Post COP 17 – The Road to Nowhere

Guest post by Professor Will Alexander 

Roadmaps

The key word used during the COP 17 discussions was ‘roadmap’ used by the European Union delegation.

The following is a map of my travels through southern Africa. My two principal destinations at the time were surf fishing along the remote Skeleton Coast of Namibia in the northwest, and studying river behaviour in the Caprivi Strip in the north where the roads meet.

Roads that we have travelled

There are vast climatological differences in the regions of southern Africa from the high rainfall along the Drakensberg escarpment in the southeast through to the arid Namib desert in the northwest. This is the world’s oldest desert.

Negotiating the Magwikive sand ridge

Negotiating the Magwikive sand ridge

Fishing along the Skeleton Coast

Fishing along the Skeleton Coast

Preparig for trip through the Namib Desert

Preparing for trip through the Namib Desert

Exploring the Chobe Swamps

Exploring the Chobe Swamps

Nowhere in the developed world will you find such a wide and interesting range of climatic conditions within two days travel in any direction. No wonder the international scientists as well as their South African counterparts operating from air-conditioned offices at the foot of Table Mountain, are so ignorant of natural climatic variations in both time and space.

The roads least travelled

These days the fashion is to mount a Garmin instrument on the dashboard of your vehicle, then enter the addresses of the start and the end points. When on the move, obey the voice instructions as you approach the forks in the road along the route. My version also emits a loud sound when it detects an electronic speed trap ahead.

I have also installed a tracking device so that the exact position of the vehicle can be determined if it is stolen. What is more, the route followed by the vehicle can be recovered at any time on my computer. As my photographs include the date and time, I can also determine the time and place where each photograph of the local flora and fauna was taken.

I offered to supply my set of photographs with this information to the South African National Biodiversity Institute. They remained silent as this was not the information that they wished to see.

I was able to prove that their claims of the disappearance of our unique plant and animal species, published in peer-reviewed literature, had no foundation in fact.

Global climate computer models (GCMs)

Whenever I produce evidence that floods and droughts have not increased in magnitude or frequency during the past 150 years they refer me to the evidence produced by their highly complex GCMs to the contrary. These models are so large and complex that there are only half a dozen or so of them in the world.

How can we challenge these models when they can even determine whether the rainfall in the region falls mostly in winter or summer? They go even further. They can predict that if global temperatures increase by more than 2°C this will have catastrophic consequences on the world’s human, animal and vegetal populations let alone our agriculture and industries.

We have to believe them because we experience this increase in temperature between breakfast and morning tea every day of our lives. We also experience these 2°C temperature changes when we travel from Johannesburg to Pretoria and back again while all that traffic along the route emits those huge volumes of poisonous carbon dioxide that we breathe in along the way.

If you know anyone who is familiar with these huge computer models, I suggest that you ask them this very simple question:

How long will it take rainfall at a constant rate to completely wet a piece of ground?

This is the problem that the famous Albert Einstein gave to his 10-year-old son.

Let me offer a clue. When half the area is wet, where will the next raindrop fall? This is an extremely important issue as it goes to the very heart of climate prediction modelling. If the models cannot predict how long rainfall will take to wet a piece of ground how can we trust their complex predictions?

Basic English

This is my final puzzle.

The agreement reached at COP17 was titled “Durban platform for enhanced action“.

I had great problems in understanding the meaning of this title, particularly as Durban is my birthplace and English is my home language.

My wife and I are here on holiday in Plettenberg Bay. We have a small Chamber’s Mini Dictionary that we use when playing Scrabble with our family. These are the definitions in the dictionary.

Platform: a raised level surface such as that for passengers at a railway station.
Enhance: to make appear greater or better, (my emphasis).
Action: a deed, an act, a law case, or what happens in a film or play.

South Africa has eleven official languages. I wonder how this title will be translated into our own official languages, let alone those of the rest of the world.

