Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Sunset For the Joshua Tree?

Sunset For the Joshua Tree

Sunset For the Joshua Tree?

©Bert Gildart: Sunset for the Joshua Tree? That’s what climate scientists say may be the fate for this magnificent species, a member of the lily family that also influences the lives of at least 25 other species.

In other words, if current warming trends continue then global warming will have taken its toll not only on the glaciers of Glacier National Park, the pika of the Great Basin, the polar bear of the Arctic–but also on the Joshua Trees of this diverse California national park.

“It’s happening all ready,” said a park naturalist yesterday at the park’s visitor. “Joshua Trees require cool temperatures in order to flower and set their seeds. Because of global warming, they’re not getting it.”

The National Park Service goes further, and has published an agency-wide brochure. In the brochure, they say that human activities contribute substantially to the current warming trend.


“Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (90% certainty) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentration… Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere today are higher than they’ve been in over 650,000 years.” The brochure attributes such statements to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change–and its exhaustive research.

Though I’ve attempted to maintain an open ear, living as we do (when not 3/4-quarter timing it in our Airstream) close to Glacier National Park, that has been difficult, and this past summer posted a blog on a hike to Grinnell Glacier Overlook. The hike provides a hard to refute visual example that global warming is real. I realize, of course, that there are many who do not dispute global warming, saying that it is a natural cycle and not human caused.

But judging from the publication of this government brochure and the fact that certain leaders initially attempted to squelch such materials–but now accept it–it appears as though the debate may be over. Certainly the issue won’t be much of a debate among the presidential candidates, as the way the campaign has now shaped up, all (regardless of party affiliation) agree that global warming is real–and that we can control it.


As Janie and I have hiked trails in Joshua Tree National Park, it certainly does appear as though some of the trees are experiencing stress. In some cases portions of trees have died, and whether this is cause and effect, I’m not enough of a desert ecologist to be able to say.

Under stressful conditions trees don't always produce blossoms

Under stressful conditions trees don’t always produce blossoms

All I know is that park naturalist are saying that trees are dying. But they also say there is some hope: “Regardless of their [global warming factors] causes,” says the brochure, “we must do what we can to manage these impacts, and adapt to the new circumstances they bring.” The brochure concludes it thoughts, saying, “Perhaps the same wisdom that has preserved our heritage in the past can guide us in making choices for the future.”

Some, now blooming in profusion

Some, now blooming in profusion

By inference, I take it that if we group together and insist on responsible action from our leaders that it may not, in fact, be sunset for the Joshua Tree.

(Note: For those who may have attempted to communicate with us, Joshua Tree has no cell phone or Internet access.)

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