But Redman appears uncomfortable when discussing the projection that millions will move to Arizona in the next 30 years. Some people at the SOS doubt such growth is inevitable, says Redman. He'd only give it a 50-50 chance.

"If the masses come," he says, the new growth should occur under a "different model" with an eye toward long-term sustainability and minimal environmental damage.

While Redman denies that he believes in the burned-out future described by some writers, neither he nor current SOS Dean Christopher Boone have denounced the idea publicly. He says he's well aware that many people in Arizona and elsewhere believe a drought apocalypse is just a matter of time for Phoenix, and he admits that Ross' 2011 book leads readers in an inaccurate "direction."

Metro Phoenix gets about half of its water from Apache Lake (seen here) and other lakes on the Salt River reservoir system, providing a buffer against smaller flows from the Colorado River.
Wikimedia Commons/Bernard Gagnon
Metro Phoenix gets about half of its water from Apache Lake (seen here) and other lakes on the Salt River reservoir system, providing a buffer against smaller flows from the Colorado River.
Andrew Ross, a New York University sociology professor, still maintains that Phoenix is the "world's least sustainable city," as his 2011 book states.
Andrew Ross, a New York University sociology professor, still maintains that Phoenix is the "world's least sustainable city," as his 2011 book states.

Yet Redman participated as moderator of a panel for a downtown Phoenix event last year that helped Ross sell his book, and during his interview with New Times last month, Redman had Ross' Bird on Fire in a small stack of books on his desk.

Boone refused to comment about his stance on whether Phoenix is sustainable. Crow didn't respond to a request for comment.

Maybe they're worried that Phoenix is unsustainable but don't want to voice their concerns. Or maybe the myth of Phoenix's impending death is a handy tool in pulling in students from outside Arizona to the ASU School of Sustainability.

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.

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8 comments
johnnymorales1
johnnymorales1

If people ever accept building homes mostly underground with only skylights or a single room above ground then Phoenix will have no problem surviving.


Building underground doesn't require digging deep holes. Homes could still be built above ground for the most part with waterproof materials Etc., and then have dirt heaped around them.


The result if creatively managed would be a collection of hills but with windows and various other decorations that could still be built on the outside just like we do with houses.


The other alternative would be to opt for a building homes using giant quarry blocks instead of the thin walls we currently build and do away with wood entirely for exterior wall construction save for interior home design. 


Developments could take on the look of mini-Petras.


It's our obsession with having a home fully above ground designed with the Midwestern climate in mind, completely exposed to the elements that requires such heavy resource utilization.


Sure we have great insulation today, but it would be completely unnecessary if most of the house we build was underground underground.

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By keeping most construction underground, the land would not contribute to higher temperatures via hot concrete and asphalt. 

Runoff would be allowed to return to a more natural form and nurture the land replenish the water table like it used to rather than rushing off into the concrete drainage system.

maxplanck0
maxplanck0

It remains to be seen if the groundswell of new immigrants will tolerate the intensity and duration of the summers here. Yes, they have in the past but not everyone makes the transition of their initial summer, "trial by fire." I did, but that was in years past, when Baseline Road was still 2 lanes and populated with citrus groves.

John Cady
John Cady

Where are the breasts though?

Judy Hedding
Judy Hedding

Wow. Five posts in a row without any breasts.

Anita Mahaffey
Anita Mahaffey

The damage is more likely to occur because of the crumbling infrastructure. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area, and especially Mesa, are ignoring the immediate needs of the community. SRP, the County, and the State are "helpless," due to budget constraints. The City of Mesa Mayor's Office is happy to let the existing community languish, while they look for opportunities for new development. The desert, and it's natural inhabitants can't take much more of this abuse, not to mention that the citizenry and law enforcement and safety officials are in constant danger.

DNichols
DNichols

Thank goodness satelite guided Jet Drones are spraying various "Chemtrails" over Metro Phoenix 24/7 to block out U.V. rays, and lower the surface temperature.

Look up People due to this Phony "High Cloud" spraying the temperatures in Phoenix are being manipulated, and are about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than they would be otherwise.

We are countering the adverse effects of man made pollution with yet further man made pollution.

The main "Chemtrails" being sprayed in the air we must breathe now is White Aresol,the more they spray the lower our visibility.

Look around at the White air pollution that matches the color of the "Chemtrails."

This "Chemtrail" spraying will slow the effects of Global Warming for a few more years, however with out it plant life in Phoenix would already be adversly effected.

Look up people it is easy to see if you have both eyes, and an open mind to see reality.

Lockhead Martin had a TV commercial showing a satelite, then the cloud covered Earth, and called it "Climate Control."

Down side to "Chemtrails is Heart Disease, Lung Disease, COPD, Alzhiemners, Dementia, Breast Cancer, and many other Cancers, and Diseases.

 
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