Climate Change May Lead to "Exodus from Phoenix," or Maybe Just Total Disaster
|A map of Phoenix.|
A writer who focuses mostly on environmental affairs in the Southwest says that Phoenix just keeps getting hotter, and among other problems, it could lead to a Superstorm Sandy-like or Hurricane Katrina-like disaster.
William deBuys (bio and credentials here) doesn't seem to have the greatest outlook for Phoenix's future, as evidenced by his latest piece, saying Phoenix is in the "climate crosshairs."
"In Phoenix, it's the convergence of heat, drought, and violent winds, interacting and amplifying each other that you worry about," deBuys writes. "Generally speaking, in contemporary society, nothing that matters happens for just one reason, and in Phoenix there are all too many "reasons" primed to collaborate and produce big problems, with climate change foremost among them, juicing up the heat, the drought, and the wind to ever greater extremes, like so many sluggers on steroids."
For example, if the power grid fails on a large scale and for quite some time, then "the fallout will make the consequences of Superstorm Sandy look mild," he says.
"Phoenix is an air-conditioned city," he continues. "If the power goes out, people fry."
Unfortunately, he seems to have quite a few reasons as to why Phoenix is a prime location for total disaster.
For one, deBuys points to the reasons that it's getting hotter, like the concrete "soaking up energy by day and releasing it at night."
Then there are the haboobs that have caused power outages, although deBuys says the utility companies say it's not a problem, and the outages have been brief.
"Before Katrina hit, the Army Corps of Engineers was similarly reassuring to the people of New Orleans," deBuys adds, in the least reassuring way possible. "And until Superstorm Sandy landed, almost no one worried about storm surges filling the subway tunnels of New York."
There's also the running-out-of-water problem, the wildfires, drought, and "its particular brand of local politics," which lead to nothing productive getting done, deBuys continues.
And here's your doomsday prediction:
"It is a truism that communities that do not pull together fail to surmount their challenges. Phoenix's are as daunting as any faced by an American city in the new age of climate change, but its winner-take-all politics (out of which has come Arizona's flagrantly repressive anti-immigration law), combined with the fragmentation of the metro area into nearly two dozen competing jurisdictions, essentially guarantee that, when the worst of times hit, common action and shared sacrifice will remain as insubstantial as a desert mirage. When one day the U-Haul vans all point away from town and the people of the Valley of the Sun clog the interstates heading for greener, wetter pastures, more than the brutal heat of a new climate paradigm will be driving them away. The breakdown of cooperation and connectedness will spur them along, too."
Perfect. Check out the entire piece from deBuys here.