the Oakland hills probably burned plenty of times before we started lining it with homes featuring million dollar views of San Francisco Bay.

Those fires coupled with the other forces of nature created what we love, namely California.

Not saying we should trash up the planet and pollute it at will, but to freak out about global warming is at bit unworthy of a species whose members have a lifetime that’s a mere sliver of German Sherman’s — the 2,500-year-old giant sequoia that graces Sequoia National Park.

To be honest, I like what global warming has brought us.

The Sierra has suffered nicely through at least four periods of global warming. They brought the demise of the Sherwin, Tahoe, Tenaya, and Tioga glacier periods that carved some of California’s most iconic features — Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley and the incredible 60 mile-long Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne that was my visual reward for a 10-mile hike on Saturday.

Global warning that made glaciers retreat four times to the point there are now just a handful scattered along the Sierra ridges above 12,000 feet. Those retreating glaciers caused by global temperatures increasing also played a critical role in creating the world’s most fertile farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.

You can’t have the good, without bad. It’s nature’s law.

One species eats another to survive. Roses that offer fragrant blossoms have thorns that can make you wince in pain and bleed.

Fear and paranoid fester when you do not accept that there is bad and good in the world.

Sooner or later we all die.

While it makes no sense to try and hasten our death, it is pure nuts to spend the time we have whining and fretting about our eventual demise just so our last living thought can be, “ah hah, I told you so.”

Freak out, if you must, about global warming. But before you give yourself a stroke from all the stress of worrying take a trip to Yosemite and see the handiwork of global warming up close.

You will discover what John Muir did.

Yosemite puts the entire world in perspective.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.