Thursday, March 14, 2013

Phoenix, Too Hot to Handle

by Pa Rock
Phoenician by Circumstance

There is a very informative opinion piece running in today’s Internet versions of the Los Angeles Times ( and Truthout  ( dealing with what the author sees as the troubled weather future of Phoenix, Arizona.  The article, entitled “Phoenix’s Too Hot Future,” was written by William deBuys.

The writer, Mr. deBuys, argues that the weather situation in Phoenix, and particularly the heat and dust storms, while already bad, is destined to become much worse.  He cites an established weather history that includes facts like the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix and its suburbs) routinely has 100 days a year where the temperature reaches a roasty, toasty 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  He also notes that the city set a record in 2011 with thirty-three days of temperatures exceeding 110 degrees F. 

It’s hot here in the summer, damned hot and getting hotter.  We run from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building, travel even the shortest of distances in air-conditioned cars (which adds to the greenhouse gas problem in our bowl of a valley) with the windows up, and race to park in any spot with even the slimmest hint of shade.

There’s a reason our crabby old snow birds go home in the summer.

 The author of the article blames the increasingly miserable heat on a couple of factors:  a history of overbuilding (based on greed) and climate change.  He pointed out that the metropolitan area’s rapid growth has spread masonry structures and asphalt paving across once pristine desert lands.   These structures, roads, and parking lots rapidly absorb heat, yet are slow to release the heat in the evenings.  The result is that the desert is not cooling as well in the evenings as it once did. 

All of the ill-conceived construction combined with a long-term drought has also put an unsustainable burden on local water supplies.  Water is a finite resource, and it is not present in an amount that will accommodate projected growth in the Valley, especially in times of drought.

The unrelenting heat, diminished moisture, and buildup in greenhouse gases has fed into an increase in the size and ferocity of the area’s legendary dust storms,  phenomena the locals refer to as “haboobs.”  These events are epic:  day suddenly becomes night, the winds roar in, tumbleweeds, lawn furniture, and all manner of unsecured personal belongings fly across the roadways, and drivers pull off of the roads as far as possible where they sit in the darkness and pray that they aren’t rear-ended by other drivers trying to get to safety. 

The good news is…well, actually there is no good news.  The local politicians, and particularly our Republican state legislators, are in denial about climate change and remain committed to the belief that Phoenix can build its way out of economic difficulties.  They see conservation as some sort of evil liberal plot, trust that water will always be there, and know God alone decides what the weather will be.

Of course, those legislators represent people who buy gold from Glenn Beck’s sponsors, stockpile weapons in the desert, and pray to a white male God who’s older than Joe Arpaio.

It’s hell out here - or very soon will be!

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

When I left the Valley of the Sun, the unsustainable use of water resources combined with the increased development of new subdivisions propelled my exit.