When I first visited the Peruvian Andes, I was astonished to see groves of eucalyptus — native Australian trees — at elevations greater than 10,000 feet (3,048 m). Eucalyptus is the most widely planted non-native tree in coastal California, which has a Mediterranean-type climate like that found in parts of Australia, but why are these trees in the high Andes?
Humans have always had a unique relationship with fire. Now, like many other changes that are occurring on our planet, fire is taking on new meanings. Across North America and Europe, and from the Amazon to the Arctic, wildfires have been erupting with unprecedented sizes and intensities. There is a name for this new age: the Pyrocene.
California and other Western US states are facing another major drought, with a snowpack that is approximately 50% of normal throughout the region. The wildfire season is already underway also, stoking fears of fire in treasured places, among them majestic Yosemite Valley.