September 20, 2014

September 20, 2014

Hazy Arizona

Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic

The American West faces persistent drought, whether or not relief comes this winter. The population of the Phoenix area (Sun City is pictured here) grew four times larger between 1970 and 2010. The Central Arizona Project, a 336-mile-long system of canals and pipelines, carries Colorado River water through the desert to the Phoenix metro area.

See more pictures from October 2014 feature article "When the Snows Fail."

12 comments
you needthis
you needthis

Human beings are a cancer on the Earth.  The Western US is drying, cracking, and sinking due to over-use of water.  There's a gyre of plastic garbage twice the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean.  Staple foods such as corn, wheat, and rice have been genetically modified to the extent that their biodiversity is the lowest it's ever been, making crops intended to feed billions in danger of being wiped out by just one new insect, disease, or bacteria.  We're injecting noxious chemicals into the ground to extract more oil to burn which is adding to the biggest problem, climate change.  And there is Fukushima Daiichi and the potential for the destruction of life in the entire Pacific ocean and possibly half of the planet - an environmental catastrophe so unthinkable that in all of science fiction (afaik) no one has ever thought of it.

All the schemes to support even more people - new farming technology, more water pipelines, cleaner energy - tout that they can keep up with impossible predictions of doubling or tripling the population but ignore that we're pretty much at the limit right now.  The only way we can stop eating away at the Earth is to stop growing and that's not going to happen.  Scientists might think we'll hit 11 billion by 2100, but I think an Armageddon is very likely to occur before we do.

Mariann Wauchek
Mariann Wauchek

It is obvious by the comments made that many of you have never llived in this beautiful state.  Yes, the Phoenix metropolitan area is a mass of homes and development; but Arizona also consists of seven national forests, the Grand Canyon, numerous wilderness areas, a ponderosa forest, and still, a great deal of open desert.  The mass exodus from the the frozen wilds of the east and midwest coupled with the loss of jobs due to outsourcing, have brought too many people to our oasis.  It is this group of people who cling to the idea of green lawns and excess water use.  I never have to water my lawn, it is all desert plants and does fine on its own.


The Colorado River and the chain of lakes and canals provide water to the cities and agricultural areas of the state.  This system have gone on for centuries, beginning with the Anasazi tribe who built the first canals for their agricultural use.  Our biggest problem is having to share this water with California!

Arizona is a beautiful state with gorgeous sunsets, like the one above.  I wish the photographer had traveled a little further away from Sun City, perhaps to the White Tank Mountains, for a more favorable and indicative view of our great state.

Joy Saldanha
Joy Saldanha

An amazing shot of a city, I'm glad I dont live in. Drought anywhere is a disaster, which can be helped by people who live in those areas. Yet we continue to live as if tomorrow wont come.And nor will the water,eventually!

The oval patterns made by the small houses is eye catching in a most wonderfully caught photograph.  j.e.s.......

Black Songbird
Black Songbird

Its an amazing picture, but like so many comments have said, we've been pushing Earth to its breaking point for a while now. Soon, it will snap.

Bev Hennager
Bev Hennager

This is civilization;  the geometric patterns of the roads with all the  little boxes people call home.  Far off is the wilderness.


The Colorado River is dried up to water this city and ones like it.  I wonder what will happen when there is no more water coming from the mountains.  The sunset reminds me of the fire skies when the forests burn because of drought. 

candace gossen
candace gossen

Read Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner….. then take note that the average water consumption per day of an Arizonan is 300 gallons. And that water rights have become private ownership, that those same people are driving utilities to divert water from the Columbia River to the SW!

Yolanda Patterson
Yolanda Patterson

Wow...so many people crammed into a place that, like Gene Bowker posted was never intended for the fragile desert to hold.  People will have to come up with better conversation of precious water resources or there will be a mass exodus from towns such as Phoenix. 


Gene Bowker
Gene Bowker

that many people were never intended to live in a desert


Hamilton Kahkai
Hamilton Kahkai

If we know we cannot live outside earth. Then why can't we know, that this part of the country is a harsh environment. Greed is what created this city. Like water was always available. Look up how mars was onece a planet with water and now looks like many parts of the would and like this city, DRIED UP!

you needthis
you needthis

@Mariann Wauchek You said it ... too many people.  But more specifically too many who want to bend nature to their will rather than letting it bend them.

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