Conclusions

Returning to the real world, I firmly believe that there are few if any scientists in southern Africa who have a wider, longer, and more scientific experience in the interfaces between the climatological, hydrological, environmental and sociological sciences than I have.

Equally, I believe that this whole global warming/climate change issue is no more than a monumental scam perpetrated by the affluent nations to protect their economic supremacy, regardless of the effects on the many millions of poor and disadvantaged populations of Africa and elsewhere.

I do not for one moment believe that the nations of the world will abide by the nebulous decisions reached by COP17 in Durban, with legal ratification by 2015, and implementation by 2020. It is not going to happen.

Seasonal wishes

I leave you with my sincerest seasonal best wishes. I apologise for offering these very serious issues for your solution at this time of joy and celebration.

Finally, and more seriously, you may be interested in this opinion from this morning’s newspaper.

The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed” – Steven Biko

The most important asset that you have is your mind. Keep it clean and healthy. Ignore all that nonsense from those who are not even aware of their own ignorance.

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33 thoughts on “Post COP 17 – The Road to Nowhere

  1. Is it the “Durban platform for advanced action” or “Durban platform for enhanced action”?

    [REPLY: It's "enhanced", fixed, thanks. - willis]

  2. I greatly enjoyed your post. I have long praised Anthony for the occasional posts that are as much natural history as climate science. For the first time, I am considering a trek in Africa, a trek based on your map. Thanks much.

  3. Thanks for Einstein’s raindrop problem, which I hadn’t heard of.
    As you quote it, it is somewhat indeterminate,
    needing further parameters to avoid infinite regress:
    1. How many successive raindrops does it take to make a raindrop-size spot ‘wet’?
    2. Once a spot that is already wet gets hit with another drop,
    what fraction goes laterally to wet the adjacent dry ground,
    versus how much goes downward to wet the soil below?

    The reason I’m asking is that during the ‘unexpected’ recent rains of SoCal
    I’ve enjoyed photographing ‘rain shadows’ of low-lying branches
    and thus have been extensively observing wetting times.

    If you want to make the problem more fun, pose it for a vertical wall,
    which will take hours to get wet unless the wind is right or the rain torrential.

  4. “is no more than a monumental scam perpetrated by the affluent nations to protect their economic supremacy”

    This is not so. The scam is really to destroy the economies of the wealthy nations, and, despite assertions to the contrary, they will also destroy the economies of the poorer nations. Focussing policy on prohibiting cheap reliable energy would, if successful, would destroy all economies. The political philosophy of the purveyors of this scam is the very same one that tried to prevent the industrial revolution, the same one that failed and led to the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the same one that is morphing into capitalism in China as a superior route to break-up, the same one that is actively destroying science – it has already subverted the social sciences and ecological sciences but now it is eating into the core of the physical-mathematical sciences – starting with physics-based disciplines like the vulnerable fledgling climate science.

    The wealthy nations do not need to do harm to the poor nations to fluorish; it is the reluctance of despotic elite groups (usually ethnic/tribal) in control of the poorer nations to adopt political economies of the wealthy ones that would spread prosperity. Steven Biko’s enlightening quote might be expanded to include as tools the pliable minds of the well-meaning, but unthinking. The term “useful idiots” remarkablly includes duped scientists.

  5. Will Alexander?? Don’t I remember your name from work showing that rainfall / rivers in your area followed the Hale solar pattern – or something like that??

    I have a very good feeling around your name. Must investigate. Turn to Wikipedia and invert its message for starters. OMG. No WP entry. Your work must be important. Damn that stoat Connolley. Another of his deletions no doubt, like Tim Ball… the only way to ensure the good info gets completely lost. Oh yes, desmogblog comes high on Google… I was right… sir, you’re one of the true scientists like Daly, Moerner, Segalstad, Jaworowski, Soon and Baliunas… all hounded out of “climate science” by the current rogues fraudsters and usurpers… to be factual…. as the WP lacuna shows…

    So we still need a wiki where the true climate scientists can put the true science

    PS thanks for publishing, Anthony, but the link under Will Alexander’s name doesn’t go anywhere useful. Here and here and here are some better links

  6. I own a small business in Kenya. I love Africa and couldn’t agree with you more that global warming is a scam and keeps millions of Africans dependent and poor. In Kenya they can’t use gen seeds like most of Africa. EU and all the NGO’s have done more harm than good and I feel most should be prosecuted for devastations against humanity. They are Dictator organizations..

