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November 23, 2012


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Phoenix/AZ Posts is the blog???
What are the aggregation pages??

I like the blog
the rest is fine but the blog and the front page is about all I have time for.

's your next book due out?

Who is your honorary front page editor, anyway, Jon?

Dick Silc is the P1 editor. Next book, "The Night Detectives," due in May/June

The aggregation pages are the ones to the right of the main post: E.g. The Front Page, The City Desk, Arizona's Continuing Crisis, etc.

Like it all .....
Didn't bother to vote for a "least."
Looking forward to the new Mapstone.
What about a new Cincinnati one ??

Bear, Jon's already written 2 books with Cinci as the location.

Bear, I need a break and then will do another Cincinnati Casebook. Hope the publishing biz lives that long.

I'd be interested to know why the votes against climate change?

I'd be interested to know why the votes against climate change?
Ditto - I'll speculate that, amongst all of the signals of "decline" (e.g., empire overreach, capitalist overreach, the new dominance of the third-tier economics of financialization), it's the hardest to contemplate without attracting the nihilist "apocalyptos."

Not to mention that, within that framing, Phoenix itself is particularly difficult to justify, existentially speaking...

Side-note: a belated reply to Ray Stern on the Seattle vs. Phoenix parking/cars issue in the previous thread, where I document that the Seattle actually has fewer vehicles per household than Phoenix.

I'd be interested to know why the votes against climate change?

As would I. The subject is so, like parking lots - gritty.
I am reading ‘Collapse - How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ by J. Diamond. If the newly elected Corporation Commission is a clue, Arizona is a society choosing to fail. Trash Burner Bob Stump, Susan Bitter Smith and Bob Burns are all acting lobbyist for ALEC. They are not going to be influencing sustainable renewables in any positive way.

I found Jared Diamond's book very enlightening as well, Suzanne. There's at least one lecture by him on collapse on YouTube as well, for those so inclined...

Jared D said something like "agriculture was the advent of the collapse of human"
experiment. Have not seen Ken Burns new documentation of the recurrence of the dust bowl, but I hear he said " the beginning of the problem was the invention of the tractor.

For more spooky but similar stuff one might find "Confronting Collapse" by Ruppert and "How it Ends" by Impey interesting.

When I compare the number of votes against the number of unique visitors this blog gets every day, we have many thousand non-voting lurkers out there. So I guess they're satisfied.

Still curious as to why the ones who voted against climate change don't want that news.

I couldn't vote. There wasn't a space for a write-in third party candidate.


I only voted for favorites. There were a couple of choices among the "least liked" which I simply wasn't familiar with, but I saw no reason to vote against them on that basis.

If the list had been a little more ramified I might have had something to cast a negative vote on. Stories about Old Prescott (Whiskey Row), and folksy stories about cities or towns in general, in or out of Arizona, bore me to tears. I also consider most of the tears shed over so-called landmarks (e.g., the pair of boxy, blighted hotels that was just demolished -- though not something unique like the Wright House) to be overwrought.

That is just my personal taste, which I don't wish to impose on Rogue Columnist inasmuch as those types of stories appear only occasionally; I can wait a few days assured that something new will appear in due course.

Maybe they were votes against peak oil, since you wrapped those two together...

There wasn't a space for a write-in third party candidate.

The Arizona Republic had a long story on the Central Arizona Project in the Sunday Arizona Republic, reviewing the history and current challenges and that is just the first part: Monday will see the second and final part, discussing the future of Arizona's water supplies.

The first article was very well written, and explained CAP so well that I felt like an expert after reading it. (Well, not really of course, but I did learn a lot of useful details.)

Arizona water rights and future supplies have been a topic of blogs here at Rogue on several occasions, and there is room for revisiting the subject, particularly in discussions of whether and to what extent the regional water supply will support a large number of future immigrants to the state (whether from other states, from Mexico, or both).

In a separate November 23 story on the metro area economy, local developer/economist Elliott Pollack said that the Phoenix area will add 1 million people and 200,000 homes within the next eight to ten years. "Baby boomers have delayed their retirement but many of them will eventually retire in the Valley."

