For sustainable society


Joshua trees may be disappeared by the end of the century

Joshua Tree national park in California, United States. The sight with unique shaped rocky hills created by nature, and Joshua trees, rare plants in the desert, makes you feel being in a separate world and is a popular spot for tourists. Joshua trees that have had a great influence on the culture, such as becoming the motif of the Irish rock band U2’s album “The Joshua Tree”, may be wiped out by the end of the century.

 According to a report published in the US science journal “Ecosphere,” even with major efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, 80% of the trees’ habitat will be whittled away. “Over the past couple of millions of years, we’ve had multiple ice ages with warming periods in between, and the Joshua trees have survived that,” said the ecologist Cameron Barrows, who co-authored the study. “But right now, the warming is happening so quickly – and it’s getting hotter than any of those previous periods.”

 In addition, smog and wildfires also prevent Joshua trees from growing. Young trees have not been planted due to drought in recent years. One of Joshua Tree residents and park volunteers said, “I don’t want this beautiful area to end up looking like something out of Mad Max.”

In 2011, it was predicted that some Joshua trees would survive in the northernmost region, where they were originally, even if most of them in California died due to global warming. However, given the recent rapid global warming, the future may not be as predicted.

On the other hand, some people are optimistic. “I was extremely discouraged by the latest report, but it’s too early to give up,” said Kenji Haroutunian of the volunteer group ‘Friends Of Joshua Tree’. “The key to protecting Joshua trees is to have more and more tourists come here and see an amazing view.”