  7. Sort of off topic, but I finished a long post on how the MWP was treated by the Hockey Team, how it created a massive rift between the Mannians and those trying to retain their objectivity, how it became clear in the early 2000’s that the MWP was not going away, and how the team began to admit they don’t have a clue what the relative climate is between the MWP and now.

    What worries me when you see this level of denial and obfuscation is that the only conclusion to make is scientific and logical debate will never deter the zealots and their political mission.

    Scary stuff.

  8. Remembered… but not enough… I’d twice referenced Will Alexander in my own Climate Science Sceptics Primer (click my name)… good.

    More evidence we need a skeptics climate science wiki.

  9. Lucy Skywalker says:
    December 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    … Here and here and here are some better links

    these links show Will Alexander, a real scientist, was never taken in by the AWG SCAM.

    Most impressive. i hope you post more often here Mr. Alexander.

  10. I traveled most of the roads you show on your map in the late 1980s and early 1990s — I’m a plant collector. A question for you: Lake Ngami was completely dry when I drove across the lake bed. I hear that in 2011, the Okavango River experienced a record flood, and now Lake Ngami once again contains water. Did you see it?

  11. “Equally, I believe that this whole global warming/climate change issue is no more than a monumental scam perpetrated by the affluent nations to protect their economic supremacy, regardless of the effects on the many millions of poor and disadvantaged populations of Africa and elsewhere.”
    ========
    I disagree.
    It started with a genuine concern, but has since become a cash cow for those that are willing to accept the warming conjecture.
    Greed, can explain most of the movement, of late.
    Guilt, is a major driver.
    Ego, supplies the players.
    The media, keeps the fire burning and the message on track.

    Of course, the thing that will bring down the house of cards, is the amazing access to information afforded by the internet.
    Woe to anyone that thinks different.

  12. My question to all those supposed climate scientists who implicitly believe in man made co2 induced climate change is simply:

    How on earth can you justify to anyone, including yourselves, being a part of so many international junkets?

    This question simply does not apply to the likes of the good Professor Alexander for one reason; Such as he (and i and all of you) do not see the proof of the problem that the opposing view does, hence it simply isnt worthy of consideration, no case to answer, no guilt to assuage.

    No, it applies to every single one of the nannying, pious, petulent and lecturing hypocrites that travelled to Durban (and other palces) for a bit of a party under the flagrantly false banner of “saving the planet”….from what i have no idea as i suspect do they, if only they had the moral backbone to admit it to themselves.

    If these paragons of virtue actually believed for one nano-second what they spout, then surely in the age of interenet communications, could they not all “meet” online and forge their treaties for addressing problems both real and imagined that way?
    Thereby actually (in their minds at least) “saving the earth” from all their “polluting” carbon dioxide emissions and a by product of their totally unnecessary travels?
    Its called practising what you preach.
    You only need look through the climategate 2.0 emails to see how much these guys love to be in switzerland, or having dinners at another conference rather than doing it all much more efficiently on line, but then commonsense, a guilt free conscience and the chance to show they actually do believe in their cause by doing so would probably never collide in their rather narrow minds because a free party at someone elses expense is always going to override any ethical considerations for the planets wellbeing, not when they can “get it on” at every opportunity for free, highest level hypocrisy and it stinks.

    The warmist “scientists” (oxymoron if ever) have not only lost the argument scientifically due to the content of the leaked emails and the undisputable truths therein, but because of their moral and ethical disregard for their own cause by acting in the ways described.

    Carry on fellas, just keep kicking in those own goals for us.

    Probably a little early, but to all the sceptics (of which there are many, many many-Mr FOIA especially) a very happy christmas and new year.

  13. Lucy Skywalker and Tim:

    I have read various “memos” by Prof. Will Alexander published throught the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition:

    http://nzclimatescience.net/

    He offers a perspective on climate science from the poor world, his thoughts are fascinating and he and others have done a whole body of scientfic research on hydrological/solar cycles. This work seems to be deliberately ignored by IPCC and its selection of climate science.

  14. I loved this bit: when you showed them real world evidence that the biosphere wasn’t perishing in drought, they produced computer models that showed otherwise.

    Isn’t this so completely absurd! Never mind Orwellian, it is in the realms of Kafka. I’d love to see Josh do a cartoon take on this. Josh, are you there?

    BTW, if the whole CAGW fraud is one perpetuated by the West to preserve their economic hegemony, they are not exactly showing terrific gain for all their efforts.

  15. Interesting that Namibia should come up. I have just been reading some “climate adaptation” documents concerning Namibia. The first is one published by the Namibian government and is “Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment for Namibia’s Biodiversity and Protected Area System” which draws much from Tyndall Centre’s working paper 140 “Agricultural adaptation, local knowledge and livelihoods diversification in North-Central Namibia”

    Now there is a bit if circular referencing going on in that the November 2009 TWP 140 references the 2008 version of the “Climate Change Vulnerability” document, the 2010 version of that document then references the 2009 Tyndall paper. So basically we have Tyndall Centre (part of UEA) playing a fairly significant role in setting the policy agenda for the country of Namibia. This document is one of the “underpinning” documents of Namibia’s communications to the UNFCCC. So here we see UEA having influence on both the IPCC via CRU and the UNFCCC, though indirectly, through their work being incorporated into at least one country’s communications to the UNFCCC. In other words, UEA is influential in not only setting the assessments from IPCC but also in the policy recommendations deriving from that assessment.

    Interestingly enough, though, I find the Tyndall paper rather ludicrous as it relies heavily on GCM results some 40 to 50 years into the future! While it does say quite clearly that there is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding these projections, it then goes on to basically ignore these uncertainties and proceeds in the rest of the documents as if these projections will come to pass. That is a constant theme in this paper. While on one hand they actually do state that they have no idea what they are talking about, on the other hand they proceed with projections and recommendations assuming their projections are accurate.

    One example is this:

    Climate in Namibia
    Most of Namibia’s climate is characterised by semi-arid to hyper-arid conditions and highly variable rainfall; though small stretches of the country (about 8%) are classified as semi-humid or sub-tropical (MAWRD, 1995) These features arise in large part from Namibia’s location, between 17º and 29º south of the equator (approximately). As a result, the climate is subject to the air movements driven by three major climate belts: the Intertropical Convergence Zone, the Subtropical High Pressure Zone and the Temperate Zone. Whilst in its southernmost position, the Intertropical Convergence Zone brings moist air, especially to the country’s northern and eastern extremes, resulting in the rainy season which lasts from October to April each year. However, the more dominant system is the Subtropical High Pressure Zone, prevalent especially in the winter months. Namibia’s dry climate is a consequence of this dominance.

    The report goes on to note that the rainy seasons have become shorter. This is exactly what would be expected from COOLING. As temperatures begin to cool globally, the ITCZ will not reach as far South. It’s southernmost position will migrate northward as temperatures cool and it will be in a position to impact Namibia for a decreasing period of time each year until it possibly no longer gets far enough South to have an impact. What impact changing temperatures will have on those dominating high pressure systems, I do not know as I have not studied them but there is a very clear correlation between global temperatures and the position of the ITCZ in both Africa and South America (basically having to do more with the location of the Hadley cell than anything else). We should experience the same drying of conditions, for example, in Venezuela. and lo and behold .. it has experienced the same conditions:

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/venezuela-looks-to-wind-and-nuclear-power-amid-drought-and-hydropower-slowdown/

    It is also worthy of noting that the Tyndall paper mentions torrential rainfall in early 2008 and 2009. If you look at this diagram:

    You will note that both of those were La Nina years. If that might cause flooding, then maybe we will see a repeat in 2011 and in fact we see severe flooding in Namibia and South Africa in 2011.

