Climate change is coming.
And I say bring it on.
It’s not a cavalier attitude but a pragmatic viewpoint fashioned after hiking glacier carved peaks in Yosemite and sitting atop the 11,128-foot summit of Glass Mountain.
For those looking for something else to keep them awake from worry at night, Glass Mountain forms the northeast ridge of the Long Valley Caldera. It is one of what the United States Geological Survey identifies as California’s four most active volcanoes that includes Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, and Medicine Lake. Unlike the other three that are in northeast California, Glass Mountain is off Highway 120 due east of Manteca.
Ok, so it's “way” due east beyond Yosemite’s Tioga Pass and Highway 395 some 20 miles southeast of Mono Lake as Highway 120 works its way toward its eastern terminus in Benton where it T-intersects into Highway 6.
The USGC defines active volcanoes as those that have erupted in the past 2,000 years. They also list two other potentially active volcanic areas within California’s boundaries — — Clear Lake and Coso.
The last volcanic eruption in California was from 1914 to 1917 at Mt. Lassen. Before that it was Mt. Shasta in 1786.
But those volcanoes are of a relatively minor concern compared to the Long Valley Caldera. At 20 miles long and 11 miles wide it is considered as one of the world’s largest super volcanoes. Some experts say it has the potential for an explosion 1,000 times more powerful than the Mount St. Helens’ eruption in 1980 that killed 57 people.
Part of the Long Valley Caldera is Mammoth Mountain located on its southwest rim. It’s considered a young volcano built by numerous eruptions between 22,000 and 55,000 years ago. The USGS has determined during the past 5,000 years eruptions have occurred every 250 to 750 years in the Long Valley Caldera. The last was 250 years ago at Paoha Island in Mono Lake.
The USGS puts the odds of a volcanic eruption happening in the Long Valley Caldera at less than 1 percent a year. That is comparable to the odds for a magnitude 8.0 earthquake on the Richter scale such as the 1906 San Francisco trembler along the San Andreas Fault.
The last time there was an eruption in Long Valley the ash cloud covered much of what is now the western United States and altered weather patterns. This is real climate change and it can’t be prevented.
Man can fiddle with the climate but it really doesn’t matter. San Francisco’s Ocean Beach didn’t exist 100,000 years ago nor did the Golden Gate for that matter. Rivers dumped into the ocean miles west of current day San Francisco and you could walk to the Farallon Islands.
The oceans have been rising — or influx — for centuries upon centuries. Climate change is part of the geological forces that continue to shape the earth. Hastening major changes isn’t in mankind’s best interests but it’s also true we are powerless when all is said and done to stop it.
Climate change created Manteca’s fertile farmland that was once under the sea.
Without climate change California — as well as the rest of the world — as we know it would not exist.
If climate change is so bad, why do 4 million people each year come from all corners of the globe to take in the sites carved by the advance — and retreat — of massive glaciers in Yosemite National Park.
You cannot dispute that climate change is real. What is open to argument is whether man is impacting it one way or another as well as the bigger question — does it really matter in the end what we do?
This summer take a hike to North Dome. It’s 7,546-foot summit rises almost 3,500 feet straight up from Yosemite Valley’s floor. From there you get a clear view of climate change’s handiwork as you can see the glacier carved Half Dome, Cloud’s Rest, El Capitan’s Dawn Wall, and Glacier Point.
Then head east to Glass Mountain. Hiking to North Dome is a walk in the park compared to the quad busting steep ascent of Glass Mountain where the summit registry has gaps as long as 30 days during the hiking season of another human standing atop it.
From that lofty vantage point you can see much of what the mighty Long Valley Caldera is molding.
To try and stop climate change is not only impossible but it is a fool’s dream.
The great cities we have built on earth will disappear in time. Some will suffer a quick fate such as Pompeii located below Mount Vesuvius. Others will die a slow death like Venice.
An ocean that was once 10 miles or more east of San Francisco will surely retake Venice, large swaths of Florida as well as coastal cities like New York and San Francisco all in due time.
Again, it is foolish to speed up the process but at the same time it is arrogant to think you can stop it.
Climate change is here. Stop worrying and embrace it. Go take a hike.