Pollack also dismissed speculations that the Valley will run out of water.

"There is not now, nor will there ever be, a water shortage," he said, adding that increasing water rates would reduce use and extend supply.

Now, I actually thought that this was an interesting point. If water prices increase to the point of moderating use rates, then lower per capita usage will allow the same water supply to be used by more users.

The weak point was the failure to do the math. How much, if at all, would prices need to increase to support the growth that Pollack envisions over the next ten years? What about the next twenty?

Would that have a discouraging effect on immigration rates, or is that asking too much for a mere utility bill to accomplish?

At any rate, this was in my mind when I read the Sunday article on CAP, which mentioned that, unlike Salt River Project water supplies, which use gravity to deliver from higher to lower altitudes, CAP must pump its water from sea level up to Phoenix and Tucson at higher elevations.

This requires electricity, and thus far CAP has been relying on cheap (underpriced) electricity coming from the Navajo Generating Station. However, the EPA is likely to issue new rules requiring the installation of expensive air scrubbers at that facility, which (along with similar rules governing coal-fired power plants in the area) is intended to fight air pollution at the Grand Canyon (especially the "particulate" pollution which causes a gray or brown haze).

The article claims that if the scrubbers are installed (at great expense), water prices will go up. If the plant owners decide to shut the plant instead, then water prices will also go up because CAP will then need to buy its electricity from an open market, where prices are substantially higher.

Another aspect of the story which was interesting but needed expanded treatment (perhaps in Part II?) was the issue of excess water capacity.

CAP draws 1.5 million acre-feet of water annually from the Colorado, but since 1996 when the Arizona Water Banking Authority was created, it has dumped about 4 million acre-feet of water not purchased by users, into pools where the accumulated water seeps into aquifers and the area-wide water table.

Assuming that the water banking figure covers through 2011 and that the AWBA didn't operate all of 1996, that's about 15 years. A "table-napkin" calculation suggests that CAP has been dumping (or banking) about 0.25 million acre-feet per year. That's the current excess capacity.

I don't know (and don't have online time today) to check how many users CAP serves (directly or indirectly through city water blending). But assuming off the top of my head about 5 million, that means the sold water (1.25 million acre-feet annually) is divided by, on average, about 0.25 million acre-feet per million users.

If this is even remotely accurate, it suggests that Phoenix might well be able to afford another million persons within ten years, water-wise, even without price hikes.

I admit that this is half-assed calculation, but I barely have time to get this posted. I want to know some solid figures about how many CAP users there are and how much of its allocated water it actually sells a year, for starters.

Speaking of Peak Oil, Senor Talton's Seattle Times column is excellent:

Don’t gush over prospect of U.S. as oil king

"developer/economist Elliot Pollack"

Would that be like:

Catholic priest/child advocate

serial killer/population control advocate

Major College coach/teacher

Border patrol/ Sieve

REB, I like the way you say so much in so few words..
Developer/economist/malignant growth?

Jon, I tend to think the number of negative "climate control" votes were so small that maybe it was just a few of your kook detractors still in angry denial.

More people: did any of you try going for a walk and breathing the foulness, today?

Every one of the categories was something I like and would be sorry to see less of on Rogue Columnist. Wouldn't change a thing.

Glad Elliot Pollack didn't fool anyone into believing he was more of an economist than a booster. The Republic's error was in treating him as a credible source about water's sustainable future in AZ. Nobody much wants to talk about the Colorado River flows being over-allocated literally from the beginning.

Here U go Jon,
climate by Bill McKibben



In his inaugural speech in January, Mayor Greg Stanton spoke about the fields as empty canvases “filled with opportunities.” Last Monday, he broke ground on the lot where, on Friday, the refugees were preparing the land for farming and where, soon, shady trees and murals painted by local artists will color the barren landscape. Food trucks will operate there someday, he said in an interview, and there will be plenty of space for children to play and adults to socialize.

“We want to change the conversation about vacant lots in the city,” Mr. Stanton said.