    Basically these people point out rather well-known consequences of natural climate variations and attempt to pin them on long term “climate change”. There is ONE thing the report gets right, though, and that is that CO2 fertilization will likely increase the amount of woody plants and a decrease in grasses and it will likely change the mix of C3/C4 plants.

    I find it absolutely fascinating that these reports can say “We have no idea what is going to happen, but this is what is going to happen so you better develop an adaptation strategy.” What is even more ironic, or possibly by devious design, is that the adaptations they claim are needed for warming (adapting to drought) are likely the adaptations needed for COOLING as the annual rails fail with the northward movement if the ITCZ. On the other hand, if they have not figured La Nina into all of this and we enter a period of consistent La Nina events, the impact could be exactly the opposite … cooling temperatures with more rainfall.

    Sometimes I think these people are nuts.

  16. jjs says:
    December 17, 2011 at 12:40 pm
    “… I love Africa and couldn’t agree with you more that global warming is a scam…. EU and all the NGO’s have done more harm than good and I feel most should be prosecuted for devastations against humanity. They are Dictator organizations.”

    I love Africa, too. Its been over a decade since I was there last. I fear the poor EU is more lost in delusion than malice. They seem bent on impoverishing themselves. I would, though, throw the UN in with many of the NGOs as having a policy of perpetuating poverty and misery – they want you and I to return to living (dying?) in caves. I guess if they resolved all the world’s problems, they would be out of a job.

  17. AJStrata says:
    December 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Sort of off topic, but I finished a long post on how the MWP was treated by the Hockey Team,…
    AJ, How about a cross post to here with your article???

  18. Tim says:
    December 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Lucy Skywalker says:
    December 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    …..Most impressive. i hope you post more often here Mr. Alexander.
    _________________________
    I second that Professor Alexander. Cross posting your articles here would be welcome.

    To the others from Africa, I agree that the EU/WTO/UN and USA have done a huge disservice to the people of Africa. The current African land grab by international hedge funds makes me see red every time I think about it.

  19. Lucy Skywalker says: “…More evidence we need a skeptics climate science wiki.”

    Yeah, Wankerpedia is too easily corrupted by editors with a poltical agenda.

  20. Extensive fossil remains have been recovered from a series of caves in Gauteng Province . The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been termed the Cradle of Humankind . The sites include Sterkfontein , one of the richest hominin fossil sites in the world. Other sites include Swartkrans , Gondolin Cave Kromdraai , Coopers Cave and Malapa . The first hominin fossil discovered in Africa, the Taung Child was found near Taung in 1924. Further hominin remains have been recovered from the sites of Makapansgat in Northern Province , Cornelia and Florisbad in the Free State , Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal, Klasies River Mouth in eastern Cape and Pinnacle Point , Elandsfontein and Die Kelders Cave in Western Cape . These sites suggest that various hominin species existed in South Africa from about three million years ago starting with Australopithecus africanus .

  21. Nice to see the professor using a British vehicle, Land Rover Discovery 2. So they do sell overseas.

  22. re:

    Equally, I believe that this whole global warming/climate change issue is no more than a monumental scam perpetrated by the affluent nations to protect their economic supremacy, regardless of the effects on the many millions of poor and disadvantaged populations of Africa and elsewhere.”

    I’m not sure how you see that working, particularly in the short run? Although I understand that China or some segment therein, has expressed similar sentiments some time ago. Is it because it’s thought that the additional controls will wind up causing super high cost power? Or??

