For over thirty-six years, I have called the desert my home. Clearly, my family's decision to live in a land with little rain and more than enough heat was not unpopular. The Phoenix area has claimed us since 1985. During that time, the metropolitan population has grown from 1.7 million to almost 5 million fellow Phoenicians. It is the fifth-largest city in the country.
In 1985 there was one (partially completed) freeway. Now, there are seven and more are needed because of our love of cars. Yes, there is a decent bus system and even light rail. But, prying us out of our vehicles will be a tough sell, especially when you consider the full metro is almost 15,000 square miles in size.
Using a more conservative measurement, the metro area is only 10,000 square miles or 100 miles in each direction. To put that in perspective, the island we spent a fabulous vacation on just three weeks ago, Kauai, is only 552 square miles. Twenty-eight Kauai's would fit inside the full Phoenix metro with room to spare!
We have come to tolerate the 100+ degree days from May to October. Neither Betty nor I would exchange that high heat for a place with lowers temperatures but higher humidity. "It's a dry heat" is really real. 15% humidity makes 100 bearable, sort of, for a while.
But, wait. Climate change and its effects on the desert are beginning to show its power. Projections of more days over 100, even 115+ readings, will become not just an occasional occurrence. Already, we expect at least 120 days over 100 degrees and a dozen over 115. Add an increase due to global warming, and a logical conclusion is half of each year will warm past the century mark.
Just last month, a potentially fatal development was reported. The Colorado River is not that many years away from running out of enough water to serve the 40 million folks who depend on that flow to live, grow crops, even generate electricity. The 336 miles long Central Arizona Project uses water from the Colorado River to serve Phoenix and Tucson.