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A Great AridnessClimate Change and the Future of the American Southwest$
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William deBuys

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199778928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199778928.001.0001

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Highway 79 Revisited: “Mega” Trends in the Sun Corridor

Highway 79 Revisited: “Mega” Trends in the Sun Corridor

7 Highway 79 Revisited: “Mega” Trends in the Sun Corridor
A Great Aridness

William deBuys

Oxford University Press

Whether you are breaking prairie sod in the nineteenth century or raising a family and scrambling to make ends meet in the twenty-first, it is hard to get worked up over abstract possibilities. There is too much that needs doing, right here, right now. Even knowing the odds, people still live in earthquake zones, hurricane alleys, and the unprotected floodplains of mighty rivers. The warm embrace of a thirsty aridland city is not so different. Generally speaking, it is hard for any of us to get seriously concerned about what might happen until it does happen. That’s why the politics of climate change are so difficult. The measurements and observations that convince scientists about the warming of Earth are invisible to the rest of us. We fail to sense them at the scale of our personal lives. And believing in the verdicts of computer models about what might happen twenty or forty years in the future, well, that is tantamount to a leap of faith, and most people don’t ordinarily jump that far. Believing in the growth of cities can be difficult, too. Beginning in 2007, the domino of subprime mortgage defaults knocked over the domino of overleveraged investment banks, which toppled a wobbly world credit system, which upended industries around the globe and ushered in the Great Recession. 1 The home-building industries of growth-crazy cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix collapsed virtually overnight. Suburbs from Florida to California became ghost towns where wind-driven litter piled up in doorways and weeds grew higher than the sills of boarded-up windows. Some analysts predicted the emergence of a new generation of suburban slums and the death of gas-guzzling, car-dependent, long-commute suburban lifestyles. 2 Indeed, in the long run, considering the implications of peak oil and peak water and the likelihood of more severe climate reckonings than we’ve yet seen, such a demise seems likely—though maybe not quite yet.

Keywords:   Hohokam people, Peralta Trailhead, Proposition, Rust Belt, Salt River, Verde River, cactuses, density, growth, importation

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