    I can say that it seems to me that AGW will break developed nations economies…. and if we actually transfer billions of dollars to underdeveloped nations in such as way that it doesn’t all just go into dictators fat pots, then the underdeveloped nations ought to be a little better off, at least in the short run.

    All of the push toward ‘mitigating’ or studying AGW have cost the developed nations massive mounts of money. A year or two ago it was estimated that the USA alone had spent over $79 BILLION already (iirc, over the past 10 years or so), between research funds, mitigation funds, and so on. I don’t believe that estimate even included the $6 to $9 BILLION given to auto manufacturers to retool so they could produce either hybrid or all electric vehicles. I don’t know if that figure included stimulus funds either – many billions had been allocated specifically for green or alternative projects (think the $1/2 Billion failed Solyndra as one example). Or the $3.3+ Billion for the California train to nowhere, now estimated to cost more then 3x’s it’s original estimate, at $99 Billion, with up to an additional $20 Billion depending on route. I believe the total set aside or promised for high speed rail nationally is $13 Billion, if they haven’t raised the amount again. For something that’s been a total failure financially pretty much everywhere tried. Last I checked, there was only a single bullet train in the world that was not only to cover operating & maintenance costs, but was working on or had covered capital costs also. Only a handful manage to cover just op & maintenance costs, and never come close to covering capital expenditures.

    Meanwhile, the UN is pushing for $100 Billion in funds to be transferred annually from developed nations to undeveloped nations. Carbon trading has shifted some manufacturing to undeveloped nations, all in the name of AGW – and of the fact that a number of different massive scams have already occurred. Scams that have netted the crooks literally billions of dollars, and/or shifted work/manufacturing overseas only to discover that the project overseas didn’t actually meet the carbon trading requirements. Meanwhile, EPA is about to release new massive regs on electrical power stations, the “utility MACT’ estimated to costs taxpayers over $11 Billion annually. .

    So it sure seems to me that AGW won’t serve to help increase the power or economy of our nations at all… and at least in the short term, if implemented, might help underdeveloped nations – tho clearly not nearly so well as if that money were provided for GOOD projects, instead of boondoggles and trash and miserable efficiencies.

    Frankly, I think it’s pretty much bad for everyone worldwide, other than utopian one world government types, or utopian man’s an evil plague who’s numbers need to be reduced drastically types. Sigh.

    All this for science that is so far utterly unable to even be on par with the null hypothesis of natural climate changes, let alone ahead enough such that science could support the new AGW hypothesis. If it can’t break the null, it’s safe to say that there simply isn’t any scientific support for the hypothesis.

  23. Nowhere in the developed world will you find such a wide and interesting range of climatic conditions within two days travel in any direction.

    You might wish to visit Idaho.

  24. [ "How long will it take rainfall at a constant rate to completely wet a piece of ground?" ]

    After checking my calculations, I’m satisfied I have the correct answer.

    I used proxies to verify my work. Namely, the Mr Mann Tiljander upside down sediments . Which EPA described as a “more sophisticated” than averaging of right-side-up proxies as done in Loehle and McCulloch.

    My Calculations:
    \dfrac{d}{dt} \Phi (t,x(t),y(t),z(t)) = \dfrac{\partial \Phi}{\partial t} \dfrac{d(t)}{dt} + \dfrac{\partial \Phi}{\partial x} \dfrac{dx}{dt} + \dfrac{\partial \Phi}{\partial y} \dfrac{dy}{dt} + \dfrac{\partial \Phi}{\partial z} \dfrac{dz}{dt} = PRN

    Double Checking:

    \frac{{\hbar ^2 }}{{2m}}\frac{{\partial ^2 \psi (x,t)}}{{\partial x^2 }} + U(x)\psi (x,t) = i\hbar \frac{{\partial \psi

    (x,t)}}{{\partial t}}= PRN

    PRN defined:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pro+re+nata

    I will post my graph as evidence….. but…….hang on…. someone is knocking on my door.

    Albeit; I have no observational evidence, I will be submitting my work to secure a grant from DoE and the Economic Stimulus Fund.

  25. Apparently it’s (just barely) possible to travel from the lowest point in North America (in Death Valley, -282′, -86 m) to the highest point in the contiguous United States (Mt. Whitney, 14,505′, 4,421 m) in just under 48 hours.

    On foot.

    See the Wikipedia entry for the Badwater Ultramarathon.

    Seems it should be easy within two days to drive from the starting point at Badwater, Death Valley, to a place to scramble up Mount Whitney (and down again), and then drive on to the Pacific Ocean.

  26. All within a single day of Los Angeles, California:

    the below from usaparks.about.com: Use the information below for driving distances and approximate drive time from Los Angeles, CA to selected US National Parks.

    Channel Islands National Park, Distance: 66 miles, Approximate time: 1.25 hours
    Along a section of the Californian coast you will find one remarkable national park. But it is not your typical park. In fact, Channel Islands National Park is made up of five separate islands – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara – all stunning in their own rite. Rich lands of wildlife, flowers, plants, and stunning views are here for visitors to explore.

    “Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, Distance: 736 miles, Approximate time: 12.3 hours
    It is hard for visitors to forget their first view of Crater Lake. On a clear summer day, the water is such a deep blue many have said it looks like ink. With stunning cliffs towering over 2,000 feet above, the lake is tranquil, stunning, and a must-see for all who find beauty in the outdoors.

    Death Valley National Park, Distance: 304 miles, Approximate time: 5.75 hours
    Death Valley is the largest national park unit outside of Alaska and includes more than 3 million acres of wilderness area. This large desert, nearly surrounded by high mountains, contains the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. The area includes Scotty’s Castle, the grandiose home of a famous prospector, and other remnants of gold and borax mining.

    The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, Distance: 492 miles, Approximate time: 8 hours
    About five million people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year and it comes as no surprise why. The main attraction, Grand Canyon, is a mammoth gorge stretching 277 miles showcasing amazing depths of colorful geology. It boasts some of the nation’s cleanest air and a great deal of the park’s 1,904 square miles are maintained as wilderness. Visitors cannot help but be blown away by stunning views from almost any vantage point.

    Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave Desert, California, Distance: 168 miles, Approximate time: 3 hours
    The 1,017,748-acre park draws more than 1.3 million visitors per year. Few areas more vividly illustrate the contrast between high and low desert.

    Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, Distance: 557 miles, Approximate time: 9.5 hours
    Lassen Peak erupted intermittently from 1914 to 1921 and, before the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington, was the most recent volcanic outburst in the contiguous 48 states. Active volcanism at the park includes hot springs, steaming fumaroles, mud pots, and sulfurous vents.

    Redwood National & State Parks, Distance: 737 miles, Approximate time: 12.7 hours
    Comprising 45 percent of all the old-growth redwood forest remaining in California, this park – together with four other parks in California – are a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. The ancient coast redwood ecosystem preserved in the parks contains some of the most majestic forests scenery anywhere in the world.

    Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, Distance: 237 miles, Approximate time: 4.5 hours
    Ranging from 1500′ to 14,494′ in elevation, these adjoining parks protect immense mountains, deep canyons, huge trees, and diverse habitats. Great groves of giant sequoias, (including the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest living thing), Mineral King Valley, and Mount Whitney (the highest mountain in the U.S. outside of Alaska), are spectacular attractions in Sequoia National Park. Two enormous canyons of the Kings River and the summit peaks of the High Sierra dominate the mountain wilderness of Kings Canyon National Park.

    Yosemite National Park, Distance: 311 miles, Approximate time: 5.9 hours
    Yosemite is home to some of the nation’s most spectacular waterfalls, meadows, and ancient sequoia trees. Within its 1,200 miles of wilderness, visitors can find everything nature defines as beauty—wild flowers, animals grazing, crystal clear lakes, and amazing domes and pinnacles of granite.

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