Iconic Joshua trees threatened by climate change

With climate change becoming a much more pressing issue in our lives, it will soon destroy the historic sites of nature that the Earth’s rising temperatures have not already swallowed. 

The local monument to Southern Californians, Joshua Tree National Park, is being threatened by California’s current dry spell and could disappear by the end of the century. Though Joshua Tree is in the desert, it needs a hard rainfall every once in a while to adequately survive and sustain the ecosystems that inhabit it.  

According to the National Park Service, other species in Joshua Tree such as the desert tortoise and the desert bighorn sheep will also be affected by the threat of the drought and climate change if no actions are taken.

The bird population in Joshua Tree is also declining as the birds are migrating to cooler climates. Birds are a big part of the food chain as they spread seeds in their droppings. As the bird population is decreasing in Joshua Tree the spread of seeds throughout the desert is declining. 

Another reason Joshua Tree is in danger is due to the soil erosion that comes with climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , soil is currently eroding up to 100 times quicker than it’s forming and the risk of erosion will become even higher in the future due to emissions-driven temperature changes.

All these developments are putting stress on the iconic Joshua trees themselves and does not allow for quick regrowth when so many of the existing trees are at the last stages of their life. This threatens the ultimate existence of the Joshua tree species, which could face extinction unless something is done.

Climate change is caused by humans but it can also be fought by humans. Decreasing the greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere can lower the temperature of the earth and bring it back to homeostasis. The excess of carbon in the atmosphere is raising the Earth’s temperature which is the underlying cause of why we could be losing so many species, including the Joshua trees in the national park.

Planting trees or other agriculture can help absorb the carbon dioxide in the air. Reducing your intake of red meat and dairy can aid in the process of reducing emissions. 

Living in California comes with its blistering hot days of the summer. Being more conscious of when and how long you are running your air conditioner can slow the release of carbon emissions.

When doing your laundry, line or hang dry your clothes as minimizing the use of your dryer can also help.

But, most importantly, our political leaders must take bold action to fight climate change on a national and global level. As citizens, we can do our part in that by electing officials who will fight this fight, and holding them accountable.

These are some small steps that you can take to reduce your own carbon footprint and save the many national historic sites, like Joshua Tree, that nature has provided for us. 

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Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Campus Times Editorial Board.

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