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Climate change: Chicken Littles, Yosemite Valley and ostriches
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“Climate change is no longer a threat, it is a reality.” — President Obama speaking in Yosemite Valley on Saturday.

President Obama — had he uttered those words on the same spot 20,000 years ago — would have been buried beneath 2,000 plus feet of ice.

With all due respect to the President and agreeing climate change is real, it’s time we all stopped parroting the pitchmen on both sides of the global warming debate. Acting like Chicken Little is not any better than being an ostrich with one’s head stuck in the sand.

There is little doubt that Lyell, Yosemite’s largest glacier, is in retreat and likely to disappear in the coming decades due to what experts who keep their noses to the grindstone of research and refrain from engaging in public debate attribute to both the natural evolution of things and man’s influences. Pallasides, the Sierra’s largest glacier above Big Pine, is also retreating.

The President made note of Lyell Glacier’s retreat in his speech as well as evidence there are meadows within the national park that are drying up. He’ll get no debate there.

But where there deserves to be a serious exchange is whether it should be a national priority to stop climate change or try to make sure that man isn’t accelerating it beyond the natural cycles that give us ice ages and then extended periods of what we might characterize today as super droughts.

When the glaciers that last covered Yosemite from Tioga Pass beyond the mouth of Yosemite Valley, you could not have lived on the ocean in San Francisco as the sea was miles away. 

The President’s speech was designed to sell his administration’s game plan regarding climate change policy. The hook was making the pitch national park gems such as Yosemite are in danger because of climate change. That is only true if we hold onto the self-serving view that Earth with some 4.54 billion years under its belt should remain forever as it is today.

The beauty of Yosemite that the President found so inspiring during his weekend visit would not exist today if it hadn’t been for climate change and its series of ice ages followed by drier periods of higher temperatures and drought. Climate change in concert with geological forces shaped all land masses as we know them today.

Saturday wasn’t the first time that climate change — that in its purest form isn’t the work of man or some platform of a political party — has been rolled out to get blame for changes in weather patterns.

It’s been blamed for the current drought California is in. That’s like blaming climate change for the Great Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

Yes, man contributed to the Dust Bowl but that was primarily through farming practices. The air was much fouler back then yet that has never been blamed as a major cause of the Dust Bowl. In the same token how man has impacted the California environment taking it from less than 40,000 inhabitants 175   years ago to almost 40 million today gets blame,  and deservedly so, for stressing the environment. Man is kind of like beavers and other animals in that aspect. We alter the environment to survive and thrive just like beavers dam waterways.

But here’s the kicker. About 40 percent of the water we have “blocked” by dams in California is used to “enhance” Mother Nature during times of no rain. That is why the Delta doesn’t become a salty mess by late fall and mighty rivers don’t become mere trickles you can cross without barely getting your feet wet when Labor Day rolls around.

Science used to date tree rings of ancient trees found on the West Coast — either the living Bristlecone pines that have as many as 5,000 years old or species that have been petrified and preserved for the ages — indicate super droughts of 200 years or more are the norm for California.

That means by nature’s standards four years of what is below average rain and snow based on man’s perspective and both Earth’s means nothing.  At the same time the last 250 years or so based on tree rings may have been a period of above normal precipitation. In short, it is climate change that did mankind good if it’s judged solely on transforming the Great Central Valley into the most abundant farming region the world has ever known.

Yet climate change and global warming in terms of what man is doing to further either one is blamed almost daily for the drought by those that want a tougher federal approach.

Fifty years ago in my youth when the Sacramento area experienced a stretch of five days of temperatures hovering between 110 and 120 degrees no one screamed global warning. Yet each time we peak above 100 degrees the climate change propaganda machine goes nuts.

They are now trying to equate deaths caused by heat waves  to global warming. Yes, the numbers are up. But maybe they really aren’t when comparing apples to apples. First of all, in California alone there are 1,000 times more people than there were a century or so ago. Most of us today use air conditioning which does nothing to condition our bodies as well as gives us a false sense of safety during heat waves.

The San Joaquin Valley’s air is 50 percent cleaner than it was in 1990. Yet our air quality is now being used to hammer home global warming fears.

Yes global warming exists. But there is as much danger in overreacting as there is in underreacting.