In their native habitat, Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are threatened by global climate change. Increased temperature fluctuation and prolonged drought have diminished the tree’s southern range, and scientists anticipate that Joshua Tree National Park may ultimately lose up to ninety percent of its population. The Morongo Basin, in which Joshua Tree National Park is situated, has been targeted as prime territory for alternative energy development. Given that alternative energy offsets carbon emissions, increased development would alleviate pressure on Joshua trees (as well as countless other species). So why do many residents of the Joshua Tree region oppose alternative energy development? This paper argues that local opposition to solar development is due to the way climate change is perceived psychologically, issues with the solar installations themselves, and the tendency to think utopian locally and dystopian globally. The local is characterized as a place of care, stewardship, and freedom, while the global is portrayed as corporate and placeless. Minimizing the relationship between the local and the global hides the transportation, telecommunication, and human networks that fundamentally enable the “sense of place” that Joshua Tree residents value. Invoking the framework of eco-cosmopolitanism, this paper suggests that attention to scale and interconnectedness may engender an environmental ethic able to address both local and global environmental concerns.


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pp. 80-93
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