Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

General Sherman tree wrapped in foil as wildfire nears

An image shared Thursday by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks shows the General Sherman sequoia, the world's largest tree by volume, with its base wrapped with protective foil as the KNP Complex fire edges closer.

'It Has Come to This': Ancient Sequoias Wrapped in Foil as Wildfire Threatens

"We can't wait any longer to #ActOnClimate."

Andrea Germanos

A grove of ancient trees in Sequoia National Park remained Friday in the path of a California wildfire that has already triggered evacuations and other protective efforts including wrapping some of the iconic trees—including the planet's biggest—in protective foil covering.

The immediate threat is the KNP Complex fire. Spanning 9,365 acres, the complex includes the Paradise Fire and the Colony Fire, both sparked by lightning last week.

A Thursday update from the National Park Service indicated that crews were "removing fuel and applying structure wrap on some of the iconic monarch sequoias that characterize the most famous area of Sequoia National Park," adding that "the fire continues to grow in all directions."

Among the giant sequoias covered with the heat-resistant foil is the General Sherman Tree, believed to be at least 2,200 years old, which stands in the park's Giant Forest. It's the largest tree on the planet by volume, standing 275 feet tall with a base measuring over 36 feet.

Sequoias can live for thousands of years and are adapted to repeated fires, with their cones releasing seeds under the dried-out conditions and thriving under ash-covered soil. "But the extraordinary intensity of fires—fueled by climate change—can overwhelm the trees," the Associated Press reported.

The potential for such losses on a planet besieged by the climate crisis was realized last year when the Castle Fire struck the Sierra Nevada. As many as 10,600 large sequoias—10% to 14% of those in the tree's natural range—were killed.

"These trees have been here 1,500 years, so how many fires have they withstood: 80?" Scott Stephens, a fire scientist at UC Berkeley, told NPR as he surveyed the tree damage from the Castle Fire. "And then one fire comes in 2020 and suddenly they're gone."

According to Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), the flames threatening the ancient trees this week should serve as a clear call-to-action on the climate emergency.

"If we don’t address the climate crisis with urgency, we risk losing irreplaceable treasures like the famous California Giant sequoias," he tweeted Thursday. "We can't wait any longer to #ActOnClimate."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Humanity 'Way Off Track': WMO Says Atmospheric Carbon at Level Unseen in 3 Million Years

The new report has "a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP 26," said the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·


Any Lawmaker Involved in Planning Jan. 6 Insurrection 'Must Be Expelled,' Says AOC

Organizers of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol say that several congressional Republicans and White House officials helped plan former President Donald Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil ·


Profits Before People: 'The Facebook Papers' Expose Tech Giant Greed

"This industry is rotten at its core," said one critic, "and the clearest proof of that is what it's doing to our children."

Jon Queally ·


New York Taxi Workers Stage Hunger Strike to Demand Medallion Debt Relief

"They are an essential industry here in New York City," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, "and we need to make sure we're doing right by them."

Julia Conley ·


'It's Not Coming Out': Bernie Sanders Stands Firm on Medicare Expansion

"It's what the American people want and, after waiting over 50 years, what they are going to get."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo