Phoenix Falling

By the time you get to Phoenix, it might not be there. (Photo by Jack Leeder/Flickr)

By the time you get to Phoenix, it might not be there. (Photo by Jack Leeder/Flickr)

“It’s true,” says the perky physical therapist with a giggle, “my boyfriend and I are moving to Phoenix. We’re really looking forward to it.” Really, responds a crotchety elder in for an attitude adjustment, you’re looking forward to living in a city besieged by a years-long drought, obscured by dust storms not seen since the 1930s, surrounded by wildfires, setting record high temperatures, running out of water, a strong candidate (with Las Vegas and Miami) to be the first US city abandoned because of climate change. [from the Los Angeles Times: “Heat, drought, violent winds turning Phoenix into hell.”] Which part are you looking forward to the most? When did you decide to opt out of the Age of Information?

“Well, yeah,” she says, looking around for an excuse to move on, “I heard they’re having a heat wave.” Did you. Did you hear it’s been going on for 15 years? Did you hear that not far from Phoenix, they’re close to setting the record for the highest temperature ever recorded on the planet? Suddenly, her presence is urgently required across the room.

The first requirement of personal security is not guns, or a black belt in King Dum Cum fighting, but situational awareness. No one capable of rubbing two thoughts together would think of strolling alone in certain high-crime, drug-dealing, drive-by-shooting neighborhoods. (How did they become aware of the reputation of those neighborhoods? The got some information from somewhere.)  Yet people are still eagerly moving to Phoenix. And Las Vegas. And Miami. [See Rolling Stone: “Goodbye Miami: By century’s end, rising sea levels will turn the nation’s urban fantasyland into an American Atlantis. But long before the city is completely underwater, chaos will begin.”] Not to mention the seashore and the San Andreas Fault.

Of course we don’t like to think about our own death. Or about the world coming apart. And pushing such thoughts aside in order to have a nice day is not a bad thing. But when refusal to think about bad things translates into wandering out into traffic on busy freeways, jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, swimming with feeding sharks or moving to Phoenix, intervention is appropriate.

For many reasons, the world is becoming a much more hostile place, in some places. The Atlantic coast, the western forests, the High Plains near-deserts, the prairie of Tornado Alley: all are killing more people, more often, than ever before. You could look it up.

The people who happily move to the beach for the water view, the tinder-dry woods to be close to nature, Phoenix to get a tan or Las Vegas to get lucky, however earnestly they project a devil-may-care attitude, are going to be among the first to be taken by the devil. It’s going to be a long emergency. Information can help us get through it. Call it the survival of the awarest.


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7 Responses to Phoenix Falling

  1. colinc says:

    Thank you, this post is hi-luckin’-farious! It instills great confidence that the species known as homo sapiens sapiens will very soon be extinct and good riddance to the barely conscious pond-scum. BTW, what freakin’ moron dared to proclaim that cretinous “humans” were “wise”… twice over, even? (That’s a rhetorical question, no answer required or wanted.)

    As to “survival of the awarest,” I will only note that awareness is irrelevant. Unless, of course, one happens to be an E.B.E. in possession of a suitable means of transport off this soon-to-be-uninhabitable rock. In which case, enjoy the coming show, it is going to be spectacular, even from orbit!

    • sderoote says:

      Well said. I couldn’t agree more. And the tickets to the spectacular are free. Yee hah.

      • colinc says:

        Thank you. You are, of course, absolutely correct, in a “traditional” sense, that admission to the coming spectacle is “free.” However, the “ultimate price” for the show will be paid. There will be no refunds and no one on this rock will be granted exclusion from viewing AND participating in the show’s progression, at least not until their individual “fee” has been submitted. I wonder what the “last” crew of the ISS will be thinking when they realize they can’t come back, or even if they will want to return. Best of luck, however you choose to define that term, to you and to us all, after all “it’s the thought that counts.” Of course, that sentiment may be erroneous and/or irrelevant.

  2. SomeoneInAsia says:

    Perhaps those who jump out of airplanes without parachutes, swim with feeding sharks etc want to prove they’re somebody by wagering their lives against colossal odds, just as some want to scale Everest, cross the Antarctic wearing only their undies, and what not.

    Idiotic or heroic? It’s THEIR lives either way you reckon it. My only request in this respect is that those who want to play such games don’t drag ME in — except there are many such people today who still want to play the big game of industrial ‘progress’, and are dragging everyone with them into it.


    • Tom Lewis says:

      To me, there’s nothing heroic about challenging odds you do not know exist. Especially when it would be easy to find out about them. Most of the people hanging out along the San Andreas Fault do not know it is there, and get no points for courage, full points for stupidity. My personal favorite is the dude who, asked by a TV man-on-the-street interviewer whether he had an emergency plan for an earthquake, responded, “I don’t need one, man, there’s a 7-11 right on the corner.”

      • colinc says:

        Supremely astute perspective, Mr. Lewis. It could not have been expressed better. Yet, I am curious why you think it may be that so many people seem so disinclined to leave the western states even now. To be clear, I am sure you are aware, as are a smattering of other people, that the Arctic sea-ice is disappearing decades prior to even the “worst case” scenarios proposed within the past decade. Why then, do you suppose, do so many people in that region (and elsewhere) remain oblivious to the resultant droughts which also appear to be progressing at an equivalently accelerated rate? In other words, within the next 5 years (at most) the region from TX to ID and ND to AZ will become uninhabitable and no one there will be able to leave. Do you think “economic factors” may be the prime motivation for their apparent “hopium?”

  3. Michael Kastre says:

    Many people (including me) suffer from the attitude that there are many potential disasters that are likely to happen in the future, but by the the time they do I will be gone or somehow they won’t affect me. It is sort of like the national debt. We are swimming in red ink and may well go bankrupt as a country down the road, but it will happen on someone else’s watch and won’t affect me. (I feel sorry for our kids and grand kids…) Many Americans seem to only react to immediate disasters. If the young person in the story knew that the issues facing Phoenix were at dire levels, for example, no water–that is, you turn on the facet and nothing comes out–then perhaps they wouldn’t be in such a hurry to get to Phoenix. It is the ultimate form of procrastination. Or, I don’t know what to do so I will do nothing. Or, if I ignore the issues they will either go away or not affect me. Or, by the time the worst case comes true it won’t affect me because I won’t be here. So, whether if is just ignorance and a genuine lack of information or the will to ignore what is out there the result is the same. I don’t believe much will change will until it actually impacts these people’s lives. In some aspects we are just like our elected officials who have become world class experts at kicking the can down the road.