FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Joshua Tree is Us

For hundreds of years, the Joshua tree has been a source of inspiration for not only Americans but people all around the world. Its branches reaching to the sky reminded early settlers of the biblical story of Joshua raising his arms in prayer. My prayer, today, is that it’s not too late to save this American treasure so that future generations may likewise be inspired by its majestic beauty.

Born of the Pleistocene epoch, Yucca brevifolia has outlived mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. But without dramatic action to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, Joshua trees may not live into the next century.

But prayer is not enough to prevent the Joshua tree from extinction. It’s also going to take robust action to defend the Joshua tree. Last week, WildEarth Guardians filed suit against the Trump administration to force it to do its job – to safeguard the Joshua tree under the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit stems from a petition to the Interior Department that WildEarth Guardians’ filed more than four years ago, asking it to invoke the ESA’s protections for the Joshua tree.

Since the time of our initial petition, the situation for the Joshua tree has become even more dire. This June, scientists from the University of California, Riverside released a study which found that even under the best case scenario–meaning with bold, aggressive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions–only one in five Joshua trees will survive the next 50 years. Without such steps, the population will be virtually wiped out.

In the midst of such apparent hopelessness, I remain faithful in the power of the public voice. After all, there’s a long history of inspired citizens and a caring government protecting the Joshua tree. In August of 1936, in response to the relentless advocacy efforts of Minerva Hoyt, a southern Californian resident enchanted by the Joshua tree, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an Executive Order designating what would later become Joshua Tree National Park—which just this past week celebrated its 25th anniversary.

I am not naïve. Even if marshalling science and engaging in legal action extend the Joshua tree a lifeline, these acts alone can’t save it. What will save the Joshua tree are its millions of fans–famous musicians, poets, writers, and mystics among them–who speak out and who refuse to allow the loss of such a beloved and irreplaceable figure of the natural world.

When the very icons and namesakes that define our national parks can no longer survive, we have a problem that should alarm every citizen of our great nation. Sadly, that is the reality we’re facing not only with the Joshua tree, but also with the disappearing glaciers of Glacier National Park and the declining Saguaros of Saguaro National Park.

If we are to save the Joshua tree, as well as countless other species that are suffering due to the climate crisis, there is little doubt we need a new president. A president who will appoint a cabinet that will cherish and celebrate the beauty and diversity of nature.

I’ve been around long enough to know that sometimes presenting the mere facts isn’t

enough. Logic alone can’t move the human heart. But beauty and diversity held as moral imperatives can.

For 2.5 million years, the Joshua tree has survived on this planet. We desperately need new leaders to take dramatic, bold action to protect our endangered web of life and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The fight for wild nature is now a battle against time, and it’s one we can’t afford to lose.

More articles by:

John Horning is the executive director of WildEarth Guardians, which protects and restores the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West.  

July 09, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 Exposes the Weakness of a Major Theory Used to Justify Capitalism
Ahrar Ahmad
Racism in America: Police Choke-Holds Are Not the Issue
Timothy M. Gill
Electoral Interventions: a Suspiciously Naïve View of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War World
Daniel Falcone
Cold War with China and the Thucydides Trap: a Conversation with Richard Falk
Daniel Beaumont
Shrink-Wrapped: Plastic Pollution and the Greatest Economic System Jesus Ever Devised
Prabir Purkayastha
The World Can Show How Pharma Monopolies Aren’t the Only Way to Fight COVID-19
Gary Leupp
“Pinning Down Putin” Biden, the Democrats and the Next War
Howard Lisnoff
The Long Goodbye to Organized Religion
Cesar Chelala
The Dangers of Persecuting Doctors
Mike Garrity – Erik Molvar
Back on the List: A Big Win for Yellowtone Grizzlies and the Endangered Species Act, a Big Loss for Trump and Its Enemies
Purusottam Thakur
With Rhyme and Reasons: Rap Songs for COVID Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Spiked Concerns: The Melbourne Coronavirus Lockdown
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela is on a Path to Make Colonialism Obsolete
George Ochenski
Where are Our Political Leaders When We Really Need Them?
Dean Baker
Is it Impossible to Envision a World Without Patent Monopolies?
William A. Cohn
Lead the Way: a Call to Youth
July 08, 2020
Laura Carlsen
Lopez Obrador’s Visit to Trump is a Betrayal of the U.S. and Mexican People
Melvin Goodman
Afghanistan: What is to be Done?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
The End of the American Newspaper
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic
David Rosen
It’s Now Ghislaine Maxwell’s Turn
Nicolas J S Davies
Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme
Bob Lord
Welcome to Hectobillionaire Land
Laura Flanders
The Great American Lie
John Kendall Hawkins
Van Gogh’s Literary Influences
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
CounterPunch News Service
Tribes Defeat Trump Administration and NRA in 9th Circuit on Sacred Grizzly Bear Appeal
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail