Hi. I’m Taylor Jones. I work for a conservation group called WildEarth Guardians. I listen to “See You Again” on repeat to cheer me up sometimes. But I’m not writing you today because I’m a fan. I’m writing you because I’m the author of the petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering asking them to add Joshua trees to the federal list of threatened and endangered species.
The petition is about 50 pages of synthesized scientific information, distilling the reasons Joshua trees will likely be in danger of extinction in the next century. You can read it here. Climate change is the main threat to the species as a whole, but individual trees are under stress from vandalism, irresponsible off-roading, and yes… people sitting on them.
I’m guessing you didn’t mean to start a media frenzy (or at least, not this kind of media frenzy) with your recent Instagram post where you posed in a Joshua tree (nice jumpsuit, by the way). But now that it’s happened, you have a great opportunity. People watch what you do, and emulate you. With that kind of power comes responsibility. I’m asking you to use it. You can be a voice for Joshua trees.
I’m not a pop star; I’m a scientist. I will never have the social media reach you do. But if I could, I would shout from the rooftops that Joshua trees are precious, fragile, and not to be taken for granted; they may disappear from most of Joshua Tree National Park in the next 100 years if we don’t do something about climate change. That’s why I wrote a petition to get them listed, and that’s why I’m writing to you today. You can use your celebrity to spread the word; you can educate people about the trees’ imperilment, and ask them not to do what you did.
Joshua trees shouldn’t be climbed; they have shallow root systems and can easily be damaged by climbing or hanging things on them. And with the threat of climate change hanging over them, every action matters. The recent government shutdown had disastrous consequences for the park; now more than ever, the impacts of tourism needs to be acknowledged and minimized. You can help. Turn this Instagram debacle around and advocate for the trees.