Year 2, Month 2, Day 15: Consider How Small You Are

The San Jose Mercury News runs a piece on how climate change is affecting California’s redwood trees; their growth requires fog, and the changing temperatures are reducing the sea mists which have been part of their life cycle for centuries.

A report recently issued by the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association concludes climate change could affect the formation and presence of fog along the entire Pacific Coast, and that in turn could stunt the giant redwoods.

“It’s a concern that has been floating around the park service: How do you deal with the fog issue?” said Neal Desai, associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association Pacific Region. “The redwoods at Muir Woods are the iconic trees, and the fog is their lifeblood.”

Another recent report issued by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization in Colorado looking at the impact on state parks comes to the same conclusion — and says it’s already happening.

This was a good opportunity to pull out the “old things deserve respect” meme and take it for a spin again.

The endangered redwoods embody one of the core lessons that humans need to learn from our changing climate. People come from all over the world to spend time in the majestic groves of Muir Woods, because there is a great peace to be found in the company of the oldest living things on the planet. These trees were hundreds of feet tall when the pilgrims landed on the Atlantic coast; they command our respect, admiration and careful stewardship. We should adopt a similar attitude towards the world’s supply of fossil fuels: the sunlight of the Carboniferous Era, geologically transformed into a barrel of oil, a pound of coal. Whether it’s excess plastic packaging, thousands of hours spent idling our automobiles, or other forms of conspicuous consumption, we’re wasting some of the oldest resources available to our species. Watching the redwoods struggle, it’s increasingly obvious: our profligacy is backfiring on us.

Warren Senders