A Vacant Lot in Phoenix Offers Refugees a Taste of Home (New York Times)

Thanks Petro, somehow I missed the Mayor as a farmer. good piece.

Here are some folks that may never heard the two words "climate Change" but they are probably the smartest folks on the planet when it comes to sustainable living. Until the get hunted done by an Arab Prince with to much oil money.


morecleanair wrote:

"The Republic's error was in treating (Elliott Pollack) him as a credible source about water's sustainable future in AZ."

As I made clear, the Elliott Pollack quote came from an article on the state/local economy, not the story on CAP and Arizona water supplies published Sunday.

morecleanair wrote:

"Nobody much wants to talk about the Colorado River flows being over-allocated literally from the beginning."

If it isn't over-allocated, why is 17 percent of the water it takes annually from the Colorado remain unsold? Why was the Arizona Water Banking Authority created? From the article which you criticized without reading:

"Even after supplying cities and cutting deals with farmers, Arizona was not using anywhere near its full allocation of CAP water. The water it didn’t take remained in the river, flowing downstream — and California drew off the rest. Arizona officials hated the idea that California, their perennial nemesis on the Colorado, was still diverting more than its share.

"Thus was born the Arizona Water Banking Authority. Arizona would divert its full allocation of CAP water each year and whatever wasn’t sold to water users would be literally dumped on the ground. Vast storage ponds would let the water seep into the earth, where it would stay, banked like a savings account, a hedge against future shortages."


My apologies for the typos above. They're the result of frustration. I find it exasperating to take the time to research an issue and pose interesting questions only to discover that the only response is a knee-jerk dismissal from from the lazy and/or ignorant.

This blog is already seriously in danger of becoming an inbred mutual admiration society dominated by the likes of "cal Lash". If you want new blood (or even to maintain the old blood) you're going to have to stop snapping at anyone who challenges your point of view or dares to quote someone you hold in low esteem (Elliott Pollack). Try refuting Pollack's claims, if you disagree, and if you can. It's certainly the basis for an interesting discussion.

Pollack, incidentally, doesn't appear to have a degree in economics: instead, a B.S. in Accounting and a Masters in Business Administration.

His bio lists him as a "consulting economist" for Arizona State University, and as the "Chief Economist for Valley National Bank in Arizona" for 14 years. Apparently neither position requires a degree in economics. His consulting firm is also described as "the economics department" for Maricopa County".

Not particularly impressive bona fides for someone calling himself an economist, I agree. That doesn't mean, however, that he knows nothing or that his every utterance is intrinsically worthless. If anyone here actually cares about water issues, I would appreciate some attempt to address his point about pricing and supply.


I'd like to check the current level of Lake Mead.

Why don't you jump off Hoover Dam and I'll time how long it takes for you to hit the water.

Thanks for the link to Mr. Talton's latest on peak oil, Petro. From the article:

"Also, we won’t 'run out of oil.' The same price mechanism bringing unconventional sources online would always rise enough to keep plenty of oil around.

"Critically, we will continue to see price volatility. The cost of extracting oil will rise until it causes the economy to slow. Then prices will fall, but this won’t feel like a relief to drivers because we’ll be in a recession or slowdown. The cycle will keep repeating itself, especially as demand grows from developing countries. The IEA notes this phenomenon is already holding back the global economy."


Interesting point. However, if burning oil accelerates climate change, and fast growth threatens resource availability in general, and you view these (particularly the first) as the most critical problem(s) facing the planet, why object to slow(er) growth?

Assuming your thesis is right, it could be that tight oil supplies are the biggest solution to both problems -- one which doesn't require the cooperation or enforcement of either individual governments or international political alliances.

Slower growth will primarily affect developing countries, which are also the worst polluters and responsible for all of the increase in world demand for oil and other commodities.

I don't think that the whiplash effect can continue indefinitely. If high oil prices slow growth, then demand for oil decreases, which in turn keeps oil prices from rising too much. Countries will initially attempt to return to past growth levels following global slowdowns, but after getting yanked back by the neck a few times, they'll start planning for slower growth, based on levels which are sustainable by existing oil supplies.

Reb, you kill me.

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