Even the Sentinel of the Southwest, the saguaro cactus, is struggling in Arizona’s record-breaking inferno. Without the respite of typical seasonal monsoons, cities like Phoenix have endured nearly a month of temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which has taken a toll on the towering cactus species.
Everyone peers at cacti and thinks, ‘Oh, they’re desert vegetation, so they should be alright’ Friday, Kimberlie McCue of the city’s Desert Botanical Garden told Fox 34 that cacti are living organisms. “They are literally unable to function, and I would describe it as suffocation.” Massive cacti, which can live up to 200 years and reach heights of 40 feet, are well-adapted to the arid weather.
Reports that under normal conditions, plants open their pore-like stomata at night to conduct the critical gas exchanges that fuel their photosynthesis process during the day. Nonetheless, periods of extreme heat disrupt this process, causing cacti to become agitated, dehydrated, and more susceptible to infection and infestation.
Ms. McCue stated that there is little that can be done to save the saguaros if they begin to lean, become mushy, or turn yellow. “No matter how much water you pour on that plant, if it’s truly beginning to die, they won’t be able to absorb it and use it,” she explained. Desert’s renowned flora is not alone in its current predicament. The Arizona heat wave, which is largely caused by the climate crisis, is also placing a significant strain on humans.
Rising Heat-Related Deaths: Over 25 Lives Lost, 249 Cases Under Investigation, Signifying Climate Change Impact
Since April, at least 25 individuals have perished of heat-related causes, according to officials, and an additional 249 deaths are under investigation. According to The Independent, extreme heat is one of the most harmful effects of climate change, despite receiving less attention than other forms of extreme weather, such as drought and hurricanes.
Each year, heat murders more Americans than all other natural disasters combined.
The United Nations has issued a warning that the world is entering a period of “global boiling,” with July being the warmest month on record in the past 120,000 years.