Apocalypse No: Claims That Metro Phoenix Is Doomed Because of Climate Change Are Greatly Exaggerated
If climate change affects future weather, as some scientists say it will, Phoenix could end up hitting the sustainability jackpot. Instead of Phoenicians fleeing to water, as they do in Powell's bleak vision, water could come to them.
A map published in National Geographic in November shows how coastlines around the world would change if world glaciers and polar ice caps melted. Cities including New York, Boston, and Houston would be submerged, as would nearly all of Florida.
The map shows the Pacific Ocean moving eastward, erasing much of Los Angeles and San Diego. Good for Phoenix, though, is how the northern end of the Gulf of California is depicted as moving to a latitude farther north than San Diego's -- well into Arizona. Before this happens, says Richard Williams Jr., a scientist with the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts who helped put together the map, seawater would "overrun the Colorado River delta and go inland," where it could be desalinated.
Williams says the "Rising Seas" map projects out "centuries."
More near-term predictions claim that Manhattan, Seattle, Miami, and even inland cities like Sacramento could see large areas inundated with seawater by 2100. Some of their residents would search for real estate here in sunny Phoenix -- just as they have for decades.
By then, of course, Phoenix would've figured out how to live with more people and less water. It wouldn't have irrigated lawns; its residents would pay more for water and would suffer more heat waves.
But it still would be a thriving city.